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7.62×39 Ammo Common Uses & History

Developed during and after World War II, the 7.62x39mm cartridge was first chambered in the RPD light machine gun. 7.62x39mm ammo is primarily used in SKS and AK rifles and delivers good medium-range performance. Although no longer used by the Russian military for front-line service, it is extremely common anywhere AK-pattern rifles are used. This cartridge has a tapered steel case that aids in its feeding and extraction; this taper gives AK magazines their “banana” shape.

7.62×39 Ammo Types

Most 7.62x39mm ammunition fires 122 or 123-grain full metal jacket bullets at a muzzle velocity of about 2,400 feet per second. The caliber delivers good penetration, good medium-range performance, and reasonable accuracy.

Although it was not designed for hunting, 7.62x39mm ammo can be adapted for harvesting game with appropriate soft point ammo. Soft point rounds mushroom for lethal effect on boar, deer, and other game without fragmenting and destroying edible meat. This caliber is not suitable for larger games, however.

7.62×39 ammunition is usually made in Eastern Europe using inexpensive steel cases; while not reloadable, this bulk ammo is highly affordable for high-volume target shooting. Notable brands of this type include Wolf, Tula, and Barnaul’s Bear series. These loads usually have non-corrosive Berdan primers. Shooters who need brass-cased, Boxer-primed rounds can choose from several offerings from Fiocchi, PMC, Prvi Partizan, Winchester, and others; these can be reloaded and are allowed at some ranges where steel is prohibited.