Century International Arms M70A 9mm Auto: Classic Protection – Outstanding Price

Century International Arms M70A 9mm Auto

Not everyone can afford a high-end carry pistol, like some of the nicer Kimbers for example, or true custom handguns like the excellent ones available from Wilson Combat.  While they are nice to have and shoot, they are not mandatory for adequate personal or home defense.

Some of the most worrisome times of my life have been while awaiting luggage on the baggage carrousel after having checked it in at departure.  Those of you wishing to carry a firearm concealed in reciprocity states have felt the same thing.  While I don’t want to risk my prized Kimber pistol to TSA officials or baggage handlers, I would risk a much less expensive pistol like the M70A 9mm from Century International Arms (www.centuryarms.com ).

Priced at under $300, the M70A 9mm and its sister M57 in 7.62mmx25 are updated versions of the Soviet Tokarev TT-33, made by the Serbian company Zastava.  The updates elevate the Tokarev from a “curio” type plinking handgun to a serious 21st century defensive piece.

The M70A is a solid, all steel pistol with a nice matte blue finish.  Never having held or fired a Tokarev, I was pleasantly surprised by the feel of the M70A in my hand.  It is compact in terms of its slide width and grip diameter, which houses a single stack nine round capacity blued steel magazine.  Fully loaded weight is a very reasonable 2.2 lbs. Barrel length is 4.5 inches.  Sights are fixed and prominent plain black-with a “U” notch rear.

Century International made three major improvements to the original Tokarev design.  First, they made it available in both the original 7.62x25mm cartridge and 9mm Luger.  Second, Century added a slide mounted safety to the original Tokarev single action pistol design. This safety now allows one to safely carry the Tokarev design in a cocked and locked mode.  However, unlike the 1911, the M70A safety operates in the direction of the Beretta 92 (i.e. “down” is safe and “up” is fire). The positions are clearly marked with a large “F” and “S.” There is no de-cocking feature, but the external hammer is prominent enough and is grooved for positive access and control.  The third update is that grooves on the slide have also been updated to the American pattern, and provide a good grasping surface.

The grips are grooved black plastic, and the Zastava emblem rests in their center rather than the Soviet star. Two magazines are included.  There is a magazine disconnect safety that prevents the gun from firing unless the magazine is inserted.  The pistol can be charged and cleared with the safety on.

The trigger had a short amount of military take-up, and was reasonably crisp on release, requiring about 6 pounds of pressure to drop the hammer.

I test fired the M70A using four different loads; military style 124-grain FMJ of unknown manufacture, Pierce™ Performance 124-grain FMJ (www.piercemunitions.com ),  Speer Gold Dot™ 124-grain +P JHP (www.speer-ammo.com ), and the new Hornady Critical Defense™  115-grain FTX® JHP load (www.hornady.com ).  Shooting the M70A revealed one surprise: it is perhaps the easiest shooting 9mm pistol I have ever fired, no matter which round I used.  There was only one jam, and that was an empty case stovepipe in the very first magazine shooting the Hornady Critical Defense loads.  Thereafter, there was no cycling issue.    The tightest group I fired two-handed standing at 21 feet was with the Pierce FMJ loads-6 rounds in one hole.  The M70A shot about one inch low, which is not a huge deal at combat distances, and can be rectified with Kentucky elevation or by filing down the front sight a bit.

The only holster I had on hand to use while firing the M70A was an ancient Uncle Mikes universal belt slide.  Surprisingly there are new CCW holsters available for Tokarev’s and their derivatives. Two sources I found were Falco holsters (www.falcoholsters.com), and a style I really liked, the Gotov Kydex™ holster, available at Strike Hard Gear  (www.strikehardgear.com).

If you are looking for a reliable and inexpensive CCW or home defense pistol, or if you are an undercover officer looking for a non-cop type of gun that won’t give you away, consider the proven military design found in the Century International Arms M70A, I think you will be happy with the choice.  I know I am, and will be adding the M70A to my off-duty armory.

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99 Comments (Add Yours)

  1. I forgot The first Hi points sort of looked like the Tokarovs

  2. For the people worried about leaving a round in the chamber, here is what American Handgunner says on their review about what happena when the safety is on.

    “Russian gun designers have always kept in mind two factors: Siberian winters and congealed oil. Because of this, the classic Tokarev has a full-reach, non-inertia firing pin. In the new Zastava production, this factor has been addressed by the addition of a superb slide-mounted manual safety.

