History M57 vs M57A


The Zastava M57A is a variant of the Zastava M57, which itself is a variant of the Soviet TT-33. Zastava is a Serbian firearms company and has been in operation since the 1800s. As a side note, Zastava also manufactured the “Yugo” car.

The story of the M57A begins with the TT-33; the TT-33, also known as the Tokarev after its designer Fedor Tokarev, was the standard Soviet pistol in the 1930s, 1940s, and into the 1950s. An important aspect of the TT-33 is that it lacks an external safety. The only safety mechanism of the TT-33 is a half-cock notch for the hammer. This was not a concern for the Red Army, and this aspect was maintained in the original M57. The M57 is still produced by Zastava without a safety; however these pistols are not imported into the US because the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives does not allow pistols to be imported without some form of mechanical safety. The M57A is simply a M57 with a safety added to the slide by Zastava.

Besides the addition of a safety mechanism on the M57A, the critical difference between the TT-33 and the M57A is that the M57 has a 9+1 round capacity, and the TT-33 has an 8 round capacity. This extra cartridge was squeezed in by lengthening the grips and the magazine; the grips and magazines of the two pistols are not interchangeable because of this. There are other differences between the M57A and the TT-33; the slide serrations are narrower and therefore more plentiful on the M57A. The M57A also has a magazine safety that prevents the pistol from being fired without a magazine in the magazine well; the TT-33 does not have this either. The M57A has a larger magazine release button than the TT-33. The recoil spring and guide rod are also different between the pistols; the M57A has a full length guide rod.

The M57 was adopted by the Yugoslavian military in 1957. It continued as a standard issue pistol until 1970, when the Yugoslavs adopted the M70. The M70 shares the same design as the M57, but its caliber is 9x19, whereas the M57 and M57A are in the 7.62x25 caliber. The M57 and the M70 have been in continuous production since their adoption, and were used often during the Balkan Wars of the 1990s and early 2000s.

The M57A and its magazines are simple and straightforward to disassemble and reassemble. It can be field stripped, cleaned, oiled, and put back together in less time than it takes to read this webpage. It technically is possible to field strip a M57A without tools, however a plastic punch of some sort does come in handy to remove the retaining clip on the right side of the pistol. To completely disassemble and reassemble the pistol, a punch and screwdriver are needed. A flathead screwdriver is needed to take apart the magazines.

The M57A has been imported into the US since November of 2012. The pistols typically cost between $225 and $250 new. In comparison, a new Colt M1911 pistol typically sells for in excess of $1000, and a new Glock pistol ranges between $500 to $700, depending on the generation, model, and the dealer.

These pistols, due to their size, caliber, and price, are very multipurpose. With expanding bullets, it could be used legally in some states such as Massachusetts to hunt coyote and other small game. Although it is a large pistol in comparison to many “pocket pistols”, it is possible to carry a M57A in a concealed manner in an appropriate holster if using the appropriate hollow point bullets. The recoil of the pistol is manageable and new shooters should not be burdened by it. It can also be used for home defense, again, with expanding bullets. It is not, however, appropriate for many competitive shoots because its bore diameter is too small. Typically, most competitions require a bore diameter at or in excess of .355”, and the bore diameter of the M57A is .308”. It could be used for steel plate shooting; however caution should be used when firing at steel plates at close range with full metal jacket bullets.

The Zastava M57A is chambered in the 7.62x25 caliber. This caliber is also found in the Soviet TT-33, Romanian TTC, Polish wz. 33, Czech vz. 52, Chinese Type 51 and Type 54, and North Korean Type 68 pistols, in addition to the Soviet PPSh-41 and PPS-43 machine pistols and various other machine pistols made by countries that had adopted this cartridge.

It was introduced by the Soviets in approximately 1930 with the prototype of the TT-33, the TT-30. The cartridge is probably based upon and is interchangeable with the 7.63 Mauser cartridge. However, it must be noted that the 7.62x25 is more potent than 7.63 Mauser, and 7.62x25 ammunition should NOT be shot in firearms chambered in 7.63 Mauser due to the age of the firearms and the increased potency of 7.62x25. The relationship between the two is similar to .38 Special and .357 Magnum, however the .357 Magnum was deliberately designed to not function in firearms made in .38 Special to avoid the problem that shooting 7.62x25 in a 7.63 Mauser would cause.

When fired, the 7.62x25 bullet travels roughly at 1650 feet per second and impacts at about 500 foot pounds. In comparison, the American .45ACP “Hard Ball” military cartridge travels at about 830 feet per second and impacts around 350 foot pounds; it should be noted however, that the statistics I have given are new 7.62x25 cartridges against old .45ACP cartridges. Modern .45ACP can perform much better. However, these statistics are considered “standard” for both cartridges’ performance.

