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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.