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Why Makarov vs. Tokarev?

337 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Black Blade
My first thought of course would be the obvious one - that Fedor Tokarev fell out of favor with the Soviet regime. But all joking aside, why did the Soviets replace the Tokarev (7.62x25) with a less powerful Makarov (9x18)? I had wondered about this for some time and I came across this explanation in the book "Modern Combat Pistols" by Maxim Popenker.


The Red Army fought the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45 with both the semi-automatic Tokarev TT pistols and the obsolete Nagant M1895 revolvers. Despite the fact that more potent pistols were designed just before and during the war, the TT remained the mainstream weapon. Wartime experience, which included a close (and sometimes very personal) familiarity with German pistols, resulted in a major change of thinking about the role and necessary features of a military pistol for the Soviet army. Another factor that played a major role in the development of new requirements for the next military pistol, was the realistic prospect of a Third World War, with massive nuclear bombing and other such large-scale actions; as a result, pistols played a very minor role in both strategic and tactical doctrines of the Soviet Army. Furthermore, Tokarev pistols, despite being relatively simple and powerful, showed significant deficiencies, some of them quite serious, such as the lack of positive safety, so almost immediately after the war the GAU (Glavnoye Artillerijskoe Upravlenie – General Artillery Department of General Staff) issued a new set of requirements for a military and police pistol.

These requirements asked for a compact, double action pistol of the “Walther PP type”. New pistols were to be submitted in three calibres – 7.65x17SR Browning (proposed police round), 9x17 Browning, and a new 9x18. The last of these had been initially developed just prior to the war and refined after the war by the designer Syomin. Apparently, this round was inspired by the German 9x18 Ultra, which was designed in the mid-1930s to provide “acceptable maximum power” in simple, pocket-sized blowback pistols. The key reason for the increase in calibre when compared with the West 9mm rounds is unknown (the 9x18 Soviet has bullet diameter of 9.2mm, while most Western 9mm rounds have a bullet diameter of 9.02mm). However, with the benefit of hindsight, we can assume that the reasons for a calibre increase were probably the same as for the calibre of Soviet 82mm mortars, which were able to load and fire the slightly smaller German 8.1cm mortar bombs, but not vice versa. Also, while the Soviet Army was ahead of many others in the request for a double action pistol, it regressed somewhat in adopting an only marginally powerful round in a weapon that in essence was a pocket-type pistol. At the same period of time, many other armies, looking for an increase in power, starting to change their “weak” 7.65x17 Browning, 9x17 Browning or 7.65x20 Longue pistols to the more potent 9x19 Luger/Parabellum/NATO weapons. The explanation for this fact, however, is rather simple – while most Western countries relied on full-power rifles (bolt action or semi-automatic) and a sub-machine guns as a primary individual armament for the infantry, the new Soviet concept had no place for sub-machine guns, as the only primary arm of the infantry was the newly developed assault rifle. Most Western pistols were required to fire 9mm NATO ammunition just to have commonality in ammunition with the standard issue sub-machine guns; Soviet designers had no such requirements, and by the late forties 9x18 looked as if it was good enough for a military pistol.

Trials for a new pistol started in 1947. Many designs were submitted and tested, such as pistols by Baryshev, Rakov, Voevodin, Simonov, and Makarov. Some designs were submitted in only one of the desired calibres, some, such as the Makarov design, in two, and a few in all three. At the same time, the Army also tested few larger machine pistols in 9x18, which were intended as personal defence weapons for certain officers and NCOs. In 1948, the first trials resulted in a selection of the Makarov pistol in 9x18 as a next military sidearm for Soviet armed forces. However, it took three more years to refine its design, before it was officially adopted in 1951 as the “9mm Pistolet Makarova” or PM in short. In the same year Soviet Army also adopted the 20-shot, selective-fire Stechkin APS pistol in the same calibre. It was chosen over two similar machine pistols, designed by the then-unknown Kalashnikov (the designer of famous AK assault rifle) and Voevodin (who designed several pistols just before the war).

It must be noted that while TT was declared obsolete in 1951, it remained in service with the Soviet Army until the early seventies; in some rural departments of Soviet Militia (police) TT pistols served well into the eighties.

(from the book "Modern combat pistols")
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the TT was declared obsolete !!! WHAT!!! obsolete??? no way I love the 7.62X25 It is NOT obsolete around here!
There is no comparison... the Makarov, while a very nice and snappy little pistol is no match for the power available in the Tokarev cartridge used in the TT.

