WE-Tech (WE) Tokarev TT-33

Having already acquired a Nagant M1895 and Makarov Model 59, both in 6mm, I was toying with the idea of getting the pistol which appeared between the two… the Tokarev Model 1933 (or TT-33). Being quite a fan of the venerable Colt 1911, I have always been intrigued by its (distant!) relative the TT-33, but found that it never really appealed; that is, until one was ordered for me by mistake and I got to see it first hand!

01 TT-33-ed

Real Steel Background

The Tokarev Model 1933 was developed in the Soviet Union by Fedor Tokarev as a replacement for their Nagant Model 1895 revolver. Something in the region of 1.7 million pistols were produced, mainly during World War Two, with manufacture in the USSR ceasing in 1952 when it was replaced by the 9mm Makarov PM.

Other countries were issued licences to manufacture the TT-33 notably in China by Norinco as the Type 54, Yugoslavia (Serbia) by Zastava Arms as the M-57, Egypt as the “Tokagypt 58”, North Korea as the Type 68, Romania as the “Cugir Tokarov” and Poland as the “PW wz.33” – the following diagram being taken from the Polish Instruction Manual (source: forgottenweapons.com).

02 tt33polishInternally it uses the short-recoil dropping barrel/ swinging link system invented by John Browning for the Colt 1911; externally it more closely resembles his earlier Model 1903 designed for Fabrique Nationale of Belgium (aka the M1903 and Browning No.2). It has a modular hammer assembly, simpler than that of the M1911, but no grip or hammer safety. It is chambered for the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge (based on the 7.63x25mm Mauser cartridge) which is held in an eight round magazine, has a muzzle velocity of 480 m/s and an effective range of 50m (source: Wikipedia; photo from militaryfactory.com).

03 real steel with clip

The WE-Tech (WE) TT-33 (TT33)

WE-Tech (WE) started making steel moulds for airsoft manufacturers in the 1980s and their own airsoft guns, commencing with gas-blowback pistols, in 2003. A link to their website is given at the end of this review.

The TT-33 is one of their newest models. It is a 6mm gas-blowback single-action semi-automatic pistol featuring a full-size drop-out magazine. The slide and receiver are made of metal alloy with metal parts throughout except for plastic grips. It comes in either  nickel/ silver or black (I have not seen the black version).

Spec;

Calibre: 6mm

Capacity: 15 shot drop-out magazine

Propellant: Green Gas (propane)

Overall length: 195mm

Barrel length: 105mm

Weight: 685g (listed)

Action: Single-action

Hop-up: Variable

Packaging and Presentation 2.5 / 5

On opening the box, the pistol is presented in an “egg-shell” type packaging which is more than adequate for safe transportation, but rather lacking in aesthetics! It comes with one magazine, a manual and a spare magazine lip and follower (I presume this is because the magazine lip would appear to be the most vulnerable part of the unit and could get broken if dropped… update: I have already conducted an unscheduled(!) “drop-test” of the mag, but no harm done!).

04 TT-33-ed

The manual could do with a little more information; for example, how to field-strip the pistol, any maintenance required and how to adjust the hop-up. There is a parts diagram and listing, but it is given only in Chinese. The outside of the box is made to resemble a military-style pistol case with “catches” painted on the side.

The photograph below shows the pistol fitted in a bespoke wooden 1911 case made by a fellow member of the Umarex Boys Club, forum name “trooper”, and illustrates the smaller size and different grip angle and shape between the TT-33 and a “Colt ‘45”. The February edition of Airgun World magazine features an article detailing Martin’s work and a link to his website is given at the end of this review.

05 TT-33-ed

Visual Accuracy 9 / 10

Initially, this was the main reason I bought this pistol. At first glance I thought it looked pretty good… having had it for a few days I now think it looks even better! The only thing perhaps worth commenting upon is that the “iron” sights are black and so not quite in keeping with the rest of the pistol. Also, the front post is a slightly different shape, being not quite so high (as shown in the comparison photographs below – source: Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association at pafoa.org).

