Exploring the Untapped Potential of 7.62×39 as an “All Around” Hunting Caliber

7.62x39mm170gr

What if there was a caliber that was suitable for everything from coyote to brown bear, kicked less than your whitetail gun, fit in a micro-length (2.25″/58mm) action, and cost a quarter a round to shoot? That would be a pretty awesome caliber, wouldn’t it? It turns out that this caliber might already exist, if the industry can fulfill its potential: It is the Russian 7.62x39mm caliber used by the infamous AK-47 rifle.

Wait, what? Hear me out; right now the 7.62x39mm in America is a popular home defense/”fighting carbine” caliber, and also commonly used as a whitetail caliber especially when combined with inexpensive military surplus SKS carbines, but my readers are probably thinking right now that pushing the caliber into service against bears is just asking to become a headline. Maybe they’re right about that, but let’s take a look anyway at what else we can do with the little Soviet Short .30, aside from the 120-125gr loads that dominate the market right now.

 

Step Aside, .30-30

The .30-30 Winchester Center Fire is a venerable caliber that has been used to take just about every game animal in North America. It has benefitted from heavy, high sectional density bullets with reliable performance and good recoil characteristics, as well as having light and handy rifles chambered for it, and as a result has become an extremely popular caliber in the United States for use against most medium game animals. Once upon a time, before the magnum craze, it was considered one of the best general purpose game calibers there was, being acknowledged as suitable for game up to and including moose and bear.

Perhaps it’s for the best that we don’t live as dangerously now as our forefathers did, but there’s no doubt that the .30-30’s characteristics make it one of the best hunting calibers available. Today, though, it’s showing its age: A large rim, and (by today’s standards) long overall length mean that the .30-30 is essentially in the same size bracket as the .308 Winchester, a much more powerful round with far better ballistics. This has led to its strict relegation to the lever-action market, where the .30-30’s stubby round-nosed bullets allow the use of low profile tubular magazines.

It may not be well-known, but it is a fact that the better ballistic shape of the 7.62×39 gives it vastly better energy retention characteristics than the .30-30 with its round-nosed bullet (although innovations like Hornady’s flex-tip bullets have improved .30-30’s ballistics). With a standard-weight 123gr bullet, 7.62x39mm from the 20″ barrel of an SKS outpaces .30-30 in energy from the same length barrel by just 50 yards, so poorly shaped is the bullet of the old WCF.

sph42GC

Where .30-30 shines is that factory loads with much heavier bullets (up to 170gr) are widely available; besides a handful of hard-to-come-by 154gr soft point loads (sometimes of dubious reliability), 7.62×39 is basically stuck with much lower sectional density 120-125gr bullets. Yet, if the .30-30 can accommodate such heavy bullets, why not 7.62×39? To find out what sort of performance the 7.62×39 could attain with a heavier bullet, I fired up SolidWorks, a Powley Computer, and an Excel spreadsheet, and in the process I created something promising:

XOwjCF7

 

That is a boattailed 170gr (actually 169.9 grains, or 11.01 grams) soft-point bullet, compatible with both the SAAMI and CIP 7.62×39 specifications, and designed with a locked, tapered jacket. With an average calculated i7 form factor of 1.165 from Mach 1.1 to 2.2 (via the JBM drag calculator), it has an 0.214 G7 BC, making it approximately twice as aerodynamically efficient as the classic round nosed 170gr .30-30 bullet.wsf6X5w

What could this projectile do from the 7.62×39 case? I calculated an estimated muzzle velocity of 2,085 ft/s from a 20″ rifle barrel, such as that of an SKS, just a hair’s breadth away from the 2,130 ft/s nominal velocity of the comparable load for .30-30.

What if you live in California? Based on the same design, I also created a 154gr monolithic gilding metal hollow point with a 0.195 G7 BC:

FumwgEw

The lighter weight bullet improved estimated velocity by 60 ft/s, for 2,145 ft/s.

q1gdNFd

How do these concepts compare to the old 170gr .30-30? Take a look:

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The 170gr load beats .30-30 for energy by a mere 25 yards; the 154gr beats it by 50 yards, and the disparity only increases from there. By 200 yards, commonly regarded as the maximum range for the .30-30, the 170gr 7.62×39 enjoys a massive 51% energy advantage with 1,178 ft-lbs, while the 154gr pulls ahead of the WCF by 34% with 1,046 ft-lbs. To put it another way, the 170gr 7.62×39 load enjoys the same downrange energy at 360 yards as the .30-30 does at 200; the 154gr likewise at 330 yards!

Even if granddad did hunt bear with the modest round-nosed .30-30, though, I must admit that times have changed, and even the technology of the world’s first commercial smokeless round has advanced. Hornady’s 160gr FTX load for the .30-30 is both tube-magazine-safe, and much superior to the classic round nosed loads in ballistics. Let’s see how it compares to the improved 7.62×39 hunting loads:

YvEXFil

A much better showing on the .30-30’s part, but even this improved load only offers an additional 10% energy at 90 yards versus the 170gr 7.62×39; by 290 yards, it too has fallen behind the improved Russian caliber. It does a bit better against the 154gr load, though, staying above its energy level (just barely) out to 500 yards, which is well beyond game-taking ranges for these calibers.

 

Where Do We Go Now?

What I’ve produced here are just a series of models and estimates, but the results were nonetheless promising. A round that can approach even the best modern .30-30 loads in performance, while fitting into a micro-length action is probably something worth pursuing. Even better, no new chambering is required, avoiding a costly and risky marketing effort to sell the American hunter on yet another novel caliber. Already, thousands of SKS rifles around the country are being used to hunt whitetail, and these are entirely compatible with new bullets like the ones shown above, thanks to a tight 1-in-9 military twist rate. The popular CZ 527 Carbine in 7.62×39 would be another beneficiary already on the market; new projectiles like these would take those rifles from handy hog plinkers to incredibly capable do-it-all carbines, equally suited to relaxed target practice and brush-busting game hunts alike. Those reasons alone make these bullet concepts highly interesting, at the very least.

The applications go beyond what’s already waiting on the market now, though. A micro-length .30-30 equivalent carries even more promise. New rifle designs, created to take advantage of the newfound versatility of 7.62×39, could overturn the current hunting rifle landscape. Imagine a reliable, classically-styled selfloading rifle with optional 5.56mm, 7.62x39mm, .300 Blackout, and .204 Ruger chamberings, or a straight-pull bolt action designed to fully exploit the speed of a short action length. For lever gun fans, why not a revived and improved micro-action Savage 99? With such a short lever stroke, it could combine in one rifle the power and versatility of a Marlin 336 and the handling and speed of a CAS Winchester 1892. Any of these rifle concepts could find a home in the den of the modern hunter; the question is whether the industry is willing to embrace them, and the 7.62×39 as a true sporting caliber.



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • gunsandrockets

    Well said. It’s a shame there isn’t a better selection of quality factory loads for the 7.62x39mm.

    At one point I was enthralled by the potential of those cheap Russian 10 gram expanding bullet loads, since some reported good accuracy when fired from the Ruger Mini-30 tactical. But everyone seemed to report those bullets had tough steel jackets and exhibited very poor expansion.

