7.62x25mm Conversion for 1911 Pistol

[ Andrew is a former US Navy Hospital Corpsman who was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq with the 5th Marine Regiment. Today, when not at the range or a Larry Vickers tactical training course, he blogs at the excellent Vuurwapen Blog ]

There are many reasons why people collect and shoot firearms, most of which can be divided into two categories – work and play. “Work” might mean being a member of law enforcement or the military, buying a weapon for personal defense, or similar endeavors, and firearms suitable for these tasks are generally limited to a few types. “Play,” on the other hand, encompasses an exceptionally wide variety of firearms, and is probably the fuel for the majority of firearms purchases worldwide. Essentially, shooting is fun, as the readers of this blog are no doubt aware.

Enter the J&G Sales 7.62x25mm conversion barrel for 1911s. This product sits solidly in the “play” category. While 1911s are still “work” guns in many cases, one shooting cheap surplus ammo that might be close to 60 years old shouldn’t be relied upon for such tasks. Where it really excels is fun – allowing the user to shoot loud, flashy ammunition for a fraction of the cost of even the cheapest centerfire handgun ammunition.

.45 and .30 Caliber 1911s

As pistol calibers go, 7.62x25mm Tokarev is pretty interesting, and its history with the 1911 is even more interesting. The cartridge can be considered to be the stepchild of .30 Mauser, which dates back to the late 1800s. While some Tokarev ammunition has been loaded to higher pressures, the cartridges are dimensionally identical…with the caveat that both have been used by a wide variety of third world countries, and some minor variations in production are to be expected.

Some of the countries using both cartridges include China, North Korea, and Vietnam, and as US-manufactured .45 caliber 1911 handguns were “acquired” by the governments of those countries – sometimes in large quantity – they were converted to calibers which could be more easily acquired or produced, including .30 Mauser and 7.62×25 Tokarev. The quality of these conversions depended upon the country and the situation in which they were undertaken. In the United States, however, 7.62×25 has never had a massive supply base nor a large following, so converting a 1911 to this caliber was generally a custom affair.

.45 and .30 Caliber 1911s

Now, however, anyone with a 9mm or 38 Super 1911 can order the $189 J&G conversion barrel, which also includes replacement recoil and main springs – lighter and heavier, respectively. While the 7.62mm projectiles do not require a heavy recoil spring, the surplus ammunition has hard primers which won’t reliably fire with standard weight 1911 mainsprings.

Just how cheap is this ammunition? Well, depending on vintage, roughly $100 for 1000 rounds. That’s about half of what you’d pay for cheap 9mm in the United States, which can significantly extend an afternoon of fun at the range.

There are a few drawbacks, though. Because 7.62×25 is even longer than .38 Super, you can’t load the magazines to full capacity without seating the projectiles deeper in the case, which J&G’s gunsmith has done safely. However, I’m pretty happy with being able to load 6 standard-length 7.62×25 cartridges in $10 Metalform .38 Super magazines with a stated capacity of 9 rounds.

Also, much of the surplus ammunition has deteriorated over time, and a certain number of “dead” primers are to be expected. I don’t see this as a huge detriment, but some people might.

Tokarev Barrel and Loaded Magazine

This barrel is intended for use with non-ramped 1911 frames, though the Kimber Stainless II 9mm I am currently using has a ramped frame, and I have had only one failure to feed in over 300 rounds fired. Your mileage, of course, may vary, and I do not believe that everyone else would have the same luck.

Shooting the 7.62×25 1911 is much like shooting a 9mm 1911 in terms of recoil, although the Tokarev seems a little noisier, with more concussive force, and it often results in sizable fireballs at the muzzle. It’s exceptionally flat shooting, and I had no trouble hitting small targets at 50 yards with it. If you’re like me and find such things to be fun and a great stress reliever, the J&G Tokarev conversion deserves some attention.

Tokarev Fireball - High Speed Video Capture



Andrew Tuohy

Andrew Tuohy was a Navy Corpsman with the 5th Marine Regiment. He makes a living by producing written and visual content within the firearm industry, and he also teaches carbine courses. He prefers elegant weapons for a more civilized age, and regularly posts at Vuurwapen Blog.


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  • resNCO

    Great idea, I’m surprised TT ammo works in 1911. Do you think it would feed from double stack 9mm 1911 too? You loaded 6 rounds because of possibility of reliability issues or there was no possibility to load full magazine?

    To the “job” aspects: this ammunition is a real soft armor killer – the bullet goes through NIJ IIIA like through butter. Not appropriate for LE use if the primers work as you said, but beware if it becomes popular “on the other side” like it is in Europe.

  • Dave

    Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. While I applaud the ingenuity involved, I question the utility.

  • Peter BE

    Why don’t you just buy a Tokarev?

  • Jesse

    If a 1911 is your primary weapon of choice then go for it. Otherwise it’s cheaper to just buy a TT-33 outright.

