7.62×25 vs 9mm Ballistics & Uses – 2022 Guide

The 7.62x25mm Borchardt was the first successful semi-automatic handgun round developed in the late nineteenth century. It worked as a parent for the 7.62x25mm Tokarev and 9mm Luger cartridges. One of which would become loved by the Soviets, and the other by the Americans. While 9mm Luger is a more heard and popular name, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev also resounds mildly in the realm of handgun cartridges. 

Interestingly, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev was used by the Soviets and the 9mm Luger was used by the Germans during WWII. Now, we are going to make a comparison between these two cartridges, in order to understand their relevance in modern times, alongwith their pros and cons over one another. 

TL;DR: 7.62×25 vs 9mm

Here’s a quick overview of the topic if you are in a jiffy.

7.62×25

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9mm

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Pros

7.62×25

Ammo is extremely cheap

Good penetration and damage

Used in handguns and submachine guns

Supersonic for longer range, with better energy

Impressively flat-shooting for a handgun round

9mm

Mild recoil and very controllable

Mostly subsonic and works great with suppressors

Allows for double-stacking and higher mag capacity

Wide range of ammo and weapon options. Plus ammo is cheap

Better sectional density and momentum. Hence greater damage

Cons

7.62×25

Noisey and has significant recoil

Ammo and guns are limited and hard to find

Low mag capacity and corrosive ammo

9mm

Less energy than rounds of comparable size

Prone to over penetration and has a mild stopping power

Best For

7.62×25

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev is a good choice for long and accuracy-oriented handgun uses, and personal defense if you can deal with less rounds

9mm

The 9mm is one of the most versatile handgun rounds which is best of CCW, EDC, home defense, small game hunting, competitions, and use with suppressors

7.62×25 Overview

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev is a rimless and bottlenecked pistol cartridge developed in the Soviet Union in 1930. Its use with the famous Tokarev pistol (TT-30) of the Soviet Army made the term ‘Tokarev’ attached to it. The round is a direct descendant of the 7.63x25mm Mauser cartridge used by the German military in WWI and WWII. With the only major difference being the chamber pressure. 

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev was developed to standardize the production of a pistol cartridge in the Soviet Union, rather than depending on Germany for the technology. Many people don’t know that Germany and Soviet Russia were close allies until the invasion of Poland by both these states in WWII. So there was a lot of firearm technology exchange between these two countries.

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This cartridge was in service with the Soviet military for 20 years from 1930 to 1950, until being replaced by the 9x18mm Makarov cartridge (similar to the 9mm Parabellum). This round was also in service with most Eastern Bloc countries, and is still used in limited capacity by some police forces of Russia, Pakistan, and China due to the availability of stored ammunition.

In the United States, this ammunition is mostly imported from Romania, Russia, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic. It’s mostly surplus ammo which can be corrosive and requires a thorough cleaning of the firearm after use. 

9mm Overview

The 9x19mm Parabellum, also known as the 9mm Parabellum, or the 9mm Luger, is a rimless and slightly tapered handgun and submachine cartridge. It was designed by Georg Luger in 1901 after modifying his previous development, the 7.65x21mm Parabellum, which itself was a derivation of the 7.62x25mm Borchardt pistol cartridge. 

This round was eventually adopted in the P-08 Luger pistol by the German military in 1908 and it was used extensively in both WWI and WWII for handguns as well as submachine guns. Even after 120 years of its introduction, the 9mm is the most popular handgun cartridge in existence today. 

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This round was designed to be lethal out to 50 yards, but it certainly has a longer effective range than that. The major advantage that this round offers over other handgun cartridges is the ability to be used in double-stack magazines, hence increasing the ammo carrying capacity. As of today, it is the official handgun cartridge of the NATO forces, and is widely used by many military and police forces in the world. 

The constant development and improvement of the ammo technology of this 9x19mm Parabellum round has kept it ahead of other popular handgun rounds like the .380 Auto, .45 ACP, and .38 Special. 

