Ok,so I've been interested in the caliber 7.62x25 Tokarev for quite some time now.
I've come across lots of info on the internet,and lots of myth,rumor,and debate about what this cartridge can or cannot do.
So,I decided I'd like to collect all the stuff I've learned and come across in one post.
For starters,this isn't the same old,same old "my caliber is better then yours" post.In any comparisons I make with other calibers,this is not to denounce or disdain anyone's pet handgun or caliber,its for informational purposes only.
Speaking of informational purposes,thats pretty much what this entire post is about.I'll be delving into one of the particular strengths of the 7.62x25 Tok,and thats penetration- specifically,armor penetration.
This is not because I have a particular need or desire to penetrate body armor.This is merely because its a particularity of the cartridge,something it does well.
Any information about this aspect and any other of the 7.62x25 Tok is for informational purposes only
First,a little bit of history.
7.62x25 Tokarev was created by Fedor Tokarev for his TT-30 and 33 pistols around the late 1920's to 1930.It is the progeny of the 7.63x25 Mauser (itself the progeny of the 7.65x25 Borchardt),which was the preeminent cartridge chambered by the Mauser C96 "Broomhandle".AFAIK,the Russians acquired and liked the C96,with a distinctive version of it being nicknamed the "Bolo" Mauser,for the Bolsheviks that favored it.
7.63x25 Mauser,in normal trim,is usually an 85grain bullet going 1300-1400fps from a pistol barrel.
While some sources assert that the Tok is an improved version of the Mauser,its more likely that the Soviets decided to adopt and adapt it for their own munitions program which,at the time, predominately favored a single caliber -7.62,or .30- for all small arms,and there was really no "improvement" made to the overall and ballistic characteristics of the Mauser.
However,the Soviets did produce a few specialty cartridges,including AP,Trace,and Incendiary.
The early Soviet 7.62x25 Tokarev is still listed as an 85grain bullet with a muzzle velocity between 1300-1400fps from a handgun.
Of interest,is that the Germans used captured Soviet weapons on the Eastern Front,most notably the PPSh series,and fed them with 7.63x25 Mauser ammunition produced in Germany.
I cannot find any historical anecdotes of the reverse- of 7.62x25 being used in Mauser pistols.....although it seems to go without saying that in a nation like Soviet Russia where the government produces or procures all sources of ammunition and arms,that someone with a C96 variant chambered in 7.63x25 did at some point fire Soviet loaded 7.62x25 tokarev ammunition in their weapon.
Along the same vein,it would seem to me that the Soviets,with a large amount of C96's in inventory at the time,wouldn't do something as baldly detrimental to their ability to utilize those weapons as field a dangerously loaded bastardized version of the cartridge they are chambered for.
I believe that Fedor Tokarev intentionally designed the Tok to be compatible with the Mauser,and the only reason why Tok is "7.62" rather then "7.63" is because of the Soviet small arms standardization program to 7.62.
In fact,given the ballistic similarity between Soviet loaded tok and the 7.63 Mauser,I would assert that firing the Soviet load in a C96 would be fine.
But here is where things get "interesting" and there are some "caveats".
Sometime around the 50's the Czechs got around to utilizing 7.62x25 Tokarev in their weapons,as they were made part of the same small arms standardization protocol as the rest of the WARSAW nations.
WHB Smith, "Small Arms of the World", Stackpole, 1966, describes the Czech load as M48 and as ~20% heavier than the Russian. When the Soviets insisted the Warsaw Pact countries standardize on 7.62x25mm, the Czechs adapted their VZ 24 and CZ 26 submachineguns to 7.62x25 in 1951, but loaded their M48 rounds to get ~1800 fps from an 11 inch barrel. They then adopted the CZ Model 1952 (CZ vz 52) pistol to handle their standard M48 7.62x25 load (developed for the submachinegun). Smith lists Czech 7.62x25 from the pistol at 1600 fps, and lists the Russian 7.62x25 at 1640 fps from the PPSh submachinegun and 1378 fps from the TT33 Tokarev pistol. Given the muzzle flash evident when firing the CZ 52 with Czech ammo, I suspect higher velocity is achieved with slower burning powder not with higher operating pressure. Czech and Russian pistols appear safe with either Czech or Russian commercial or issue ammo but the recoil impulse of the Czech ammo seems more intense. An experimenter who goes by the internet handle "Clark" who does tests-to-destruction warns that with deliberate overloads the Czech CZ 52 barrel will fail before the Tokarev barrel.
