Gun of the Week #23: 1942 Soviet Russian TT-33 Tokerev


My 1942 Soviet TT-33

Freddy’s Note: 
I try to feature a gun from my collection every week or so on this website from my collection. Those you that read this site realize I am into Soviet weapons. I collect Tokerevs and Makarovs and AK’s. Two of the holes in my collection have been actual Soviet models of the Tokerev and Makarov. I own many of both models from all the Soviet sister states and also Chinese made models.  But none of the original Soviet Models  They are both rare and both usually over $1000 or more in good condition.  Well I finally found a Soviet Tokerev right in my home state.

I monitor for local sales every now and then. I have got a few good deals over the site. But usually there is overpriced junk.  Well, I could not believe my eyes when I saw an ad for a 1942 Soviet TT-33 Tokerev last Friday night.  I immediately responded and the owner sent me a few pics. I asked some questions and everything seemed right. So I drove 90 miles North West to the middle of freakin’ nowhere and waited for a guy in a supermarket parking lot.

Biggest problem I have had on Armslist is people who don’t respond to emails or don’t show up.  I was happy when the seller showed up a few minutes late.  When you are carrying cash and are meeting a stranger in a parking lot, you  show up prepared.  I had my Beretta 92FS in my waistband and last week’s gun of the week, my 1960 Walther PPK in my pocket.

Luckily I didn’t need them.  Met a great guy named Chris who was into Soviet Weapons as well. He didn’t want to sell, but was having money issues.  He bought this gun from GSP in Florida in 1982.  Upon research, German Sales Promotions (GSP) was selling Soviet Tokerev’s that had been refurbished in Germany and also Walther P1s.  They had sold many of them when the ATF closed them down, because the Tokerevs did not have a safety and did not qualify as “Sporting Weapons” Meaning these guns were not legally imported.  I am told the owner actually went to jail.

Whoops.  Anyway, Chris also had a C&R FFL, so we signed copies of our FFL certificates and I gave him the $650.  What a bargain. I have not seen a Soviet TT-33 in good shape for under $1000 in years.

This particular gun was made in 1942 at the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant (Russian: Ижевский Mеханический Завод, Izhevsky Mekhanchesky Zavod) or IZHMEKH (ИЖМЕХ) was a major firearms manufacturer founded in Izhevsk in 1942 for manufacturing small arms for WWII.

So I got to add it to my wall of Tokerevs.


My Wall of Tokerevs

Upon research, turns out I am not done yet,  there is a gun called a  Tokagypt 58 is a Hungarian-made Egyptian semi-automatic service pistol based on the Soviet Tokarev TT-33. T. So now I need one of these.

You can see all the previous gun of the week posts here.

Soviet junior political officer armed with a Tokarev TT-33 Service Pistol urges Russian troops forward against German positions during World War II. The picture is allegedly of political officer Alexey Gordeevich Yeremenko, who is said to have been killed within minutes of this photograph being taken.

Soviet junior political officer armed with a Tokarev TT-33 Service Pistol urges Russian troops forward against German positions during World War II. The picture is allegedly of political officer Alexey Gordeevich Yeremenko, who is said to have been killed within minutes of this photograph being taken.

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.  Most TT-33s were issued to 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 automatic pistol, and internally it uses Browning’s short recoil dropping-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, 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, notably a captive recoil spring secured to the guide rod which does not depend on the barrel bushing to hold it under tension. 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 7.62×25mm Tokarev cartridge, which was itself based on the similar 7.63×25mm Mauser cartridge used in the Mauser C96 pistol. Able to withstand tremendous abuse, large numbers of the TT-33 were produced during World War II and well into the 1950s.

The TT-33 omitted a safety catch other than the half cock notch which rendered the slide inoperable until the hammer was drawn back to full cock or pulled back to full cock and then lowered manually, which made it unsafe to carry when loaded. It also had a tendency for the magazine catch to accidentally release the magazine while drawing or firing the weapon, if the magazine was damaged in any way.

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.

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. The TT-33 pistol is also occasionally supplied to the People’s Armed Police under the name Type 54.

The Tokarev is popular 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.

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, are renowned for its simplicity, power and accuracy.

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