    • Blake

      These are what we use for whitetail hunting in our Mini-30 & SKSs:
      http://www.hornady.com/store/7.62X39-123-gr-SST/
      (AFAIK Zombie Max is pretty much the same thing with a green tip & higher price…)
      PRVI Partizan soft points also do the job; that’s what we used before Hornady started making factory hunting ammo.

  • BattleshipGrey

    Despite its popularity, availability and affordability, it’s probably one of the more underappreciated cartridges in the US.

    • randomswede

      I think the problem is that it’s largely appreciated in the US for being affordable.

      Whenever someone introduces a new quality AK derivative, at a price that is to be expected for a quality weapon I find that the comments are filled with a number of variations on “I could buy an AR for that kind of money”.

      There are positive comments as well, but my point is that AKs are loved as long as they are cheap to buy and cheap to run.

      • Bradley Jones

        get an AR in 7.62×39 I have it its accurate and I love it

        • Cameron Bissell

          I’ve heard mags can be temperamental, not for you?

          • They’ve gotten much better recently. And, if we’re only talking hunting, the 5 and 10 rounders work great.

          • Bradley Jones

            if you use .223 mags yes, but many companies make AR mags for 7.62×39 they are curvers more like an ak mag and they work perfectly about the same cost of a standard ,223 AR mag

          • Devil_Doc

            I have a 10 round, and a 27 round ASC x39 mag. Never had a failure of any kind in at least 1500-2000 rounds. x39 ARs are the shizzle..

          • randomswede

            There’s also the Mutant for magazines without a straight section.

          • zardoz711

            Mutant?!
            I could buy 2 ARs for what it cost!
            Or an AR in 300snowflake and several hundred rounds!
            Or an AR in (insert boutique caliber here).

          • randomswede

            So a Palmetto State Armory KS47, or a MGI Hydra Lower.
            It’s cheaper still to buy nothing of course.

  • Blake

    Check out William Harper’s thread on his experience with 174gr match bullets in CZ-527s: http://www.czforum.com/index.php?topic=299.15
    He’s optimizing handloads for tighter groups at 600 meters…

  • JimBobble

    How does this compare to already available 165 and 180 grain 30-caliber bullets? It would seem logical that the 165 would fairly replicate your theoretical 170.

    • Nick

      The issue is 7.62×39 doesn’t use a .308 bullet but rather a .310 or .311, ergo traditional 30 cal bullets shouldnt be used in it.

      Unless of course you’re referring to those weights in the true Russian 7.62 caliber, though I assumed you were referring to .308 bullets.

      • JimBobble

        Thank you for clearing that up. I rashly and wrongly ass-umed that the 7.62×39 diameter was the same as the 7.62×51. I have never had the opportunity to explore the Russian round and am not terribly familiar with it. Cheers!

      • iksnilol

        In reality, the difference is so small that it is negligible. Firing .311 through a .308 bore is a non issue. Maybe an issue if you have a super duper precision firearm with a non-existent throat.

  • Matt

    I have been waiting for some good factory hunting loads for my cz527. Unfortunately, the loads out there are over $1/round…much more than the $.25 practice rounds

  • Tassiebush

    Certainly a good idea just waiting to be implemented. From what I’ve read it is a somewhat already well trodden path for handloaders with success and every reason to succeed on a larger scale if commercially backed while also being low risk. I have read articles about hand loading 7.62×39 with the cz527 before particularly with longer .311 projectiles intended for the .303. Owners still have the benefit of cheap conventional ammo or casting so it’s got the benefit of being one of the most economical rounds available. I particularly like the savage 99 mini action clone idea and a straight pull could be a way for a manufacturer to build a cheap but fast repeater.

  • mig1nc

    If there were only a better selection of subs, there would be no need for .300blk.

    • uisconfruzed

      Then you’re stuck with the AK quality construction and slop.

      • ARCNA442

        But what if you weren’t? Imagine an accurized AK built from quality parts with tight tolerances. It may not be as easy as a match grade AR15, but I see no reason why the AK should be more difficult to work on than an M1A.

        • uisconfruzed

          Long stroke, heavy bolt that slams to a stop, sheet metal.
          The ones I’ve disassembled looked like they’re made with a hammer, screwdriver and a file. I’m just not comfortable with an explosion next to my face and questionable craftsmanship and steel quality.

          • randomswede

            So when asked to “Imagine an accurized AK built from quality parts with tight tolerances.” your response is “I’m just not comfortable with an explosion next to my face and questionable craftsmanship and steel quality.”?

            One would be excused for thinking that you didn’t really take in what ARCNA442 wrote.

          • uisconfruzed

            I didn’t read all of it. My comment was from the AK’s I’ve handled.

          • They are made with a hammer, screwdriver, and file, and guess what? So is a $100,000 custom double rifle.

          • uisconfruzed

            There’s a lot more tooling to produce those.

          • iksnilol

            no.

            Handmade rifles dont use much tooling. much hands though.

          • BrandonAKsALot

            Are you only familiar with crap like IO AKs? You have quite obviously never explored a legitimate factory AK if you think like this. The front trunnion, bolt, and carrier are all forged steel that is an alloy comparable to 4140. While the carrier may have some extra side to side wiggle room, there isn’t much “slop” elsewhere.

            The only factory builds I’ve seen that looked rough were the Egyptian imports and specific Chinese builds that are known to have soft steel in the carrier. AK’s have been built into DMR’s and factory guns are between 2 and 4 MOA with military issue ammo, which isn’t match grade by any means. Plenty of Arsenals have been tested and were shown to be 1.5 MOA+ guns out of the box with halfway decent ammo.

          • Sasquatch

            Amen!

        • Sasquatch

          Krebs Custom

      • Porty1119

        I fail to see the problem.

        • Anonymoose

          You’d need to modify your gas block so you get less blowback.

        • uisconfruzed

          Up close, there probably isn’t much.

      • There are quite a few 7.62×39 ARs, actually.

        • uisconfruzed

          That’s a bad choice due to case angle and excessive bolt thrust. if you’re going to go with a 7.62 x 49 an AK or bolt gun’s a better choice.

          • The bolt thrust isn’t really excessive with a correctly dimensioned bolt, although it is high for the platform. About the same as 6.8 SPC factory loads.

            And again, if we’re talking hunting the case angle’s not a problem, as 5 and 10 round mags work fine.

      • Sasquatch

        Have you seen Ak Operators Union on YouTube? They have put this to rest in a grave.

        • uisconfruzed

          The ones I have handled, looked like they were made with a Paki hammer, screwdriver and a file.

          • Sasquatch

            Hot off the range at 100 yards with 4moa cheap UTG red dot. Shooting cheap monarch 123gr. Also for you Krebs custom people… It’s an I.O. Inc.M214. Got ahead shutter. I wasn’t taking my time either.

    • smug twingo

      AKs unfortunately just don’t suppress particularly well.
      An adjustable gas block would probably help a good bit but to my knowledge there aren’t any on the market currently, and that doesn’t solve the issue of the loud action and gas leaking, it just mitigates it.

      • mig1nc

        You are right, of course. But you are also forgetting the plethora of other platforms. The Sig MCX is coming out next year (supposedly) in x39, the CMMG Mutant is supposedly awesome suppressed, then there are lots of other options as well, including more traditional ARs with their funky x39 magazines and the Ruger Mini-30.

