The cartridge is in principle a Soviet version of the 7.63mm Mauser. They are very similar: in fact, some weapons can use both cartridges interchangeably, although this is not recommended.
The Soviets produced a wide array of loadings for this cartridge for use in submachine guns. These include armor-piercing, tracer and incendiary rounds. This cartridge has excellent penetration and can easily defeat lighter ballistic vests (class I, IIA and II). Although most firearms chambered in this caliber were declared obsolete and removed from military inventories, some Police and Special Forces units in Russia and (mainly) in China still use it for its superior penetration, rather than the more popular 9 mm Makarov ammunition in current use.
The 7.62 Tokarev is usually much more powerful than its Mauser counterpart and may damage any firearms chambered for 7.63 mm Mauser. The Czech version of this cartridge has 25% higher pressure loading with significantly more velocity and energy than other common loads and may present a danger to the user when fired from weapons not specifically designed to use it.
The cartridge has an average muzzle velocity of around 1500 feet per second, and has about 440 ft·lbf (600 J) of energy. Recoil from the cartridge is on par with a .357 SIG however the recoil felt when fired from a Vz. 52 is considerably less then a Tokarev TT-33 due to its recoil system and heavier weight. The unusually loud report and bright muzzle flash produced when this cartridge is fired from pistols can surprise onlookers.
Reloaders have been known to custom load 7.62 x 25 mm with sabot rounds using .22 caliber 55 grain (3.6 g) bullets. Muzzle velocities in excess of 2200 ft/s (670 m/s) have been obtained with this method. These speeds are seldom obtained with a handgun; usually, the longer barrel of a rifle is required.
As the 7.62x25mm was largely an Eastern Bloc round, it remained relatively rare in the west. However after the Cold War, many weapons, especially pistols, were exported to the west with the round now currently in production. Weapons produced in this caliber include pistols such as the TT-33, vz. 52, and the Russian OTs-27 Berdysh (Poleaxe). Submachine guns include the Soviet PPD-40, PPSh-41,PPS-43 and OTs-39, the Czech vz. 24, vz. 26, and the North VietnameseK-50m and VPA/Viet Minh modified a few MAS-38 (MAS Mle 1938) and many Mat-49, and the Yugoslav M56. The M56 is a variant of the German MP40.