Range Report: The 7.62 x 25mm

Red Army 7.62x25mm Tokarev

I have to admit to a number of rather odd stablemates resting in the safe alongside my 1911, SIG, and HK handguns. These firearms may have a historical or mechanical interest, or they may simply be fun to use and fire. The 7.62 x 25mm pistols are among the most interesting.

7.62x25mm Hornady XTP Tokarev cartridges
If you wish, you may handload the Tokarev cartridge with Hornady XTP bullets.

The original 7.62x25mm cartridge was designed for Hugo Borchardt’s pistol. Widely viewed as the first successful self-loading pistol, the Borchardt was also expensive. I strive to compare such things as much as possible. There is also a danger of importing my own philosophy into research, but I do feel that some wanted the most bang! for the buck and others were willing to pay for performance.

The Borchardt would set the buyer back about as much as four Colt Single Action Army pistols during the day. When Georg Luger modified it into the Luger pistol, he shortened the cartridge into the 7.65mm Luger. Mauser, however, adopted the original cartridge for its 1896 pistol. This cartridge jolted an 86-grain bullet to over 1400 fps. The .30 Luger was closer to 1100 fps.

The Mauser cartridge offered excellent accuracy and penetration. Only firsthand knowledge is a fit commentary. I have fired the Mauser Broomhandle extensively. The pistol is better balanced than it appears, accurate, and fast handling. It changed the world and became a favorite of gunners such as T. E. Lawrence, Bell, and Churchill.

The Mauser became a popular handgun during World War I. Many were captured by the Russians and more purchased before and after the war. When Russia was looking to manufacture a modern service pistol, a simple to manufacture handgun was desirable. The Tokarev TT 33 features a modular trigger system that is easily removed for service, a Browning locked breech design, and a short grip and relatively long barrel. It is similar the Colt 1903 in appearance but much more powerful.

Man holding a C96 pistol with pistol target
Lee Berry may not have won the contest but few if any other shooters fired this mail in contest with the Mauser C96 pistol!

Some 7.62 Tokarev loads reached 1,500 fps. The cartridge was chosen partly because there were plenty of stores of Mauser pistols and ammunition and partly for proven performance. The pistol has plenty of penetration for cutting through web gear. It is a good submachine gun cartridge also chambered in the Soviet burp guns. It is accurate.

The single-action Tokarev is as reliable as any handgun. There is no manual safety but a large burr hammer for easy cocking. The Tokarev was replaced by the Makarov after World War II but many still serve in China, Korea, and other third world nations. The Makarov is a good badge of office and easy to carry but I would prefer the Tokarev for combat.

As for the cartridge, the Mauser cartridge was respected in combat. Churchill noted its effectiveness. T. E. Lawrence carried the Broomhandle and found it a good combat pistol. Bell was more precise, noting that the high-velocity bullet was a fine stopper it if ‘hit bone.’

An email buddy, who I have found to be knowledgeable and experienced, has further spurred me to research. He is a holster and knife maker as well. His field gun in the American West is a .30 Tokarev. He finds it a better choice—for him—than the .32 Magnum or .357 Magnum revolver. ‘Bob’, he noted, ‘This gun did not cost much but it is accurate. Ammo is cheap and hits hard. It is light to carry.’

He has had a problem with the local coyote population. He told me that he was in the back forty and spotted a coyote running over a hill at about 100 yards. Realizing the shot was long but not wishing to miss a chance, he took aim and dropped the mangy dog! Having a gun that you are familiar with pays off.

7.62x25mm Tokarev
The Tokarev proved accurate enough for most chores.


I have tested the Sellier and Bellot, Red Army, Wolf, and Prvi Partizan ammo in my personal pistol with good results. Velocity runs from 1,380 to 1,450 fps depending upon the lot. This is plenty fast, flat shooting, and delivers good accuracy. The cartridge is fun and at present affordable, even cheap.

Watch out for corrosive ammunition. I still see some occasionally, and I have fired loads headstamped 43 with good results. Just clean the gun. Recoil is modest and muzzle blast sometimes… interesting. After learning of my friends good shot, I took the Romanian Tokarev out for a test drive with Red Army loads. After settling down and firing a nice 2.5-inch group at 25 yards, I am certain hitting a coyote at 100 yards is well within the realm of possibility.

I have handloaded this cartridge with modern hollow point bullets and discovered combinations that make the .32 Magnum look humble. The Hornady 60-grain XTP at 1550 fps is one combination, the Hornady 85-grain XTP at 1400 fps is another—and it is fun! A long time ago, I handloaded the French 1935. This is a straight walled .30 case. Ammunition must be made from the .32 Smith and Wesson Long cartridge—and it isn’t the easiest conversion. With the 60-grain Hornady XTP, this little handgun would break 1250 fps.

