Note: reusing text and photos of this review on other sites requires explicit permission of the poster.History
Original submachine gun model 63 (also "wzor 63", "wz. 63" or "PM-63") was commonly called RAK ("Reczny Automat Komandosów", Hand-held Commando Automatic). It was designed in Poland in 1950/60s by a team under direction of prof. Wilniewczyc - famous Polish firearm designer, known for VIS 35 pistol and MORS 39 submachine gun. PM-63 entered service in 1965 and it was used by Polish Army, Militia (Police) and other armed services in Poland as well as abroad. It was manufactured in Poland until 1974 and eventually replaced by an updated design called PM-83. Meanwhile a copy of PM-63 was manufactured in China as Type 82.
PM-63 appeared in a few movies: "Rambo 3", "Delta Force", and animated series "Black Lagoon":http://www.imfdb.org/index.php/PM-63
For more information about this firearm see:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PM-63_RAKhttp://world.guns.ru/smg/smg41-e.htmhttp://www.forgottenweapons.com/other-handguns/pm-63-rak/A bit of airsoft history
By the end of 1980s airsoft was quite popular in Japan, with many gas-powered models available on the market. Rifles and submachine guns often used external gas (or compressed power) supply. It was a practical design, even if user had to carry gas tank (usually hidden in pouch or a bag) connected to the replica with a hose.
Such replicas, often called "classic airsoft", are still fairly popular, mostly in USA. They were made by companies such as MGC (of modelgun fame), JAC or Asahi, and imported to USA in large quantities. Currently they are sold on second-hand market.
Beginning of 1990s saw manufacturers invest in new factories and creating new models. Success did not come due to several circumstances:
- Japanese government forbidden use of CO2 and "green gas" in airsoft replicas, allowing only HFC134a gas. It is weaker and was not sufficient to power heavy rifle or submachine gun replicas.
- Tokyo Marui, manufacturer of RC models, introduced electrical airsoft guns: AEG. Very quickly they have conquered the market. Electric power worked also in low temperatures, where HFC134a pressure was too weak to provide action.
- economic crisis in Japan was a reason sales fell down significantly, causing bankrupcy of many traditional airsoft manufacturers.
For these reasons "classic" airsoft replicas became much more rare - most of them have been designed 20 years ago (except for a very few companies like Escort) and are no longer in production.PM 63 as an airsoft model
In early 1990s Tanaka Works decided to release an airsoft model of Polish PM 63. I have no clue why such an unusual weapon was choosen. Tanaka replicated PM-63 version from 1974, near end of real gun production. Model was released in 1993, near the end of the classic airsoft era, under "Wz 63" name. Original price was 42 000 yen (equivalent to about 350$ in 2009, 500$ in 2011).
I have tried to learn history and origins of this model, but did not succeed getting a response from Tanaka, neither myself or asking through Japanese friends.Box
Wz63 model was sold in a box typical for Tanaka Works. Uniform background, green in this case, with a technical drawing of the original submachine gun - described in Polish. Left part features "Wz 63 machine pistol" in English, as well as "Pistolet maszynowy PM-63" in Polish. Underneath you will find a brief description of the airsoft version, including "caliber" of 6mm, as well as weight, size and other data. There is also a logo of Tanaka and text "Manufactured by The Tanaka Works Tokyo".
Box sides are mostly empty, except for a model name, manufacturer name and "Airsoft gun", plus a brief description in Japanese and an ASGK sticker. ASGK is an association of Japanese airsoft replica manufacturers, following self-regulation to avoid troubles with government. Such airsoft models feature one of three possible stickers (or printed text): ASGK, JASG or STGK. The latter two are associations of other manufacturers created respectively in 1993 and 2007.
Back to the box - the bottom is made of styrofoam, with cutouts for a model and magazine, plus a small bag of 6mm bbs. Original ones were blue.
Inside there is also a paper shooting target and original instructions (in Japanese) - fortunately these are well illustrated.Airsoft model
It's metal, and very, VERY solid! I wish more models were made like that!.
Externally model is fairly faithful to the original, with slight changes in dimensions that prevent using parts of a real gun (unfortunately including grips and accessories).
To the front of the barrel this model has a characteristic design feature - an extension that serves as a recoil compensator. It also allowed to cock the gun single-handed: you just had to put the barrel against a wall or other hard surface, and push the whole gun. This is a unique feature of the original gun, as well as this airsoft replica.
Near the front, under the barrel you will find a front grip. It's made of plastic, and it is foldable. You can hold the grip with your left hand both in folded and unfolded position. To unfold press the large button on the left side. Size of the grip is unfortunately slightly different than the original, preventing simple substitution without modifications.
Top of the (moving) slide has classic open sights, placed quite close to each other. Rear sight is actually in the middle of the gun. You can flip the rear sight for 75m or 150m range. Back of the slide is serrated to allow better grip when cocking. Left side of the slide is marked "ASGK". Right side features "DT0765", "1974" markings, number 11 in an oval, as well as "MFG.TANAKA WRKS".
