Mauser M/96, Nagant and TT-33:



7,63 mm and 9 mm M/96 Mauser "Ukko-Mauser":

(Mauser-selbstladepistole C96)

PICTURE: 9-mm Mauser M/96 pistol model 1916. Red "9" carved to handle indicates caliber (9 mm x 19 Parabellum/Luger). (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (72 KB).


7,63 mm x 25 Mauser / 9 mm x 19 Parabellum/Luger


295 mm

Barrel length:

140 mm


1140 g


10, non-removable (typically)

Official abbreviations:

"7,63 pist/Mauser" and "765 PIST MAU"

"9,00 pist/Mauser" and "900 PIST MAU"

Country of origin:





1897 - 1939, over 1 million made in about 30 variations.

Finnish use: Used by both sides in Finnish Civil War of 1918, used by home-front troops during World War 2.

Mauser C96 pistol was the first commercially successful mass-produced automatic pistol. Brothers Fidel, Friedrich and Josef Feederle designed the pistol for Mauser factory. Mass-production of C96 started in 1897. Some 300,000 pistols C96 of 7,63 mm x calibre were manufactured between 1897 - 1918. From 1907/1908 to 1914 the Mauser pistol was also manufactured in more powerful 9 mm x 25 Mauser caliber, but that caliber did not achieve much of a success. One of the later famous early users of Mauser C96 was Winston Churchill, who used privately purchased C96 pistol in Sudanese campaign and Boor War. The design of C96 pistol went through several improvements during the production, maybe the most important was new safety (Neues Sicherung = NS) introduced in 1912. German Army was not interested about the Mauser pistol before World War 1, but once the war started the situation changed. During World War 1 German Army needed much more pistols that what it already had and when Parabellum P-08 (standard issue German Army pistol at the time) production was not nowhere sufficient enough, they turned their attention to Mauser C96. Since German Army did not want to complicate their ammunition supply by introducing 7.63 mm x 25 cartridge to their ammunition inventory, new 9 mm x 19 caliber version of C96 (already used with P-08) was designed and placed into production. This 9 mm x 19 caliber version is also known as model 1916, although it seems to have been introduced to production only in year 1918. The German Army ordered some 150,000 pistols C96 in calibre 9 mm x 19, from these only about 65,000 were delivered in year 1918 with production continuing until year 1920, at which point it had reached total of about 130,000 pistols. Year 1920 Mauser started production of 7.63-mm calibre "bolo"-version (Russian Bolsheviks were one of the main customers for this pistol), which had shorter barrel (as Versailles treaty forbid German industry manufacturing 9 mm x 19 caliber pistols or pistols with 100-mm or longer barrels). Further improved safety known as Universalsicherung was introduced in 1930's. Also in 1930's Mauser introduced new select-fire (capable to both full-automatic and semiautomatic fire) version Reihenfeuer Pistole also known as "M 712". The success of select-fire "M 712" Mauser pistol was reasonable, but not huge - some 100,000 were manufactured before its manufacturing came to an end. The main market for the select fire version was China, whose markets Spanish Royal and Astra had already earlier flooded with their own select-fire versions only very loosely based on Mauser C96. The select-fire version typically had 10- or 20-round removable magazines. The other versions of C96 usually had 6- or 10-shot non-removable magazine, which was loaded with cartridge clip from the top. Typical equipment for Mauser C96 contained wood holster, which could also be used attached to pistol to give it rifle-like butt. All in all Mauser C96 was produced in about 30 main variations and remained in production until year 1940 with the last delivery being 7,800 produced for German Luftwaffe. During early part of World War 2 German Luftwaffe and Waffen-SS issued C96 pistols. Direct copies and pistols based to Mauser C96 were also made in Spain (Astra, Royal and Azul), China and Korea.

PICTURE: 7.63-mm Mauser M/96 pistol with wooden holster stock typical to this pistol. (Photo taken in Uusimaa/Nyland Brigade). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (51 KB).

PICTURE: Heavily worn 9 mm Mauser M/96 pistol with wooden holster stock attached. (Photo taken in Uusimaa/Nyland Brigade). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (75 KB).

