Modern Personal Defense Weapon Calibers 014: The .223 Timbs (7.62x25mm Tokarev w/ Sabot!)

Left to right: The 7.62x25mm Tokarev, .223 Timbs, 9x19mm Parabellum, 5.7x28mm SS197, and .22 TCM.

What do you get when you take the venerable speedster 7.62 Tokarev, and load it with a muzzleloader-style sabot and 50gr .22 cal projectile? You get one of the most interesting pistol, submachine gun, and personal defense weapon ammunition concepts there is!

Today we’re looking at a little firebrand wildcat with a punch. The .223 Timbs is not exactly a true wildcat cartridge itself, but a wildcat loading of an existing round, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev. It was developed as a collaboration between Quality Cartridge and Joseph Timbs; beyond that, not much else is available about its history. What makes the .223 Timbs different, though, is its use of a sabot to drive the bullet. This feature substantially increases the area of the projectile’s base as well as the swept volume of a barrel of a given length, giving the maximum transfer of energy from the propellant to the projectile in short barrels. This means the Timbs marries the efficiency of a full bore pistol round with the velocity of a small bore high velocity pistol round, like the 5.7x28mm FN. The efficiency of the .223 Timbs is obvious when compared to the .22 TCM covered in the last installment. Although their case sizes and net capacities are very similar, the .223 Timbs can propel a 57gr projectile (50gr bullet plus 7gr Accelerator sabot) to the same velocity (2,000 ft/s) as the .22 TCM can propel a 40gr projectile from the same length barrel, giving the .223 Timbs a nearly 25% advantage in effective muzzle energy over the .22 TCM, and better downrange ballistics.

Let’s take a look at those ballistics now:

Note: “5.56x25mmRF” is .22 WMR. A while back I decided all the labels on these graphs would use a standardized metric format, for some reason. It hasn’t caused an ambiguous situation until now, and by the time I caught it on this one, the graphs were already done. Sorry!

We can see how the extra mass really pays off for the Timbs, as – of the SCHV rounds – it has the highest energy and velocity retention, and the least drop of all the rounds. As far as pistol SCHV rounds go, the .223 Timbs is probably about as good as it gets without running into excessive size and weight problems.

The Timbs has another advantage, as well: It uses the same chamber specification as 7.62x25mm Tokarev, which means it is compatible with all of the types of ammunition usable in that caliber. This includes not only full caliber supersonic hollowpoints and FMJs, but also large subsonic projectiles such as those developed by the Chinese for the caliber.

Chinese Type P subsonic 7.62x25mm ammunition with large steel-cored bullet and pointed tip. The .223 Timbs’ sabot gives it all the versatility of the Tokarev caliber, opening up the option of a pistol-compatible “mini Blackout” round with saboted supersonic and full caliber subsonic loads. Image credit: wolfganggross. Used with permission.

Weight of the .223 Timbs is somewhat higher than either the 5.7x28mm or 4.6x30mm, at 9.1 grams, but less than its parent 7.62x25mm.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • mcjagermech

    This is so sexy

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    Wow! this ammo and the subsonic load put the old 7.62 Tok in a promising position…
    IF they can deliver accuracy and reliability. Wonder how it will perform out of longer barrels.
    7.62 Tokarev barrel twist is 1-10″, enough to stabilize almost anything.

    • PK

      Reliability, yes. Availability, no – you’d have to load your own. Out of longer barrels, velocity is a bit higher with the Timbs but accuracy remains so-so.

      On the subsonic front, replicating the Type P isn’t exactly easy. The 120gr subsonic projectile doesn’t want to reliably cycle anything made to use the ordinary loads unless you’re using a longer barrel. It’s mainly used in one of two purpose-built SMGs, for good reason.

      • iksnilol

        just get acustom barrel with a 1:6 twist or something.

        • PK

          I may try that, but I really don’t believe it to be the twist.

          • glenn cheney

            That three groove bbl. is a polygonal, my money is on that one to be the most accurate, generally speaking.
            Bullet variations might favor one over the other, but, I am in the poly corner for accuracy.
            Also, that poly bbl. will seal that sabot better on the way out.

          • PK

            No, the three groove is traditional rifling with lands and grooves. I opted not to get the polygonal rifling in any twist, and it seems to only have been available in 1-in-10″ and slower.

