In 1930, the Revolutionary Military Council approved a resolution to test new small arms to replace its aging Nagant M1895 revolvers. During these tests, on January 7, 1931, the potential of a pistol designed by Fedor Tokarev was noted. A few weeks later, 1,000 TT-30s were ordered for troop trials, and the pistol was adopted for service in the Red Army.
But even as the TT-30 was being put into production, design changes were made to simplify manufacturing. Minor changes to the barrel, disconnector, trigger and frame were implemented, the most notable ones being the omission of the removable backstrap and changes to the full-circumference locking lugs. This redesigned pistol was the TT-33. Most TT-33s were issued to officers. The TT-33 was widely used by Soviet troops during World War II, but did not completely replace the Nagant.
Externally, the TT-33 is very similar to John Browning's blowback operated FN Model 1903 automatic pistol, and internally it uses Browning's short recoil dropping-barrel system from the M1911. In other areas the TT-33 differs more from Browning's designs - It employs a much simpler hammer/sear assembly than the M1911, with an external hammer. This assembly is removable from the weapon as a modular unit and includes cartridge guides that provide reliable functioning. The Soviet engineers also added several other features such as locking lugs all around the barrel (not just on top), and made several alterations to make the mechanism easier to produce and maintain, notably a captive recoil spring secured to the guide rod which does not depend on the barrel bushing to hold it under tension. Production even machined the magazine feed lips into the receiver to prevent damage and misfeeds when a distorted magazine was loaded into the magazine well.
The TT-33 omitted a safety catch other than the half cock notch which rendered the slide inoperable until the hammer was drawn back to full cock or pulled back to full cock and then lowered manually, which made it unsafe to carry when loaded. It also had a tendency for the magazine catch to accidentally release the magazine while drawing or firing the weapon, if the magazine was damaged in any way.
In German serviceEdit
The Wehrmacht captured a fair number of TT-33s and issued them to units under the Pistole 615(r) designation. This was made possible by the fact that Russian 7.62 mm Model 1930 Type P cartridges were nearly identical to the German 7.63×25mm Mauser cartridge. Therefore German ammunition could be used in captured Russian arms, and vice versa. Due to much higher pressures, the Russian cartridges should not be used in the German Mauser pistols. Such use could be very dangerous.
The TT-33 is the secondary weapon of most of the Soviet soldier classes and also from spawnable kits.