PM63 Rak: An Interesting Polish SMG/PDW Hybrid

The PM-63 Rak is a pretty interesting Polish Cold War machine pistol or personal defense weapon. It fires from an open bolt, but uses a slide like a pistol rather than a bolt in an enclosed receiver like a typical SMG. There are several other interesting elements to the design, so let’s take a closer look…

Thanks to Movie Armament Group in Toronto for giving me the opportunity to bring you this video! Check out MAG on Instagram


  1. Why reinvent the wheel when you can just modify an existing concept in such a manner that it works without causing problems? Just adding the hand guard made the thing easier to handle than a typical machine pistol (namely that both hands have a grip on the thing)! I could be wrong…

  2. RAK: cancer or crayfish
    Also, abbreviation for “ręczny automat komandosów”, which means “handheld automatic (weapon of) commandos”.

    The way these words are used in Polish, it would differentiate the RAK63 from a machine gun.

    • “(…)“ręczny automat komandosów”,(…)”
      So far I know it is only urban legend, however maybe you could provide source?
      According to my knowledge official designation was PM-63 which stands for Pistolet Maszynowy, which literally means machine pistol however it meaning is equivalent to sub-machine gun (c.f. MORS 1939).
      PmK was Polish name for license built AK, which apparently was initially detected as sub-machine gun, later it was reclassified to category kbk that is carbine
      Depending on interpretation of MORS meaning, RAK might be understand either as CANCER (Latin name for horoscope sign) or animal (belonging to Astacidae)

      • I dug out a Polish book from 1982, it did mention the PM63, as machine pistol pattern/model (wzór) 63. It never even mentioned the abbreviation RAK, thus not discussing what I wrote above. But, it may look like the RAK never made it into Polish military nomenclature.

  3. So it can only be holstered with an empty chamber due to the fixed firing pin and open bolt design. That makes the front cocking spoon thing make alot of sense.

  4. It looks unpromising for shooting, with all that hardware slamming back and forth. I suppose the slide isn’t any heavier than a ‘normal’ bolt, but still…

    • It’s probably a better deal than the Stechkin APS in that you can hold the thing with your off-hand by a fore-end grip. I fail to see this as anything worse. And if you’re an Army truck driver confronted at bad breath range by some random would-be carjacker, are you going to care if the sights aren’t ideal?

  5. In the kidnapping of German manager Hans Martin Schleyer, one of the four identified terrorists at the scene used a PM-63. It played a major role in killing the three policemen acting as his escort. (An unidentifed fifth terrorist used a Colt M1911A1.)
    The PM-63 is an obvious proof for the active support of terrorist killings in Germany by communist regimes at the time.

      • I thought Aldo Moro had been assassinated with the Czech VZ-61 .32 acp. … As for Schleyer, he was bumped off after Mogadishu and Lufthansa flight 181 was stormed by the GSG-9 with British SAS advisement and input and various high-level Baader-Meinhof/ R.A.F. prisoners–including Andreas Baader himself–had miraculously coördinated a collective suicide while in solitary confinement at Stamheim-Stuttgart prison. Apparently Baader managed to shoot himself in the back of the head such that the bullet exited the front of his forehead after passing through is brain and struck the floor of the cell. Possibly one of three shots. “We’ll simply never know…”

    • Schleyer was not innocent…

      I’d love to have a PM-63… In fact, I expect it’d be pretty much a perfect firearm for my perceived needs. Just curious: How is it that the Rote Armée Fraktion had a .45 acp M1911A1 and a 9x18mm PM-63 RAK, but one is an “obvious support” of leftist extremists by Marxist-Leninist stooges of the USSR, but the other one is what… Stolen? From an army base? Or what?

      And what of the N.S.U. “Pink Panther” “braune armee fraktion” use of a Czech CZ-83 in 7.65mm caliber? “obvious proof” of “active support” by whom?

      • Right, more objective view is due. In a similar manner can be “judged” PM63 in hands of Sandinistas. Does it mean that “polish communist regime” was propping mentioned rebel group? And if it indeed did (which I doubt), what conclusion to draw? Probably bad news for Chiquita bananas, perhaps 🙂

      • Czech made weapons, namely those of civilian designation, were sold by organization of foreign trade Omnipol. As matter of fact, that was the venue thru which these products gained fame in the world including U.S. If few odd pieces ended in hands of unsavory elements, should it be blamed flatly on “Czech commie regime”? I believe not, but others have right to their own opinion 🙂

