The Best Pistol Ever Created ( The Czar of Pistols)
Welcome to the home of the greatest pistol ever created! Since Fedor Tokarev developed the first Tokarev in 1930 and perfected his design in 1933, the Tokarev has reigned supreme as the dominating pistol design of the 20th century.
John Moses Browing
Tokarev...An American Icon?
When I was 12 years old my Dad, an avid gun collector, took me to a gun shop/range to let me shoot my first sub-machine gun. I was extremely excited when I loaded the first 30 rds. into the German made H&K MP-5 . As I shot my first 5-6 round burst my excitement grew into a full on adrenaline rush. As soon as it started, it seemed over.
After shooting my first fully-automatic weapon I felt exhilarated and my adrenaline was still running high when we thanked the range owner and made our way to the gun shop area. As we perused the racks of rifles I saw an AK-47 rifle with synthetic stocks, I thought it was the most beautiful weapon I had ever seen.
I asked my Dad if we could look at it and he reluctantly agreed. It was 1987 and the Cold War was still in the forefront of Americans minds, especially my John Wayne watching, Republican, conservative father. As I held the rifle my Dad expressed his disdain for the rifle by referring to it as a “commie” gun. I didn’t fully understand what communism was or why we were supposed to hate everything Russian but he was my Dad, so I just grinned and handed it back to the shop keeper. Interestingly, that day we walked out with a brand new Browning A-bolt, bolt action rifle. On the way home my Dad taught me about John Browning, and the 1911 pistol. By the time I got home I wasn’t sure if John Browning was a prophet or a gunsmith and if the M1911 was a religious relic.
As time went on the wall between East and West came down and I bought my first synthetic stock Ak-47. It was a Norinco with a Dragonuv style stock. I was already 23 years old at the time and my Dad’s opinion still hadn’t changed. Although my Dad hadn’t changed the world certainly was. Westerners were being exposed to their former enemy’s firearms and thought they were “kinda cool”.
But as this article points out the U.S. and Russia do share a similar past. During a time when both governments were oppressing religions and people, two gunsmiths were born. Both, witnesses to their own countries civil wars. Abolishment of serfdom in Russia was followed shortly by the executive order from Abraham Lincoln to free the slaves in the United States. Two countries industrial revolutions began. It was a time when industry was meeting invention. Men were being freed and the era of the modern firearm was beginning.
History of two Gunsmiths, their countries and their guns
When trying to understand how the Tokarev pistol became an icon of the 20th century we must first familiarize ourselves with John Moses Browning, who is the father of all modern firearms design. John Browning was born on January 23rd, 1855 in Ogden, Utah. In 1869, at the age of 9, Browning assembled a slide rifle out of spare parts for his brother’s birthday. Even though young Browning’s life was not entrenched in the Great American Civil war from 1861-1865, his youth was not without turmoil. In 1857, James Buchanan sent 2,500 troops to put down a so called “Mormon Rebellion”. No shots were fired. In the spring of 1878 John Browning begins working on his first Single shot rifle, he is only 18. In 1879, John Browning’s first of many future patents is granted, U.S. Patent No. 220,271 for his single shot rifle. With the help of his brothers in 1880 John Browning establishes his arms factory. In 1902, Browning severed his 19 year old relationship with Winchester and headed to Fabrique Nationale in Belgium to show them the first auto-loading pump shotgun. Upon his arrival Fabrique Nationale had him develop a 9mm pistol for the Belgian army. The pistol was called the FN model 1903 and would be the father of a bouncing baby boy name Tokarev T-33.
In 1871, just a couple years after John Browning has built his brother his birthday rifle at age 9 a baby is born in Stanitsa Egorlykskaya, Don River Basin, Russia. His name is Fedor Tokarev, in 59 years he would develop the first Tokarev T-30 based on Browning’s FN 1903. Young Fedor spent his childhood under the rule of Czar Alexander the II also known as “The Czar Liberator”. (Czar Alexander II ) Alexander II earned this nickname because he liberated the Russian Serfs in 1861. Known as Emancipation Decree which allowed Serfs to own land, become married and own businesses among other freedoms other Russians enjoyed. Two years later in the U.S. Abraham Lincoln issued the executive order “Emancipation Proclamation” which ordered that freedom be granted to some 3.1 to 4 million slaves in the United States. While Browning was developing his pump shotgun Russia’s coal, iron, steel and oil production was growing rapidly. In fact, its production tripled between 1890 and 1900. Russia’s Gross National Production grew more quickly than any other major European Power. During this explosion of industrialization the Trans- Siberian Railway was started in 1891 and completed in 1905, it ran for 5,785 miles. In 1900 Tokarev Graduated as a Cossack commissioned officer, age 29, and returned to his old unit, the 12th Don Cossack Regiment as a Master Gunsmith. In 1910 Tokarev submitted a conversion prototype for the existing 1891 Mosin-Nagant rifle. The prototype converted the Mosin-Nagant 1891 Bolt Action to semi-automatic fire.
The Tokarev TT-33 pistol
In 1930, Fedor Tokarev designed the first prototype that would be the Tokarev TT-33 (1933). Basing his design on John Browning’s blowback operated FN Model 1903 and using Browning’s short recoil dropping-barrel system from the M1911. The TT-33 employs a simpler hammer/sear assembly than the 1911 and is completely removable as one unit. Also, the Tokarev pistol differs from the 1911 in that the recoil spring is secured to the guide rod. This was done to improve functioning and reliability. Locking lugs cover the entire circumference of the barrel on the Tokarev. The M1911 only has locking lugs at the top.
The TT-33 is chambered for the 7.62 x 25 mm. This cartridge has a very flat trajectory. This is due to its light weight, usually around 86 grains and its high velocity, 1,500 feet per second. This makes it ideal for longer ranges and an effective hunting gun vs. varmint and other small game. Although there are not very many upgrades available like with the 1911, I see a huge amount of potential for this pistol in the world of sport, hunting and law enforcement.
The Tokarev is a hybrid. It is the perfect storm of American invention meeting Russian simplicity and dedication to flawless reliability. Call it a “Commie” gun. But let’s not be so judging of a gun and its inventor because of injustices its government may have committed. Besides, our histories are not that different. Ironically, the iconic pistols of Russia and the U.S. are in fact brothers, both descendant from Browning’s FN 1903 and earlier models. I think I hear my Dad turning over in his grave….what’s he murmuring….. “Commie gun”.