  • Wolfgar

    This is nothing new to me. I have been carrying a Chinese AK in the mountains of Montana as a pack gun since the early 80’s and the 7.62X39 has provided a lot of venison.. I was given weird looks when I said the AK was a modern Winchester 3030 and a perfect pack gun back in the 80’s. I could have cared less, I used what works.

    • PK

      People such as yourself are why I don’t get any weird looks nowadays for carrying modern rifles hunting in Montana. Thanks for helping to normalize things!

      • noob

        Hmm rpd with 170gr bullets. I wonder what that would be like (besides heavy)

        • PK

          I didn’t have 170gr loads in there, but yes it was heavy. Also hilarious. Just had to load it once for the whole season…

      • Adam D.

        Mmm, RPD!
        Now that Nathaniel’s in the groove with the 7.62×39,
        would be nice to read an article about the RPD!
        It’s one of the most exciting Russian designs IMO, a real dark horse.
        Don’t know why it wasn’t kept in service longer.

        • iksnilol

          I think it is because it is heavy for its caliber. For the weight you can rather carry a PKM, only the ammo will be heavier.

          • PK

            This is it exactly. The RPK is nice and light in comparison, and with 40rd mags and 75rd drums is good enough for a SAW. For anything around the same weight and belt-fed, the PK is a better choice by leaps and bounds. I’m eagerly awaiting the PKP entering widespread service, that is an absolute marvel of a LMG.

    • Sasquatch

      Ak= awesome brush gun

    • Mark

      Want to warn people that higher grain soft point 7.62×39 will likely not feed in your AKM style guns. I found this out after getting 2k rounds on a super deep discount. Wouldn’t feed correctly from my Chinese, Bulgarian, or Romanian magazines in any of my 6 AK pattern guns. The bullet is too long.

      The solution was simple though, buy a CZ 527.

      • iksnilol

        Wish the 527 had doublestack mags. Because of that I will seemingly have to go with the Howa Mini in spite of being a great fan of the Mauser action.

        • PK

          It wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility to machine the 527 bottom metal and stock to accept AK mags or similar, if legal in your area.

          • iksnilol

            I’m just afraid of losing metal. I’d rather avoid blowing something up, y’know?

          • PK

            The bottom metal, and the stock obviously, are not pressure components. Nothing will blow up.

          • iksnilol

            Still, you’d have to open the receiver to accept a wider mag. Which would weaken the receiver. Most likely it would lead to no problems, but could affect accuracy (due to less rigidity).

          • Fred O C Cubed

            An sks magazine would be perfect!

        • Sasquatch

          I wish I would take an mags.

        • Adam D.

          The Legacy/Howa Mini Action has a single stack magazine.
          (Source: mfr.)

          • iksnilol

            But it has 10 rounds… and it doesn’t really protrude.

            Ah, I see now, I looked at an ad where it had a 5 rounder in it.

      • DeathFromTheShadows

        there is a cheaper solution… New magazine springs. with the heavier spring properly installed the rounds wont nosedive on feed and the length difference wont show up as an issue. when FMJ’s nose dive they still can bounce up and feed. As long as a round will load into the magazine it isnt too long, there isn’t enough pressure raising the front of the lifter. this is either a spring in backwards or its weak. And the mags you note are surplus so the springs are most likely past their prime

        • JoelM

          I was having them hang up on the side edges of the chamber. It didn’t seem they were nose diving it just seemed that the soft point (specifically the edge of the copper jacket where the soft point is) wanted to grab any edge it could find. I don’t have the problem with solid lead 165gr bullets.

          • DeathFromTheShadows

            if its happening on the sides of the chamber your magazine lips are malformed

          • ErSwnn

            Like your failure to show up to the challenge given to you, in this too you fail….you have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • RickOAA .

      You bastard. Mowing down deer in seconds with a 30 round a second clip. sarcasm. :/

      I hate those idiots.

      • NiteGoat

        With a 30 caliber clip, to disperse with 30 bullets, within half a second. 30 magazine clip, in half a second.

  • The real question is, are those who hunt with an SKS interested in a $26 per 20rd premium 7.62×39? I think it’s a really cool project, but the issue of cost is a real concern, given that the raison d’etre of the SKS/ 7.62×39 is its low cost, bang for the buck factor.

    • Porty1119

      Reloading, my friend. Just need to get the proper bullets in production.

      • Anonymoose

        And then you also need to shoot only Prvi, S&B, or American-made ammo, which drives up your average cost.

        • Twilight sparkle

          Fiocchi isn’t too bad

        • iksnilol

          you can reload with steel cases. Need a decent amount of grease though.

    • StickShift

      I think the high cost of hunting ammo is less relevant when you can still plink with $0.25/round steel case practice ammo. The cheapest 30-30 factory ammo is $0.60/round, and most good hunting ammo is up over $1/round, yet everyone owns one. Having better quality ammunition gives more flexibility to the gun you already own and shoot.

      • Kelly Jackson

        Exactly

    • WANDERLUST srt

      I think the issue for me is about making it the absolute most humane kill possible when hunting so am happy to pay more for better more consistent ammo even if its a very small improvement in performance. I guess it also means I dont try for shots outside my comfort zone on anything alive. Its just a philosophical thing I guess.

  • d_grey

    Has anyone ever used the Yugoslavian M67 rounds? I believe they are supposed to be better in terms of ballistics for this round, and, would do well as a hunting round as well. 🙂

    • I would not recommend using the M67 rounds for hunting.

      • d_grey

        Really? They’re that bad? I mean so much for the claim of better ballistics and what not. :/

        • They perform better than M43 FMJ, which seems to have created the impression that they’re magical super duper rounds, but they’re actually pretty bog standard tumbling FMJs. Nothing special. If you wouldn’t use, say, M2 .30-06 Ball on an animal, then you certainly shouldn’t use M67.

          Not saying they can’t kill a deer – just about anything can, with good shot placement – but they’re not really competitive with a bog standard softpoint.

          • d_grey

            I see your point, at the end of the day an FMJ ball is no JHP, it’s rather disappointing as I was hopeful that this line was definitely better.

    • iksnilol

      good/decent for people and things you don’t intend to eat.

      • d_grey

        That bad eh?

        • iksnilol

          I remember somebody using some in an SKS on accident. Destroyed a good chunk of meat on exit.

          • d_grey

            Imagine that, it’s probably not a good self defense rifle round either then. :/

          • iksnilol

            There are better options available if you (rightfully) worry about penetration.

  • Tassiebush

    The development of a good levergun in this round coupled with a more efficient loading such as that suggested would certainly help to popularize the round again parts of the world where semi autos are heavily restricted or banned. At least where military rounds aren’t also banned.

    • Southpaw89

      You really wouldn’t need to develop one, there are several box mag fed leverguns already in existence that would just need to be rechambered for the caliber, although their price point might deter some people.

      • Porty1119

        I don’t recall the BLR being unreasonably expensive. Is it available in a mini-action length?

        • Southpaw89

          They have a .223 chambering for it, whether the action is actually shortened or not I cant say, although it may be a better option to go with the .308 version for the sake of the bolt face. As for the price I paid $750 for my takedown model back in 08, current MSRP though is over $1,000. Might also want to take a look at the Henry Long Ranger, appears to be same basic design, and it is priced about the same.

