A Soviet-produced TT-33 pistol made in 1937
|Place of origin||Soviet Union|
|Used by||See Users|
|Wars||Spanish Civil War|
World War II
Chinese Civil War
Bangladesh Liberation War
Laotian Civil War
Hungarian Revolution of 1956
Cambodian Civil War
Burundian Civil War
Cambodian-Thai border stand-off
War in Afghanistan (2001-present)
Syrian Civil War
and numerous others
|Manufacturer||Tula Arsenal, Izhevsk Arsenal, Norinco, Femaru, FB Radom, Cugir Arsenal, Zastava Arms, FÉG|
|Variants||TT-30, TT-33, TTC, M48, M48 Tokagypt, M57, M70, M70, R-3, Type 51, Type 54, Type 68, K-14|
|Mass||854 g (30.1 oz)|
|Length||194 mm (7.6 in)|
|Barrel length||116 mm (4.6 in)|
|Height||134 mm (5.3 in)|
|Action||Short recoil actuated, locked breech, single action|
|Muzzle velocity||450 m/s (1,476 ft/s)|
|Effective firing range||50 m|
|Feed system||8-round detachable box magazine|
|Sights||Front blade, rear notch|
156 mm (6.1 in) sight radius
The TT-30[a] was a Russian semi-automatic pistol. It was developed in the early 1930s by Fedor Tokarev as a service pistol for the Soviet military to replace the Nagant M1895 revolver that had been in use since Tsarist times, though it ended up being used in conjunction with rather than replacing the M1895. It served until 1952, when it was replaced by the Makarov pistol.
In 1930, the Revolutionary Military Council approved a resolution to test new small arms to replace its aging Nagant M1895 revolvers. During these tests, on 7 January 1931, the potential of a pistol designed by Fedor Tokarev was noted. A few weeks later, 1,000 TT-30s were ordered for troop trials, and the pistol was adopted for service in the Red Army. The TT-30 was manufactured between 1930 and 1936, with about 93,000 being produced.
But even as the TT-30 was being put into production, design changes were made to simplify manufacturing. Minor changes to the barrel, disconnector, trigger and frame were implemented, the most notable ones being the omission of the removable hammer assembly and changes to the full-circumference locking lugs. This redesigned pistol was the TT-33. Most TT-33s were issued to commanding officers. The TT-33 was widely used by Soviet troops during World War II, but did not completely replace the Nagant.
Externally, the TT-33 is very similar to John Browning's blowback operated FN Model 1903 semiautomatic pistol, and internally it uses Browning's short recoil tilting-barrel system from the M1911 pistol. In other areas the TT-33 differs more from Browning's designs--it employs a much simpler hammer/sear assembly than the M1911. This assembly is removable from the pistol as a modular unit and includes machined magazine feed lips, preventing misfeeds when a damaged magazine was loaded into the magazine well. Soviet engineers made several alterations to make the mechanism easier to produce and maintain, most notably the simplifications of the barrel's locking lugs, allowing fewer machining steps. Some models use a captive recoil spring secured to the guide rod, which does depend on the barrel bushing to hold it under tension. The TT-33 is chambered for the 7.62×25mm Tokarev cartridge, which was itself based on the similar 7.63×25mm Mauser cartridge used in the Mauser C96 pistol. The 7.62×25mm cartridge is powerful, has an extremely flat trajectory, and is capable of penetrating thick clothing and soft body armor. Able to withstand tremendous abuse, large numbers of the TT-33 were produced during World War II and well into the 1950s. In modern times the robust TT-33 has been converted to many extremely powerful cartridges including .38 Super and 9×23mm Winchester. The TT-33 omitted a safety catch other than the half cock notch, which rendered the trigger inoperable until the hammer was pulled back to full cock and then lowered manually to the half cock position. Many imported variants have manual safeties added, which vary greatly in placement and function.
The Wehrmacht captured a fair number of TT-33s and issued them to units under the Pistole 615(r) designation. This was made possible by the fact that Russian 7.62 mm Model 1930 Type P cartridges were nearly identical to the German 7.63×25mm Mauser cartridge. Therefore, German ammunition could be used in captured Russian arms, but not vice versa. Due to much higher pressures, the Russian cartridges should never be used in the German Mauser pistols. Such use could be very dangerous.