Mauser C96 pistols are commonly known as "broom-handle" in English-speaking countries. This nickname comes from their pistol grips, which remind end of the broomstick. From technical point of view Mauser C96 pistols are rather unusual pistol design using short barrel recoil - besides more or less exact copies there has been very little trying of developing their structural design for a very long time. The obvious reason for this the complexity of their structural design and certain few details, which never gained too much popularity. For example both barrel and slide of these pistols are one single piece machined from solid steel - and a very complicated piece of steel for that. Mauser C96 has adjustable tangent-type rear sight. Mauser manufactured the pistol in small numbers also in 9 mm x 25 Mauser Export caliber, later some Chinese copies of Mauser C96 were also manufactured in .45 ACP caliber.

PICTURE: Soldiers of Finnish Army with their Mauser C96 pistols during Civil War. They have their left elbows in snow, but one has visible white armband with "S inside a circle", which was standard insignia of Civil Guard. Three of the four soldiers have shoulder stock holsters attached to pistols. Photographer J.H. Aho. Photograph provided by Finnish Heritage Agency (Museovirasto) via and used with CC BY 4.0 license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (108 KB).

Finnish natialist activists had smuggled small number of these pistols to Finland already before World War 1. During the war Germany was delivering military hardware first to Finnish Jaeger Movement (Jääkäriliike) and later to Finnish White Army. German submarine UC-57 and German freight ships delivered weapons to Finland for Finnish White Army in 1917 - 1918. Among weapons that they delivered were over 1,000 Mauser C96 pistols of both 7.63 mm x 25 and 9 mm x 19 caliber. What is known suggests that majority of the pistols were in 9 mm x 19 caliber. Finnish Red Guards and Russian Gendarmes managed to intercept some of the weapons deliveries and also used these pistols in smaller numbers during Finnish Civil War. Finnish White Army issued Mauser C96 pistols mostly to its officers and leadership of various levels, with some issued as personal defence weapons. When Civil War ended in May of 1918 large number of men issued with these pistols did not return them, but took them home as war souvenirs.

PICTURE: Three Finnish Army soldiers. Sergeant on the left has Mauser M/96 pistol in its wooden holster stock hanging from his belt. The pistol holster is open and shows "9" marked into pistol's grip panel. Photographed by Nuorto in Nuijamaa in July of 1941. ( archive, photo number 30140). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (139 KB).

After pistols M/19 and M/23 had been bought in large numbers Finnish Army came to conclusion that old Mauser M/96 pistols were not needed anymore, so they were transferred to Suojeluskunta (Finnish Civil Guard). During World War 2 the remaining M/96 pistols were mostly used in home front. Summer of 1940 still 614 Mauser M/96 pistols remained, this included 271 pistols in 7,63 x 25 and 343 in 9 x 19 calibre. Finnish soldiers gave the pistol nickname "Ukko-Mauser" (= Old man Mauser. Smaller 7,65 mm Mauser M/1914 pistol was known as "Akka-Mauser" aka "Old woman Mauser"). While these pistols can quite accurate I doubt anybody would claim their pistol grip ergonomic. As to be expected from first successful automatic pistol structure of the weapon is also quite complicated and therefore both disassembling and putting the pistol back together quite difficult. It seems that on the long run especially 9-mm version had slight durability problem: Often their slides started to stretch in specimens, which had been fired a lot. However this might be at least partly due to 9 mm x 19 caliber hot submachinegun ammunition misused by Finnish military also in pistols during World War 2. Year 1960 the remaining Mauser M/96 pistols were sold to Interarmco and shipped abroad.

PICTURE: Finnish officer photographed in middle of shooting practice with his Mauser M/96 pistol. Photographed by Military official I. Timonin in January of 1942. ( archive, photo number 69802). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (63 KB).