          • glenn cheney

            I carry PA63’s and CZ…9×18…the CZ is a poly barrel. You’d have thought the twist would be faster not slower.
            I like those flechete sabots, my crowd control round is .40 S&W, number 12 Rat shot, instant disablement, next is business, but those sabot rounds look very nasty.
            Glad to say, never used, but still a boy scout at heart.

          • PK

            PA-63 from Hungary/FEG? Wonderful pistols, if a bit snappy. My CZ82s have some oddities… one is polygonal bore, 9x18mm, and one barrel has (I presume) been replaced, as it’s 9x18mm and slugs out to the right bore instead of .355″, but it’s rifled!

          • glenn cheney

            Not everyone seems to like that PA-63 lol. Last year, I ran some July direct sunlight mags that the next day left me black and blue on the Web backstop of my hand, but, those pistols are slim, powerful, and they can be hidden in many places and many ways.
            A spring job makes a big difference I hear. I like my hammer. The CZ hammer is sweetest.

          • Tassiebush

            Wishing you success in your exciting experiment!

          • PK

            Thanks! My only annoyance is that it may take many months to receive the barrels. Unusual twist rates aren’t kept in stock.

          • Tassiebush

            Yeah in this mass production, economy of scale world the contrast in time between regular and custom items is stark and painful!

          • PK

            Well, it’s not too bad overall. For less than $500 for each blank in an odd twist, rarely made, I’m willing to wait a year or more… but it will still be tickling at the back of my mind, for sure!

  • Hrachya H

    The only complain I always had to this cartridge is its confusing name 🙂 … it says .223 but is actually a .311 cal. Not a big problem though.
    The versatility it gives to the 7.62×25 is really cool.

    • PK

      I swear, half my 7.62x25mm barrels slug out to be closer to .311″, while the other half have ended up .307-.309″! Some of the tightest bores are from former satellite states, too. Very inconsistent in terms of bore.

      For the barrels I make here, I tend to just use .308″ barrel blanks, as they’re cheap and available easily.

  • bull

    i wonder how it compares to 6.5×25mm CBJ … 🙂

    • PK

      Poorly. The 6.5x25mm is made by elves or something else quite mystical. That stuff is simply magic.

      • iksnilol

        *Tungsten

        • PK

          Gnomes, then.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Nickel is named after a subterranean imp.

    • mechamaster

      How about 6,5 CBJ projectile in 7,62 Tokarec casing ?
      And created something like : “6,5x28mm CBJ-T”

  • Michael Effertz

    Looks great but I wonder how the accuracy is with .223 Timbs? Reason being is that the barrel twist rate for the .30 85 grain projectile versus a .223 40- 50 grain projectile is probably different. I think Remington quit loading their Accelerator rifle ammunition (in .30-30 Win., .308 Win. and .30-06 Springfield) was due to the accuracy issue associated with them.

    • Twist rate for the 7.62 Tokarev is 1/9.45in, should be enough.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Gyroscopic stability factor would be about 1.64. Stability factor of 1.5 is the border of marginal, so this is just above iffy; and if it is particularly hot outside, it could dip below that threshold. It could really use a slightly faster twist.

        • Just spoke with Joseph. Sounds like stability with 55gr bullets was pretty marginal, but 50gr flat bases worked OK.

          • ostiariusalpha

            1:240mm is a lot better than 1:10″(254mm).

    • PK

      It’s not great, but it’s a pistol round. I was disappointed with accuracy out of carbines/SMGs.

      • ostiariusalpha

        What I don’t like about the design is that you’re banging that plastic sabot against feed ramps in autoloaders. That can’t be doing anything positive for precision.

        • PK

          That seems to be a different problem, but you’re right. If I had to guess, base on where the sabots end up downrange, they aren’t releasing consistently. That’s one of the issues for certain, but I think it may also have to do with the difficulty of getting the tension on the sabot just right inside the case so that the pressure is consistent from shot to shot.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Unless it’s glued on, the sabot’s tension on the bullet doesn’t make much difference, as cup sabots have very rapid aerodynamic separation inherent to the design; especially so on an expanding cup sabot like this. I’d look more at twist rate as the culprit, but as I implied before, bashing the sabot against the feed ramp might damage a petal or even introduce an imbalance in how the bullet is seated in the sabot.