        • Giolli Joker

          There is the .223 version, it should be fine as a base for a 7.62×39 conversion.

      • Tassiebush

        True but I was thinking about action length too.

      • I believe the .223 BLR uses a “Short” (read: .308 length) action.

        I don’t know of any Micro length (.223 length) levers on the market currently.

    • Michael Rice

      I’ve always been curious about a lever gun chambered in either 7.62×39 or .223 that could load AK magazines or STANAG (where appropriate), but was curious if the magazine would interfere with the action.

      • Southpaw89

        Something based on the Winchester 95 action may work, especially with a short cartridge like the 39.

      • Tassiebush

        I share that curiousity but it’s my understanding they do interfere with the lever. possibly some leveraction borrowing from the levermatic design could have the desired short throw or if the market could cope mount the mags sideways. Perhaps too if they were 10 round mags they may not stick out too far? I live in Australia so in most states a 10 round mag detachable mag is legal max for a leveraction anyhow.

        • Michael Rice

          True, but I think the appeal would be ‘you don’t need to buy ‘LAK-47’ or ‘LAR-15′ magazines you can just use your existing mags’. I’m also not just talking about say taking a Henry or Winchester and modifying it to take box mags I’m talking more or less a ‘ground up’ rifle. A modern Lever Action Rifle, not just an old design that can take an AR type buttstock and some picattiny rails slapped on. Maybe I’m just an Evil Genius/Bubbah that wants to see a Lever Action with a 75 round Drum or 100 round Beta Mag attached to it.
          I think I need to go to bed now as I’m thinking ‘how would one bullpup a Lever Action?’

          • Tassiebush

            I agree designed form the ground up makes more sense. Actually I just discovered that Daniel E Watters posted a link to a patent for something exactly as you describe.

  • PK

    …in the US. Untapped in the US. Russians, Finns, and many others have played around with many different loads. You might look into those for some inspiration.

  • thedonn007

    The 6.5 Grendel seems like a better choice.

    • randomswede

      An argument could be made that the Grendel is nearly the same choice, the case is modified but it’s a higher BC bullet in a 7.62×39 casing.

      • oldman

        Neck the 7.62X39 case down and load a 7mm either .276 or .284 with a 139/140g bullet might be a good GP round offering BC and sectional density.

        • randomswede

          Funny enough I’ve actually been doing the same kind of work that’s in this article on such a round, just to pass the time. It’s a grendel case with slightly more taper, a 7mm neck and an OAL in between 7.62×39 and 7.62×51 (this allows for a long bullet but leaves space for more powder without significantly increasing weight), it would need new magazines and a “new” rifle.

          Aside from chamber pressures higher than I’d prefer it over all is a very “lagom”* looking fantasy cartridge, perhaps it could be called neo-intermediate as it sits in between 5.56×45 and 7.62×51 rather than between 9×19 and 7.62×51, but as it’s essentially .280 British in a parent case that’s readily available copy-of-old-intermediate probably suits it better.

          * Lagom is a Swedish word and is roughly synonymous with, “good enough”, “just right” or “perfect given the conditions”.
          A hot drink is best had “lagom”; perfect would be better but “lagom” accommodates a range of temperature spanning from slightly hotter than preferred and slightly colder than prefered with perfect sitting in between.

          • oldman

            Lagom If i understand is sort of fair to middling not perfect but good enough to get the job done. Look up the 7mm universal intermediate assault cartridge. It is based on the Czech 7.62×45 cartridge. My issue with it is the parent case is not common. I like your idea though.

          • randomswede

            Yes, lagom is the perfect car, with the price in mind.

            I’m very much a fan of the UIAC, but with the parent case being next to obscure I wanted to poke around the simulators/estimators a bit to see what could be done from 7.62×39 brass.

            I’m also embody, to some extent, what Chris Murray is least impressed by: “… oh God! Now we have geeks with computers who think they can design better weapons and bullets.”
            Personally I think there are skills to learn, facts to understand and considerations to be made, this goes for anyone and everyone. A good idéa is good, the origin is irrelevant.

          • oldman

            Indeed The difference between a good designer/engineer is they create a great one educates and encourages He points out mistakes and changes he would make and explains why he would make those changes he never discourages.
            As you say a good idea is a good idea where it comes from should be irrelevant.

    • It would be, if you could find ammo or rifles for it anywhere.

      • thedonn007

        All I need is an upper for my AR-15 lower. I can find the ammo all over the internet. It is a great long range cartridge.

        • Yeah, you can only get it and rifles to fire it by ordering them off the internet. That is the definition of a boutique round.

  • uisconfruzed

    I prefer my 300BLK & Grendel.

    • A bearded being from beyond ti

      Is the gun just floating in the air in the second picture?

      • thedonn007

        Look at it aideways, the rifle is resting on the floor.

      • uisconfruzed

        It’s VERY light!!
        No, it’s standing up against the wall. I rotated and cropped the picture so it wouldn’t take up so much space.

    • The 6.5 Grendel has always been and will always be a boutique round.

      • ostiariusalpha

        So are 7.62x39mm hunting rounds, what’s your point?

        • That I can actually find 7.62×39 on store shelves without having to order it from AA or drive all the way to Dallas?

          • ostiariusalpha

            Hunting ammo?

          • Yes, usually 123gr Federal Fusion.

            Plus, there’s a waiting market for new hunting ammo in this caliber, and the reamers, cases, etc are all widely available. All you’d need to engineer are the bullets.

            The twelve people in the US who own Grendels may be plenty enthusiastic about them, but why should ammo manufacturers bend over backwards to make ammo for them? They shouldn’t, therefore only a handful do. In contrast, there’s a huge untapped market of 7.62×39 owners who would buy a new hunting round.

          • GearHeadTony

            The 12 of us like to think of ourselves as more apostolic than enthusiastic.

          • Wolfgar

            I own and love the Grendel round and took offense when I was called a Grendel fan boy by Nathaniel. After more experience with a not to be mentioned Grendel forum I have to admit, Nathaniel was correct. about Grendel owners weird cult devotion. Please accept my apology Nathaniel, you were right on the money about this one.

          • No apology necessary, but thanks for it either way. It’s a neat round, and I see why people like it, but the fanatical devotion to it is taken to such extremes.

            I try not to call people fanboys most of the time, because everyone’s an individual and all that, but sometimes I have moments of weakness.

          • glenn cheney

            I lurked both forums, it can be treacherous, no doubt. Bill’s following are type I’s, different throats, steel, and, a PhD level blame game shifting failures from contractor to contractor ( ammo mgf’r got caught up in it.)
            No issues with Type II. Passes the 7.62×51 NATO at 700 yards and waves goodbye on 40% less recoil, quicker secondary acquisition, ammo weight advantage in mil-spec situations, and now, CHEAP AMMO, as cheap as Wolf/TULLA 7.62×39 or 5.56 55gr. fmj steel cased with dirty powder, WPA 6.5 Grendel, 139.00/500 rounds…12.00 shipping. 18.00 Shipping on two cases. What am I missing?
            When Uncle Sam integrates the 6.5 platform, the 5.56 NATO and .223 stuff will pale, indeed, $$ so, the last dozen lowers I ran were all multi-cal’s with enclosed triggers.
            The “Russians” just ain’t commin’ Uncle Vladimir is here, and WPA has delivered us from ever having to worry a third term will govt purchase order all available ammo.
            I sleep so much better knowing the school systems in counties are fully class three.