    One other thing is that the surplus 7.62×25 ammo is almost all corrosive.

  • gunslinger

    where to begin?
    first, the link (http://jggunsmith.wordpress.com/2011/02/07/available-today/) is a crappy site. the background image + text was impossible to read. had to highlight the area and then read. found the link to the actual sale item (http://www.jgsales.com/product_info.php/p/7-62×25-tokarev-conversion-barrel-kit-for-1911-govt-models-in-9mm-or-38super-new,-by-j-g-sales-/products_id/5619)

    now, i was looking to get a 1911. this got my hopes up. much like a .22 conversion, but with a heftier round. guess not. i think a regular tokarev is about the same price as the conversion. so yeah, might as well get a full pistol rather than a kit for the 1911.

  • DaveR

    obligatory off-topic/thread derail:

    anybody know what the black, checkered grips are that are shown in the first pic?

  • Erik

    @resNCO – the 7.62x25MM Cartridge is too long to fit in the magazine except at an extreme angle, limiting magazine capacity.
    @Dave – The capability of a 90 gr, .30 cal JHP bullet to be pushed to 1800+FPS in a pistol doesn’t excite you?
    @Peter BE – Have you ever held a Tokarev compared to a 1911, the grip angles on the Tokarev are absolutely awful, I love them, but I’m not sure why or how they came up with that style grip over a 1911 style.

  • Montie

    Jesse’s mention of the fact that most surplus 7.62×25 ammo is corrosive primed brings up something that has bugged me for years in the gun culture. Yes, most combloc surplus ammo is corrosive primed along with a lot of older surplus ammo in various calibers from across the globe.

    Many modern shooters seem to think that the firing of this type of ammunition in their guns will result in some kind of instant deterioration of the bore of the weapon. Nothing could be further from the truth. All it really means is that the compounds in corrosive primers are often seriously hygrospopic and that combined with the salts also present, CAN deteriorate a bore that is not cared for reasonably quickly after shooting.

    If you will properly and thoroughly clean your gun immediately after shooting it, there will be no ill effects from corrosive priming compounds.

  • Matt Groom

    I think this is awesomely cool. 7.62×25 is the cheapest centerfire ammunition of any kind that is currently available. It’s cheaper than .22 Magnum! You can do a lot of shooting with very little reloading, and you can do it with a pistol that has a functioning safety, good sights, and a good trigger, unless your 1911 is actually comparable to a Tokarev.

  • Joe Hooker

    I agree that unless you just have to have a 1911 why not just buy a Tokarev? The cost is almost exactly the same.

  • Lance

    Steve ive been to Vietnam and the Vietnamese dont use TT-33 anymore for decades they use the Russian Makarov PM in 9x18mm.

    China and North Korea do use Tokerev’s and the round has excellent armor Piercing capabilities.

    As for American the only downside is that most affordable ammo is old Commie corrosive stuff. Most re-loadable boxer primed ammo is really expensive and reloading dies are hard to find. So if you don’t mind cleaning your

  • Komrad

    I like the idea of more new production and high quality firearms being chambered in 7.62×25 tok. The more they make them, the more I want one. I really do hope this isn’t just a phase.

  • andrew

    Re: just buying a Tokarev or other such handgun – I do own other 7.62×25 handguns, but they are crudely manufactured. The sights are nonexistent, the triggers are rough and gritty, the safeties are, if they exist, unreliable, or in the case of my CZ-52’s decocker, potentially dangerous.

    The converted 1911, on the other hand, has visible sights, an excellent trigger, and is mechanically safe and reliable. I can shoot the converted 1911 to a much longer distance than the TT-33 or CZ-52. Yes, it’s nice to pick up a functional pistol for $150-200 – but you get what you pay for.

    If you already own a 9mm 1911, or are willing to buy one, you can theoretically save enough money by shooting cheap Tokarev ammo (versus 9mm) to eventually pay for the higher cost of the pistol and the kit.

    Mags – Yes, I am limited by the length of the round. It’s possible that double stacks could work, but I haven’t personally tried it. I do believe that J&G’s gunsmith is working on a double stack 7.62×25 project.

    The black grips in the first pic are 10-8s.

    Corrosive ammo – I shoot at least 1000 rounds of corrosive ammo per month and have done so for several years. I know several shooters for whom that number is a weekly amount (in terms of corrosive ammo). I don’t fear it and have no problems with corrosion. Cleanup is simple and really no more complicated than a thorough, standard cleaning job.

  • chris

    I have a CZ 52 , GREAT Pistol !!! Its a 100 yard ( Well 75+ ) Diller Killer !
    I will NOT use Surplus ammo in it after finding Many split cases ! All were Double Indented .http://www.flickr.com/photos/11268176@N00/132921255/
    I Shoot Only New Ammo !

