Back in the 1980s and 90s, you could get a great deal on a 9mm Tokarev copy, if you didn’t mind the wonky lettering on the slide.
In 1951, as part of a short-lived period of Revolutionary Co-Prosperity with Moscow, Mao’s China and Stalin’s Soviet Union shared the technology package to build the TT-33 Tokarev pistol design in the land of The Red Dragon. In short order, an estimated 250,000 Tokarev clones, made with a mixture of donated Soviet and new-made Chinese parts, came off the lines as the new Type 51 pistol. A few years later, the design was gently modified into the all-Chinese Type 54, a pistol that remained in Chinese front-line service well into the 1990s and still exists in second-line armories.
Fast forward through Nixon’s rapprochement with Communist China and the normalization of trade between the two Pacific giants, and in 1980, the China North Industries Corporation, better known as Norinco, was formed. Within a few years, tons of new-made Norinco firearms, including SKS and AK pattern rifles, were being shipped to the U.S. for sporting purposes.
This brings us to the Norinco TU90 and 213.
More in my column at Guns.com.