Operation Gratitude Care Package Weekend!

Friday, October 11, 2013


OK, now that I've got your attention.... 

 I was happy enough with "Civility," my Uberti .44 Magnum single-action. Sweet shooter, accurate, moderately less dangerous to the neighbors with Glaser Safety Slugs for a house load.

But with all the fuss and bother from the Democrats I decided to buy a couple more firearms while I still could.

So I bought a nice, practical Smith and Wesson .40 compact, which will probably become the fee-yancy's personal handgun once we move to Texas.

But I wanted something a little more exotic, for fun shooting and hell, just for the novelty of it.  So I picked up a Commie fun gun, (hereafter, "Comity"): a Yugoslav M57, the cutting edge of Serbo-Croatian handgun technology, a modification of the original Russian Tokarev TT-33 first issued in the 1930's.  The pistol greatly resembles handguns of that end of the century like the 1903 Colt and the Browning .380.  Comity shoots the 7.62x25mm Tokarev round, a zippy little cartridge that puts out an 86-grain bullet at around 1600 fps with an epic muzzle blast and report.

But because of California gun laws as they were written at the time (and which are only getting stupider and less effective) I could not buy a new one. New-manufacture M57's from Yugoslavia are not approved for sale in California.  This, by the way, is not just limited to foreign firearms.  Say, for example, Smith and Wesson released a revolver designed after a certain date.  Can't buy it in California.  Want to buy a version of the ubiquitous 1911 but the company making the one you want didn't start making them before a certain date?  Can't buy it in California. So I had to find one that qualified under "Curios and Relics" status as an antique weapon, manufactured way back in the distant 20th century.

Found one through J and G Sales of Arizona, used, listed as in "very good" shape. I now understand that "very good" in this context means pretty much what it means with cars and boats: Your Mileage May Vary.  The pistol's finish looked as though the handgun had been put through a ringer.  The gunshop folks who took delivery and I tried to figure out what had caused it; my best guess, it was used to chock a T-34 in place for PMCS.  The miniscule, 20th-century MilSpec front sight had been "gently" drifted all the way to one side of its slot, apparently with a ball-peen hammer.

Took it to the range with some Winchester ball ammo and the Polish Prvi Partizan brand. Lock and load.  Thumb down safety.  FABOOM.  First round right to point of aim.

Second round. Click. Hammer falls. No FABOOM.

Keep weapon pointed downrange. Take finger off trigger. Check to see if magazine improperly seated. Slap magazine to make sure firmly in place.

FABOOM.  If anyone ever attacks me with a piece of acoustic tiling I now know I own his ass, because the 7.62 x 25mm does a damn-damn on that stuff as evidenced by the cloud of white flakes gently wafting down from above the target.

This becomes a pattern. One round, pull the funny trigger thing. FABOOM. Next round, no shot, slap base of magazine. FABOOM. Got to where I was getting decent groups at 7 yards with the slap, but not exactly optimum technique. Same thing with multiple magazines. Both Winchester and PP ammo.

I suspected it was a worn or sticking magazine disconnect. So I took it back to my favorite local gunshop, which shall remain nameless to avoid undeserved harassment.  

Gunsmith looks at it and informs me it's not the magazine disconnect that's interfering with the hammer-fall, but the thumb safety, which has been installed so badly that it actually interferes with the drop of the hammer just enough to barely stop it.  So at the next impact, FABOOM.  He had to shave down the end of the safety and even the inside of the slide to make sure it clears the firing mechanism in the "fire" position.  I have since read of other M57 owners having this same problem with the thumb safety.

IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP FROM EGON: This repair should only 
be undertaken by a trained professional gunsmith.  I neither 
recommend nor am competent to offer advice on doing this 
at home.

Now, here's the funny part: THERE IS NO THUMB SAFETY ON A TOKAREV.  The magazine disconnect is the only safety feature that does not involve manually working the hammer.  The pistol was designed to be carried hammer down on an empty chamber, the way the US military used to carry the .45.

So what was I fiddling with?  A BATFE-mandated safety device.  You see, the BATFE has established a series of largely superfluous "safety" functions in terms of sights and manual safeties, etc.,  that the agency requires to permit importation of foreign-manufactured firearms.  There's no real purpose for this, as a)  these firearms are perfectly safe when carried and used as originally designed to be carried and used, and b) these same safety features are not mandatory on US-manufactured firearms.  The phrase "petty bureaucratic harassment" comes to mind, but that would imply federal officials are trying impede a legal activity of which they happen to disapprove, and that's just crazy talk, right?  In this case, it would even be "petty bureaucratic harassment that even made a product more dangerous to use in the name of safety".

The thing is, I've heard and seen videos of numerous Tokarevs of different varieties with "import" safeties having this problem.  This suggests something to me: having mandated the installation of this "safety" feature, BATFE never took any steps to ensure it was being properly implemented.  They issued the diktat, checked the box on their checklist, and went back to dropping off unmarked boxes in Tijuana.

Luckily, I knew enough about safe gun handling to keep the muzzle downrange.  Luckily.  Gun safety is not supposed to depend on luck...or bureaucrats doing a half-assed job. 

The gun?  I like it.  Given the miniscule military sights from the last century, it's pretty accurate, and it's handy and compact.  I like the cartridge and can't wait to work up some handloads for it.

The gun is popular enough that Zastava is importing new-manufactured copies that have a proper factory-installed safety.  I may pick up one of those or install a 7.62 barrel in a 1911 frame once I get to Texas in the next few weeks.  But for now, now that I've survived the government trying to "protect" me, it's a nice little pistol.

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