  • Squidpuppy

    Aside from choice of ammo manufacture, I don’t see why 7.62×25 isn’t a good “work” round; just look at Box-o-Truth’s Helmet-o-Truth segment. The only handgun round that fully penetrated a standard Kevlar helmet, and messed up the water jug’s day was the 7.62×25 out of a CZ 52; it’s a screamer. Of course, if you’re worried about over-penetration…

    I have a 1940 Soviet TT-33; don’t shoot it too much since it’s in collectible condition – mostly a safe queen, but it’s a serious blast to touch off. I will occasionally take it out on June 22nd – for you history buffs. Been looking for a CZ 52; used to be really common, not so much anymore.

    1911s are a better platform hands down than a Tok, and even relatively cheap modern ones are way better in manufacturing quality, so if you have the spare 1911, this seems like a win to me.

  • Aurelien

    The difference between using a 1911 converted to 7,65x25mm Tokarev and a TT-33/CZ-52 is the same as between a 2010 match grade 1911 and an USGI 1930 M1911A1 : you just don’t get the same package.
    TT-33s were handguns built in crappy factories to execute polish people, then germans. And they weren’t even good at executing polish people. A converted current match-grade or combat 1911 is nowhere near it in terms of ergonomy, functionnality and confort of long-term use. For one, a 1911 has safeties that are functionnal. Original TT-33s don’t even have a safety.

    And the other options are not that good either : CZ52 (good handgun but a bit weird to handle), various copies of the TT-33 if you don’t mind blowing your hands off, and copies of “broomhandle” Mauser C96s.

    I have one question though : has anyone tried to fire that conversion with Mauser ammunition ?

  • derfel cadarn

    Another answer to a problem that does not exist. There most be fedgov. money in there somewhere.

  • Why not just buy a Tokarev? The conversion is only slightly cheaper… at least compared to what we pay in Canada.

  • Lance

    @Aurlein

    Yur wrong on that. The TT-33 was a good weapon BUT the Russian went to the makarov in the 1950s so no TT-33s are made to moderized standerds like 1911s. With no updateing the guns are still 1930s vintage. The Makarov like the 1911 evlolved the TT didnt. Ive seen TT however shoot better groups in pistol competitions than a 1911. All depends on the shooter and the condition of the firearm.

    @HowToGetAGun

    The problem in the USA is the current Chinese TT are not imported into the USA due to both the 1989 import ban on CHinese firearms and again due to Pres. Billy Clinton in 1997 makeing a all out ban on import of postban Chinese firearms. So with no supply demand rose and all cheap TTs are bought up. Due to that American gun seller are rip offs and keep prices high on importable Polish Russian and Romanian TTs you have to pay$350-$500 dollars for a $150 dollar handgun. Thats why, canada you can buy TT from China cheap.

  • First of all, contrary to popular belief 7.62×25 FMJ DOES NOT go through NIJ IIIA armor.

    Main reason to go ahead with such conversion has been stated – this caliber is the cheapest “serious” round on the market at the moment. It has 9mm-like recoil, so it is great for square range practice or simple plinking.

    Problem with both TT-33 and CZ52 is ergonomics. I have both, and neither is comfortable to shoot. And those are the only handguns chambered in this caliber. So it’s very logical to make a conversion for a “normal” modern handgun. Though I’m somewhat disappointed they didn’t go with Glock… or maybe it will be next ?

  • Lance

    No I know 7.62X25 cant go threw Level 3 body armor it also stops 7.62×39 ammo too. But it can go threw Level 2 body armor.

    Only SWAT and Military use Level 3 style armor. I ment.

  • Don’t forget, there is a difference between Level 3A and Level 3. Level 3 protects against rifle threats, while Level 3A protects against handgun cartridges like the .44 Magnum and .357 SIG. (Previously, the standard called for stopping 9x19mm when fired from a SMG.)

  • Wonderful post. Keep up the first rate performance.

  • Wesley

    I have several Tokarevs, Polish, Romanian, and Chinese and while some of them are in poor condition from excessive use and re arsenaling and poor finish quality on the newer chinese ones, the polish ones are a match for every 1911 I have ever owned. The one I match fitted and refinished will punch 1-2 inch groups freehand all day long at 30 ft. The add on safeties are useless, the half cock works great, locking the slide and trigger completely and the hammer is almost impossible to hit if dropped in that position. I LOVE mine and wouldnt bother with the conversions just buy a good condition Polish Tokarev.

  • wayne

    Where can i find 7.62×25 ammo in the dmv?????

    • wayne

      HELP!!!

  • Jim

    I converted a Norinco 9mm 1911 with this barrel kit. I just push the milsurp bullets a little deeper, and they fit the 38 super mag just fine.

    I also got some Starline brass and started loading the 95 gr lead SWC bullet intended for 32 match ammo. The bullets are sized .309″ This ammo is very, very accurate and has little recoil.

    So far as I know, this conversion only works with a 9mm pistol.