Developed in the 1930s, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev cartridge was produced in the Soviet Union for pistols like the popular Tokarev TT-33, used by the Soviet military from its development until the mid-1960s, and submachine guns like the PPSh-41, which is possibly the best-known firearm chambered for this cartridge. It drew the world's attention, including several national militaries and countries of the Warsaw Pact (for example, France and North Vietnam chambered submachine guns in 7.62x25 Tokarev).
Over its many years, the 7.62 Tokarev has been manufactured in many varieties – from lead ball to armor piercing and incendiary – and has seen action on many different missions that needed a small cartridge with excellent penetration. In the United States today, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev is usuallly found with hollow point or full metal jacket bullets weighing 85 or 90 grains. Muzzle velocity can range between 1,200 feet per second to slightly more than 1,700 feet per second, giving it an excellent reputation for penetration. Some tests have shown FMJ bullets penetrating as much as 17 inches of ballistic gel, while other test results indicate that a 7.62 Tokarev round will penetrate level II ballistic vests as well as the U.S. PASGT helmet. This may be why some shooters believe the performance of the 7.62x25mm is superior to modern 9mm cartridges.
In the United States, collectors are the biggest consumers of the 7.62x25mm – buying the cartridge to feed their Tokarev TT-33 and Czech CZ vz 52 pistols. The high velocity of the round and muzzle energy between 400 and 570 foot pounds makes it a valid option for personal protection.