-From WikiTalk; Naaman Brown, 28 August 2011
So,basically while the original Tokarev load was created for the Tokarev pistol and was then used in SMG's,the Czech M48 Tokarev load was cooked up for Czech submachineguns -hence it is actually SMG ammo- and was intentionally loaded with slow burning powder to give more velocity in longer barrels,and then the CZ52 was adapted to fire it.
So,in fact,the Czechs DID make the ammo for the subguns first,then made the pistol to digest the "special SMG ammo" who's existence has been debated in forums for like 10 years now......
So,in fact,the "Czech M48 SMG ammo" DOES EXIST
And interestingly,it seems as though modern loaded 7.62x25 Tokarev ammo is along the same lines of the Czech load in terms of velocity.Whether or not they are using the same powder concept -slow burning primarily for use in longer barreled SMGs- or whether they are just increasing pressure,I can't say.
I do know that Sellier & Bellot,the same Czech manufacturer that made the M48,makes a standard lead core ball load that does and average of 1500+ fps at the muzzle from CZ52's.
And,in fact,the TT30 and 33 pistol can fire it,along with the M48 ball.
BUT I WOULD NOT FIRE THIS STUFF,OR ANYTHING LOADED LIKE IT,IN A C96.
Whether I'm correct or not,the best place to err is on the side of caution,and while I've recently read in one forum where Clark is testing C96's and believes them to be just as strong if not stronger then the CZ52,I'd still not try it myself.
Heres where Clark talks more about this issue-
Broomhandle Mauser Ammo
I know this doesn't make any sense that you can fire a cartridge out of one specific gun that was developed for about the same cartridge as the other,but you shouldn't try it in the said other gun- but there it is.
Thats the extent of the matter AFAIK,and is certainly subject to change with updated information.
So,now we have the historical foundation for the 7.62x25 Tokarev all laid out,we know who invented it,why,and what it was used in,and we know who came along and changed it into the typical modern load we find today.
Now lets get to practicalities.
7.62x25 caliber pistols are generally frowned upon as civilian defensive weapons,and despite the caliber size issue which I find to be irrelevant,this is not entirely unfounded.
Tokarev is probably one of the best pistol calibers for sheer penetration,if not THE best,thus making it pretty much unsuitable for common self defense in FMJ format.
But one could argue that other calibers such as 9x19 Parabellum,with ball ammunition,could also be highly penetrative.
In either case the answer is good hollow point ammunition.
To give some idea of what a JHP load of Tokarev can do,I compared it with a commonly known .357 Magnum load in another one of my posts.I also go into the CZ52 a little bit,as its my preffered weapon chambered for 7.62x25 tokarev.
Ok first of all I said "COMPARISON WITH" and not "VERSUS".
I'm not trying to start a caliber war here.
I just thought I'd post this as a FYI kinda thing for anyone interested.
Anyway,I was looking at some numbers for 7.62x25 tokarev,specifically this load here-
7.62x25 90g XTP-HP
At the stated velocity of 1650fps,this should produce 544 or so ftlbs of energy.
Now,I'm not saying that ftlbs is the holy grail of ballistic performance,but the highly praised terminal ballistic effectiveness of 125gr JHP loads in .357 magnum,a typical example here-
Speer 125 grain Gold Dot hollowpoint
Is actually pretty similar to the tokarev load I mention above,which BTW,is my preferred JHP load for the caliber.
The Gold Dot .357 Mag does around 570 ftlbs from a 4 inch barrel.
Expansion is different,with the tokarev load (in a lower velocity) giving an expanded diameter of 0.498 here-
Three handloaded Hornady XTP bullets of various weights (7.62x25 tok)
While the .357 gives an average of 0.651.
difference is 0.153.
And of course,weight is different,but penetration of each in gelatin,regarding the Hornady 90gr XTP in Tok and the Magnum,actually favors the magnum,interestingly enough,as 7.62x25 tokarev is known for its sheer penetrative power and has been regarded by knowledgeable people as a risky caliber for self defense chores because of this.
In fact,some could say the .357 load being reviewed here is more of a risk of overpentration than the tok load is.
The magnum goes around 16 inches and the tok penetrates above 12 inches.
NOW,I'M NOT ABOUT TO SAY that the 7.62x25 tokarev is more powerful than the .357 magnum.
.357 Magnum can be loaded to blow the doors off the Tokarev.
HOWEVER,that being said- the typical 125grain .357 magnum load as I've used for my example has been touted as an excellent cartridge for self defense,and the ballistics,tho favoring the .357 by a decent margin,are really not that dissimilar.