Writer's limited personal shooting experiences with 7.63-mm Mauser M/96 pistol: As noted, the structural design and basic operating principle of this pistol are rather unusual. This is one large, clumsy and quite heavy pistol with weird point of balance. Fixed magazine that is located in front of the trigger is filled with 10-round stripper clip reminding the ones used in bolt action rifles of the era. Fixed magazine can also be loaded without stripper clip, but that is even more difficult and time-consuming, since bolt is being locked back by magazine follower. Hence using proper stripper clips for the purpose is highly recommended. Removal of the clip from top of the fixed magazine allows bolt to move forward, leaving the pistol ready to fire. Ergonomics-wise the pistol is very challenging to shoot well. The "broom-handle" pistol grip is very small, round and tapered, while the pistol is also front- and top-heavy compared to other pistol designs, which makes holding and aiming it properly quite difficult. Surprisingly ergonomics are not all bad - for right-handed shooter Neues Sicherung type safety is easy and natural to use with a thumb. During shooting the pistol shows noticeable muzzle climb, which somewhat slows down pace of shooting, but recoil is rather mild. Sight picture is manageable or even good compared to other military pistols of the same era - wide notch in rear sight and sharp front sight post. Trigger is rather typical to military service pistols - not light or heavy and as a bonus trigger travel is relatively short. If shooting in indoor shooting range or from a cot, wearing a hat is recommended - the pistol extracts cartridge cases straight up and if there is a ceiling from which they can bounce back, some of them will fall on shooter's head. The 7.63-mm caliber version also tends to extract cartridge cases with quite a bit of energy. Disassembly of this pistol and in particular putting it back together are not for those that are faint in heart - this may be the most complicated pistol to disassemble and re-assemble to ever accepted in large-scale military use.


7,62 mm Revolver M/1895 Nagant:

(Revolver sistemy nagana obr. 1895 g.)

PICTURE:Nagant m/1895 revolver manufactured by Tula arsenal in year 1900. This revolver originally had blued finish, but it has worn off long time ago. The design of Nagant m/1895 did not change much during its production. When compared to Izhevsk-manufactured year 1944 revolver below notice different shape of front sight bead (half-moon vs. shark fin) and less aggressive texture of wooden grip panels on this early sample. Photographed by Anni Minkkinen. Photo source The National Museum of Finland (Suomen Kansallismuseo), acquired via and used with CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (88 KB).


7,62 mm x 38 R Nagant


244 mm

Barrel length:

144 mm


770 g



Official abbreviations:

"7,62 rev/Nagant"

Country of origin:

Russia/Soviet Union




Belgium 1895 - 1898, Russia/Soviet Union 1899 - 1945.

Finnish use: Nagant M/1895 revolvers saw use in Finnish Civil War in year 1918. In 1920's and 1930's Finnish military did not issue these guns. Even if they were probably captured by the thousands during World War 2, grand majority of them did not find their way into military inventory and were officially issued only to some home-front units. Unofficially these revolvers saw more unofficial use with Finnish soldiers who had captured and decided to keep as personal secondary weapons.

