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The TT-30 ( , 7,62 mm Samozarjadnyj Pistolet Tokareva obrazca 1930 goda) is a Russianmarker semi-automatic pistol developed by Fedor Tokarev as a service pistol for the Soviet military to replace the Nagant M1895 revolvers in use since tsarist timesmarker.


A Soviet junior lieutenant armed with a Tokarev TT-33 Service Pistol urges Soviet troops forward against German positions during WWII.

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 January 7, 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.

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 backstrap and changes to the full-circumference locking lugs. This redesigned pistol was the TT-33. The TT-33 was widely used by Soviet troops during World War II, but did not completely replace the Nagant until after the war.

Design details

Externally, the TT-33 is very similar to John Browning's blowback operated FN Model 1903 automatic pistol, but it also used Browning's short recoil dropping-barrel system from the 1911 series. The TT-33 is not a 1911 clone, however, it employs a much simpler hammer/sear assembly with an external hammer. This assembly is removable from the weapon as a modular unit and includes cartridge guides that provide reliable functioning. The Soviet engineers also added several other features such as locking lugs all around the barrel (not just on top), and made several alterations to make the mechanism easier to produce and maintain. Production even machined the magazine feed lips into the receiver to prevent damage and misfeeds when a distorted magazine was loaded into the magazine well.

The TT-33 is chambered for the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge, which was itself based on the similar 7.63x25mm Mauser cartridge used in the Mauser C96 pistol. Able to withstand tremendous abuse, large numbers of the TT-33 were produced during WWII and well into the 1950s.


The Chinese Type 54 with holster.

The Wehrmacht captured a fair amount of TT-33s and issued them to units under the Pistole 615(r) designation. This was made possible by the fact that Soviet 7.62 mm Model 1930 Type P cartridges were nearly identical to the German 7.63x25mm Mauser cartridge, therefore German ammunition could be used in captured Soviet arms.

Production of the TT-33 in the USSR ended in 1954, but copies (licensed or otherwise) were also made by Chinamarker (as the Type 51, Type 54, M20, and TU-90) and Polandmarker (as the wz. 48). Hungarymarker rebarreled the pistol to fire 9x19mm Parabellum (as the M48), as well as an export version for Egyptmarker (the Tokagypt 58) which was widely used by police forces. Yugoslavia produced the TT-33 (as the M57, M65 and M70A) as well as North Koreamarker (as the Type 68 or M68). Romania also produced a TT-33 copy (the TTC, or Cugir Tokarov) well into the 1950s. These have been imported into the U.S. in great numbers in recent years. However, to be importable a trigger blocking safety was added. Police in Pakistanmarker still commonly use the TT pistol as a sidearm, though unofficially, as it is being replaced by modern 9 mm Beretta and Glock pistols. Both legal and illegal TT pistols are still manufactured in various Khyber Passmarker factories. 7.62x25mm ammo is also rather inexpensive and locally produced or imported from Chinamarker, made by Norinco.

At one time or another most communist or Soviet bloc countries made a variation of the TT-33 pistol, until it was eventually replaced for use by first-line troops by the 8-round, 9x18mm Makarov PM pistol in 1952.

Norinco, the People's Liberation Army's state weapons manufacturer in China, still manufactures a commercial variant of the Tokarev pistol chambered in the more common 9x19mm Parabellum round, known as the Tokarev Model 213, as well as in the original 7.62x25mm caliber. It features a safety catch, which was absent on Soviet-produced TT-33 handguns. Furthermore, the Model 213 features the thin slide grip grooves, as opposed to the original Russian wide-types. The 9 mm model is featured with a magazine well block mounted in the rear of the magazine well to accept 9 mm 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.
Type 54 with manual safety
The TT-33 is still in service in the Chinese and North Korean armed forces today. The Tokarev is gaining in popularity with pistol collectors and shooters in the West because of its ruggedness, reliability and ready availability of cheap ammunition (in the US). 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. Nonetheless, the Tokarev, as well as its variants in 9 mm, is renowned for its simplicity and accuracy. Another advantage that the TT-33 offers over conventional 9 mm arms is that this pistol possesses a mild anti-armor capability, being able to pierce even Class II personal body armor on close-range. The small diameter of the bullet and its high muzzle velocity facilitate its passage thorugh various obstacles. The same properties of course, give it less stopping power than the similarly powered 9 mm Luger cartridge.


  • : The first standard issue pistol of the People's Liberation Army. Adopted in 1951 and produced in Shenyangmarker's Factory 66 as the Type 51 using both Russian and Chinese-made parts. In 1954, after approximately 250,000 pistols were manufactured, the designation was changed to Type 54 and the pistol used exclusively indigenous components. A version devoid of any national markings was made for discreet export customers, the pistol is known as the M20 from the cryptic marking on its slide.
  • : Used the M20, likely imported from China.


  1., Information concerning the Norinco Type 213, its disassembly, and handling
  2. Kokalis, Peter. Weapons Tests And Evaluations: The Best Of Soldier Of Fortune. Paladin Press. 2001. pp96–99.

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