The grips are black plastic as against to brown, but are virtually identical to the real thing (I should imagine the brown ones are bakelite, but IMHO the black ones look rather good against the light finish). Lanyard loops are included and although a safety has been fitted – I presume to comply with regulations in certain countries – it is very discreet and barely noticeable on top of the grip on the left-hand side (ensuring the little tab is raised about 1mm allows the pistol to fire). The quality of the nickel/ silver finish is very good, but tends to mark easily with finger prints… just like a real pistol!

Some markings are included on the left hand side of the frame and the top of the slide; these read as a couple of characters in Cyrillic text (a “YA” or “IA” and “ZH” in English transliteration) , a “serial number” 533, a “star” symbol and “1941”… the text and s/n looking as if they were stamped in a hurry and quite in keeping with a pistol made in 1941!

07 TT33-right comp-ed06TT33-left comp-ed

Functional Accuracy 13/15

Short of being able to use dummy shells, I’m not sure that any improvements could be made with regards to functional accuracy. Field stripping the TT-33 is similar to that of the M1911, but not quite the same in that the metal clip on the right hand side is pushed back allowing the slide stop to be removed (in fact care must be taken as it can fall straight out once it is unclipped). The first time I tried this I was afraid that the clip would scratch the frame; my fear was unwarranted.

08 TT-33-edThe slide may then be removed along with the recoil spring guide, spring, spring plug and barrel bushing. The barrel and hop-up assembly slide out the front. Two further points to note: the first is that the front post (circled in red) is held in place by the bushing and can fall out once the bushing is removed; secondly, the spring guide has a flat side to it and this needs to match with the face of the hop-up assembly (indicated by the red arrows). The rather handy canvas pistol bag is courtesy of the Toubo Makarov Model 59 (hint, hint!). The outer barrel is threaded for a silencer.

09 TT-33-ed

Shooting  30 / 40

6mm balls are loaded into the magazine by holding down the follower and feeding them via the lip at the top of the magazine; there is no space for allowing them to be fed lower down. The magazine itself has a good weight to it and certainly looks the part! It fits nicely in place and is released by depressing the magazine catch which has just the right amount of tension to it.

The pistol is single-action only – as per the original. Pulling back on the slide will cock the hammer and feed a 6mm round into the chamber. Releasing the slide results in a very satisfying/ realistic metallic sound. As with the original, the hammer may be moved to a half-cocked position. One slight criticism would be the safety – no doubt forced on the designers – in that sometimes it is has to be disengaged to fire (even though it hasn’t intentionally been set to “safe”).

The slide locks-back once the last round is fired; a fresh magazine may then be inserted and the slide moved forward by pressing down on the slide stop (pulling the slide to the rear will not cause the slide stop to fall). Both the front post and rear notch sights are a little loose, but this is not really noticeable and the design of the pistol prevents them from falling out.

10 TT-33-ed

As soon as I got home with my new gun I had a few shots at one of the many targets I have scattered around our garden… and found that whilst shooting well laterally, it required a fair amount of vertical offset (ie. it shot high). On placing a target at 6yds and loading with (good quality) 0.25g FireFly BBs I was quite pleased to be getting a grouping of around 2” with the occasional flier, albeit with me having to lower my POA 5” below POI!

However, one of the beauties of 6mm plastic ammunition is that you can vary the weight and so I thought I would try some 0.36g FireFly BBs in an attempt to reduce this offset; unfortunately, this made little difference to the POA… but reduced grouping to about an inch! I have since shot another couple of targets and have each time achieved a 1 to 1 ½ inch grouping.

11 TT-33-ed

Measurements taken using a Xcortech X3200 indicate a muzzle velocity of 79 m/s +/- 2 m/s using 0.36g BBs in approximately 34°C (Thailand in March!). The magazine will hold up to 15 rounds and at least two full magazines can be shot from a single charge of green gas. The gun is not particularly loud and although it cycles efficiently is not of the “hard-kick” variety; however, it is still very satisfying to shoot none the less. There is a slight “cool-down” effect following rapid shooting, but IMHO it isn’t that great.

The hop-up wheel was very stiff when I first got the pistol and I found it necessary to apply a little oil in order to adjust it. However, even at its lowest setting, there is still a fair amount of rubber showing at the breech end of the barrel and this could well be why the pistol tends to shoot high. At longer distances the flight of the ball has quite a pronounced “arc” to it; a 20cm diameter biscuit tin lid can easily be hit at 15m, but by 20m it’s becoming more difficult to connect with the target (please remember I’m using relatively heavy 6mm ammunition).

