.223 Timbs: A Very Brief History

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

    In a recent Modern Personal Defense Weapon Calibers post, we discussed the .223 Timbs, a pseudo-wildcat load of the 7.62x25mm Tokarev that uses a sabot to fire a 50gr .22 caliber projectile at 2,000 feet per second or more. At the time, very little information was publicly available regarding the origin and purpose of the .223 Timbs, and what we knew at the time could just be summed up as “it was developed by Joseph Timbs and Quality Cartridge.” After the article ran, it gained the attention of none other than Joseph Timbs himself, who reached out to The Firearm Blog, and gave us the bar booth version of the story.

    The story begins in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when the Clinton administration was pressuring gun manufacturers in the usual way; one particular case being FN, who had recently introduced a brand new pistol. That was the Five-seveN handgun, a companion to the P90 Personal Defense Weapon, which fired the same 5.7mm ammunition. This ammunition, specifically the steel-cored SS190 load, was capable of penetrating the light body armor worn by police officers. Under pressure from the administration, FN refused to sell the Five-seveN handgun to US civilians. At the same time, the Five-seveN was growing in popularity in gun magazines, giving US handgun shooters a bit of a case of the azure spheres, if the adults in the audience know what I mean.

    FN’s decision did not make one Joseph Timbs very happy. He felt that this was an unfair denial to the American handgunner, and began looking for alternatives that would provide the same high velocity performance. Around the same time, Timbs read an article on the .224 BOZ, a wildcat necked down from 10mm Automatic cases. Timbs began working on the CZ-52, which was running between $100-$125 at the time. Timbs thought he might be able to do the same thing by loading a 7.62x25mm case with a sabot. It’s difficult to miss the hacker spirit behind giving every person who could afford the cheapest surplus handgun on the market access to a high velocity round that “The Man” wanted to ban.

    To develop his idea, Timbs turned to Pete Cardona of Quality Cartridge. The initial experiments used a standard 55gr FMJ, but they discovered that this projectile was too long to be adequately stabilized by the twist rate of the CZ-52 pistol. Instead, they turned to a commercial 50gr jacketed soft point, which Pete seated in a grey polymer sabot on top of about 5 grains of Hodgdon Titegroup. This was the .223 Timbs.

    The .223 Timbs received some publicity at the time, but it eventually faded into obscurity. Which is a shame, as it’s a truly interesting high performance round that offers better performance than many rounds developed in the subsequent fifteen years.

    Who knows, though? Maybe the .223 Timbs story isn’t over yet.

    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 [email protected]


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