Hornady 7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm TAP ammo

Hornady 7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm Double Tap self defense ammunition loaded with VMAX (polymer tipped) bullets will be on sale soon.

S7 212860 Imageset 02-1
Polymer tipped v-max bullets.

TacticalGunFan has reviewed pre-production samples and they are in fact using steel cases, presumably to save money. He was impressed with the ammunition, although he incorrectly states that this is the first 7.62x39mm self-defense load. There are many hunting and self-defense rounds to choose from.

For the first time American shooters will be able to buy a modern expanding load designed for self-protection in this caliber. It’ll also be the first time a quality projectile will be available in this diameter to enhance the accuracy potential of this military cartridge.

So, American shooters will finally have a domestically produced 5.45x39mm load that combines accuracy and terminal performance.

Midway lists the price as $23.99 for a box of 20 rounds loaded with 123 Grain bullets.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • MattCFII

    Just wanted to point out that I believe Double Tap isn’t the same as Hornady’s TAP. IIRC Double Tap is a small factory loader/reloader company and this doesn’t seem to be the Hornady new factory ammo as described in the Tacticalgunfan article. I’m still looking forward to both company’s offerings.

    Note also that Graff and Sons has offered a V-Max 123 gr. 7.62x39mm load which would be very similar to the Double Tap load off and on for at least a year now: http://www.grafs.com/

    It will be very interesting to see the price point on Hornady’s steel cased loads, if it is under $20 per 20 it will be great. I really think the AK might do slightly better with steel cases anyway so it is a match made in heaven in my book.

    • MattCFII, thanks for your research. I have updated the blog post.

  • MattCFII

    Sorry for the double post it looks like Graf and Sons iosn’t currently offering their loaded 7.62×39 V-max load but as hlisted the Hornady steel cased load at $30.99 for what appears to be 50 per box (also if you look at the Tacticalgunfan article pictures it looks like the boxes are 50 too). I think that is a great price point for good ammo. It sure beats $44/20 on Corbon DPX, but they do two different things.

    Also here is a link to Double Tap:

    It will be great to see a half U.S. produced 5.45×39, it will be interesting to see if anybody will ever make a full domestically produced 5.45×39.

  • MattCFII

    No problem, sorry for the typos in the second one! I shouldn’t try to chase around my 1 year-old daughter and post at the same time.

    • MattCFII, I don’t have a 1-year old and I make typos all the time in the blog posts 😉

  • Will the bullets be sold for reloading?

    • wynboniface, yes, I believe they are already.

  • Dom

    I’ve got a few questions, maybe we can have some discussion on this.

    One is, given the similarities of 5.45×39 to 5.56 NATO, for what application does this round make sense? I point out the 5.56 because it is something I suspect most of us are more familiar with. Doesn’t the 5.45 sport similar terminal ballistic performance, such that the FMJ is a superb fragmenter? If so, why produce this load? Does this improve short-range TB for these high-speed rounds? I have heard of overpenetration problems up close for 5.56.

    The other is, what sort of civilian defense does the rifle typically lend itself to? These are proven hunting designs, and I guess there’s a grey area between the hunting and defense. But, regardless, doesn’t a rifle engage best at ranges that are legally touchy for self-defense? Sure, carbines are fantastic in CQ, but simple shotguns excel as well. Is this kind of defense choice popular with modern combat veterans who are likely trained on CQ combat with rifles anyway? Or are many choosing to train and prepare for self-defense with rifles strictly as civilians?

  • Cade

    “He was impressed with the ammunition, although he incorrectly states that this is the first 7.62×39mm self-defense load.”

    I believe that he was referring to the 5.45×39 in the section that was written. Are there other self-defense loads developed for the 5.45×39?

  • MattCFII


    Here’s my Mall ninja wannabe essay on the subject:
    First yes 5.56 and 5.45 are similar in external ballistics but terminal is a little different. My understanding is that the most lethal 5.56mm military ammo is the standard 55 grain M193 ball that fragments if it hits at 2700 fps+ along the cannelure when it first yaws. The 62 grain M855/SS109 isn’t the most lethal because it is designed to be armor piercing and doesn’t fragment as well. I’m not sure about the 77 grain Mk 262 terminal ballistics.

    The 5.45 has always been designed as a tumbler not a fragmenter. The open tip isn’t designed to expand, it’s designed to allow the lead core of the bullet to shift inside the mild steel jacket on impact causing tumbling and more tissue damage.

    Overall, the V-Max load would give a better fragmenting performance if you are the kind that believes in energy being released inside the target is the best option for terminal ballistics. I believe this has some merit when you are limited to FMJ/OTM in the military. See this Fackler study summary:

    Overall though I’m more of a penetration and expansion is the best option believer, although the I must admit my SHFT load in my primary defense rifles, AK varaints would be Wolf Military Classic non-expanding hollow point Sapsan Ulyanovsk 8M3 124 grain bullet which supposedly have a similar fragmenting performance in tissue to M193 but still the barrier penetration of normal 7.62×39. If I could afford Corbon DPX, I would get some of that but for now it is the Wolf load.

