Chinese Type 54 Tokarev


Chinese 54 Tokarev

Chinese Type 54 Tokarev Pistol -1975 model


Technical Information

Manufacturer: Norinco (China North Industries Corporation)
Model: Type 54
Total Weight with empty magazine: 847g
Country of Origin: China
Barrel Length: 117.2mm (Measured from muzzle to breach)
Calibre: 7.62x25
Length of pistol: 194mm
Action:Semi automatic, single action
Width of pistol: 29mm
Magazine Capacity: 8 Height of pistol: 130mm


General Information

The Tokarev is a semi-automatic, single action pistol that uses Browning's short recoil dropping barrel system as used in the Colt 1911.The magazine feed lips form part of the internals of the pistol. Even with a bent magazine, the pistol should still feed and cycle reliably. There is also no external safety on the pistol. No firing pin block. No inertia firing pin. The only safety on this pistol is the half-cock on the hammer. When compared to a modern semi-automatic pistol, the Tokarev can be described as extremely dangerous and great care should be taken with this firearm if a round is in the chamber. Lowering the hammer completely does not help either, as the hammer now simply pushes the firing pin against the primer of the cartridge! (see photo's of this below)

The Chinese Type 54 pistol was the main military and police sidearm used by the Chinese Liberation Army. Some forces in China still uses this pistol today. It is a copy of the Russian designed TT-33. First designed by Fedor Tokarev in 1930. In the USSR, the Tokarev TT-33 pistol was replaced by the 9mm Makarov Makarov in 1951. The main reason for the replacement was the increased amount of stopping power provided by the Makarov cartridge (9x18) as apposed to the small 7.62mm bullet fired by the Tokarev. It should be noted that the penetration power of the Tokarev bullet is legendary and the standard military round from the Tokarev will penetrate a level 2 Kevlar bullet resistant vest. Stopping power however, was lacking. The little 7.62mm bullet is fired at too low a velocity to generate a huge hydrostatic shockwave to the target. That is why the 9mm bullet provides better stopping power against unarmoured targets.

The Tokarev is very simple in design. It is very reliable, cheap and easy to manufacture. Perfect for mass production by both Russian and Chinese industries. This was the main reason why it was used by the Warsaw countries from 1933 right up to the present day in some countries. It also saw extensive use by Russian forces during Word War 2. China started to mass produce the Type 54, in 1954.

The Chinese Type 54 can easily be identified by the chinese lettering located on the slide.

Chinese letters type 54

This literally translates to "5" "4" "Type or Style"



Compared to modern designs, the Tokarev is antiquated. It has a single stack magazine capable of only eight rounds. It is also fairly large but reasonably thin and can conceal fairly easily. The sights are not really replaceable with anything else and nothing else (apart from custom engineered items) are not really available. Replacements grips are also non existent. The standard grips are made from hard plastic which can crack if dropped. Having virtually zero safety features does not help either. This is one handgun which is virtually guaranteed to fire by itself if it is dropped with a round in the chamber. The grip angle is a bit awkward and fairly square and not really designed to fit the human hand very well. Trigger pull is good. Recoil when firing the 7.62x25 round is crisp and the report is extremely loud. Much louder than that of the more common 9mmP calibre. Penetration is excellent, but no decent carry ammo apart from the standard FMJ type of ammo exists here in South Africa. Ammo is not all too common and only a select few gun shops actually stock ammo for the 7.62x25. The slide does lock back after firing the last round. The magazine will drop free from the frame if the magazine release button is pressed. The front sight is not removable from the frame without serious machining.


As sated earlier, lowering the hammer on a live round will push the firing pin against the primer. Only a very light bump on the hammer is then required to hit the primer and setting off the round. Below are two photo's. One with the hammer lowered on an empty chamber, the other is with the hammer lowered on a live round. You can clearly see the gap between the hammer and the slide on the live round. The Tokarev is therefore not safe to carry with the hammer down on a live round. This is probably the only pistol designed to be carried on half-cock. Placing the hammer on half-cock will lock the slide and prevent the firing of the handgun without cocking it fully.


hammer lowered on empty chamber

hammer lowered on live round



My tokarev is extremely reliable and will fire and cycle all factory ammo with impunity. Reloading ammo for the Tokarev is a bit of a problem, but reliable reloadable ammo can be manufactured.


Determining Year of Manufacture

For those who want to know in what year a Chinese type 54 Tokarev was manufactured, read on.
Find the Serial number on the slide, just below the Chinese lettering. The first two digits should be added to 1953 to find the year of manufacture.
In the photo above, the original serial number is 22019840. So by adding 22 to 1953 means this Tokarev was manufactured in 1975.
Interesting to note that I have another serial number stamped on the frame which is the one licensed according to CFR. This one differs radically from the number on the slide. The original number can be found on the slide.


Accuracy and Reloading

Targets coming up soon..

Chronographed loads: (use at own risk)

Bullet weight and type Powder type Powder charge Velocity ft/sec
70 grain Frontier CMJ 7.65mm MS200 6.5gr 1670
75 grain PMP FMJ 7.65mm MS200 5.8gr 1230
75 grain PMP FMJ 7.65mm MS200 6.2gr 1450


The Frontier 70 grain 7.65mm cannot be reloaded successfully in the Tokarev. The ogive is too rounded and the bullet catches on the rifling in the chamber before the cartridge is fully in battery. The bullet cannot be seated deep enough.

The PMP 75grain 7.65mm bullet works perfectly. It cycles reliably at 1450 ft/sec which is way below performance for the military specification.


Information about the calibre

The standard military style ammunution for the Tokarev is a 85grain projectile at 1720 ft/sec. This is pretty hot! It is also not uncommon to find cracked steel cased factory cases after firing. The 7.62x25 was derived from the old German C96 Mauser cartridge which used 7.63x25. The pressure in the Mauser cartridge is however a lot lower than the more modern Tokarev calibre. Mauser ammo can be fired in the Tokarev but Tokarev ammo should never be fired in the Mauser. The Germans did exactly that when they confiscated large amounts of Tokarev pistols during their Russian campaign.

The bullet diameter is 7.62mm and the case length 25mm.

Below is a photo of the different types of Tokarev ammo, compared to some other popular cartridges.

Misc ammo

  1. Prvi Partizan 7.62x25 boxer brass cased 85 grain FMJ
  2. Varnished Military berdan 7.62x25 steel cased, steel core 85 grain FMJ
  3. Copper washed steel cased 7.62x25 lead core steel jacket copper plated 85 grain FMJ
  4. Winchester 115gr 9mmP (9x19) FMJ
  5. PMP 90gr 9mmK (9x17) FMJ
  6. Magtech Guardian Gold 158gr .38Special JHP


Overall Impression

I like the idea of shooting a piece of Russian history. The sighs are not very good. Virtually zero safety. Odd grip angle. I still love it! It's the perfect survival gun and will probably still be in a shootable condition long after Zombies have taken over the world. Plus it makes a nice flame out the front of the barrel in low light.


Tokarev field stripped