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

Nathaniel F
by Nathaniel F
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 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. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.

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  • LetsTryLibertyAgain LetsTryLibertyAgain on Aug 01, 2017

    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!

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  • ToddB ToddB on Aug 01, 2017

    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 7.62x25 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 7.62x25 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 7.62x25, it would be some load data to use that's the problem.

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