Personally,I feel quite confident with this particular Tokarev load in my CZ52,and I have a few small advantages,certainly which can be negated with training and experience,over a typical.357 revolver-
I have 9 shots on a cocked and locked magazine fed system with a single action trigger pull vs. 6 shots on a double action revolver that I,myself,cannot load or fire as rapidly as a box magazine fed weapon with a single action trigger pull.
Yes,I am aware that you can get a semiautomatic pistol chambered in .357 magnum.
And YES,I'm well aware that the CZ52 can be iffy cocked and locked because on some of the more abused examples of the surplus pistols imported,the decocker acts like a trigger,and can be accidentally tripped in normal carry.
I've thoroughly tested my decocker by pulling bullet and powder out of some current manufacture brass cased ammo and dropped the hammer on the primers of at least 3 cases REPEATEDLY with the decocker to ensure its reliability.
I STRONGLY suggest that if you want to use your CZ52 the same as I do,you do the same.You should probably also test the functionality of the decocker every time you go to the range with your CZ52,to ensure it does not become a problem.
But for those of us who managed to get ahold of a good,fully functional example of the CZ52,it can be carried cocked and locked and has a relatively similar safety switch to the 1911/Hi-Power- being positioned in such a way that it can easily be manipulated by the thumb of the shooting hand; albeit the switch is "backwards" and a bit smaller and it has a de-cocker- which if it works properly,is actually a bonus.
The CZ52,IMHO,is fast and accurate and with good loads in a good pistol,makes a very adequate personal defensive weapon.
Something else I wanted to add is that the Sellier & Bellot ball,when tested in gelatin,tumbles about 7 inches in.
85gr Sellier & Bellot FMJ
If you ascribe to energy transfer,this gelatin block test should look pretty impressive to you.
Now,speaking about penetration,the issue of the Tokarev and Kevlar cannot go un-addressed.
In fact,several tests,including one that can be scientifically reproduced,have been done,with the results available on the Internet.
Over at box o' truth,they busted a PASGT Kevlar helmet-
The Box O' Truth #29 - The Helmets O' Truth - Page 1
And over at BrassFetcher,they busted a level II Kevlar vest,one step below level IIIA.This is the "scientifically repeatable test" I mentioned-
AP 3 (7.62x25mm FMJ)
Now,whats interesting,is that theres a guy on Youtube who shoots some Level IIIA panels.
This guy shoots IIIA rated kevlar "trauma plates" (like the ones here under "Higher Protection Level Inserts" BulletProofME.com Body Armor - Accessories for Concealable Vests
) with whats most likely lead core,steel gilded (jacketed) surplus ammo,which is NOT the Czech M48 ball or modern loads,meaning its most likely a bit lower in velocity then the Czech and modern stuff,and loaded to the old soviet specs.
Considering that the M48 ball is 20% hotter then the "standard" soviet recipe,and that most if not all modern loaded ammunition for 7.62x25 Tok is loaded around the same velocities:
This stuff will eat soft Kevlar for lunch,simply based on velocity and sectional density.
Unless,of course,its specially "tokarev rated",which is the RUMOR(All I've found are special inserts,not whole vests) I keep hearing about soft body armor in Asia and the former WARSAW pact nations because of the proliferation of 7.62x25 Tokarev and guns chambered for it.
Now,on to the highly debated steel core of the M48 ball.
First of all,YES,it exists.
It is legal to own what amounts were imported before the BATFEces decided it was "armor piercing".
I,myself,own a few boxes of it,and have cut a couple of the projectiles -one form each box- apart to find a steel core.
You can also see some for yourself on a gunbroker add here-
The million dollar question,is does this increase armor penetration?
Considering that a Brinell hardness test on lead alloy from projectiles was done here and resulted in a hardness of 10.81-
And in comparison,the Brinell of mild steel,which is what it is said the core's of steel cored M48 are composed of,is around 80-100 Brinell in most common applications(as far as I can tell)-
And armor plate or hardened steel,which is what a true AP projectile would also be composed of, is usually up in the several hundreds on the Brinell scale,and given the penetration of lead core copper jacketed projectiles in 7.62x25 Tokarev,I'd say that the BATFEces might actually be right for one in their constitutionally illegitimate existence.
Are the steel cores of M48 ball specifically designed to defeat kevlar?
Kevlar wasn't even around when this stuff was engineered and produced.
The velocity and sectional density of the common lead core Tok round is proven enough to penetrate at least level IIA.
But considering this stuff has a core that is quite a bit harder then lead.........I'm guessing it certainly doesn't hurt its ability to penetrate.
So there we have it.
Thats pretty much all I've got so far on the 7.62x25 Tokarev.
I hope this post has provided some insights into this caliber that is surrounded by myth and misconception.