          • glenn cheney

            Don’t forget force multiplier effect, some of us own more than one Grendel, and ours aren’t AA’s, we run parallel throats, type two bolts, .136 deeper bolt face….It is a fact these .264 LBC’s have superior accuracy to those of compound throats.
            There is a war between the factions, ya’ got to be careful which forum is moderated by which, or you will begin reciting “Ye, thou I walk, or crawl thru the perview of Mr. Alexander.”
            Bolt steel spec’s differ as well…and the 7.62×39 bolts used in type I had failures, plus serious extraction issues with bullets stuck in chambers.
            All this has been argued before at much higher levels than my paygrade, but I went with what worked and functioned the best, from sub moa’s, to steel. 9310 only on bolts, 8620 on on BCG’s is ok. Many, not all, 9.62×39 bolts are 8620. Run from any C158 above 5.56/.223/.300 AAC.
            Point is, I believe the new one gun/caliber does all compromise between ballistics, recoil, ammo weight, all the factors the mil-spec boys factor in, the 5.56 NATO just wasn’t getting it done.
            This banter has been going on over 50 years now.

          • Adam D.

            Now that Mr. Alexander has been mentioned:
            actually, after reading through this article the first name that popped into my head was Bill Alexander.
            Sounds like a project he would cook up.
            He designed some really nice rounds for the 300 BLK too, as a “there I fixed it” project.
            Maybe you should show these bullet designs to him.

          • I spoke with him at NRA 16 about his .300 Blackout work, very neat stuff indeed!

          • I spoke with him at NRA 16 about his .300 Blackout work, very neat stuff indeed!

        • Sasquatch

          Winchester power point in 7.62×39 are at wally world. Need I say more.

        • JoelM

          I wouldn’t call something that’s in stock at the Walmart across the street from me (in PA) a boutique round. They have Winchester 7.62×39 Super-X Power Point on the shelf.

      • gunsandrockets

        Always? Seems presumptuous.

        • Always. It’s had 13 years already. It’s not going to catch on. Not enough people want to tactically engage steel at kilobuck ranges for it to catch on.

          And it sucks for long range competition, too, so not gonna gain traction there, either.

          • ostiariusalpha

            It has had 5 years as a SAAMI cartridge, during which its sales from a variety of manufacturers of firearms and ammunition have blossomed nicely. You can define boutique however your heart desires, but 6.5 Grendel can be had just as cheaply or more so than .30-30 WCF or many of the other legacy rounds.

          • But it’s not anywhere close to as widely available, nor is the number of Grendel shooters even remotely close to 7.62×39 or .30-30 shooters. You seem to be having trouble with these two facts.

          • gunsandrockets

            I suspect any short action hunting rifle would sell just as well in 6.5 Grendel as in 7.62×39. Seeing as current factory offerings in 6.5 Grendel outperforms even the non-existent 7.62×39 round proposed by Nathaniel.

            I’ve been contemplating buying an AR in a caliber similar in recoil and medium game lethality to the .243 Win. And after looking hard at various caliber options, a 6.5mm Grendel AR upper came out looking like the best buy for the money.

          • Like every 6.5 Grendel advocate, you’re concerned about performance. Sure, the 6.5 Grendel has better performance than what I’ve outlined here. You know what it doesn’t have? Availability. The 6.5 Grendel has never received the backing of the big names in the industry, and only Hornady in the US has embraced the cartridge; a company that supports even very obscure or obsolete calibers like .303 British.

            7.62×39 will always kick the pants off 6.5 Grendel for sales, no matter how cool the latter round is or how many meters it can stay supersonic, because you can actually find 7.62×39 rifles and ammunition in gun stores!

            This doesn’t mean no one should ever buy 6.5 Grendel rifles or uppers, or that it’s a bad caliber (it’s not), but it’s notice that Grendel enthusiasts without fail stick their fingers in their ears and shout “LALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU” when you bring up the facts about availability and ubiquity that are strong in the 7.62×39’s favor.

            Now, it’s true that the round I propose is currently non-existent. Of course, the only new part of the “round” is actually the bullet, and every design detail about both bullets is extremely well-characterized. Similar bullets exist in other calibers, and so it’s just a matter of creating dies for them, doing some modest testing, and then loading them in existing cases. Once loaded, they would already be completely compatible with every 7.62x39mm rifle on the market today.

            What I think is most interesting about this exchange between myself and the several 6.5 Grendel fans in this comments section is that there seems to be no tolerance for another solution, even if that solution is a good one. Fundamentally, what do you 6.5 Grendel shooters care if someone invents a new bullet for 7.62×39 or any other caliber? Why, to you, isn’t there room for other rounds, especially ones that have a clearly defined market niche that could make a company quite a bit of money? Why does every answer to every single problem have to be “6.5 Grendel”, regardless of whether that answer makes any damn sense at all?

          • gunsandrockets

            Since you seem to have forgotten, I was the first person to leave a comment on your story, and that comment was favorable to your suggestion. But let no good deed go unpunished, eh? Lesson learned.

            In my own personal situation, access to quality 6.5mm Grendel ammunition is identical to quality 7.62x39mm ammunition, either would be bought online and delivered by mail. I doubt I’m alone that way.

          • A fair chastisement. I addressed you the same as the entirety of the 6.5 Grendel fan club, but your point was subtly different. That was a mistake, and I apologize for it.

            Now, I still disagree with your point, and I think I still make some valid and relevant arguments in my previous comment. Like me, you mostly order ammunition online. However, consider that not always will you be able to do this, and that sometimes you will need to buy ammunition from a storefront; also consider that many people (most “normal” people, in fact) still buy their ammunition from a storefront. It’s not hard to see why the 6.5 Grendel hasn’t really caught on in a big way; it never really received industry backing, not like the .300 WSM or .300 Blackout. Too few rifles, too few loads, and not enough distributor support.

            Is it a better performer than 7.62×39? Sure. Would a bear notice a difference between 123gr 6.5 Grendel and 170gr 7.62×39? Probably not, and there’s a lot more SKSes out there in the world than there are 6.5 Grendel ARs.

          • Cowzrul

            How available does Grendel ammo need to be? I can buy it at Cabela’s or Academy and at least two local gun stores, along with a multitude of online shops. I’d imagine most people shooting the caliber are reloaders anyway and have a host of suitable 6.5mm projectiles and appropriate powder to pick from. I realize that it’s nowhere near as ubiquitous as 7.62×39, but only a handful of calibers are that level of popular. I’m not saying that 6.5 Grendel is a replacement for this bullet, I’m all for the advancement/optimization/more choices of bullet for any caliber out there, I just don’t understand your criticism of 6.5 Grendel. It’s not like it’s so rare that it can’t be bought like 6.5 GAP/RSAUM, which everyone in the long range world seems to be obsessed with recently, and you can’t even buy brass to load those up yourself, much less buy any factory ammo.

          • I don’t think I’ve ever seen 6.5 Grendel at an Academy, the only physical store I’ve ever seen it stocked in was Cabela’s, which is a huge store that stocks all sorts of weird stuff.

