Why did the Russian military and police give up the TT pistol?

Author: Eric Sof


The TT pistol was an iconic service pistol in the Eastern bloc and many other countries. But after years of service, the Russian MoD and police mostly replaced it with Makarov. Some people still think that it was one of the best-designed service pistols and that there was a lot of room for modernization. According to them, after all, it was possible to modernize it again, make it more suitable for the needs of modern law enforcement agencies, as was done, for example, with the same Browning or Colt.


Designed in the 1930s, the Tokarev TT pistol was on par with other semiautomatic handguns of the age. By that, I mean it was intended for use with just one hand and had limited safety mechanisms, yet it also had some innovative design features not duplicated to this day.

The basic pistol was relatively narrow and “slab-sided,” much like the Colt 1911; only the TT pistol was thinner since it was designed around a smaller diameter cartridge. It used a simple spring retaining clip to hold the slide stop in place. With the slide stop out – just like in 1911, the slide and barrel assembly could be run off the frame to the front. The TT has the same half-lugs around the barrel as 1911 and the same toggle link.

Why did the Russian military and police give up the TT pistol: Soviet Army Officer with TT pistol
Why did the Russian military and police give up the TT pistol? The answer is simple – too many disadvantages for modern service pistol (Photo: XY)

It also has the same type of under-barrel recoil spring, though the unit is entirely captive – just like the modern Glock. However, the Tokarev took an evolutionary step forward in that the entire fire control group could be lifted clear of the grip frame, leaving only the trigger, making the gun easy to clean and service with no need for end-users to master more than basic parts assembly.

Although the TT pistol has several advantages – cheapness, simplicity of design, ease of maintenance, and a powerful, high penetration cartridge, it also has some disadvantages. For such disadvantages, there is no place for TT pistol in the ranks of modern police.


First of all, because of the powerful cartridge. Due to its high speed and small diameter. Roughly speaking, when it hits an unprotected enemy, it punches it through, leaving only a small hole. Such a wounded fighter will continue to fire off. The Makarov bullet, weaker and duller in a similar situation, is preferable. The wounds from the latter are heavier.

In addition, when firing a powerful bullet indoors, one should keep in mind the danger of ricochet and the high inertia of the ammunition in urban conditions. The use of expensive ammunition could compensate for all these drawbacks. However, this type of ammunition is prohibited.

Yugoslav variant of TT pistol designated as Zastava M57
Yugoslav variant of TT pistol designated as Zastava M57 (Photo: XY)

A serious flaw is the lack of reliable safety. This means that there are cases when the gun spontaneously fires on a fall or impact. The problem was a bad magazine fixation. In combat conditions, this often resulted in disarming the shooter. Add the weight of the weapon here. Specialists have also noticed an unsuccessful angle of inclination of the handle, which makes the weapon in hand a bit uncomfortable.

If you’re living on a battlefield, that may be workable. If you’re having to carry one of these around and not have to shoot it much, like during peacetime when you don’t have to shoot a random comrade to motivate the rest of them to go over the top, having safety is often a good thing.


In general, the gun is too heavy, rough, powerful, with a number of serious design flaws. Nobody modernized and improved the TT pistol, which would lead to extra money costs. And what’s the point of all this if the same Makarov was quite satisfied with the police and army? Everything in the compartment stopped the production of once legendary Soviet weapons.

Now Makarov’s pistol is also being replaced by a more modern PL-14.

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