7.62×25 vs 9mm: Cartridge Specs

Check out the dimensions of these two cartridges in a side-by-side table.

7.62×259mm
Bullet Diameter0.312 in (7.92 mm)0.355 in (9.10 mm)
Neck Diameter0.334 in (8.49 mm)0.380 in (9.65 mm)
Base Diameter0.387 in (9.83 mm)0.391 in (9.93 mm)
Case Length0.984 in (25.0 mm)0.754 in (19.15 mm)
Overall Length1.386 in (35.20 mm)1.169 in (29.69 mm)
Case Capacity16.8 grains13.30 grains
Max Pressure36,259 psi (CIP)35,000 psi (SAAMI)
Typical Casing MaterialBrass/SteelBrass
Typical Bullet Weight (gr)85-90 grains115-147 grains

Technically, both these cartridges are the descendants of the 7.63x25mm Mauser cartridge. While the 7.62x25mm Tokarev retained the original overall length to a significant extent, the 9mm shortened it further to seat a larger diameter bullet. 

While the 7.62x25mm Tokarev fires a 0.310-0.312 inch diameter bullet, the 9mm comes with a larger 0.355 inches diameter bullet. Both of these are rimless cartridges, but the 7.62x25mm Tokarev uses a bottleneck for higher velocity and the 9mm uses a tapered wall to seat the large diameter bullet.

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev features a 25% higher case capacity than the 9mm, and is also loaded to a slightly higher pressure rating compared to the normal loads. Although the +p loading for the 9mm exceeds in pressure by almost 2,000 psi leading to a higher velocity.

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev has factory loads available in 85, 86 and 90 grains, whereas handloads are available in 60 to 115 grains. Although, the most commonly used and readily available load is the 86 grain. On the other hand, the 9mm is available in a plethora of ammo options and uses 115-147 grain bullets as the norm. 

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7.62×25 vs 9mm: Ballistics

A study of the ballistics data for these rounds will help us determine the accuracy, effective range, and suitability of these cartridges against different types of targets. The ballistics data deals with three important characteristics which are trajectory, kinetic energy, and velocity. Now let’s understand the effect of these in detail. 

7.62×25 vs 9mm: Trajectory

The trajectory data has been collected using handgun length barrels and the most common loads.

7.62×25

4.724” barrel/BC 0.119/85-gr JHP4.724” barrel/BC 0.127/86-gr FMJ4.724” barrel/BC 0.129/90-gr FMJ
25 yds: 0 “ Drop25 yds: 0 “ Drop25 yds: 0 “ Drop
50 yds: +0.4 “ Elevation50 yds: +0.3 “ Elevation50 yds: +0.6 “ Elevation
75 yds: 0.3 “ Drop75 yds: 0.7 “ Drop75 yds: +0.2 “ Elevation
100 yds: 2.6 “ Drop100 yds: 3.3 “ Drop100 yds: 1.4 “ Drop
125 yds: 6.4 “ Drop125 yds: 7.7 “ Drop125 yds: 4.37 “ Drop

9mm

4.49” barrel/BC 0.120/115-grain FMJ4.49” barrel/BC 0.150/124-grain JHP4.49” barrel/BC 0.200/147-grain FMJ
25 yds: 0 “ Drop25 yds: 0 “ Drop25 yds: 0 “ Drop
50 yds: 0.9 “ Drop50 yds: 0.9 “ Drop50 yds: 1.4 “ Drop
75 yds: 3.7 “ Drop75 yds: 3.8 “ Drop75 yds: 5.2 “ Drop
100 yds: 8.7 “ Drop100 yds: 8.8 “ Drop100 yds: 11.5  “ Drop
125 yds: 16.1 “ Drop125 yds: 16.1 “ Drop125 yds: 20.3 “ Drop

Since both of these are basically handgun cartridges, also suitable for submachine gun use, I have taken the maximum range as 125 yards for a mixed idea of trajectory and other factors. Since using a handgun for distances more than 50 yards is pretty uncommon in both civilian and military situations. 