            I am basing this off my own experiences. If you are just going to the range, the 6.5 Grendel is plenty available, and you have several loads to choose from.

            But it’s not commonly stocked in gun stores across the country, and at least as of yet there aren’t enough rifles available to justify a push from the ammunition manufacturers. With 7.62×39, there are large numbers of rifles that would be compatible with a heavier hunting ball load that would justify an extensive marketing and distribution initiative for that ammunition from one or more mfgrs.

            .303 British, for example, is not an uncommon round, but you even have trouble finding ammo for a rifle chambered for it when you’re traveling (such as when on a hunt). So if I am hunting, I want a gun chambered in ammunition that’s as common and ubiquitous where I am hunting as possible. In the USA, that means calibers like .223, 7.62×39, .30-30, .308 Winchester, 7mm Rem Mag, .243 Winchester, etc. Boring calibers, in other words.

          • Went to Academy today and saw this, it set me howling with laughter:

            http://i.imgur.com/EeTDD68.jpg

            Maybe my local one was late in getting it? I dunno.

          • noamsaying

            I used the 243 in south Texas for deer hunting when I was a young pup, and found it to be a real marginal caliber for white tail. My opinion seems to be pretty common. Switched to a 7 millimeter magnum.

          • gunsandrockets
          • Maybe slowly. Who knows? I’ve been wrong before.

            But I still think it will not really catch on.

      • GearHeadTony

        I just finished watching Alex C’s video on “cult guns” and I have to tell you that you’re treading on sacred ground here. May the holy trinity be with you, Grendel, Beowulf and the Lord Bill Alexander.

      • uisconfruzed

        True, I enjoy handloading, and if I don’t like it, I’ll sell it or replace the bolt & barrel.

  • ARCNA442

    A very interesting article. While I am firmly in the AR camp, I do think that it’s a shame that the firearms community has never spent much time and effort pushing the AK beyond its standard issue military grade roots and exploring the mechanical limits of the system.

    • ostiariusalpha

      Then you might be surprised to know that there is a whole movement in the AK community, dedicated to pushing the gun to its limits and wringing every last ounce of possible precision out of their beloved platform by creating rifles with much less flex and slop that fire handloaded cartridges.

      • ARCNA442

        Do you have any further information? I’ve looked around a bit and never uncovered much on the topic.

        • ostiariusalpha

          The Firearm Blog had an article just a month ago (5/13) about a Rifle Dynamics project to make a 1000 yd. precision AK. Other shops do similar work making VEPR-style rifles, taking milled receivers and mating them to RPK trunnions and heavy barrels, with everything tightly fitted together and match triggers.

      • Kelly Jackson

        Ain’t never been done befour

        • ostiariusalpha

          Ugh, blech! I was purposefully not mentioning that thing, since it’s actually just a .308 Saiga with a bull barrel; not even an AK at all. That show was an idiotic mess on every episode.

          • Sianmink

            Despite all, I’m still impressed at the conversion they did of a .380 Mac11 to 9mm.

            Not like, ‘wow neat’ impressed but ‘who though that was a good idea’ impressed.

            Was really neat how it was so undersprung it had a cyclic rate of about 2000 rpm and would empty a 30 mag in under half a second, sounding like a Metal Storm busrtgun, most of it into the sky if not bolted to the underside a 10 pound RJR Saiga conversion.

            It’s probably scrap by now having beaten itself completely to death.

  • Major Tom

    The main drawback to this proposal however is 7.62 Soviet is rather short ranged in ballistics. Ignoring the rainbow curve you get from the bullet drop over long distances the bullet destabilizes in accuracy quickly relative to more long range rounds. Meaning beyond 300 meters it becomes rather how shall we say dicey to think about shooting a deer or bear with a long distance shot.

    And there’s a lot of places in the mountains where suddenly the forest opens up and the sightlines extend from 100 meters to over 1000.

    • Porty1119

      Ideally, you shouldn’t be taking a shot at a game animal beyond your cartridge’s MPBR. Overly long shots cripple many, many animals. Hunting beyond 300m is the realm of experts.

      • Gary Kirk

        Had a buddy that used to do CWD control out west.. Regularly took shots on animals between 600-1000 yards, but he was a USMC scout sniper before that.. And used a .416 Barrett with custom bullets, or a .338 Lap.

    • Sasquatch

      We’re are you hunting bro? Beyond 300 meters?

      • Major Tom

        There’s a valley of sorts for want of a better term on the back of Snowslide Ridge in the Wet Mountains of Colorado. Meadow Divide is the name. It’s an open meadowland bordered by dense fir and spruce forest about 9500 feet above sea level. This meadowland is home to a lot of springs and marshland and is the headwaters of several of the mountains’ creeks and rivers. Deer and elk love that place.

        The problem being is the meadowland runs parallel to the ridge north to south and has very few breaks in the sightline. Along its width, the distance between treelines is often 200 meters sometimes more. The length often exceeds 500 meters, sometimes breaking 1000. The brush and willows and other bits in there are rarely tall enough to truly break sight.

        • Sasquatch

          Yea hunters like you need 300 win mag and up. For hunters like me in the southern swamplands of South Mississippi and Louisiana you are lucky to have a 100 meter shot. So this is an awesome round to take deer with.

        • Tassiebush

          It’s all horses for courses. If you are just hunting and handiness isn’t a factor and a lot of shots are long range on large animals it is not going to be optimal but if you want something handy and adequate at closer distances it’d be just fine. I could totally use this concept. My regular hunting is all small and medium game at fairly close range and this would easily handle all of that and cover deer too. On the other hand if I chose a long distance deer rig I’d be subjecting myself to a whole lot of noisy heavy expensive inconvenience.
          Sounds really beautiful where you hunt BTW!

    • Why are you shooting at bears at a grand with an SKS, sir?

      • Major Tom

        To see if I can.

    • Kelly Jackson

      Why do all of your posts sound so crazy? I literally don’t know anyone whose shooting deer beyond 200 yards. 1000 meters, seriously? That’s the stuff of .300 Win Mag and .338 Lapua, well beyond the effective range of .308 or even .30.06.

      We’re talking about a 30/30 substitute for hunting, for which the 7.62×39 is
      very well suited, not your silly American Sniper fantasies.

      • Major Tom

        Sightline of 1000 meters. Not effective range or practical shooting at. You can see the deer or bear that far away, you might not be able to hit him that far away.

        • Kelly Jackson

          So then why would you care that a 7.62×39 isn’t effective at 1000 meters?

          • Major Tom

            300 meters is the concern. Because if it loses stability at 300, imagine how inconsistent a shot at 200 meters might be. A deer sized target might only be reliably shot at from the side with a loose imprecise gun like an SKS.

            1000 meters is to give scale and perspective that not all hunting locations have visibility below that of a football field.

          • marathag

            Because, like the 30/30, most hunting with that caliber would be done under 130 yards, so really wouldn’t matter

          • Where on Earth did you hear that 7.62×39 becomes unstable at 300 meters?

  • Sasquatch

    Also CZ makes a nice bolt action chambered in 7.62×39. This is a good round were I hunt because the only 500 yard shot you would take would be on a power line. Most places are 50 to a 100 yards in or shorter. My Ak does nicely taking deer chamber in Hornady steel match that sports a 123gr say bullet.