I will say that the little CZ-82 is an easier pistol to carry concealed, but my CZ-52 makes a better hammer and has enough heft to really give a good pistol whipping. :)

Another person's point of view

A long winded vote for the tokarev

Better round? The Tokarev can defeat threat level III bullet proof vests in simple 'ball' form, the 45 can't even defeat an old G.I. helmet. While I don't believe the Tokarev makes a better defensive round, you must take into consideration that they were designed to do two different things. The 45 is like a 12 ga, short effective range, but a hellofalotta power, the Tokarev will shoot out past 100 yards with reasonable accuracy (most of them that is) and have a hellofalotta penetration, in fact I have heard claims of Tokarev rounds penetrating stem to stern large brown bears (with ice pick sized wound channels, so I wouldn't recommend using one for grizzly hunting). As for the guns, The Tokarev is lighter and thinner than a 1911, and I am sure at least as reliable. The bottle necked cartridge is practically flawless (if you don't believe me, pick up some fired Tokarev shells, and put them unsized into your magazine, they will cycle thru the gun even though they have no bullet in the, talk about wide mouthed hollow points, you'll probably never find a forty five that feeds like that without a custom throating job) the trigger will smooth out to pretty darn good if you shoot it often enough. As for balance and grip angle, that is completely subjective, I rather like the feel of the Tokarev. It's shorter grip frame doesn't print so much, and if you buy a norinco (though most people hate them for some odd reason), all you have to do is deepen the dimples with a drill press (or careful hand drilling) to make the safety function properly) I can carry cocked and locked and it has never slopped off. As for the purpose of carrying cocked and locked with a round in the chamber, I don't believe their is one, I have practiced hundreds of times to leave the gun cocked, safety off, but no round in the chamber pull the gun out of it's holster, slam the gun so that big rear sight clips onto the top of your shorts, or belt, or even your pants leg, and cycle a round into the chamber when you get good at it, it will be no slower than if you just pulled and pointed it as my small of the back holster is in a natural motion from pulling it to swinging it around your body clipping the rear sight and pushing outward the slid will cycle a fresh round and you are set to go. If you drop the mag you can practice dry at home and not have to worry about having a negligent discharge (start off this way please) this doesn't even require a safety. Lets consider the unfortunate possibility, that you cannot cycle the slide, or miss catching the sight under stress, Most situations that call for using a CCW wouldn't justify pulling and shooting (at least not unless you want to spend a good time in jail), you should give challenge and attempt to diffuse the situation without further violence, in these cases, if you get the other guy off guard, then you should have plenty of time to cycle that slide, in addition to the fact, you know the chambers empty, but all the other guy sees is a pistol with the hammer back pointing at him, I'll bet you a barrel of nickels, he's going to quickly have a life affirmation and decide maybe a life of crime isn't such a good idea anyways.

Defensive load for the tt-33 Tokarev

A 310-311 (can't remember which) diameter Horniday 60 grain xtp hollow point with a hot load of fast powder of your choice for a velocity of around 1750 fps (or put a stronger recoil spring into it and approach 1900fps this will evaporate a 10 lb watermelon, and hit the backstop behind it with enough energy to bury 3 inches), I can only imagine the wound channel on that puppy.

Don't forget that the gun is also strong enough for 38 super conversions, if you absolutely need to have a bigger bullet.

As for 45's I'll have my first in a month or so, (past my 45 colt's that is) so maybe I'll be singing a different tune, but I doubt it. The major selling point for me was its toughness. My brain dead friend went hunting one year and brought along a military Russian Tokarev with him. It was the last day of the season, and he actually got a deer. He took out the pistol to finish the deer off, and set it on the ground before he started with the pictures and gutting and so forth. Somewhere in the process, the gun must have gotten kicked under some leaves, because after he was done he couldn't find it, it was getting dark so he decided to look for it the next day. He didn't find it then either. Too bad so sad for him right. Two seasons after that one, he was digging a hole to bury a banana peel out by his stand, and low and behold, he found his gun, a big ball of rust. He took it home, had to use a hammer, heat, and penetrating oil to even get the thing open. He took it apart, used a file to clean off the bigger hunks of rust, gave it an oil bath and put a fresh mag of bullets in it, I'll be damned if it didn't go off every round then and has never missed one since. Good gun is all I have to say (I guess I should have said that first, and saved you guys the trouble) oh well one vote for the Tokarev!!!
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