The data shows us that th e7.62x25mm Tokarev is an exceptionally flat-shooting round for a handgun cartridge. The reason for this flat trajectory is the optimal bullet weight combined with a high speed due to high chamber pressure. With a drop of just six inches on average at 125 yards, it is certainly a better submachine gun cartridge with great potential for accuracy. 

The 9mm is a fairly decent round out to 75 yards in terms of trajectory, however, the drop begins to increase rapidly beyond that range and exceeds to an average of 18 inches at 125 yards. While the effective range of the 9mm is always preached to be 50 yards, it does have good numbers for trajectory at that range. 

As far as the comparison of these two rounds is concerned, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev is a clear winner in terms of trajectory, and has almost 25-40 yards more of a flatter range than the 9mm. 

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7.62×25 vs 9mm: Velocity & Kinetic Energy

The velocity and kinetic energy characteristics will help us understand the effective range, supersonic distances and the suitability of these rounds against flesh or armor. 

7.62×25

4.724” barrel/BC 0.119/85-grain JHP4.724” barrel/BC 0.127/86-grain FMJ4.724” barrel/BC 0.129/90-grain FMJ
25 yds: 1,450 ft/s, 397 ft.lbs25 yds: 1,368 ft/s, 357 ft.lbs25 yds: 1,582 ft/s, 500 ft.lbs
50 yds: 1,333 ft/s, 335 ft.lbs50 yds: 1,268 ft/s, 307 ft.lbs50 yds: 1,463 ft/s, 428 ft.lbs
75 yds: 1,231 ft/s, 286 ft.lbs75 yds: 1,181 ft/s, 266 ft.lbs75 yds: 1,353 ft/s, 366 ft.lbs
100 yds: 1,146 ft/s, 248 ft.lbs100 yds: 1,110 ft/s, 235 ft.lbs100 yds: 1,256 ft/s, 315 ft.lbs
125 yds: 1,078 ft/s, 219 ft.lbs125 yds: 1,054 ft/s, 212 ft.lbs125 yds: 1,173 ft/s, 275 ft.lbs

9mm

4.49” barrel/BC 0.120/115 grain FMJ4.49” barrel/BC 0.150/124 grain JHP4.49” barrel/BC 0.200/147 grain FMJ
25 yds: 1,106 ft/s, 312 ft.lbs25 yds: 1,095 ft/s, 330 ft.lbs25 yds: 976 ft/s, 311 ft.lbs
50 yds: 1,048 ft/s, 280 ft.lbs50 yds: 1,049 ft/s, 303 ft.lbs50 yds: 953 ft/s, 293 ft.lbs
75 yds: 1,001 ft/s, 256 ft.lbs75 yds: 1,010 ft/s, 281 ft.lbs75 yds: 933 ft/s, 284 ft.lbs
100 yds: 961 ft/s, 236 ft.lbs100 yds: 977 ft/s, 263 ft.lbs100 yds: 914 ft/s, 273 ft.lbs
125 yds: 927 ft/s, 219 ft.lbs125 yds: 948 ft/s, 247 ft.lbs125 yds: 896 ft/s, 262 ft.lbs

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev is inherently a supersonic round at least out to a distance of 100 yards. The lightweight bullets of 85-90 grains have the potential to stay supersonic out to 150 yards, which is quite impressive for a handgun round. The 7.62x25mm Tokarev can achieve high fps (up to 1,750) with submachine guns and is capable of penetrating level IIIA armor with FMJ bullets.

Supersonic rounds are mostly preferred for rifles because they deliver longer range, higher power and better accuracy. Whereas subsonic rounds are quieter and work better with suppressors. So the 7.62x25mm Tokarev is clearly not a great round for use with suppressors.

The 9mm is mostly a subsonic round, but the low-weight bullets can deliver supersonic speeds within 25 yards. Subsonic ammo is quieter and helps with controllability for follow-up shots. 