  • David N Johnson

    The only thing keeping my SKS in the back of the safe is the really crappy trigger. Time to work on that and buy a set of dies!

  • vwVwwVwv

    in russia the SKS is standard hunting tool in extrem rural area.
    you have nahants there and sks and in russias far east you
    have no many guns, one rifle and one shotgun
    is most the people can have,
    may be.

    • El Duderino

      Alaskan natives take polar bear with .223s and .243s all the time. Safari hunters used to take bull elephant with 6.5 Mannlichers and 7mm Mausers before the caliber restrictions. Shot placement!

      • vwVwwVwv

        yes? alaska i know from TV.
        you know, our forfathers hunted lions with sharp sticks, lol.
        i am sure you know that the restriction saves some animals pain,
        so if its not out of japerdy, pleas dont shoot polar bears
        with 223s. i love polar bears since i was told
        that Al Gore from the St. Global
        Warming was eaten by a
        polar bear. 😉

    • Vitor Roma

      7.62×39 has plenty of energy to kill or at least badly hurt even the largest bear.

      • vwVwwVwv

        i am sure you are right,
        sure but if the bear has enough time to take revange it is not so important.

        i had once a school fight with an other boy, i have knocked him out,
        but he broke my rib. he has a swallen face for 1 week, me i had
        pain when laughing for 1 month, it was not important
        that you are victorious if the price is to high.

        most people know fighting as kind of boxing. a bear is like a wrestler
        with lots of knifes. in wrestling body mass is important, evan as
        a man of 190cm and 200 pounds for a bear i am
        not more than a snack, i fear to admit,
        but we are alone here and
        nobody will know. 😀

    • Tassiebush

      Grizzly is a subspecies of brown bear so it’s much the same thing.

      • vwVwwVwv

        unarmed i am sure no match for both of them.
        i just meant that walking after a suspicious sound
        around your haus or hunting log, at night in bear (or tiger)
        county with a 7.62×39 bolt aktion wuld make me
        feel under armed.

        (poore people have no options, but if i think they wuld rather have big guns)

        i am not a big hunter at all but in war i know that with a 22
        i wuld feel underarmed to, evan if its big enough to
        stop my enemy.

        • Tassiebush

          I apologize I kind of missed your point and got obsessed with specifics of species.
          Yes I totally agree with you I would prefer something much heavier against such creatures.

          • Yeah, against apex predators I’d only feel secure with an MLRS.

            Aside from that, it’s a matter of what you feel comfortable carrying and shooting. I know guys who go into bear country with .44 Mags, and I’d definitely feel better with a 7.62×39 semiautomatic with heavy bullets than a .44 revolver. That doesn’t mean it’s all I could ever wish for when a bear decides I’m lunch!

          • Tassiebush

            I’d definitely go the semi 7.62×39 over .44mag too. Far easier to use under pressure and better penetration. Not ideal or optimal but I remember many years ago a naughty bogan shot a police car up with an SKS outside the station. The rounds went through from front to back. No reason they wouldn’t reach through a bear. While not really that good I suspect that a terrified mag dump into centre of bear might bring it to a stop. I think in many ways the key is to manage them so you aren’t having to stop attacks. You take your spot as apex predator and hunt and otherwise persecute the bears often enough that they fear you so they avoid you. In that role a much lighter round might suffice.

    • DeathFromTheShadows

      Putin is pushing the Russian people to Arm up so your comment about the number of guns Russians can have is incorrect

  • Adam D.

    Just a side note: Legacy Sports is coming out with their Howa Miniaction in 7.62×39 this year! (And 6.5 Grendel too.)

    Howas are great, and the Miniaction is truly a small, light action.

    • Jsim

      CZ has a 7.62×39 already

  • Vitor Roma

    Also the x39 is relatively low pressure at the standard 45k psi. I believe that a hotter 50k psi is doable and still quite safe.

  • Kelly Jackson

    The problem with 7.62×39 hollow points is that most of them use lead that’s far too hard to expand and they usually just break up.

    • The 170gr I modeled uses a 2% antimony alloy, so not very hard.

      • Kelly Jackson

        Sounds nice, I’ve shot the Russian stuff and it seems like they just took surplus ammo and drilled a hole in it. I shoot it out of a CZ 527 and most of the time it just shatters like a block of ice.

        • Bob

          Yeah, that worries me. I’ve seen reference for people loading their self defense pistols with Silver Bear HPs, which appear to be constructed as you say and I’ve seen a YouTube video in which a 9×18 Man HP Silver Bear didn’t expand at all, which is bad for self defense, especially if the person involved doesn’t realize their HPs are going to behave like FMJ.

          • I don’t generally trust Russian HPs. They’re too solidly constructed. Some of their soft points are decent, though.

  • Zebra Dun

    Interesting, but I think I will keep my old .30 WCF if you please.
    The only advantage the 7.62×39 mm has is it’s ability to use in a semi auto rifle.
    Which during hunting is not that great of an advatage.

    • Austin

      Deer hunting perhaps but if hogs are around you want all the shots you can get

      • Zebra Dun

        If it’s Hogs I’d go with a 45-70 and some Stubbs Bar-B-Que sauce.

        • Wow. No kidding, I was just at Stubbs last Wednesday for an Electric Six concert.

          • Zebra Dun

            I regret I’ve never been, But the store here sells Stubbs and it is my favorite Bar-B-Que!

  • El Duderino

    I’ve never had any reliability problems with 154gr SP in AKs. For “truck gun” use I can’t think of a better 7.62×39 round.

    I think the round has some youth rifle potential, but when the time comes my oldest’s first centerfire rifle will be a short stock 6.5 Grendel bolt action. I know Howa is starting to make regular-length stock guns and I’m sure youth rifles are soon to come. Yes, I am aware the 6.5 is the 7.62×39’s grandkid by way of the .220 Russian.

    • 6.5 Grendel would make an excellent hunting round if it weren’t so obscure.

  • sean

    Thank you for a great article. I love the Ak-47. I even have a RAS47… and its some how still working 🙂

  • rambo jones

    I have Thompson Encore rifle barrels in the 7.63.X39 ad also the 30-30. The 30-30 with Hornady 160GR Flex tips will blow the 7.62×39 out of the water. I still like the 7.63X39 for plinking. Ammo can be found very cheap.

  • marathag

    For lever gun fans, why not a revived and improved micro-action Savage 99?

    If only this could happen

    • UnrepentantLib

      Sounds good to me. I have a soft spot for my old (1906 vintage) Model99.

    • Devil_Doc

      It needs a bigger lever, maybe like a Win 94 Trapper.

    • PK

      For now, we’re stuck with the 77/357 and 77/44 which are both bolt action, but at least the 96/44 is available although out of production. That’s about as close as we can get to a “micro” Savage 99 these days.

      • gunsandrockets

        That 96/44 is sweet. A new stretched version for 7.62x39mm might work.

        Someone should photoshop a 96/44 with an AK magazine!

        • PK

          I’ve suggested it to Ruger customer service more than once, along with a 5.56x45mm version. 7.62x39mm taking Mini-30 mags, 5.56x45mm taking Mini-14, which removes the hassle of making new injection molds for new mags.