    If the price of the Hornady V-Max steel cased load is really around $30-$35 per 50 I’ll buy some for an urban load. It still probably would penetrate more than a frangible round in barriers but the V-Max probably will fragment quickly and not over penetrate a bad guy and still have less barrier penetration than standard FMJ. Now whether or not if that immediate fragmentation of the V-Max varmint ammo is really a good thing for terminal ballistics in humans is another thing altogether. Part of the advantage of the military fragmenting FMJ is that it has to penetrate around 5 inches to yaw and then possibly fragment, varmint ammo tends to fragment right away and may not get deep enough.

    As for rifles in self defense, there is the saying of that you should always use your handgun to fight your way to the rifle you should have been fighting with in the first place. Modern tacticool doctrine is that the carbine (especially 5.56mm) is the best option in the most number of cases. This comes partly from the 1986 Miami shootout and the 1997 North Hollywood shootouts where the bad guys had rifles and the good guys needed them.

    Now for an urban home defense weapon a shotgun is hard to beet because of buckshot’s tendency to penetrate less than most other defense loads. But part of the reason that the carbine has risen so much is because 5.56mm tendency not to penetrate as much as even some 9x19mm loads due to it’s yaw and fragmentation factors.
    Some informal but useful penetration tests:

    The reason shotguns and subguns/pistol caliber carbines have fallen away is due to their lack of range and armor piercing abilities needed in military/LEO uses. However you’re right in most civilian uses besides for TEOTWAWKI the shotgun is better inside the house and surrounding area for lethality without over penetration and the pistol is best for close range due to better retention and the ability to use a free hand. Mas Ayoob and others have described the shotgun as the home “artillery” to use when you are barricaded, the pistol as the “infantry” weapon to use to clear areas. However, the intermediate cartridge carbine will still engage fine at CQ ranges and most people can fire long guns more accurately than pistols. Also carbines have the best capacity and range compared to handguns and shotguns, if you would happen to be in a very rare instance that you would need those two things in a civilian defense situation. Carbines are popular because they have more of a tacticool image and are a fun range toy but it does have a slight edge in all possible scenarios despite how rare some of those would be.

    Really, for me, if things go bump in the night in my 1950s spaced neighborhood, I’m grabbing my handgun and light to get to the baby and then barricade with the shotgun. The AKs and if I had an AR they stay locked up in that scenario. They would come out in a riot, natural disaster, or TEOTWAWKI.

    • MattCFII, thanks for the essay 🙂

  • guy

    “The other is, what sort of civilian defense does the rifle typically lend itself to?”

    Non-urban areas.

    Shotguns loaded with buckshot are great up to around 20 yards. If I lived in the city I’d probably stick with shotgun. Out where I live though a little extra range is a good thing.

    “But, regardless, doesn’t a rifle engage best at ranges that are legally touchy for self-defense?”

    20 yards looks like a LOT smaller distance out here. Even if I had the opportunity to retreat, where would I retreat to? You have to think outside the city block.

  • jdun1911

    Don’t use them in auto loading rifles because the plastic tip can get damage in the loading process. This will negatively affect accuracy.

    For auto loading stick with Match King.

    I use Sirra’s BlitzKing and got few hundred Hornady’s TAP in storage.



    • jdun1911, good point! I had not thought of that

  • MattCFII


    Thanks for having a great blog here I could post it!


    Good point, you don’t want to see what my WASR can bullets it doesn’t like as it feeds them, hence partly why it is my least accurate AK. I do think it would depend on feeding geometry if the tip gets damaged. I could figure in some rifles that it would be ok. I agree my WASR would probably tear them up. Ironically though I could see the possibility of a scared western ballistic tip bullet could be more accurate than a normal eastern FMJ.

    I also want to kindly point out that the only bullets Sierra makes that are somewhat suitable for 7.62×39 is the .311 dia. 125, and 150 grain SPT in the ProHunter line (some still would prefer a .310) and none for the 5.45×39. I think that the .311 174 grain Matchking and 180 grain SPT would be too heavy for the 7.6x39s already Hail Mary pass trajectory and limited case volume. Any new bullet for these calibers is a plus in my book. I’m a new handloader but I’m hoping to eventually load the 7.62×39 a little just to see how accurate a good AK can be with good ammo. I know it won’t be as good as most western modern rifles but I think it could still be surprising.

  • Dom

    @guy: Just one quick thing – I ain’t no city slicker. I live in West by God Virginia, and we’ve never taken to the city block. I’ve used my rifle for self-defense against critters, but critters don’t hire lawyers…usually. I guess I think of rifles for self-defense only in, what is it he said…SHTF and TEOTWAWKI. Not that I’d walk past my rifle during a break-in, but I’d never think to keep it under my bed is all.

    @MattCFII: Thanks for the reply. You definitely got where I was coming from and I appreciate your points all around. And you used one of my favorite quotes. I always heard it “a handgun is a tool you use to get to your real gun.” I say it all the time around here.