.30 Luger on a zombie target
The .30 Luger is accurate but not as powerful as the Mauser cartridge.

The 1935 was like a miniature SIG P210, quite accurate, and a ball of fire to shoot. The Tokarev is more powerful, about as accurate, and much easier to feed. While I enjoy firing many handguns, when you take a look at affordability and performance this hot bottleneck is impressive.

Personal Defense

Wolf offers a JHP load that fragments in wet newsprint and in water. Recoil is modest and accuracy good. From my personal Tokarev, velocity is 1,388 fps. Few cartridges offers such diverse performance, from high penetration with FMJ loads to frangible performance with JHP loads.



What is your favorite gun mentioned in this article or shooter of the 7.62×25? Share it in the comment section.


About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (20)

  1. Thank you very much for this particular article addressing the venerable 7.62×25 round. For years I have been a huge follower of this amazing round. However, I must confess that it was the extreme affordability of the round that initially drew me in. Being a fan of military firearms, especially those surrounding the WWII era, this round has many host firearms that simply love to dine on this hot little round.

    One of my favorite platforms for the Tokarev round is the CZ 52 pistol. I have also , enjoyed using this round in the PPSH 41, the PPS 43, the outstanding CZ 24/26, the TT-33 as well as other delivery systems. Though smaller than a number other popular rounds, the size of the round in no way diminishes its ability to mete out severe damage upon those unfortunate enough to be in its path. Capable of penetrating Class I, Class 2 and Class 2A body armor, the Tokarev is more than capable of dealing out a healthy dose of death and destruction, especially those military surplus armor piercing rounds. .

    Regrettably, the current political climate has driven all things firearms related through the roof, and the once very cheap Tokarev round is no exception. Regardless, I am still extremely comfortable with carrying a pistol chambered in this excellent round, magazine capacity aside.

    Thank you again for the article, my friend. I certainly enjoyed gleaning a little more developmental history of this particular round.

  2. I shot an armadillo with privi7.62×25 HP, it hopped around a little. I think it died a little quicker then a 9mm but not as fast as 45acp. I shot a racoon with 7.62 fmj’s, thru the chest, it ran about 3ft n died. I shot at a cooperhead snake but missed, the bullet hit the ground next to it and stunned it. For a woods gun I like tt33 and 7.62×25.

  3. Does anybody on this thread know who makes holsters for a Zastava M57? It’s a relatively thin, flat pistol that would really work well in an IWB design, maybe even cross draw . Here’s hoping

  4. I have a Yugo M 57, I just order a Ramlite magnetic laser for it. The only thing bad, is he is going out of business at the in of August. If order one now you may get. He has others that will fit other guns that don’t have rails. you can find the site on youtube.

  5. I’ve got an M57 Yugo that I like a lot, and I’m curious about where you came across that Kydex IWB holster. The Tokarev design is nice and slim and rounded for IWB carry. Mike B.

  6. I have read a great deal of confused discussion about pistols chambered in the venerable 7.62 x 25. A most cursory search found that the Borchardt was designed & chambered in 7.65 x 25, Mauser, 7.63 x 25 & 9 x 19,some were chambered in .45 ACP at the behest of a Chinese War Lord. The PO 8 Luger was in 7.63 x 21, 9 x 19 and rarely in 45 ACP. Want proof, don’t take my word, go to Wikipedia and search each pistol. The lesser know Bergmann that came about during the same time period was chambered in; 5, 6.5 & 8 x 22 Bergmann.

  7. I have the romanian tok tt33 pistol i carry in a double shoulder holster with my colt officers model 45 on other side . I carry the tok for 1 purpose only an isis type mass shooter with body armor on .I use the S&B fmj load 90 grain bullet and a full 10 rounds it will defeat body armor at close range this is my isis style lone wolf as they say in WH body armor wearing self defense handgun it will get the job done and in a case i run out of 45 ammo i have 10 more rounds in the tok ready to go it works pretty much and feels in my weak hand and right hand almost like a lightweight 1911 the design was patterned after john brownings pre cursor the the 1911 the model 1903 colt in 32 acp for the job i picked it for which you just never know now a days they have body armor on and i do not i can still take them out i suggest this to all who carry for self defense because most of todays terror type mass shooters are wearing body armor 9 out of 10 times i want to still be able to end their killing spree with a double tap to chest out my little tok hand gun .

  8. In the 1990’s I acquired a Tula Arsenal manufactured Tokarev. It was a WW II trophy that belonged to a gent I met when working as a gunsmith. When He passed away I purchased it from his widow for a fair price. I never got a chance to fire it, but it seemed very rugged if a bit crude. There was about 20% of the original finish left on it, the bore was OK but not bright and shiny – the rifling was sharply defined so I don’t think it was fired a lot. At the time , the 7.62 ammunition was hard to find unless you wanted 1,000 rounds in a spam can. I needed money, so I ended up selling it about 6 months after I bought it. I have never seen another Tula Tokarev since.