12 TT-33-ed

Quality and Reliability 13 / 15

First impressions tend to suggest a well made and reliable replica of the Tokarev TT-33. The magazine holds its charge of gas with no leaks (I like to keep a small amount of gas in the magazine when it is being stored). On inspection after field-stripping and approximately 300 rounds, the component parts appear to be of good quality and fit together well. The slide also fits well and the recoil spring is of an appropriate strength. My only comment would be the safety which has a tendency to set “on” unintentionally (IMHO moving the tab up to set safety “on” would have been better).

Overall Impression 13 / 15

13 TT-33-ed

This pistol has made quite an impression on me and no mistake! It looks, shoots (if you don’t mind lowering your POA) and feels the part and has definitely rekindled my interest in 6mm gas-powered blowback guns.

Total Score 80.5 / 100

Guest review by Adrian-BP

Buy:

You can buy this replica at Pyramid Air here.

Links

WE site : http://www.weairsoft.com/

Trooper’s (Martin’s) website : http://artisan-cases.webs.com/

Related Pages

Gun Heaven Model 59 Review

WE Bulldog review

Gun Heaven/ Toubo Makarov (Pistolet Makarova) Model 59

intro

I bought a CO2 powered Baikal Makarov MP654-K in 2005 and was instantly taken with it (a link to a detailed description and review of that gun is provided at the end of this review). I was therefore delighted to learn that Gun Heaven, a company based in Taiwan, had decided to make a blowback version; even more so since I already had their M1895 and was keen to see whether a semi-auto would come up to the same standard.

Background

The Model 59 (aka Type 59) was adopted by the Chinese in 1959 (source: Wikipedia) and imported into the United States as the Norinco Model 59 (source: Makarov.com). The cartridge firing version is chambered for a special 9x18mm Makarov round.

Gun Heaven Model 59 Spec.

Calibre: 6mm (4.5mm versions are also available)

Magazine capacity: Twelve 6mm balls

Propellant: CO2

Barrel length: 3.5 inches (90mm) – smooth bore

Weight: Approx. 660g (with CO2 capsule in the magazine)

Overall length: 162mm (measured)

Sights: Non-adjustable rear with fixed front blade

Action: Semi-automatic with “blowback” function

Packaging and Presentation  3.5/5

The pistol was purchased new about three months ago and comes well packaged in a robust cardboard box containing the pistol, one CO2 magazine, a small bag of unmarked 6mm balls and a canvas pistol bag with pockets for the gun and magazine. The bag is made to look authentic with various stencilled markings.

M59 in the bag - Copy

The box includes a canvas carrying bag (please note the exploded diagram inside the lid)

The outside of the box indicates some of the countries which adopted this pistol for use by their military and police services; the left-hand side indicates the calibre and colour whilst the right-hand side gives contact information for Gun Heaven in Hong Kong and Toubo in Taiwan. Although a manual is not included an exploded diagram is given on the inside of the lid.

In my opinion the pistol is well-presented and the inclusion of the carrying bag is a very nice touch. However, a 6mm cleaning rod would be useful and if 6mm balls are going to be provided then some indication as to the weight/ quality/ manufacturer would be good. Similarly, a manual would be useful although printing the parts diagram inside the lid is an excellent idea.

Visual Accuracy  7/10

The pistol comes in either a silver/ chrome or black colour; I chose the latter based on personal preference only. The “black” version is actually a durable dark grey paint which successful repels fingermarks and there have been no external marks on the frame due to the movement of the slide. The colour would appear to be closer to that of parkerization rather than the blued-steel finish as found on my Baikal MP654-K.

Comp with TM1911 - Copy“Parkerized” colour comparison against a Tokyo Marui 1911A1

Baikal Mak 4.5mm comparison

Comparison between the Baikal MP654-K (4.5mm CO2 – left) and Model 59 (6mm blowback)

 The grips on the “black” version are made of a brown plastic, but despite this quite closely resemble those fitted to the original cartridge firing pistol (which is hardly surprising as many of the Chinese Model 59s were fitted with plastic grips!). They are secured in place by means of a single screw in the backstrap; however, this single screw does allow for some very slight movement between the grips and the frame when the pistol is gripped tightly and aftermarket ones could well be worth considering.

