Gunsmithing The Tokarev TT-33

The Russian Tokarev TT-33 doesn’t get its fair share of respect among service pistols. Here’s how to work on them.

by RK Campbell

The Tokarev was adopted by the Russian military in 1933 after modifying the TT-30 to TT-33 status. Fedor Vasilievich Tokarev used proven Browning locked breech principles in his design; the locking lugs, barrel bushing, guide rod, recoil assembly, and magazine release are straight up Browning. The pistol has no manual or grip safety, however.

The pistol features an en bloc removable hammer group, an important step in ease of manufacture and maintenance. The TT-33 was produced in an era when handwork was done on machines to make each part and is among the most advanced handguns of the pre-World War Two period regarding ease of mass manufacture. The Tokarev was intended to be maintained by soldiers with minimal skills or experience. It excels in this regard. There are no screws in the design, even down to the attachment of the grips.

Tokarev made several design changes in the Browning template and ended up with a unique firearm. An example is the keeper is used to positively retain the slide lock. This small sheet metal lock slides over a notch in the slide lock’s protrusion on the right side of the gun and must be pressed to the rear in order to free the slide for disassembly.

Read more in the May 2017 issue.

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