Russian Armed Forces accepted this revolver designed by Belgian Leon Nagant to their standard issue sidearm in year 1895. In their use Nagant revolver replaced earlier Smith & Wesson and Galand revolvers. Russia required its new service revolver in 7.62-mm calibre due to having already adopted 7.62 mm x 54R rifle cartridge and wanting to be able to manufacture barrels for both with the same machinery, hence requiring similar bore and rifling. At the same time Russian military wanted to get higher muzzle velocity and therefore higher muzzle velocity than with other service rifle cartridges of roughly similar caliber - hence the development of gas-seal feature, which makes Nagant model 1895 unique. As far as the basic structure goes - Nagant revolver loaned the idea for gas-seal from earlier design of his rival Henry Pieper, against whom Nagant design competed in Russian revolver trials of early 1890's. Pieper had acquired patented his own first gas-sealed revolver design already 1886. The special gas-seal system was formed by cartridge case, barrel and cylinder which moved forward to close the gas-seal when revolver was cocked. It is worth noting that the mechnics concerning how the cylinder was moved forward were not similar in Piper's and Nagant's designs and 7.62-mm x 38R cartridge was also designed by Leon Nagant. The ammunition used for the purpose of gas-seal is quite unusual: Bullet is completely seated inside cartridge case. First 20,000 revolvers were made in Belgium until Tula arsenal got its production running. By start of World War 1 about 420,000 of these revolvers had been made. During World War 1 Nagant revolver was main sidearm in use of Russian Army and over 470,000 Nagant revolvers were manufactured in years 1914 - 1917. Early on Nagant revolver was made in two versions, from these "officer's model" was double-action while single-action-only "enlisted-men's version" was made for other ranks. Nagant revolver (of officer's model, as the Bolsheviks soon stopped production of the single-action-only version) manufacturing continued also after 1917 revolution, even if the revolution and Russian Civil War created demand it also ruined availability of raw-materials, which reduced production. Some sources suggest that the last "enlisted-men's version" of Nagant M/1895 were manufactured in year 1922, while other suggest year 1924. Even when Soviet military adopted TT-33 pistol in early 1930's the production of Nagant also continued (with exception of year 1934) until 1945. Reasons for keeping Nagant in production seem to have been quite simple - the machinery for production existed, so why not use it. Also Nagant, unlike TT-33 pistol, could not be fired through narrow vision slots of armoured vehicles - feature which the Soviets considered useful before World War 2. Over 1,070,000 Nagant revolvers were manufactured in Soviet Union between 1932 - 1945. During World War 2 they were issued to many units and tank crews seem to have been typically issued with them due to they being capable of being fired through vision slots typical in Soviet tanks of that era.

PICTURE: Nagant revolver M/1895 with opened holster and some ammunition. This individual revolver was manufactured by Izhevsk arsenal in year 1944. Revolver's loading port is open with partially inserted cartridge. Holster has opened small ammunition pouch designed to carry 14 rounds - enough for reloading the revolver twice. Copyrights for the photo Jaeger Platoon Website. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (82 KB).

Also some rare special versions of Nagant M/1895 exist. Smaller version (often called "NKVD version" or "commander's version") of Nagant M/1895 was manufactured in much smaller numbers than the full-size revolver. It had shorter (typically 85-mm long) barrel and smaller grip. This version was seems to have manufactured for non-military authorities (police, customs etc) use. It was first manufactured in small numbers already around 1911 - 1914, but large-scale production (estimated about 25,000 total) took place in Tula around 1925 - 1930. While callling this revolver as "NKVD version" is not totally accurate, it is not totally false either, since it seems to have been used by NVKD and OGPU. Another rare earlier special version of Nagant m/1895 was equipped with attachment slot, which allowed using small axe of Soviet Engineer Corps to be used as a shoulder stock. Third (also extremely rare) special version was suppressor-equipped version (usual revolvers cannot really be silenced in this manner due to gap in between revolver's frame and front of cylinder, but thanks to Nagant's gas-seal system it was an exception). However maybe the most rarest of all special versions of Nagant M/1895 was nickel-plated presentation version, which the Soviets used for awarding their officers with Order of the Red Banner until year 1930. In addition of Russia Nagant M/1895 revolvers were also shortly manufactured in Poland in 1930's.

PICTURE: Smaller size version of Nagant m/1895 revolver. This particular gun was manufactured year 1929. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (70 KB).

The Finns captured Nagant revolvers already during Civil War of 1918, but almost all ended up as war souvenirs of those who had been lucky enough to capture one. Finnish Army did not have much of interest towards these revolvers, as it wanted automatic pistols as side arms. During World War 2 Nagant m/1895 revolvers were captured by the thousands, but only few hundred were handed over to Army's ordnance administration. Just like in year 1918, soldiers who captured revolvers took them to their own use and once war ended took them to home as souvenirs from the war. Hence in March of 1941 there were only 328 Nagant m/1895 revolvers in Finnish inventory. Only some of the home-front units got officially issued with Nagant revolvers during Continuation War, while unofficially large number of Finnish front-line soldiers were carrying Nagant revolvers as their personal secondary weapon after capturing one. Finnish soldiers usually called the revolver only as "Nagan", "Nagani" or "Nagantti" and the weapon was generally quite well-liked. The somewhat unusual cartridge used in these revolvers also achieved somewhat larger-than-life reputation in some war-stories, even if it in reality its ballistics are mediocre at best.