7.62x25 is noted by shooters as being one of the few pistol cartridges that can penetrate thin steel plates, armored vests that are typically rated against pistol cartridges and the US military’s Kevlar helmet. This level of penetration is presumably one of the reasons why various militaries have adopted this cartridge; however it can be a problem for the average civilian who is using a firearm in 7.62x25 in a self defense purpose. Full metal jacket 7.62x25 bullets can go clean through someone with ease unless the bullet hits bone. Therefore, hollow point bullets are normally used for people hunting with these firearms or using them for self defense. Also, hollow point bullets are designed to expand upon impact and cause further damage to body tissue. The muzzle flash from a 7.62x25 pistol is impressive to say the least, and the noise it creates does draw attention at the shooting range. However, due to the relatively small size of the bullet, recoil is easy to control for new and experienced shooters alike.

Although 7.62x25 no longer has any military applications, it is still being produced by ammunition companies such as Sellier and Bellot of the Czech Republic, Prvi Partizan of Serbia, various Russian companies, and others. Currently, Zastava is one of a handful of companies producing pistols in 7.62x25 and the only pistols being made are in the Tokarev style, such as the M57 and M57A. Currently, 7.62x25 sells at about 40 to 60 cents per shot in boxes of 50.

 Yugoslavian Model-57 Tokarev was manufactured by the Crvena(red) Zastava factory in Kragujevac, Yugoslavia. On April 5, 2005 the factory changed its name to Zastava oruzje(arms) AD, and is still located in Kragujevac, but the country is now known as Serbia. The M-57 sidearm was adopted in 1957 and was the standard sidearm of the Yugoslavian army.

Going by the Yugoslavian emblem that is stamped on the top of the slide, I place the date of manufacturer for this sidearm to be some time after 1963. The M-57 is a self-loading, semi-automatic pistol that operates using a short recoil, locked breech design with a swinging under barrel link, much like the one seen on the Colt 1911.

The M-57 is chambered for the 7.62 x 25mm Tokarev round. The pistol has been designed to operate as a single action firearm that utilizes an external hammer. After the first round has been fired, it then functions as a double action. The steel frame has the usual blackish finish that is commonly seen on Eastern bloc firearms. The sight system includes a square blade front sight that is dovetailed onto the slide and a U-notch rear sight that is drift adjustable for windage only. The pistol is fed by a single column 9 round detachable box magazine. Although the M-57 is very similar to the Soviet TT(Tula, Tokarev)-33, it will not accept the TT-33 magazine which is a tad shorter and holds only 8 rounds. The M-57 utilizes a push button magazine release that is located at the bottom rear corner of the trigger guard. An empty magazine will easily eject from the pistol under its own weight. The pistol has an overall length is 7.87 inches,  a barrel length of 4.6 inches with 4 grooves, and an unloaded weight of 32 ounces. This weapon does employ a slide hold open mechanism to inform the operator that the last round has been fired. The black grip panels are made from plastic. 

The pistol incorporates a thumb safety which is located above the left grip at the rear of the frame. Early examples of the M-57 did not include a manual thumb safety. On the example displayed on this page, the safety lever requires the use of both hands to engage it, but can be switched to the fire position quite easily with the use of one hand. The reader should be made aware that there is debate among collectors as to when the thumb safety was installed. Was it at the Zastava factory, or was it added later so that the M-57 would comply with U.S. import laws? As of this writing, I do not know the answer to that question. The hammer half cock safety, more like a quarter cock, locks in place both the trigger and the slide. The M-57 also incorporates a magazine safety that will not allow the hammer to be dropped if the magazine has been removed.

Yugoslavian emblem  

In the upper photograph on the right, directly ahead of the rear sight is the Yugoslavian crest or emblem. Several different styles of this emblem are known to exist on the M-57, with some styles dependent on the date of manufacturer. All of the crests that I have examined have the date of November 29, 1943 on them. The emblem was created by Dorde Andrejevic-Kun, an artist from the capital city of Belgrade in 1943. 

The emblem for socialist Yugoslavia consisted of five torches that were burning together as a single flame being surrounded by wheat. This represented the unity and brotherhood of the five nations of Yugoslavia which included, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia,and Slovenia, but left out the ethnic Muslims. Then in 1963, the name of the country was changed to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the crest was redesigned with six torches to represent the six Yugoslavian federal republics, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

The November 29, 1943 date is a reference to a conference that took place in the city of Jajce and is now known as the Jajce conference. During WWII when the Nazi's occupied Yugoslavia, Communists from around the region gathered at what is known as the Antifascist Assembly of Yugoslavia's People's Liberation(AVNOJ). These Communists proclaimed that their assembly was the only legitimate government of Yugoslavia, and it was most certainly not the fascist Nazi invaders. At their second meeting, this assembly drew up a single page document that contained only two signatures yet it formed the basis for the post-war organization of the country(in effect, Tito's own communist party). This national parliament designated Tito as the Marshall of Yugoslavia. The monarchy was not officially abolished, and the communist state declared, until late in 1945. The emblem was adopted about a year later. The November 29, 1943 date seems to backdate the new regime by around 3 years, in so doing, gives the regime an air of established solidity. This proclamation established a new federal state which lasted until 1991.