Interarms marketed World War II-surplus Russian-made Tokarevs in Europe and the United States as the Phoenix. They had new wooden grips with a phoenix design on them and were overstamped INTERARMS on the barrel. Later gun laws banned their sale due to their lack of a safety.
In 1949 a silenced variant was produced. Uniquely, the silencer is attached to the barrel bushing rather than the barrel itself (incidentally a similar method is commonly used for attaching modern aftermarket muzzle brakes). The combined weight of the suppressor with the slide prevents semi-auto cycling of the action, forcing the user to manually cycle it in the same manner as pump action firearms. It would later be replaced by the PB pistol in 1967.
The TT-33 was eventually replaced by the 8-round, 9×18mm Makarov PM pistol in 1952. Production of the TT-33 in Russia ended in 1954, but copies (licensed or otherwise) were also made by other countries. At one time or another most communist or Soviet bloc countries made a variation of the TT-33 pistol.
Norinco, the People's Liberation Army's state armaments manufacturer in China, manufactured a commercial variant of the Tokarev pistol chambered in the more common 9×19mm Parabellum round, known as the Tokarev Model 213, as well as in the original 7.62×25mm caliber.
The 9mm model features a safety catch, which was absent on Russian-produced TT-33 handguns. Furthermore, the Model 213 features the thin slide grip grooves, as opposed to the original Russian wide-types. The 9mm model is featured with a magazine well block mounted in the rear of the magazine well to accept 9mm type magazines without frame modification.
The Norinco model in current production is not available for sale in the United States due to import prohibitions on Chinese firearms, although older handguns of the Model 213 type imported in the 1980s and 1990s are common.
7.62×25mm ammo is also rather inexpensive and locally produced or imported from China, also made by Norinco.
Hungary rebarreled the TT to fire 9×19mm Parabellum as the M48, as well as an export version for Egypt known as the Tokagypt 58 which was widely used by police forces there. Tokagypts differ from the original Tokarevs by an external safety lever that can be engaged in safety decocking as well as cocked hammer position. By changing the barrel and magazine into original TT parts, a calibre change system can be made easily (after proof-shooting in countries affiliated with the CIP).
Egypt, however, cancelled much of the order of the Tokagypt and PP-like pistols manufactured in Hungary; those were marketed then in the West, like the F.R.Germany, where it was imported by Hege.
Poland produced their own copies as the PW wz.33, manufactured from 1947 to 1959. In mid-50s a training version of PW wz. 33 was created, chambered in .22lr called TT Sportowy. All of those pistols were converted between 1954 and 1958 from the 7.62mm variant by changing the barrel and removing the locking lugs from slide.
Romania produced a TT-33 copy as the TTC, or Cugir Tokarov well into the 1950s. These have been made available for commercial sale in great numbers in recent years. However, to be importable into the United States, a trigger blocking safety was added.
The K54 is a copy of the TT-33. An updated version known as the K14-VN is made by Factory Z111, and has an increased capacity of 13 rounds, with a wider grip to incorporate a double stack magazine. Research and development started in 2001. The K14-VN began to see service with PAVN forces on May 10, 2014.
The industry name for the regular K54 and the K14-VN is known as SN7M and the SN7TD.
The TT-33 is still in service in the Bangladeshi and North Korean armed forces today while police in Pakistan still commonly use the TT pistol as a sidearm, though unofficially, as it is being replaced by modern 9 mm Beretta and SIG pistols. In China, the TT-33 pistol is also occasionally supplied to the People's Armed Police and People's Liberation Army under the name Type 54.
The Tokarev is popular with pistol collectors and shooters in the West because of its ruggedness and reliability as well as its similar design to the M1911.
However, some complaints include poor-quality grips (which are often replaced by the wrap-around Tokagypt 58 grips) and a hand grip which extends at a vertical angle awkward for many Western shooters. Another complaint is the poor placement of the post-production safeties installed to comply with US import regulations; many shooters disassemble the pistols, remove them and restore the Tokarevs to the original configuration.
Nonetheless, the Tokarev, as well as its variants in 9mm, is renowned for its simplicity, power and accuracy.