1926 Tula-Korovin: The First Soviet Semiauto Pistol

Sergei Korovin was a Russian designer who was kicked out of the Kharkov Technical Institute in 1905 for his revolutionary political activities. He emigrated to Liege in Belgium, where he worked in the arms industry until returning home to Russia when World War One broke out in 1914. He attempted to get a job at the Tula Arsenal, but was unable to do so until about 1920 (by which time his politics were presumably working in his favor). He went to work on handgun designs, and would produce the Tula-Korovin in 1926, the first Soviet production semiauto pistol.

Korovin’s first work was in 1923, on a short-recoil military sidearm in .32ACP, which would be modified to .30 Mauser by 1929, but ultimately lose out to the Tokarev TT-30. However, the Tula Arsenal opted to scale down his pistol in 1926 to a simple blowback .25ACP design, which was produced in large numbers between 1927 and 1935. It was made in three variations with apparently a total production in excess of 500,000. The third variation was beefed up a bit, and apparently chambered for a higher pressure version of the .25 ACP cartridge designated the 6.3mm Tula – although detailed information on this is difficult to find.

Considering their total production, Tula-Korovin pistols are quite scarce today! This one is part of Lot 2601 at Rock Island on Friday, October 9th.


  1. Mechanically, a very good pistol. Precise and ergonomic.

    Noticeably better than Browning Baby.
    Could be.
    If it hadn’t been made of defective nails.
    He’s bent a slide after a few hundred shots.
    Therefore, on modern hot cartridges …
    In short, it’s better not to shoot from it at all. 🙂

    • .25 Autos were never intended for more than a box of rounds over their lifetime. They are inexpensive short range very concealable barely lethal personal defensive pistols not intended for anything other than a sense of personal protection and threat. Not a sport pistol, not a training pistol, not even a pistol for executions, suicides, or police pistols like the .32 ACP.

      • That might be true of some cheap pistols, but Browning, Colt, and FN built everything they made, in any caliber, out of the finest materials and to the highest standards of workmanship and finish, intended to last. They were NOT ‘inexpensive;’ A standard Colt 1908 .25 in 1916 cost $16.50, or the equivalent of $395 today. Furthermore, the .25ACP is quite sufficient at ‘murder’ range to inflict a lethal, or incapacitating, wound. Bear in mind that the lowly .25 will penetrate 11 inches of ballistic gelatin–1″ short of the FBI minimum for ‘effective’ handgun round performance. Neither of us should volunteer to be shot by one; It’s gonna leave a mark.

      • “(…)very concealable(…)”
        It should be noted that TK, due to its lineage (7,65 mm predecessor) was somewhat bigger than typical 6,35 mm vest pocket automatic pistol of its era, see 4th image from top: http://russianrevolvers.com/kopovin/TKKorovin.html
        Similarly Mauser 1910 did evolved from automatic pistol firing bigger cartridge and similarly was somewhat bigger than other vest pocket automatic pistols of its era: https://modernfirearms.net/en/handguns/handguns-en/germany-semi-automatic-pistols/mauser-1910-14-34-eng/

      • “(…) barely lethal(…)”
        From TK manual:
        Penetrative working of pistol bullet
        Firing was done from distance of 25 meters at pine planks, each 2,5 cm thick and each space between 7,5 cm wide, all bullets penetrated 2,5 of plank. [i.e. stayed in 3rd]
        Firing was done from distance of ~7 meters at pine planks, each 17 mm thick and each space between 7 mm. Bullet penetrated 4 planks and make dent in 5th plank.

    • “Therefore, on modern hot cartridges …(…)”
      Production of TK ceased in 1935 year. If under “modern” you mean made later than in 1935 year whole point is blatantly anachronistic.

  2. Len Deighton in his novel “The Billion-Dollar Brain” portrays a TK and the narrator says it is called in the USSR “the nurse’s gun.”

    I should disagree with Mr. H above about the uses of 6.35/.25 (see the Katyn Massacre) and the quality of some of the arms in that caliber (Walther? FN? Colt? Even the Czech Duo?). Of course there have been many poorly-made examples.

  3. Really wondered how Mr. Korovin designed a short recoil similar pistol within this lay out…

    Take down seems borrowed from 1914 Beretta or 1913 Little Tom and is it really necessary to take the safety lever out or, if only it needs to punch the barrel back with the safety lever in place… Popping out the slide lock pin during take down seems a serious trouble… IMHO…

  4. If you were looking down the barrel of this gun while tied up, chances were that you would officially “disappear” and be declared an “accident victim.” I could be wrong…

  5. “(…)Korovin’s first work was in 1923, on a short-recoil military sidearm in .32ACP, which would be modified to .30 Mauser by 1929, but ultimately lose out to the Tokarev TT-30.(…)”
    This is false. Korovin firstly developed blow-back operated automatic pistol for 7,65 mm Browning cartridge, it is known as Пистолет системы Коровина образца 1924 г. (охранный) it has capacity 10, length 180 mm, mass 856 g. It was praised for ability to fire first shot quickly, but yet was found too complex. Later Korovin designed blow-back operated automatic pistol for 7,63 mm Mauser cartridge, it is known as Пистолет системы Коровина образца 1929 г. (военный). During trials it was found to jam too often, painful recoil, excessive weight and untrustworthy trigger mechanism. Length 198 mm, height 137 mm, mass 1050 g.


  6. Among early semi-automatic pistol designs, many handguns feature a locked breech design, even for small calibers. I wonder why this is the case? Did the engineers mistrust the straight blowback principle? Was it deemed to be unsafe?

  7. “Among early semi-automatic pistol designs, many handguns feature a locked breech design, even for small calibers. I wonder why this is the case?(…)”
    Interestingly question, for example if I am not mistaken Karel Krnka expressed (as Kaisertreu) view which might be summed up as “recoil operation best operation” and used it even in Roth-Sauer automatic pistol: http://hungariae.com/RothSau.htm
    which was firing own cartridge, similar to but weaker than 7,65 mm Browning cartridge.

    • At beginning of auto loading firearms era, all manual repeaters were of locked breech design and this reality should have forced the designers to use some kind of breech lock in their auto loading firearms… If noticed, most of early auto loading pistols might be described as shrinked rifles… that was, a rifle like barrel extention and a breech with a lock in it… With that construction in mind, a rifle like loading mechanism should be first to imagine… However, some of the first auto loading pistols like Mannlicher was in lockless design… It was a blow forward pistol…

  8. It was not a service pistol. Not for nurses or security officers.
    And even more so, not for executions. LOL
    It was developed for sports organizations as a pistol for training and recreational shooting.
    And if it were not for the lousy quality of the steel (perhaps, the weak service vitality was made on purpose), this would be one of the best pistols in its class.

    Korovin, was one of the most literate weapons designers in the USSR.
    Perhaps because he was almost the only one (due to his “unreliability”) had experience of working at a normal (more precisely, one of the leading) weapons factory.
    He was not only engaged in pistols. And he showed himself as a competent and talented designer.

    And these pistols were sold “on a party ticket.” In addition, they have been used as a valuable gift for athletic and other achievements. Along as watches or panties, for example.

    When in 1941 it “suddenly” turned out that there was an acute shortage of pistols, they were used to arm senior officers.
    And the fact that survived (and survived only a little) they were used by bank tellers, watchmen and postmen.
    And thanks to the crappy quality, today, they are almost not preserved in a normal state.

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