PICTURE: Soldier of Finnish White Army (Helsinki Civil Guard to be more specific - hence the civilian clothing with non-standard insignia) with Nagant M/1895 revolver and Winchester M/1895 rifle. Apparently this soldier had not captured a holster with the revolver, since he carries it tucked under ammunition bandolier. Photographed by Atelier Nyblin in 19th of April in year 1918. Photo source Finnish Heritage Agency (Museovirasto), acquired via and used with with CC BY 4.0 Creative Commons license. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (89 KB).

Finnish military did not gain any more interest towards Nagant after the World War 2 either. Year 1951 Finnish Defense Forces had some 1,400 Nagant revolvers, over 1,100 of these were officer's (double-action) model. Year 1960 Finnish military sold remaining Nagant revolvers to Interarmco, which exported them. This marked the ending for the use of Nagant M/1895 in Finnish Armed Forces. Large number brought back by Finnish soldiers were unlikely to see much use after the war either - there was no ammunition commercially available, so once their new owners run out of captured ammunition, they were unlikely to succeed finding more. This may have been one of the reasons, why so many of the soldiers who had brought one of these revolvers back from war later decided to hand them over instead of worrying about legal problems possibly caused by having unlicensed firearm.

PICTURE: Finnish soldier, possibly captain of cavalry mentioned in original photo caption, with holster for Nagant M/1895 revolver. Photographed by Lieutenant R. Ruponen in April of 1942.( archive, photo number 82466). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (135 KB).

For number of years refurbished Nagant M/1895 revolvers were available in the market for a decent price, while prices have gone up the availability is still quite good due to number of guns, but Nagant ammunition has not been cheap. Only two sources of 7.62 mm x 38R Nagant ammunition seem to be available lately - Fiocchi and Prvi Partizan. Both Fiocchi and Prvi Partizan manufactured ammunition are quite expensive. Many owners of Nagant M/1895 are shooting .32 calibre revolver ammunition loaded with lead bullets in these revolvers as a cheaper alternative. This somewhat works, but not without some setbacks and risks. Shooting .32 calibre rounds (like .32 S & W Long) is potentially risky and can get the gun barrel very dirty very fast. The pressure level produced by these rounds is higher than that produced by mild target loads of 7.62 x 38R Nagant round manufactured by Fiocchi or Prvi. It is doubtful if anybody had calculated how powerful cartridge Nagant M/1895 can handle - so there might be enough safety margin for this - or not. In addition cartridge case of Nagant cartridge is fatter than what are used in .32 calibre revolver rounds - so if unmodified .32 cal revolver rounds are fired in normal Nagant M/1895 cylinder they may bulge and get stuck. I have not seen any reports of accidents with .32 Smith & Wesson Long ammunition in unmodified m/1895 cylinder, but if you try this, you can do this only with your own responsibility. Personally I have decided to stick with original 7.62 mm x 38R ammunition. Also replacement cylinders made for .32 ACP (7.65 mm x 17 Browning) have been manufactured for these revolvers. Installing such replacement cylinder may require fitting. Earlier some cylinders have also been modified for 7.62 mm x 25 Tokarev cartridge - but these are to be considered extremely dangerous. The pressure level created by 7.62 mm x 25 Tokarev cartridge is way beyond, what Nagant M/1895 was intended to handle and modifying cylinder to this ammunition would weaken it considerably - in short, a recipe for a disaster about to happen.

Writer's personal shooting experiences with Nagant M/1895 revolver: This revolver seems to have plenty of capacity for good shooting accuracy, but both very small grip and heavy trigger rather typical in these revolvers makes shooting it accurately difficult even for the best of shooters. When fired double-action the trigger is even heavier than in single-action mode. Originally trigger pull in my M/1895 was simply horrible - very long and heavy. Thanks to instructions found from "Sport Shooting" by A.A. Jurjev, the trigger pull is now considerably lighter and shorter - reasonably good for occasional target shooting purposes. Attached photo shows the non-permanent simple modification, which you may try with your own responsibility. Reloading the revolver after firing the seven rounds is also very slow compared to other common World War 2 era sidearms, since it demands removing cartridge cases via loading port and replacing them with new cartridges one by one. While it is a interesting mechanical design, I would not list Nagant m/1895 among best World War 2 or even World War 1 era sidearms. Sights are not too bad, but not too good either. Mechanical accuracy seems to be quite good - when the small grip does not succeed bothering me too much the shooting results seem to be relatively good. But due to small grip and heavy trigger these revolvers are challanging to shoot well. Disassembly and reassembly of the revolver for routine maintenance is easy, since it requires basically just removing of cylinder and cleaning of it and bore.