The left-hand side of the slide is marked “MODEL 59”; the right-hand side has a serial number etched into the slide and a capital “F” stamped inside a pentagon on the frame under the hammer (to signify it complies with German legislation as having a muzzle energy of less than 7.5J). The hammer, safety selector, slide stop and trigger are slightly darker in colour to that of the frame and slide and in my opinion this adds to the overall appearance of the gun.

Both the slide and frame are constructed of a metal alloy. The gun is well balanced and weighs approximately 660g with the magazine and a CO2 capsule inserted (the cartridge firing version is a little heavier at 730g unloaded – source: World Guns).

The following pictures are a comparison with a Chinese Model 59 (source: Gunboards.com). As you can see, a lanyard loop is not fitted at the base of the grip on the left-hand side. The grips are ambidextrous, but of a different design to those shown. The CO2 capsule tightener in the base of the magazine, whilst folding-up to make it is less conspicuous, is still visible (but works well).

Due to the internal mechanism of the pistol (see below), the trigger does not move to a second stage when the slide is racked or the hammer cocked (see previous comparison with the Baikal model). The safety selector “dots” are coloured (red and white – as on the original shown), but are also marked with a discreet “F” and “S” respectively. The serial number is on the right-hand side of the slide and there is none on the frame.

Model 59 6mm combined6mm CO2 Model 59 – note serial number on opposite side (and none on the frame)

makarov_rs_combined

Chinese Model 59 (courtesy of Gunboards.com)

m59 6mm combined

The 6mm version again, this time without flash

Operation and Functional Accuracy  12/15

The CO2 capsule fits into the side of the magazine and is tightened via the thumb screw mentioned in the previous section. Capsules are pierced cleanly and efficiently and the magazine holds its charge well with no leaks, even over a period of some days. Two seals/ O-rings are visible, one acting as a piercing seal in the magazine and the other surrounding the firing pin in the rear of the slide. Both appear to be made of a durable (polyurethane?) material. I have seen spare O-ring seal sets available from WinGun, but I’d be surprised if they were ever needed.

o-rings combined

Views of the magazine and rear of the slide indicating the two visible seals and firing mechanism

The magazine is made of some sort of durable synthetic material (nylon/ ABS plastic?) in which sits the CO2 capsule; on top of this is a metal/ alloy housing which contains the valve and loading mechanism. This is of a different design to what I have seen previously. The 6mm balls (or BBs in the case of the 4.5mm version) are loaded by either locking the follower in place and pouring them in or by keeping the follower pressed down with a thumbnail and loading from the top. Twelve 6mm balls may be loaded, the top one holding the little “loading bar” (for want of a better term!) in place.

mags combined

The top of the magazine viewed from both sides

This pistol is in fact single-action only although the trigger, when pulled, does two things. First, it moves the “loading bar” forward which in turn seats a 6mm ball/ bb in the breech; then, continuing with the pull releases the hammer, the ball is fired and the blowback mechanism activated. One must therefore remember that if the slide is racked a ball/ bb is not loaded into the breech; only pulling the trigger will do this.

Even though this additional “work” by the trigger is unnoticeable, it does result in a rather long trigger pull. The hammer itself is reinforced where it strikes the firing pin.

trigger operation combined

Loading mechanism with the slide removed

This also means that if you wish to decock the pistol using the trigger then you will have to remove the magazine first otherwise a ball/ BB will be loaded into the breech.

Field-stripping is easy and is achieved by removing the magazine, lowering the trigger guard and moving it to rest against the frame (it stays in this position if it is moved to the right). The slide may then be taken off by moving it to the rear, lifting and then carefully sliding it forward over the barrel (as with a Walther PPK). Care must be taken since the (steel) firing pin and assembly is housed at the rear of the slide. There are no unpleasant surprises with springs going “boing” or bits falling out!