Looking at the energy characteristics, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev is always a harder-hitting round than the 9mm at equal distances. Although the 9mm has heavier bullets, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev travels at a faster velocity and has an advantage in terms of energy. 

So overall, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev is a faster shooting round with more energy but at the cost of some controllability. Whereas the 9mm is better with suppressors and offers milder recoil, but delivers less power, speed, and range, even with heavier bullets. 

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7.62×25 vs 9mm: Stopping Power

The stopping power describes the ability of a round to incapacitate a target in the least time and effort possible. People can favor different concepts and methods to measure the stopping power of a bullet, but the momentum and sectional density values are the best metrics to evaluate it. 

7.62×25 vs 9mm: Momentum & Sectional Density

 The momentum describes the intensity of energy transfer upon impact, and the sectional density is an indicator of the penetration delivered by a bullet. 

7.62×25

4.724” barrel/BC 0.119/85-grain JHP
Sectional Density: 0.125
4.724” barrel/BC 0.127/86-grain FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.126
4.724” barrel/BC 0.129/90-grain FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.132
25 yds: 17 ft.lb-s25 yds: 16 ft.lb-s25 yds: 20 ft.lb-s
50 yds: 16 ft.lb-s50 yds: 15 ft.lb-s50 yds: 18 ft.lb-s
75 yds: 14 ft.lb-s75 yds: 14 ft.lb-s75 yds: 17 ft.lb-s
100 yds: 13 ft.lb-s100 yds: 13 ft.lb-s100 yds: 16 ft.lb-s
125 yds: 13 ft.lb-s125 yds: 12 ft.lb-s125 yds: 15 ft.lb-s

9mm

4.49” barrel/BC 0.120/115 grain FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.130
4.49” barrel/BC 0.150/124 grain JHP
Sectional Density: 0.141
4.49” barrel/BC 0.200/147 grain FMJ
Sectional Density: 0.167
25 yds: 18 ft.lb-s25 yds: 19 ft.lb-s25 yds: 20 ft.lb-s
50 yds: 17 ft.lb-s50 yds: 18 ft.lb-s50 yds: 20 ft.lb-s
75 yds: 16 ft.lb-s75 yds: 17 ft.lb-s75 yds: 19 ft.lb-s
100 yds: 15 ft.lb-s100 yds: 17 ft.lb-s100 yds: 19 ft.lb-s
125 yds: 15 ft.lb-s125 yds: 16 ft.lb-s125 yds: 18 ft.lb-s

The sectional density (SD) of an object is the ratio of its mass and cross-sectional area. The higher the value of SD, the more penetration is delivered by a bullet. The SD of the low-weight bullets of these rounds is almost the same, and there isn’t much difference even when the weights exceed. 

The SD values of these rounds are always less than 0.200, which is considered suitable only for hunting small game animals. Although, the 9mm does offer better penetration than the 7.62x25mm Tokarev, and both these rounds can clear 12 inches of ballistics gel. Additionally, both these rounds are capable of penetrating level II and level IIA armor. 

Moving over to the momentum, in layman’s terms, the momentum is a direct indicator of the size of the wound channel (along with bullet caliber). Interestingly, both these rounds have similar values for momentum and comparable range, but the 9mm always has a higher momentum and retains it better with increasing range. 

Additionally, the 9mm uses a larger diameter bullet, and with the subsonic speeds and heavier momentum, it is obviously a more potent choice over the 7.62x25mm Tokarev.

7.62×25 vs 9mm: Use Cases & Effective Range

After analyzing all the data, let us understand the real-life expectations for these cartridges. 

EDC and CCW 

The 9mm is undoubtedly the first choice for most gun-carrying Americans as an everyday carry (EDC) and concealed carry (CCW) round. The double-stack magazine, versatility in handgun sizes and options, and easy controllability of this round makes it a perfect EDC and CCW round. Additionally, since the military and police departments trust it, you can be sure of its lethality and effectiveness. 