          • PK

            You say it doesn’t matter, but when you fire a bunch and find the opened sabots in a wide line a couple hundred yards long… ouch.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Where they land is highly variable depending on how they tumble through the air. That’s almost totally unrelated to their separation from the bullet though.

          • PK

            That’s surprising, I wonder why some factory sabot rounds (SLAP, for example) manage to make a fairly small pile of sabots.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Was this rifle ammo?

          • PK

            It was 7.62 NATO SLAP, the pile was downrange (the backstop is around 800 yards, the sabots didn’t get close) about forty or fifty yards if I’m remembering right. I wish I’d noted down the approximate range.

        • Giolli Joker

          That would probably depend on the gun. There is no dedicated pistol born for this round, if you were going to try it with a CZ-52 that effect would be minimal as the barrel doesn’t have a feed ramp and it moves in-line, unlike a Browning action.

          • ostiariusalpha

            That might be worth a look to see if it makes a difference. It has a 1:6 twist rate, so that would probably help even more.

            Edit: Never mind. It’s 1:12, which is worse than the Tokarev.

  • hacedeca

    In any case… all these calibers for PDWs shown here on TFB are slightly longer, than the 9 mm which is so popular today – FBI, US military… And what is popular in the US spreads through the Western World…

    Makes one think, right?

    I still feel .40 S&W with an AP bullet would be the most cost effective solution.

    • Jared Vynn

      22tcm has a loading just as long as 9mm, 22tcm9r.

      And many cartridges would be far cheaper than 40 S&W with AP bullets and more practical given the much higher recoil of 40 S&W.

    • TJbrena

      .357 SIG with an AP penetrator core would work better IMO. Extra velocity is key if you want an AP pistol round and .357 SIG, quirky as it is, definitely gives that. Plus since it uses .40 S&W mags, frames, slides and really everything but the barrel, it’s easier to supply the parts.

      Of course, putting together the right loading and projectile is the real trick, isn’t it?

  • Jared Vynn

    You still have 9×19 coming from an 8″ barrel.

    • That would be because I wrote and scheduled both of these articles at the same time and haven’t fixed either of them yet.

      • Jared Vynn

        Oh ok, think you could add the rifle ballistics for TCM whenever you get the chance to fix them?

        Thanks for the interesting articles!

  • Big Daddy

    I think the Dillon 9×25 has some potential that was never developed. A 125 grain bullet at 1700 fps and probably more out of a SMG/PDW length barrel. If I had the tools I would be investigating this since the parent case is the same as a 6.8mm SPCII. You can build an AR15 gas 10mm/9×25 Dillon pretty easily using the 6.8 BCG. Oh well.

  • Swarf

    Aww, it’s shy!

  • RogUinta

    Where did you come up with 5.56x25mmRF for .22 WMR? The designation I find everywhere else on the web is 5.6×27mmR.

    • It’s a typo that was carried over, and I should fix it. But I don’t have the time right now.

  • Mike

    Modern auto loader in 7.62×25 please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Are you listening Glock, Sig S&W Ruger.
    The subsonic round looks interesting

  • Blake

    That’s pretty sweet, thanks.

  • iksnilol

    Imagine a Glock/P320 made for that cartridge? that’d sell like hot-cakes.

    • Jared Vynn

      Wouldn’t the cartridge length prevent that though?

      • iksnilol

        Yes, I was thinking an extended frame or something of course. Should be extra easy to manufacture with the P320.

        • Jared Vynn

          Since the magazine feeds up through the chassis though wouldn’t you be limited in the length of the cartridge you could use?

  • Patrick

    Great idea. I just ordered some sabots and will try to load some on my own for my CZ52. Can’t wait to try out this concept 🙂

  • Fred

    Someone needs to top some 54r with these

  • smitty26

    Nothing new: I have tried this about 15 years ago.Started with a remington made sabot at a 32 acp pistol case.Platform was a 92F with my own made barrel( piece of a Garand M1 barrel 145mm lenght ).Cartridge had to be laoded direct in the barrel.Powder : Bofors R1.At point blank it penetrated easy a level 2 vest.Next step was loading the sabot to the 7,62×25 Tok.Platform was the CZ52 pistol.We did not get good groups or penetration.Found out that the drawl of a pistol barrel was to slow.This test is published in the Dutch Weapon magazine :AK56 about 15 years ago.

