[ 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.
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.
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.
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.