      • “(…)“obvious support” of leftist extremists by Marxist-Leninist stooges of the USSR(…)”
        I would not be so sure about that “stooges”.
        Actually members of WarPact did exported/imported arms between them, using so-called transfer ruble which did not exist physically, but had exchange rate to real currencies of WarPact members, which was controlled by Soviet Union. Naturally export of arms to NATO members was prohibited, however it was possible to Third-World (alias unaligned) countries, which generally paid in $ or another real money (hard currency), hence there was arms export in 1970s to among other Arab states.
        For more data read page 25 of this pdf:
        Regarding RAK itself, as it was already published here:
        (…)PM-63 was exported as of early 1970s by the Cenzin Foreign Trade Office(…)
        so there is possibility of deliver from country, which did not count as Marxist-Leninist stooges

        • I always appreciate(d) you factual information. Our exchange, so much valued, ought to be more of this kind rather than purely ‘motivational’.

          • In the end, the guns were sold for profit, not for “supporting the global red uprising.” No surprise. What craftsman does ANYTHING for no monetary/personal-pride gain? An idiot!

          • @cherndog
            My view is that we simply DO NOT know. And IF we knew we would not talk. This is just guessing what we do here.

            On general note: do not expect everything to be done for profit, not exactly short term one. It is conceivable there are wealthy enough weapons providers, be individuals and groups who have long term interest and will bet on any “horse” who will get then into the game. Look for example at who equipped Black hand in Sarajevo and with what intention; it worked out 100%. That Browning pistol was just fresh out of production.

          • I am not sure if I understand your requests correctly, but I want to note while People’s Republic of Poland were (at least formally) communists, they were not imbeciles, and there was not reason to manifest obnoxiously support of various terrorist groups acting in Germany (Bonn), especially after Warschauer Vertrag from 1970 signed by Willy Brandt.

          • is: “(…)People’s Republic of Poland(…)”
            should be: “(…)People’s Republic of Poland’s officials(…)”

      • That it was easier to steal/rob a M1911A1 from a German gun-shop than a select-fire weapon… they took whatever they could get their hands on. Although Andreas Bader was said to have had an exquisite taste in weaponry (Colt .45). I remember news footage from a car two German terrorists crashed in France (and killed themselves in) with an italian Beretta M12S in the footwell.
        And don’t forget: the weapon of choice for the Tad Army Faction Logo was not an AK47 – but an H&K MP5… quite a good choice.

  6. If it were closed bolt firing in single shot mode, it would be more acceptable for a handgun of pistol type construction and cost. With current lay out it seems foolish than functional.

  7. Single shot is for accuracy which unable with an open bolt handgun. With this gun’s machining and expence, it should be hoped to have so. But it seems the designer also had thought to provide this feature but, sacrificed in favour of locating very different approach of inertial fire reducer.

  8. My 2ct:
    – the Tool delivered with the PM63 has a wrench-type hook on one side to facilitate turning the barrel
    – PM63 was also used by easy-german counter terrorist police units (
    – most first generation terrorists of the Red Army Faction received Training in the Middle East (Jordan, Jemen, Lebanon,…), at least partially from palestine groups they were sympathetic with (and vice versa). Some of the faction got direct or indirect support from Eastern Block countries, with explains where some/most of the full auto weapons of the Red Army Faction originated from: from there familiarisation, or as a logistical support by different Middle Eastern groups (with ‘Bid Brother’ in the background, at least watching…). It is a fact that many terrorists or supporters reentered (Western) Germany via East German airport Schönefeld, with direct support of East German authorities (=StaSi), using diplomatic status and uncontrolled doorways circumventing border controls (armed with SMGs and explosives)
    – who gave the polish guns to middle eastern Guerillas is not 100% clear, but the CIA purveyed AK47 to the mujaheddin (?) in Afghanistan also during soviet occupation – same thing, different direction…
    – it is known (Although not proven), that the guns Bader, Enslin and Meinhof shot themselves were provided by unpaid ‘supportes’ of their criminal defense team during the Stammheim trials. The guns where smuggled in large, hollowed out folders that were swapped during trial, and got through the security checks amongst DOZENS of folders for each day of trial, while any attempt to control them was countered with strong antagonism by the defense team, drawing comparisons to the Third Reich and claiming that the reasons for the scrutiny was to negate a fair trial. With each an every Folder – until the security personell would lower their standards… Mind you – this was in the dass before x-ray-scanners.
    – and the Bader-Meinhof-Group were even able to install a secret communications-network, using wires in the wall,
    So I would not negate the possibility of a ‘high profile propaganda coup’, staging their own execution.

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