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev was the Soviet equivalent of the .38 ACP back in the day, but with the introduction of the 9x18mm Makarov, it quickly faded into obsolescence. Although the round has a lot of power, the low ammo capacity (7-8 rounds), noisy and barrel-eating supersonic speeds, and higher recoil are the prime deterrents. Plus, the low options and availability of ammo/guns is also a big concern. 

Hunting and Defense

Unfortunately, neither of these rounds is an effective bear-defense gun. Although, both these rounds can be carried for survival and personal defense in the woods against small and medium-sized animals. Both of these are decent choices against feral hogs when you’re out in the fields or the forest. However, In my opinion, I will carry a 9mm for its mag capacity, or a 10mm Auto for its sheer power.

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Competitions

The 9mm is a dead favorite for most handgun competitions starting from the USPSA and going all the way up to the Olympics. The round offers amazing controllability and genuine accuracy with the right loads. The 7.62x25mm Tokarev is obviously a better candidate on paper in terms of trajectory and velocity, but the lack of effective and accurate handguns, plus the low popularity of this round never really brought it up as a potential round for competitions. So again, the 9mm is the winner here. 

Home Defense

When used with hollow-points or soft-points rather than FMJ ammo, both these cartridges have the potential to be an effective home defense round. In the absence of body armor, both these rounds will have over penetrating effects on a human target, especially with FMJ ammo which will zip right past through, posing a risk to bystanders. 

Although, with its subsonic speeds, better controllability, and high mag capacity, the 9mm is a better alternative compared to the supersonic, high-recoiling, and low-capacity of the 7.62x25mm Tokarev.

7.62×25 vs 9mm: Costs, Availability, & Compatibility

Build up your expectations for the availability of ammo/guns, and the economics associated with it. 

Dirt Cheap but Very Rare vs Very Abundant

The 9mm ammo is the highest-selling cartridge among all rifle and handgun cartridges in the United States. This cartridge is extremely common in this country and also across the world. So every online or offline gun shop carries this ammo in abundant quantities. 

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The panic-buying during the Covid-19 pandemic did have some serious effect on the availability and price due to its popularity. However, now as things have normalized, the 9mm is back to its good ‘ol days. The ammo for 9mm is dirt cheap and can be found for as low as 30 cents per round for plinking and defense loads. 

On the other hand, the 7.62x25mm Tokarev is a very rare sight in medium and small gun shops. Only three brands (Fiocchi, Sellier and Bellot, and Prvi Partizan) actively offer ammo for this cartridge in the United States. Although, it still costs ridiculously low at 60-70 cents per round, and hitting only a top of $1.4 per round. 

Ocean vs Puddle of Options

The 9mm has been around for a while, and there are literally hundreds of options for handguns on the market. The ammo has also been researched upon too well and you can find a plethora of different loads for ammo. From ultra-tactical handguns to revolvers, there’s a lot to choose from for the 9mm. 

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev isn’t that versatile and as I already said, there are only three ammo options for this cartridge. However, the possibilities of handloading are numerous and there are many ways to build your own ammo. 

Bottom Line

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev and 9mm, both find their ancestry in the 7.63×25 Borchardt cartridge developed by Georg Luger in the late nineteenth century. While the 7.62x25mm Tokarev saw only two decades of active service and limited advancements, the 9mm has been in active (and popular) service for about 120 years now. 

The 7.62x25mm Tokarev is a lightweight bullet but a bigger cartridge loaded at higher pressures. This gives it supersonic velocity, flat trajectory, and higher energy, but at the cost of recoil, noise, and mag capacity. 

The 9mm is a very controllable cartridge with a wide range of bullet weights and firearms, plus a high mag capacity, deeper penetration, and a higher momentum. Although the 7.62x25mm Tokarev is faster, flatter, and more energetic on paper, the 9mm is a more practical round in comparison. 


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