Trigger and trigger guard are placed, obviously, between foregrip and the main grip. Trigger has a single position, allowing an automatic fire. Original PM-63 allowed single shots by half-pulling trigger, but in reality this did not seem to work too well, especially in real life situations.
Main pistol grip has black plastic panels. Just above it, on the left side you should find a safety switch. In vertical position, when you can see the red dot, weapon can be fired. Diagonal position (dot covered by the lever) means weapon is secured. Original PM-63 safety lever had a different shape and in "safe" position it was fully horizontal.
Near back of the model you will find a metal folding stock. It is unlocked by pushing a button on the right side of the model. After the stock is extended, you can flip a back part to its proper position. Folding is a reverse process - rotate the back part, push button, slide stock back onto the model, release button.
Both original and replica shoot from an open bolt.
Ejection port shows only internal gas blowback mechanism, filling whole chamber. Contrary to modern airsofts (say, Maruzen MP5K) or pistols, you will not see an empty space or top of the magazine there.
It is interesting to note that replica is heavier than the original: it's 2.5kg, while the original weighs 1.6kg/2.1kg (empty/loaded).Magazine
Original gun uses short (15) and long (25 bullets) magazines. Tanaka decided to use the long variant in airsoft model.
Initially this model was sold as externally powered. Magazine has an internal tube, with a fitting at the bottom, and a pass-through valve at the top (actual valve is inside the model, not magazine). Tube serves as an expansion chamber.
Self-contained gas magazines (similar to modern GBBs) appeared later on. I'm not 100% sure if they were made by Tanaka, or modified by users from the original ones but it seems to be the latter. Owners replaced the bottom fitting with a normal GBB valve. Due to very small gas capacity such magazines do not work well - model was obviously designed for higher-power compressed air or CO2.
Mag capacity is ~45 6mm bbs, making it a mid-cap. Loading is facilitated by a follower lock - just pull the spring down, rotate follower handle, pour in the balls, rotate follower back to vertical position and release it.
Magazine is inserted into the pistol grip, like in the original. Mag release button is found at the bottom of the grip, similar to Walther P-38 and unlike modern pistols.Usage
Load magazine, connect external gas, cock the slide, put safety in "fire" position, pull the trigger and...
My model is, unfortunately, damaged and does not work. Parts of the internal mechanism (including a c-clip that held things together) sheared off.Accessories
Even today many surplus accessories for PM 63 can be found on the market: magazines, holsters, cleaning kits and others.
See below for a black leather version of a holster. There was also a white leather version, as well as a green canvas one.Problems
One of the problems often mentioned is how this model is powered. Gas is connected directly to the magazine, not the replica. This makes magazine change very awkward - you remove the empty mag together with gas hose, insert full mag into the replica, and then remove the hose from empty mag to reconnect it back to the full mag. This is something players did not enjoy - many classic airsoft models have gas connector in the grip or at the back, independently of the magazine.
I cannot comment on practical use, as I have not fired this airsoft model.Basic disassembly
At the back of the slide, on top, there is a springig tab that holds back piece of the slide, which in turn holds all internals. Carefully remove the tab, then slide the back piece up to take it off the slide.
Push the slide to the back, as far as it goes. While holding in this position, see ejection port, and move metal tab that you see there to the back - this will allow internals to rotate.
Still keeping the slide rotate barrel (it should stick out of the front of the slide) 90 degrees to the right (looking from the front of the model). You should use a special Tanaka tool (which I don't have) or a hex key inserted into the barrel. This rotation will disengage sets of lugs found on barrel and insides of the slide.
You should be now able to remove the whole slide, including barrel and return spring, by pulling it to the front. Barrel will separate in three main pieces: silver block (what you see through ejection port), barrel itself and everything else - inner barrel, spring, other parts.
Inside the slide you should see return spring, locking lugs and the whole gas supply mechanism.
This should sufficient disassembly to clean this model.Availability
There are not too many Tanaka Wz63 available outside of Japan. Over the past 5 years I have seen just a few pieces offered for sale - and one seller backed out. I know maybe 10 people who have this model.
In 2009 price was about 40-50000 yen at Yahoo Auctions Japan (price without any fees or shipping) and 500$ in USA. Adding shipping costs and customs/import fees makes this model fairly expensive... It could help to have contacts in Japan and among collectors who might have one for sale.
It is also practically impossible to find spare magazines or other accessories.
Original foregrip and main grip panels are readily available in Poland, but they do not fit directly.
Real steel magazines as well as deco 9x18mm ammo can also be found cheaply - for decoration only, as they can't be fully inserted into airsoft due to gas installation inside replica.
At least original holsters fit without problems and there is a few variants to choose from: from canvas to black or white leather.
As far as I can say there will be no reruns. Molds are most likely already destroyed or missing. Making new molds is very expensive. Given that most Japanese models are now made of ABS or HW plastic, it is unlikely a metal one would be made again. Plastic model would require different molds anyway, and also gas blowback mechanism would need to be redesigned for modern times. In current economic situation chances that this will happen are, sadly, nil.