Thursday, January 31, 2008

TT33 Tokarev

Had a chance to shoot one of these a few days ago and-since I helped clean it after- take some pictures. This is one of the Romanian TT33 pistols available now, this one coming from AIM Surplus.

It fires the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge, a .30-caliber bottleneck pushing a 85-90 grain bullet at 1400-1500 feet per second. Hot little cartridge, same one used in the Czech CZ52 pistol.

It looks a lot like a Browning design; indeed, I've found a couple of descriptions like this:
"It is essentially a slightly redesigned, less polished and somewhat simplified incarnation of John Browning's legendary 1911,". Which isn't surprising, why not copy a good design? Makarov basically did the same thing with the Walther to produce the Makarov pistol, from what I've read. In any case, to specifics:
About 8" long, 4.75" tall, barrel 4.5", weighs about 1.9 pounds.
Single-action semi-auto.
8 round single-stack magazine.
Square-back front post sight, rear notch. Actually better than the original 1911 sights, taller and the blade's a bit thicker.
As originally designed, no manual safety. It does have a half-cock notch on the hammer(I've heard it called a quarter-cock on 1911 pistols), so technically you could carry it with the chamber loaded and the hammer in the notch. You could. Personally, I'd prefer not to. All versions that were imported(so far as I know) were modified with a thumb safety of some design, in this case a vertically pivoting lever mounted below the slide lock:

up is 'safe', down is 'fire'. However, unlike the 1911 safety(which locks the sear) this only blocks the trigger, so cocked & locked carry would be an iffy thing.

We fire this one mostly at about 21 feet with both some Romanian ball and S&B ball. The only problem it had with any was a few of the Romanian cartridges either had the bullet seated a bit far out, or shoulders a bit long, and would not let the slide go into battery. I think the bullet, as when we tried a several of them a second time, they did allow the slide to lock, making me think the bullets set back a touch in the neck the second time. All the S&B ammo cycled through without a problem.

That's about75 rounds, all fired offhand with the usual flyers from getting familiar with it, etc. Once got comfortable with it, it was easy to keep them in the center, helped by this one having a very nice trigger, breaking cleanly at about 5 pounds. This ammo speaks loudly, and in a dim range area gives an interesting muzzle flash. It's actually a comfortable pistol to shoot. The grip is more vertical than the 1911, a bit shorter and more rounded, and the action takes the bite out of that hot little cartridge. I think it's nicer to shoot than the CZ52.

Takedown is interesting. Look in the first picture, see that spring clip? It fits around a pin at the back and slides forward, locking through a groove on that end of the slide lock pin. Push the clip to the rear, push the slide back a touch and the slide lock comes out, then the upper slides forward just like a 1911. Take the recoil spring & guide rod out the bottom of the slide, rotate the barrel bushing 180 degrees and pull it forward, then tip the barrel link forward and the barrel slides out. And then, an interesting difference, the fire control group- hammer, hammer spring, sear and spring- are in a housing that lifts out of the frame.

Cleaned the thing appropriately(the Romanian is corrosive primed) and slid it back together.

This pistol was listed as 'refinished to excellent condition', and it was: the bore bright with sharp rifling, no pitting on the outside, good bluing, no signs of much use. A very nice pistol for the price, and shoots quite well.

If I had one of these for a defense pistol I would NOT use ball ammo: besides the FMJ bullet not expanding, at this velocity overpenetration would be a problem. Wolf makes a hollowpoint for it in their Wolf Gold line, and I think a couple of other brands do also. If they're a good design and upset as they should, that would be a wicked defense round.

Oleg Volk has some nice pictures here.
A history of the cartridge here.
Review of a Polish model here.
A LOT of variants listed here.
Some history on Tokarev here.
Kim's take on it here.


Mattexian said...

Good to know Wolf Gold makes a HP for this. I've got a CZ52 on layaway, so I'll need to stock up, especially with Kim's post today about being prepared. I know the CZ's not a high capacity, but one never knows what the GFWs will do, except to try banning more guns!

Firehand said...

One thing you might try: the CZ52 I've fired was made a lot more comfortable to shoot by putting on a Hogue grip sleeve. Amazing difference to me.