7,62 mm Pistol Tokarev TT-33:

(Samozarjadnyi Pistolet Tula-Tokareva)

(Pistolet Tokareva, opytnyj obrazets 1930 g.)



7,62 mm x 25 Tokarev


195 mm

Barrel length:

115 mm


900 g


8, removable

Official abbreviations:

"7,63 pist/ven." and "763 PIST SOV"

Country of origin:

Soviet Union


1930 (early TT-30 version)


TT-30 1933 - 1935, TT-33 1935 - 1953, about 1 million.

Finnish use: Officially only some issued to non-frontline units during Continuation War. Unofficially used in large numbers by Finnish soldiers who had captured pistols of this type.

The Soviets started planning military pistol using 7,62 mm x 25 (basically a bit more hot loaded copy of 7,63 mm x 25 Mauser) cartridge already in year 1928. TT-30 prototype of Fedor Vasilevich Tokarev using Browning-system proved best in the tests the Soviets arranged for selecting new service pistol for Soviet Red Army in July of 1930. Other pistols taking part in those tests included: Walther, Parabellum, Browning, Prilutsky and Korovin. However, even if the TT-30 prototype was the best in the tests, it needed improvements before being introduced to military use. The improved TT-30 prototype was successfully tested in January of 1931 and approved to Soviet military. After this acceptance 1,000 TT-30 pistols were ordered for testing in various Red Army units in February of 1931. The mass-production in Tula arsenal gained momentum in 1931 - 1933 and got into full swing in 1934. Some changes (mainly ones making manufacturing easier) were made to the pistol already during this process in year 1933. These changes led into introducing a new version of the pistol called TT-33, which replaced TT-30 in production by year 1935. However soon the Soviets found TT-30 pistol to have its share of problems: Their main spring had short service life and the user could quite easily accidentally eject its magazine. Before World War it was also criticised for being unsuitable to be fired through vision slits, which the the Soviets were still building to their tanks. Because of these reasons the Soviets started looking new service pistol in year 1938. Prototypes made by Korovin, Rakov, Tokarev and Voevodin took part to tests done in July of 1939. From these prototypes the Voevodin's design proved most successful. It had short-recoil action with 18-round magazine and without the war its improved version might replaced TT-30. But then came the the war and changed plans - the Soviets did not want to disrupt production by introducing new pistol so they decided to keep TT-30 pistol and Nagant revolver in manufacturing and forget the new pistol. During World War 2 TT-33 pistol was main pistol type used by Soviet military, during war years its yearly production was over 100,000 pistols/year, but during the war quality also deteriorated and bakelite grip plates were often replaced with ones made from wood. T-33 pistols manufactured after the war were again equipped with bakelite grips. The pistol remained in production in Soviet Union until 1953, when Makarov (PM) pistol entered production. After World War 2 more or less direct copies of Soviet TT-33 were manufactured in my many countries such as Poland (Pistolet TT and .22 LR calibre Sportowy-version), Hungary (48M and 9-mm Tokagypt 58) and Yugoslavia (M57, M70 and M70A), China (Type 54, Type 54-1 and Type 213) and North Korea. In this day T-33 and its copies are still used by authorities in some countries - largest remaining user being China. During World War 2 captured TT-33 saw also some use with German military, which called the pistol "Pistole 615(r)".

