Photo source- Wikipedia (CZ 52 - Wikipedia)
If you have not added a 7.62 x 25 Tokarev pistol to your collection, it is time to consider it. This is a fine cartridge and is a lot of fun to shoot. Ammunition is still being loaded by Sellier & Bellot and Prvi Partizan (PPU) and surplus handguns are still available at reasonable prices. The factory loads generally push an 85 grain bullet out the chute at around 1600 fps generating around 500 ft lbs of muzzle energy. Pretty impressive performance for a cartridge developed in the 1930s.
My piece of history is a CZ-52 pistol built by Ceska Zbrojovka in 1954. It is a roller locked, single action pistol with a single stack magazine. The fixed sights are on the small side, but serviceable. The design seems futuristic for a pistol designed in 1952, but I like the looks and the all-steel construction.
After firing some factory ammunition, it became clear this was going to be a reloading project. Since the sights were fixed, the ammunition was going to have to change. The pistol was producing good 25-yard groups, but they were all 6” low. The goal was to find a load that would hit at point of aim at 25 yards. There are not a lot of bullet choices out there for the Tokarev, but I gathered up what I could find.
Bullet #1 was a 93 grain Western Bullet Cast RN (BHN 15). With a charge of 7.5 grains of Accurate Arms #7 powder pushing the bullet along at a mild 1235 fps the average group size was 2.835”, but it was still six inches low. Increasing the charge opened the groups up with each step.
Bullet #2 was an 86 grain Hornady RN. The starting charge of 9.5 grains of Accurate Arms #7 powder produced another good load averaging 2.789”, but still printing 3” low. Better, but not what I was looking for. At this point, my 20+ year old Shooting Chrony gave up the ghost on me, so I don’t have any velocity data to share.
Bullet #3 was a 90 grain Hornady XTP. The test loads used with Accurate Arms #7 powder were not great, so I switched to Accurate Arms #9 powder with a big improvement. Using a charge of 9.2 grains produced an average group size of 2.639”, which was the best so far, but still 2” low.
Having exhausted my options and not met the goal of getting a load to print to the point of aim, I had to think outside the box. So, I ordered a couple of bullets designed for the M1 Carbine. What the heck, why not?
Bullet #4 was a 110 Berry’s Plated RN. These weren’t great with any load tested, but if I dropped 8.0 grains of Accurate Arms #9 in the case, I got the best average group size of 4.376”. However, it was hitting to point of aim!
Bullet #5 was a 115 grain Missouri Bullet Cast RN (BHN 18). I stuck with Accurate Arms #9 powder, and the starting load of 7.2 grains ended up being the best with an average group size of 3.785” and again, hitting to point of aim.
The heavier bullets had a preference for AA#9, the same bullets with AA#7 were noticeably worse. The 86 grain and the 93-grain cast bullet definitely did better with AA#7 propelling them out the barrel. I tried some loads with H110 but stopped because they did not show any promise. I ended up with several good loads to use with the bullets that have inconsistent availability and a decent one to use with an M1 carbine bullet that should always be available. I can now churn out ammunition to keep this pistol shooting for a long time.
Author: Robert Williams