Thursday, July 20, 2006

Norinco M213 - Chinese Tokarev 9mm Parabellum

I was visiting my local slobber shop one day and, fortunately for them, had some money burning a hole in my pocket. I'd been wanting a Tokarev as a sample to shoot and understand and there sat one in the case. Ok, so it was a Chinese 9mm (M213) with that dang stupid and impossible to use safety), but there it was for only $125. To seal the deal Ernie threw in an extra magazine (he had to go dig for it). Unlike the one in the first photo, mine had long ago lost the box. Now, these are selling for somewhere in the vicinity of $300-200 depending on condition.

Now that I had the gun, I'd have to have a holster to make it useful, and for what would it be useful. How should it be carried? The "safety" is worthless, if I could fill in the holes that removing it would leave it would already be gone. Unfortunately, that isn't an option and the useless appendage remains. Again, needing leather a quick search was made of the storage box which result was the location of a US Army surplus M7 chest holster for the .38 cal revolver. A quick try and clearly, the M213 fits perfectly! Joy of joys.

Now, how about that spare magazine? After all what bottom feeder other than a .25 ACP pocket pistol is worth a fig without a spare mag? This was easily solved. Right next to the M7 was an Uncle Mikes nylon mag pouch. Threaded onto the shoulder strap of the M7 holster and I had a package of holster and mag pouch ready to go.

Now, back to the pistol. As any gunny type person can see in the exploded view, the Tokarev is a basic Browning design. It differs in two major ways. The first is that it has none of the "extraneous" safeties and is best carried hammer down on an empty chamber. The other major change was that the designer, Fedor Tokarev, made a removable modular hammer/sear assembly. This facilitates cleaning and field stripping without putting the smaller parts at risk of loss. Disassembly and reassembly are a snap!

The Chinese, as a communist client and beneficiary of Soviet design work, produced the TT-33 some of which made their way to Vietnam and, after capture, to the US. Somewhere along the way, the Chinese were convinced that producing the pistols in the world-wide popular 9mm Parabellum aka Luger or 9x19mm NATO chambering would be a sound marketing decision and did so. The M213 is one such on the theme.

No longer imported because of certain impolitic moves by the Chinese and Norinco, the M213 is typical of communist made firearms. It is functional, ugly, of uneven but complete finish with unevenly stamped maker's marks on slide and frame, and generally hell-for-stout. All these guns do have a reputation for soft metal and low service life. I've seen the service life for one of these pistols given as little as 1000 rounds! Mine has seen considerably more than that and is still going strong despite these naysayers. Perhaps I own the exception to the rule but I doubt it.

As I said before, disassembly and reassembly are easy! You might note in this link that the pistol doesn't have the safety. Don't worry, it matters not at all as nothing changes in field stripping. One simply ignores the safety (as you'll learn to do in any case). So, I got my gun apart and gave it a good cleaning.

With the gun apart, I could see then (and still do) that there was little wear. That was a good thing given some of the tall tales I'd heard. Cleaning was quick and easy and familiar since I'd cleaned a lot of M1911s.

Shooting was simple and carefree, too. Every round fed and there was quite an accumulation of assorted overall length, bullet shape, etc in my collection of 9mm ammunition. Encouraged, I took some Sellier and Belloit 9mm ball and zeroed the gun. Actually it didn't take much but to square up the notch in the rear sight which was a bit ragged. Suddenly the gun was ON for windage but, depending on the load, required a bit of elevation adjustment. As the sights on these guns are fixed, that was all the file work I cared to do.

After firing another 100 rounds I was really encouraged and went home to reload all that brass. Unfortunately, I got home to find that the gun store was closed and the only bullets on hand that had even a remote chance of working were a bulk-buy of Remington 125 gr. SJHP .357" bullets for the .38 Special and .357 Mag. Undaunted, I loaded these over a charge of Unique and headed back to the range. These worked well and shot to POA at 25 yards. Yep, those slightly oversized bullets in the 9mm case fed and shot very well without producing excessive pressures. All in all, this is a very forgiving pistol.

The safety though was not functional. Oh, you could work it after a fashion if you used both hands. Stiff doesn't describe this thing. BUT it works in the opposite direction of the M1911 safety and you can't count on being able to disengage it. Also, I think it only blocks the sear, not the hammer, and isn't as foolproof as the M1911 and descendents.

As I mentioned earlier, these pistols are now selling for something like $200-300 depending on condition and locality. So, many folks are moved to buy one as their first self-defense pistol. Nothing wrong with that, but you do have to remember a couple of things. First, do not rely on the safety. Carry the gun hammer down on an empty chamber. Use the Israeli method for fast use of this pistol in combat/self-defense situations. Basically this involves racking the slide as a part of the weapon "presentation". Clearly, one MUST keep one's finger OFF the trigger!

However, within these limitations, the gun will serve very well as a self-defense piece. It is thin, relatively light and small but uses a fairly good cartridge and has fairly good magazine capacity. The gun is more than accurate enough for use at 7 yards or less and can shoot reasonable groups to 50 yards (which is the usual maximum effective range as defined by the military).

I like my pistol at least well enough that I've yet to be moved to buy another 9x19 chambered pistol. edit - I got a Browning High Power. That's pretty good!

Special Notes: Movie on Israeli Combat Shooting, 34MB, recommend saving to HD and then viewing.


1 comment:

Old Wire Fence said...

Mine hates factory loaded 115gr and stovepipes regularly. Maybe a few more hundred rounds will loosen it up. Maybe I need to shoot 125gr RN cast. I speculate that Norinco kept 7.62x25 level springs and small bullets out of 9x19 don't work the internals hard enough. Just my guess.