    When turned downward beside the clearly marked big “S,” the system blocks the firing pin, shields its head from the hammer face and disconnects the trigger bar from the sear. Bottom line: If you’re carrying with a round in the chamber, heed the warning in the well-written manual, and use the manual safety!”

    So 3 safety features acrivate when the safety is on.

  3. Hi have the M57 7.62×25 version that was very affordably priced and fired it many times. I also have the original Tokarov TT33 which I paid almost the same price wholesale. It is 50 years older and shoots well. I strongly recommend getting the M57 . Check out 7.62×25 cal in wikipedia and you will understand why.

  4. When MY life is at stake/risk, I want the BEST equipment available! That mean no other than the 1911.
    As the BEST 1911 for the money, the new Remington fits the bill.

    That is FACT, NOT opinion.

    1. A 1911 is nice, I have several (Government model 5″ bbl, Combat Commander 4.25″ bbl, Round heel CCW 3″ bbl) but when my ass is on the line, I twill take my Glock 19 every time. No safety lever to have to think about, 15 rounds plus 1 in the chamber. I have a 4 pound connector and an adjustable short reset trigger. Its a Gen 4 and has the excellent grip texture. It ain’t nearly as pretty as the 1911 round heel 3″ CCW Model with it’s G-10 grips and all, but its light weight and 110% stone cold reliable.

      1. And what about the inherent design flaw of the 1911?


        And Rob Pincus’ dislike of the 1911?


        Or maybe…?


      2. I prefer to carry my six shot, 44 Mag Colt Anaconda. If you feel you really need 15 rounds to get the perp, maybe you should spend a little more time at the range!

    2. Part of the original authors point was … would you trust traveling with your prize posession pistol? Are you gonna trust the trolls at TSA aren’t gonna steal a nice pistol?

    3. I won A Remington 1911 in a drawing and then to my horror found out through an article by Wiley Capp the gun was polluted with junk MIM cast parts and had a cast frame. I never even fired this piece of junk. I sold it as fast as I could get rid of it. I would not trust my live to a gun that had brittle MIM cast parts in it. The internet abounds with pics of junk MIM cast parts breaking.

  5. I think it is a bad idea to have a gun look exactly like the “blue fake” training aids.

  6. I would not make a single action pistol my first, (or 2nd or 10th) choice for a carry gun…. Rather a DA/SA or even a DA only instead.

    1. but this might still be a fun pistol for the range or plinking….

  7. I would not TOUCH any weapon with just a one year warrenty, and a whole bunch of hoops to go thru even in that first year for service or repair. They must NOT be very proud, or secure in what they are marketing, with such a crappy warranty. For a few more bucks I’ll buy a Ruger or Taurus etc., with a LIFE-time warranty..

    1. Yeah buy a Ruger with junk MIM cast parts that go stamp, crackel and pop after the first few boxes of ammo you run through them. Taurus is also know for crappy workmanship. I will take the all steel Tokerov any day.

  8. It is refreshing to see an old time classic pistol made of solid steel not junk plastic or junk castings being made again. I am thinking of getting one myself.

  9. I personally do not own a handgun (bad eyesight) but my wife owns quite a few. Of all her pistols she prefers the Walther P-38 Luger type. She says it has a natural feel and is balls on accurate. She says for home protection she would probably first reach for “The Judge” but for CC she prefers either the P-38 or the PPK. I cannot argue her position because, we’ll like I said, I do not own any handguns but my wife does.

  10. After over 40 years I recently shot the Chinese version of the Tok. Gun was brought back from Vietnam Nam and cleaned each year ,bur never fired.The pistol fired with out a problem and was very easy to handle. This type of pistol is easy to handle and conceal..

  11. How about trying something made in the USA like the PCCY made in florida.

  12. Don’t discount the Yugo M57 in the good o’l 7.62×25

  13. @John Olson – I don’t recall anybody ever saying “Why did I bring too much ammo to this gun fight?”

    I’d rather have more rounds available to me at one time, rather than 6 before I need to reload…

    Keep in mind, when you’re under stress, your body reacts way differently then when you’re at the range.

  14. The problem with the m57 is the bore diameter is .312 the ammo is 308 so the accuracy suffers tremendously.

    1. My 7.62×25 ammo measures .311 and it’s dead nuts accurate.

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