The Walther PP/PPK is no longer as affordable as it used to be. Prices for pre-war and wartime-production guns are high and getting higher with each passing year, and even post-war examples made in France by Manurhin are creeping toward the $1,000 mark. This economic reality puts owning one of these pistols out of the reach of most budget-minded collectors. Nevertheless, the Hungarians have a cure for the sticker shock confronting buyers shopping for a PP/PPK-type pistol: the PA-63.
By the early 1960s, the Hungarian army was ready to replace its copy of the Soviet TT-33 pistol chambered in 7.62x25 mm Tokarev. Around that time, the Hungarian National Police adopted a successful little pistol, designated the R-61, that was chambered for the Soviet 9x18 mm Makarov cartridge. With a 3.4" barrel, it copied the Walther PPK but used a lightweight aluminum-titanium alloy frame. While the R-61 may have been perfect for the Belügyminisztérium (Ministry of the Interior), it was not a great candidate for the army, because it was more of a pocket pistol designed for police use than a service sidearm designed for the military. Engineers at the Fémáru és Szerszámgépgyár NV (Metal Products and Machine Tool Factory Company) in Budapest solved the problem and developed a military-appropriate sidearm by combining the R-61’s lightweight alloy frame with a 4" barrel in 9 mm Makarov, which is how the PA-63 was born.
The pistol is much like the Walther PP in terms of its fixed barrel, American-style magazine-release button, double-action/single-action trigger and slide-mounted decocking safety. Like the PP, it is also equipped with an internal slide stop that is engaged by the magazine follower. The magazine capacity of the PA-63 is just seven rounds. When combined with the gun’s lightweight frame, the 9 mm Makarov chambering gives the PA-63 a sharp recoil impulse. In addition to that, a heavy double-action trigger pull of almost 10 lbs. means that the PA-63 is not exactly the most comfortable pistol to shoot, but what it lacks in shooting ease it makes up for in reliability.
The PA-63’s rudimentary front and rear sights and its distinctive two-tone finish underscore the fact that this is a military-surplus pistol that was mass-produced with economy of scale in mind. It was still being made in 1975 when Fémáru és Szerszámgépgyár NV became part of an industrial conglomerate known as Fegyver és Gázkészülékgyár (Arms and Gas Equipment Factory), usually just referred to by the initials FÉG. PA-63s continued to come off the FÉG assembly line through the 1980s, but after the collapse of the Soviet Union a new world emerged—one that no longer needed more examples of a snappy little PP clone in 9 mm Makarov. Although the pistol’s production history came to an end in 1990, its employment reached well beyond the Warsaw Pact era.
Even after the end of the Cold War, the Hungarian military continued to use the sidearm until the country ultimately joined NATO in 1999. With NATO membership came requirements to standardize military equipment, including pistols and pistol ammunition. This marked the end of the PA-63’s service history, but then U.S. companies such as Pac West Arms, Century Arms and KBI began importing surplus examples and selling them at a price point lower than any of the surplus or commercial PPs made by either Walther or Manurhin. Consequently, the PA-63 is out there today in large numbers and, because of that volume, can be had at a very reasonable price, making it a great option for the working-class shooter and collector.
Gun: FÉG PA-63
Manufacturer: Fegyver és Gázkészülékgyár (FÉG)
Chambering: 9×18 mm Makarov
Serial No.: L0585XX
Condition: NRA Excellent (Modern Gun Standards)