As with the original pistol, the slide is held in place by the recoil spring which sits around the barrel. There was about a quarter of an inch of “play” in the slide when it was forward and I therefore decided to replace the original spring with a slightly stronger one. The spring I chose – by good fortune – fits the barrel like a glove and the slide now moves forward with a stronger, more positive action (photo below, right… please note care must be taken to ensure that any replacement spring is not too long otherwise it may not be possible to remove the slide and that any decision to replace the spring rests entirely with the owner).

field stripped combined showing new recoil spring

Images of the pistol field-stripped – on the left is the original recoil spring

The only thing that doesn’t work so well on my model is the safety catch in that, although it moves correctly, it does not decock the hammer and is easily overridden by pulling back on the hammer. It also quickly became loose, but this may be corrected by replacing a worn rubber O-ring with something more suitable (I placed a dental rubber band, as used for braces, between the selector switch and the frame and that holds it in place).

Bearing these comments regarding the recoil spring and safety in mind, I still feel this pistol deserves a good score for operational and functional accuracy in that, even though there are some differences in operation with the “real steel”, in my opinion these are justified and result in a solid, well made pistol and magazine. I also like the fact that with the magazine removed the pistol will not fire and no ball is left in the breech.

Shooting  27.5/40

Once fitted with a magazine, the Model 59 may either be cocked by racking the slide (which simply cocks the hammer, it does not chamber a ball) or by pulling back on the hammer. Once loaded, the ball is held in place by a rubber washer or O-ring/ seal. I can’t see any kind of “hop-up” fitted which, IMHO, is a shame and something which could be addressed in the future.

There is a long, albeit smooth, trigger pull which at first had me pulling the gun down and hitting low on the target. There is quite a loud report and the gun really does “kick” in your hand! The slide locks back when the last round has been fired and may be released by either pulling back further on the slide or pushing down on the slide stop. The sights replicate the original; they are fixed and I have added a small “dot” of yellow paint to the front blade.

Two sets of targets are given. The gun was held using a two-handed grip with 0.25g FireFly ammunition at 6 yds. The first was shot last September with chronograph measurements indicating a muzzle velocity which quickly settled at around 115 +/- 5 m/s (about 1.65 J). Condensation was evident on the capsule after rapid shooting, but that is hardly surprising as it was 29 Celsius in the shade.

WinGun Mak Model 59 Fedora“Man in a Fedora” target courtesy of Jim’s Police Pistol Competition on the UBC.

Model 59 052 - Copy

The second was shot more recently (January 2014) with much the same results, but this time the velocity was recorded in feet per second settling at around 370 +/- 15 fps (about 1.6J). About 60 good shots can be expected from a single capsule of CO2.

Model 59 054 - Copy

Based on these targets an average shot like myself should be able to achieve something in the region of 2 to 2 ½ inch groups at 6yds with the occasional “flier” at 3 inches; perfectly good for informal target shooting/ plinking in the back garden with the added excitement of the (quite realistic!) blowback experience to boot.

Quality and Reliability  12/15

The pistol appears to be both well made and well finished. I consider the replacement of the recoil spring to be an improvement (I did the same to my Umarex Walther PPK/S) and both the slight movement in the grips and looseness of the safety selector to be relatively minor points when compared against the general robustness of the pistol as a whole. I am particularly impressed with the quality and integrity of the CO2 magazine, although in my experience this is the norm with WinGun/ Toubo guns (I have owned a Series 7 revolver for about three years and their Nagant M1895 for nearly twelve months). 6mm balls are easy to load and I have not experienced any misfires or jams.

Overall Impression  12/15

I am very impressed with this gun and find that it has grown on me; it is reliable, has a realistic blowback operation and I am pleased to have added it to my collection. I certainly think credit is due to Gun Heaven/ Toubo/ WinGun in that not only have they decided to take the initiative and produce yet another “classic” pistol, as they did with the Nagant M1895, they have chosen to adopt a different loading/ firing mechanism to the norm; the result being a pistol that should appeal to both collectors and casual target shooters/ plinkers alike.

M59 pair on table

Total score: 74/100

Guest review by Adrian-BP

Links:

Man in fedora target downloaded from Umarex Boys Club forum:

Makarov Pistol Association for more information about the Makarov pistol.

Related pages:

Gun Heaven Model 59 Update 

WE Tokarev TT-33 review

Baikal MP654K review

Umarex Walther PPK/S review

Gun Heaven Nagant M1895 revolver review