  • Matt Groom

    Rifles are more fun to shoot and practice with than shotguns. The ammo is also generally cheaper. Shooting Trap and Skeet is great fun, but you wouldn’t use your tacticool shotgun on the skeet range, nor apply the lessons you learned shooting trap in a Home Defense scenario. Also, in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, civil unrest is common. EMS and police services will be stretched to the breaking point, and it would behoove the more self sufficient neighborhoods to organize civil security patrols to prevent looters from raiding empty homes, and to help aid and control refugees should they be present. Shotguns are great for many things, but Tacticool rifles are more flexible when range is an issue.

    Personally, I think the 5.45×39 is actually a much better case design than the 5.56 NATO. The 5.56 was designed so that the smallest practical bullet could be launched at the highest velocity possible so that it could penetrate a steel helmet without the use of a steel penetrator. This meant shorting the neck, bumping the shoulder forward, drastically raising the chamber pressure, and limiting the flexibility of the orginal case design.

    They later, ironically enough, changed their mind on the steel penetrator part.

    The M855 has proven itself to be woefully inadequate out of 14.5″ barrels and the M193 is really not much better. The M193 was a pretty good man-stopper because it was launched from a 20″ barrel for 95% of personnel who carried it. The increased popularity of shorter barreled M4 style rifles has led to the discovery that longer bullets in this caliber tend to tumble and fragment at lower velocities more reliably than the smaller, faster ones do. This lead to the development of the Mk. 262 Mod. 1, which has acquired an excellent reputation for accuracy and lethality from all who’ve used it.

    But the 5.56 case was designed around a 55 grain bullet, not a 62 grain one, much less a 77 grain one. This means that the heavier a bullet is, the longer it becomes, and the deeper it has to seat in the case. This compromises case capacity. The Soviets were impressed with the 55 grain M193 as used in Vietnam, so impressed that they decided to replace the much revered M43 7.63x39mm. They thought that the major wounding mechanism wasn’t fragmentation, but tumbling which made the M193 and the M16 so lethal. So, they designed a similar round that wasn’t designed to shoot through a steel helmet without a steel penetrator, but to tumble. It was made as long as possible while still fitting into an AK-Length action and magazine. It was designed to kill people, not helmets. The Afghan Mujaheddin reputedly called the 5.45×39 “The Poison Bullet”. Dr. Martin Fackler did a series of tests in the early 80’s that showed that it was not very lethal after all, but that’s because of bullet design, not case design. I applaud the new bullet design for this reason.

    The original 5.45×39 weights about 52 Grains with a steel core and a hollow cavity in the nose, but it’s the same length as a 77 grain Mk.262. That means that even with a plastic tip and slightly smaller bullet diameter, the 5.45 case can easily support 77 grain bullets without compromising case capacity, because the case has a larger base and shoulder diameter. Supposedly, the Hornady 5.45 V-Max is designed to be 52 grains, but it will still be that longer length, and presumably be lead cored. That means it will be very stream lined, because the length has to remain the same as the original in order to stabilize in the rifling and for purposes of feeding.

    My sources at Hornady say that if the new bullets sell well, they’ll start to produce brass cases for the 5.45×39, and my sources at Kel-Tec say they are experimenting with SU-16s and PLRs in 5.45×39. The SU-74 and PLR-74? Sounds good to me! The 5.45×39 is a chance for the American gun industry to remake the 5.56 with a clean slate. The rates of twist on the 5.56 is a study unto itself. Every 5.45 has a 1:8″ twist, and that’s a huge benefit to bullet designers.

  • Matt Groom

    I’ve been a huge fan of the 5.45 for years, probably since I first heard about it. The only AK I own is a SAR-2 in 5.45.

    I asked Robinson Arms if they were planning on making a conversion kit for 5.45×39 and they said “We’ve thought about it, but we have other projects that will be priorities first”. I also asked about Spec II chambered 6.8 SPC barrels with 1:11″ twist and they said they won’t do it until they run out of the older barrel blanks.

    I’d be interested in a 5.45×39 Masada, but at this point I’d be interested in seeing any kind of Masada/ACR/silly-ass-new-name-for-the-Masada.

  • adam czechowski

    Very excited about the Hornady 5.45×39 grain V-max ammunition for my Smith & Weston M&P-15. I’m currently using silver bear 65 grain BT-FMJ, this is a sweet shooting combo, 2 and 3in groups at 100 yards, when the wind isn’t blowing. the V-max will be my home defence stuff, or when i want to hollow out a silver dollar. 😀 tell you how it shoots when the Hornady arives in the mail.

  • Jon

    Well if I want to use a siaga in 5.45 or a 74 I couldn’t exactly just settle for 5.56 could I? Even if they are similar I could just throw some 5.56 in there. Thats why it would be great for some TAP to be produced. And I would say you can definitely use them in a semi-auto firearm I use the 5.56 tap in my AR and I use nosler and hornady bullets in my 6.5mpc AR and I haven’t noticed a problem, even after feeding and extracting the same cartridge multiple times.