Polish P83 Wanad, a Quick Review
by Kirk Lawson
[P83 Wanad - Right Side]
[P83 Wanad - Left Side]
The Polish P83 "Wanad" is a popular surplus pistol chambered in 9x18 Makarov. I purchased one for addition to my collection of 9x18 Makarov caliber pistols.
The firearm shows very little wear on the inside but shows very clear signs of holster carry. This was a “working” gun.
It is definitely larger than it’s younger brother, the P64, which it replaced. Boasting 2 extra rounds per magazine, it has a capacity of 8+1, besting the P64’s 6+1.
Field Stripping the P83 is easier than most, and certainly easier than the P64. The process is similar, of course. Like most handguns in the general lineage of Walther’s PPK, the slide is unlocked from the frame by a mechanism at, on, or just in front of the trigger guard, the slide then is drawn completely back, the rear of the slide pulled up, and then slid forward again off of the frame. The P64, all Makarov PM variants, and even the CZ-82 achieve this by pulling down or pivoting down the trigger guard. Not so the P83. Reminiscent of the latch on the modern Ruger SR22 handgun, there is a latch or bar just inside the trigger guard under the frame. That is pulled down and it stays down with no further effort. If you have a CZ-82, this will feel similar to you. This is a great improvement over the P64 which suffers from a vulnerability of having the trigger guard (latch) snap shut while you are manipulating the gun trying to get the slide back on or even off in the first place.
[Disassembly Latch In Down Position]
Externally, besides the pistol itself being, perhaps 10% larger, the stock hammer is different. No “round hammer” here, there is a definite spur to this hammer. This is great for thumb-cocking or manually lowering the hammer but will definitely be a snag hazard if carried concealed. If this is your intent, take steps to make sure no clothing will catch. I suspect it could also dig into your side if worn close to the body. There is a Loaded Chamber Indicator, just above and forward of the safety. It is a small pin and protrudes perhaps 1/32” or so when there is a round in the chamber. I knew it was there but it still took me off guard the first time I actually noticed it. It appeared for all the world as if some retaining pin was walking out of the slide. Freaked me a bit for 1 second until I got a hold of myself and remembered what it was.
[Loaded Chamber Indicator (resembles a pin backing out of the frame)]
Speaking of the Safety lever, fans of U.S. style Safety Lever’s will be pleased to see that this follows more closely the U.S. convention rather than the European one. The lever points forward and is down for Fire and up for Safe. There is no option for carrying Condition One, aka “Cocked-n-Locked,” with the P83. Like its Makarov PM brother, the Safety also doubles as a decocker. You can choose to carry it Condition Zero (you know, if you’re suicidal) or Condition Two and depend on the first stroke of the trigger in Double Action (DA). Which brings me to my next point.
The trigger is nice. Like its 9x18 Makarov caliber siblings, the P83 is Double Action/Single Action (DA/SA). I don’t have a scale so I can only guess what the pull weights are, but I can say that the DA on the P83 rivals that of the CZ-82, known for having a good trigger among Surplus firearms, and it totally blows the P64’s horrendous DA trigger pull out of the water. It is smooth and breaks nicely with little stacking. It’s not a Ruger revolver but it’s nice. Not that I’m really the best judge of how it feels when actually chucking lead down range. I’m notoriously oblivious to all but the worst triggers when I’m on the firing line. The Single Action (SA) is equally nice. While the SA on the P64 is nice too, the P83 upholds that standard.
The sights. What can I say? The sights are typical of combloc, indeed any surplus military, sights. The rear notch is a bit larger than the P64 or a Makarov PM but the front blade is pretty much the same, though maybe just a smidge taller. It’s thin, though. And they’re all gun-metal blue. In other words, hard to see. My presbyopic eyes had real trouble with them.
The accuracy is what you would expect from something in the Makarov caliber lineup from the PPK lineage. IE: “good.” Shooting Brown Bear range fodder and had no trouble keeping 10 ring at 30 feet.
Shooting comfort was very very nice. Again, I’m going to compare it to the CZ-82. Recoil felt mild, particularly compared to the P64 “Polish Pounder” Radom. The grips, which look fairly smooth, actually held in my hand pretty well. The horizontal bars negatively molded into the grip did their job perfectly. No slide bite. No noticeable trigger slap. Nice.
Fit and (original) finish are, well, just OK. Not super. The P64 has a clearly superior fit. While plenty tight for use, the machining on the P83 is not as good as on the P64. But it is not really noticeable unless you are specifically looking for it. The Trigger Guard, most noticeably, as well as some other parts are stamped steel, instead of machined. It does not feel cheap or flimsy but it does feel a lot less refined. Call it “Serviceable” but not “Classy.” Same goes for the finish. The bluing on the P64 is far better. Nicer. As I mentioned there is some fair amount of finish wear on my P83, but even where it’s not worn, the bluing isn’t as deep. Again, it is serviceable.
That may be the by-word for this gun. Serviceable, not Sexy. In every way that matters to a shooter when actually in the process of pulling the trigger, the P83 is equal or superior to its predecessor, the P64, equal or superior to the Makarov PM and its variants, and equal in almost every way except magazine capacity to a stock CZ-82. But, when bone stock, the P83 Wanad simply does not have the PPK sexiness of the P64 Radom.
It’s a great piece for my Makarov caliber collection. I’m glad I bought it.