    A few years later I bought a CZ 52, in the same caliber. It was covered with tool marks from the manufacturing process, but it functioned flawlessly and that round was accurate and very hard hitting.

  9. The tokarev is the only hand gun or rifle for that matter that I have seen that will cycle a full mag of emptys by hand of course. If you have one in 762×25 load up a mag with spent brass and try it . You’ll never find a hollow point that won’t feed in one

  10. I bought a surplus Norinco 54 knockoff of the Tok years ago. It came with 7.62×25 and 9mm barrels and magazines. The 7.62×25 shot wonderfully. Katrina ruined the gun; (salt water immersion and not finding it for a week or two will do that to a firearm.)

  11. Well I have a story about this round and this pistol, a good friend of mine called me to meet him at the range one day to see his idea, I arrived to find him with a Tokarev and some finny looking loads, it turned out he had ordered a thousand .30 cal. Sabots, he took 55 gr 223 bullets and loaded them into the Tok using the Sabots, I watched him shoot ten rounds thru the crono and the average was 2800 FPS, but they weren’t very accurate, and the bullets keyholed, he shot a steel target made out of 3/8″ soft steel and the bullet hit sideways but was buried in the steel, it was a interesting experiment but just didn’t work out.
    He tried the same thing with the M1 carbine, it worked but was never accurate.

  12. One of my favorites since I was a teenager when a friend shared his C96 with me. I had one and several tokarevs and built a Ppsh semi carbine. I have a chinese tok that came with a 9mm barrel as well, easy conversion but prefer the 7.62. I got to fire the original Ppsh in a class 3 state and I can see why some would consider it the best sub gun of WW2.

  13. I have a CZ-52 in 7.62 Tokarev, and though the construction appears cheap (plastic hand grips, spring catch mag release), it’s a great-shooting gun!

  14. I have a 6″ 1911 stainless barrel in 7.62×25. It uses the Clark-Para ramp and I put it in my Kimber 38 Super 1911. It is amazingly accurate, powerful, reliable and fun. Since it’s a bottle neck case, with that full length ramp it feeds without question. The factory loaded rounds are too long to fit more than a few in the magazine but I hand-load and seat the bullet to a slightly shorter over all length and it works incredibly well. Why they don’t play with the 1911 frame/magazine size to suit the 7.62×25 is beyond me. It has little recoil, excellent power and terrific accuracy.

  15. My first pistol was a cz52 sold to me for $86. I have a sig226, an fn57, a sw.500, a mosquito, a glock 22, and one or two other pistols. My cz is still my carry piece. Trust my life to it as much or more than ANY other firearm. Period.

  16. Have carried 7.62 x 25 Tokarevs as sidearms, was never disappointed with their performance. Have handled and fired .30 Mausers. Both are excellent, but the Mauser was a bit awkward, at least for me, for a full time carry. The ‘Tok’s’ more compact size was always more convenient. In Chi-Com & Russian sub-guns, the 7.62 x 25 was on of my favorite rounds, more so than the 9 Parabellum. My only regret was that the MP-40 wasn’t chambered for this round. It was and is my go-to sub-gun.

  17. Actually, the Borchardt (C93) was chambered for the Mauser cartridge, not the Tokarev cartridge. The Mauser is somewhat milder, and doesn’t hammer the Borchardts & Broomhandles (C96) unmercifully.

    1. The Borchardt predated the Mauser by many, many years, as did the Bergman, another auto-loader that came to be on the heels of the Borchardt. The 7.62 x 25 was not proprietary to the Tokarev, but adopted by Russia for that firearm. The .30 Mauser and the .30 Luger were predated by Hugo Borchard’s round.

  18. Had a CZ-52 in 7.62×25 for a time. Loved to shoot it and should have kept it and tweaked it for better accuracy.

  19. My first center fire was a CZ52. Awesome gun for $85. Ammo used to be dirt cheap and I still have bags of it. I’m still not sure about a CCW, although it is very thin, but it’s a terribly fun piece to shoot. My favorite story is still the time I went to a range in the city, Chicago south side, because my local guy was terrified of it. No Magnums of Any Kind! So I packed up and headed into the city to a range that said they don’t care about magnum loads. When I got there, the guy next to me unpacked his nickel plated long barrel while I unpacked my gun metal grey surplus piece with the weird red plastic grips. After blowing 10′ of flame out of the barrel, he had to come over to ogle it. Very soothing to an ego.

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