    • PK

      Drawl… twist rate of the rifling? I think it may be an error in translation of technical terms, a common issue. Do you happen to have a scan of the article? I’d love to see it.

  • Tassiebush

    What a nifty cartridge. It makes me want it in a light repeating rifle along the lines of a very short small bolt action or the old Marlin levermatic. It’d be a decent option for small game and a take along gun.
    The other thought is that the parralel with .300blackout could go the other way with a sabot loading so it’d probably give performance across the current performance of subsonic, 7.62x39ish and then the sabot would be a .223ish load.

  • Joseph Woods

    Long live the .223 Timbs

  • Edeco

    I’ve had trouble getting accuracy out of the CZ52 to start. Not sure if it’s anything inherent. Used gun of course, the grip and heavy SA trigger are unlike anything else for me, and with the low cap mags one just can’t rack up EXP points fast. Can’t blame the sights, those are tiny and precise.

  • This is a similar concept to the 6.25 CBJ, but isn’t using tungsten projectiles and can fire existing ammo without a barrel swap. .30 Tokarev is in production, is a decent cartridge and is common in developing world areas where terrorists congregate, so there is an additional minor advantage there. As to accuracy, the 6.25 CBJ round SEEMS to be acceptable so the problem might be fixable.

    This is a REALLY interesting round I had not heard of. Thank you.

  • LetsTryLibertyAgain

    I 3D printed some sabots for my Ten556 project, in which I’ll be firing 5.56mm AR-15 bullets from a 10mm handgun. I still need to find time to develop the load at the range. For these “way off the load chart” reloading projects, I have a portable reloading kit for the range so I can load one round and try it, and based on that, try a different load.

    My Ten556 should have the same advantages mentioned for the .223 Timbs, to an even larger extent. Should be fun!

    .
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/3947551d6f02d8257e6dbeafaf73b2b806172c676e10713a130a52846f4578f0.jpg

  • ToddB

    Some reloading data would be nice. But does seem bullet set back would be an issue. Can’t really crimp sabots very well. Its a neat experiment, but no actual advantage. That chart above shows you get more energy with the standard 85-90gr load. Not sure who did the charts, but either its a typo, or apples to oranges. The standard 7.62×25 load velocity was based on a 10.6 in barrel, while the 55gr was in a 4.7in barrel. Maybe a typo as I get 1700fps easy out of a 1911 in 7.62×25 w 5 in barrel.

    I did mess with sabots in other stuff like 45 colt. Not so good in a revolver, I got alot of plastic shrapnel from the cyl gap. Used them in a single shot, they did work, just no real difference in performance. Used some of the spitzer 40 cal bullets sold for 45 cal sabot loads. it was a standard pressure gun, might get more w more pressure. But regular jacketed bullets were more accurate. Should not really be surprising, muzzle loaders can be picky when it comes to sabots.

    The Chinese one looks interesting. Generally don’t suppress a Tokarev, not much point, its really only effective thru velocity. But I have a 165gr flat nose mold for a 30-30, that might work in the 7.62×25, it would be some load data to use that’s the problem.

  • JamesDrouin

    Well, IF the sabot material holds up to acceleration-induced friction AND the sabot itself releases cleanly, it might have some appeal to a collector, otherwise it’ll follow the same path as a gazillion other wildcat rounds.

  • Richard Lutz

    Neck down the 7.62 Tok to 6.5mm (just as the 9mm Para was necked down to 6.5mm to create the 6.5×25mm CBJ round) and stick it in an SBR like the SIG MPX. Sabots suck as they invairiably screw up the accuracy.

  • Budi Utomo

    I’ll be the devil’s advocate: what if the twist rate was higher?

    • PK

      I’m going to find out the answer to exactly that question… although I’m still waiting on the 1-in-6″ and 1-in-4″, I received a 1-in-7″ twist barrel blank this week. Next week’s project is fitting it to a PPS or PPSh, I haven’t decided which, and chambering. I’ll see how the Timbs fares with regards to accuracy!