From technical point of view TT-30 and TT-33 were obviously based to Browning military pistols and their basic mechanism was "tilting barrel" first introduced by John Browning. But the pistol also has some rather interesting characteristics. It does not have safety (unless one counts the "half-way cocked" notch in its hammer as such) and parts handling firing the pistol have been all build as separate group of their own, so they can be removed from the pistol as one package when the pistol is dismantled. The magazines are also rather unusual - they does not have lips (from which the round is fed to cartridge chamber), but instead the part acting as lips are integral part of the pistols grip section. This rather interesting arrangement pretty much removes the possibility of jams caused by bent magazine lips and at the same time makes manufacturing magazines easier and cheaper. The easiest way (without dismantling the pistol) of separating TT-30 from TT-33 is checking back of the grip - TT-30 has a separate part which covers almost whole back of the grip in there and allows removing return spring, while TT-33 does not. TT-30 and TT-33 also have rather obvious differences in their barrels when dismantled and compared side by side - locking grooves outside barrel vital for "tilting barrel"-concept are only on top of the barrel in TT-30, while in TT-33 they go all the way around the barrel.

PICTURE: After Soviet Union found itself in receiving end of invasion in summer of 1941, the manufacturing quality of TT-33 pistols dropped signicantly. This pistol manufactured in 1943 is a good example exactly how rough the finish could get. TT-33 pistols manufactured in 1942 - 1944 were originally equipped with wooden grip panels like in this photo. (Photo taken in Sotamuseo). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (115 KB).

After Finnish soldiers captured their first TT-33 pistols they immediately nicknamed TT-33 as "tähti-pistooli" (="star-pistol") because of star emblem clearly marked to grip panels. Just like with Nagant revolvers they were captured in thousands, but Finnish soldiers who had captured them turned over only few hundred to proper channels. The reason for this was quite simple: The soldiers preferred keeping captured pistols as part of their personal weaponry during war and took them home as war-souvenirs after the war. In a way the attitude of soldiers made sense - for soldier armed with bolt-action rifle a automatic pistol of any kind was a useful backup. Even if they were not officially issued to frontline troops some Tokarev pistols were issued to Finnish troops serving in home front during Continuation War. Finnish ammunition supply did not separate 7.62 mm x 25 Tokarev ammunition from 7.63 mm x 25 Mauser, so it is more than likely that Mauser-ammunition was issued for TT-33 pistols used by Finnish units stationed in home front. Frontline soldiers with their thousands of captured unofficial pistols presumably relied more to captured ammunition.

PICTURE: Three Finnish officers - the captain on the right has holster of Tokarev TT-33 hanging on his belt. Lieutenant-Colonel in the centre have pistol holster that is probably for Parabellum pistol. All three officers wear fur hat M/22. Photographed by 2nd Lieutenant H. Harrivirta in February of 1942.( archive, photo number 74425). CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (71 KB).

Finnish military had very little interest towards these pistols (that used non-issue ammunition) after the war either. Remaining 669 TT-33 pistols were sold Interarmco, that shipped them abroad around 1959 - 1960. From collectors point of view for example TT-30 and .22 LR calibre Polish "Sportowy"-version are very rare and therefore quite expensive nowadays. TT-33 was simple and practical military pistol with some quite innovative ideas, but the design also had its fair share of flaws - the pistol has considerable safety issues if carried with round chambered. Another issue sometimes mentioned was accidentally dropping the magazine - a common complaint in Soviet sources, but not really a bigger hazard than in most modern pistols.

PICTURE: Tokarev TT-33 pistol disassembled for basic maintenance - no tools required, although having some makes putting the pistol back together easier. CLICK THUMBNAIL TO SEE LARGER PIC (113 KB).

Writer's personal shooting experiences with TT-33 pistol: While TT-33 is not exactly a target pistol, it seems to be the very epitome of reliable military sidearm. The grip is short and grip angle is somewhat unusual, but otherwise the pistol is a natural pointer in which due to design and prioritisation allow to function reliably even if the fit and finish may not be necessarily too impressive. The ergonomics are rather poor with often a heavy trigger, which combined with strong recoil with such a small grip makes accurate shooting quite challenging. As to be expected from Soviet military pistols trigger pressure and accuracy vary considerably from one individual pistol to another. Typically fit and finish of pre World War 2 manufactured pistols seem to have been better than wartime production. Due to grip size and design hammer-bite is common problem while shooting with TT-33. Both disassembly and reassembly for basic maintenance are reasonably easy, but not among the easiest. If the person is familiar with Colt 1911 type pistols, the disassembly and reassembly of this pistol is quite similar. The pistol breaks into 7 (8 if magazine is included) parts in basic maintenance disassembly. Sight picture is otherwise pretty good, but tight in the sense that front sight post fills rear sight notch almost completely. While the Soviets apparently considered possibility of accidentally dropping the magazine a problem, I have not found this to be a problem. The magazine does drop freely off the pistol if the magazine release is pressed, but that is typical to most pistols nowadays. Reloading the pistol is both easy and fast. Magazines are easy to load into their full capacity. Since the pistol does not have real safety of any kind carrying it with cartridge in chamber is neither safe or recommendable - this may have been the most serious handicap of the design as a military sidearm.


Markku Palokangas: Sotilaskäsiaseet Suomessa 1918 - 1988 osat 1 - 3 (= Military Small Arms in Finland 1918 - 1988 parts 1 - 3)

Timo Hyytinen: Arma Fennica 2, sotilasaseet (Arma Fennica 2, military weapons)

D.N. Bolotin: Soviet Small-Arms and Ammunition.

Jan Kronlund: Suomen Puolustuslaitos 1918 - 1939 (= Finnish Defence Department 1918 - 1939).

Small Arms of WWI Primer 09A*: Mauser C96 Italian Modello 1899 on Forgotten Weapons channel in Youtube.

Small Arms of WWI Primer 09B*: Mauser C96 at War on Forgotten Weapons channel in Youtube.

Small Arms of WWI Primer 098: Russian Nagant 1895 on Forgotten Weapons channel in Youtube.

NKVD Officer's Model Nagant Revolver on Forgotten Weapons channel in Youtube.

Ian Hogg and John Wells: Pistols of the World.

Article: Ukko-Mauser-pistooli by Heikki Pohjolainen in Ase magazine vol. 4/1984.

Article: Sarja-automaatti Ukko Mauser by Heikki Pohjolainen in Ase magazine vol. 5/86.

Article: Mauser C 96 Bolo by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 3/93.

Article: Mauser C 96 pistoolin espanjalaiset kopiot by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 5/94.

Article: Harvinainen Mauser C 96 by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 1/95.

Article: Ukkoikäinen legenda Mauser C 96 by Mika Vuolle in Kaliberi magazine vol. 6/1995.

Article: Välimallin Mauser C96 by Mika Vuolle in Kaliberi magazine vol. 3/1998.

Article: Tähti-pistooli, I osa by Heikki Pohjolainen in Ase magazine vol 5/1985.

Article: Tokarevin toverit by Pekka Pohjolainen in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 1/86.

Article: Tokarev T-33 by Vesa Toivonen in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 2/93.

Article: N-liiton automaattipistoolit ennen Tokarev:in aikaa by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 3/96.

Article: Tokarevin pistooli by Mika Vuolle in Kaliberi magazine vol. 1/1999.

Article: Nagant revolveri Venäjän armeijassa by Heikki Pohjonen in Ase magazine vol. 5/1984.

Article: Nagantin sukujuuret by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 5/91.

Article: Kolmen linjan revolveri, Nagant M 1895 by Mika Vuolle in Kaliberi magazine vol. 2/1997.

Article: Miten Nagant-revolveri tuli Venäjälle by Tatjana N. Iljina, translated by Matti Virtanen in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 6/98.

Article: Vuosisatamme seitsenpanoksinen symboli by Sergej Monetsikov, translated by Viktor Mitsenkov and Tero Hasu in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 1/99.

Article: Nagant-revolverin eräitä malleja by Matti Ingman in Ase-lehti magazine vol. 2/2004.

Special thanks to Sotamuseo (Finnish Military Museum), Helsinki

Last updated 29th of September 2023
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Copyrights (text and graphics): Jaeger Platoon Website. Copyrights of photographs vary on case to case basis and are marked along each picture.