          Parts commonality is a big help in getting new products out there, but they never even responded to me, so… perhaps there just isn’t enough interest to make it worthwhile in terms of R&D and getting them built. Even relatively simple changes like stretching a receiver involve a whole lot more than most people would expect.

          • gunsandrockets

            Sturm-Ruger is such a different company since Ruger died.

            So I’ve wondered if some of their oddball discontinued firearms like the 96/44 were originally designed to appeal to the market, or to Ruger himself? The 96/44 sure seems like a love letter to the Savage 99. And to odd ducks like myself that certainly is appealing, but to the market in general?

          • DeathFromTheShadows

            I can tell you, having been in the business when they were selling them, They SOLD. and they weren’t so much as a reflection of the 99 as they were of the recoil operated .44 carbine, appealing to those who didn’t like semiautos

          • gunsandrockets

            If they sold so well, why were they discontinued?

          • DeathFromTheShadows

            government pressure

          • gunsandrockets

            Uh, government pressure? To discontinue a lever action?

          • DeathFromTheShadows

            Ruger has a bad history in marketing. for example look at how many guns they discontinued when demand was high,,, Look what the could do with levergun single action revolver combos, sales wise. Look how they screwed ut the sales of their own .480 ruger caliber. When you do a ballistic charting of it against a .454 casull, based on bullet weight over velocity, the .480 picks up above where the .454 drops and continues on. AND if you make it in the .475 Linebaugh, which is the equivalent of a .480 magnum, and will chamber and use the .480, they would have a dangerous North American game combo but the screwed the pooch on that one, hell even a77/475 would have been a hot seller due to the .480. but again Ruger…

    • Zebra Dun

      Make it a Marlin and I’m hooked.

      • JoelM

        The bullet diameter variances in this round would be a nightmare for micro groove rifling, I would think.

    • Get Mossberg to make a 464 in it, and I’d buy it.

  • Bonzaipilot

    Personally I like the 154 gratin softy point for pig. It will drop the in there tracks. It is also a great round for mules out to 150 yards. I might get some crap from other hunters with my SKS or POSP scoped IZ132 but when I bring home my deer what the hay. I also stood an outdated savage 300 in a Remington 122 platform. Call me outdated I still bring my animals in

  • Bonzaipilot

    My IZ132 with 154 soft point with a POSP scope has taken 37 pig 4 mule deer 3 Whitetail deer and I don’t know how many coyote this is not to mention what my SKS is taken since the early 80s when I’ve got it.
    the 124 graim sp is also very effective what’s wrong with hunting with an SKS are in an AK those of us in the know do it effectively
    I have to admit though I love what you said about manufacturers making specialty bullets and rounds for the weapons

  • Bradley Jones

    I have an AR-15 in 7.62×39 Russian and its extremely accurate from an AR platform, I easily shoot less then 1 MOA out of it

  • Tassiebush

    The other levergun option is to use a very familiar platform like the 336 but make it to scale for the round and use Petersen’s spiral mag which enables spitzer in a tube mag https://www.google.com.au/patents/US1043354?dq=ininventor:%22John+D+Pedersen%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjKh_zUj6HNAhVKkZQKHRb4DnI4ChDoAQg1MAQ

  • Oldtrader3

    I won’t use it for hunting anything bigger than small deer.

  • Sasquatch

    I love how people think you need a 300 win mag or a 7mm rem ultra mag to take down deer. If that’s the case I should just stop bow hunting.

    • Fred Bear used to take African elephants with a 70lb recurve; archery is seriously underrated.

      • Sasquatch

        Yet people get upset when you say that you hunt with .223 rem.

        • Yeah, it’s funny how the rule of “shot placement is more important than caliber” tends to break down whenever The Plastic Poodleshooter comes up. I always just remind skeptics that 5-5-6 NATO and 7-6-2 Soviet don’t seem to have had much problem killing deer-sized targets in various jungles and deserts around the world over the last fifty-sixty years.

          Aim for the neck and practice until you can hit it reliably at the ranges you hunt, and pretty much anything with more horsepower than a Red Ryder will do the job on anything up to mule deer size, whether it’s measured in millimeters or calibers or draw weight or blade inches.

    • The_Champ

      Nothing wrong with some extra thump for a less than optimal shot, or an inevitable poor shot that you will eventually make.
      Not saying you need a .300 WM for deer, but the opposite to your point is also true I believe. Some hunters are very much under gunned for tougher critters like elk and moose and are risking far less humane kills. My two cents.

      • Sasquatch

        Elk and moose I would go up to .308. I hunt for meat so the less meat a can jellofi and harvest the better.

  • I definitely hope one of the major bullet manufacturers picks this up and runs with it– there are a metric boatload of reasonably accurate rifles in 7.62×39 out there that would benefit from heavy bullets in a load meant for longer ranges– but you don’t really need fancy huntin’ ammo if you can actually hit what you’re aiming at with the rifle you’re aiming. I got a whitetail a few years back with an NHM91 “treaty gun” at ~40yds using iron sights and lacquered steel surplus trash ammunition, because ain’t many things walk away from a ball round through the high vertebrae.

  • Old Gringo

    So, is this some kind of news? In about 1970 the SKS replaced everything else as the deer rifle of choice in eastern Oklahoma and Arkansas…and I know of guys in Idaho who have sworn by the Chicom 150 grain ammo for killing elk with their SKS, for at least 30 years…personally, I bought a Ruger Mini 30 upon my return from Desert Shield and killed a big whitetail the first time out. My Ruger has a .308 bore and puts Remington soft points inside an inch….yea, yea, yea, the mini 30 is not supposed to be that good. And decades ago I bought a cheap insert to let the grandkids shoot 7.62 x 39 in a .308…then of course I have an SKS, a suppressed AK, and of course a bolt action Zastava mini mauser, similar to the old Remington 798/799 and several other copies….the only modern one I dont have the the very nice CZ…..and of course I have an AR in 7.62 x 39….actually, I hunt with a Weatherby 257……the Russian round is just for fun….point being the whole world has been using the Russian round a very long time…..this is not news..and I like em just as well as my 300 Blackout….just dont have to reload for them…

  • John

    Not for nothing have the Russians used the same ammo, and the same gun, since 1947.

    Oh, and get this. The ammo they use for their heavy machine guns? That’s a bullet that was invented in the 19th century! Amazing!

    • ARCNA442

      Just to add some clarification, the Russians started using 7.62×39 (in the SKS) in 1945 during WWII. However, since the introduction of the AK-74, it has been almost entirely replaced by 5.45×39 (though you can occasionally find it with special forces and reserves).

      The 7.62x54r cartridge used in Russian machine-guns and DMR’s was indeed invented in 19th century. But that was loaded with a heavy round nosed bullet that bears little resemblance to its current form. The modern pointed bullet was adopted in 1908 in response to the Germans.

      • Actually L ball was adopted in 1908, the modern LPS steel cored ball was introduced in 1953.

        • ARCNA442

          Was the 1908 bullet just jacketed lead then? Do you know if the Soviets switch in 1953 as it had become solely a machine gun round by that point?

  • InfidelCrusader

    I have been eyeing the CZ 527 bolt-action in 7.62 x 39 for a while now and this article has only piqued my interest in acquiring one. I think that a light bolt-action carbine in such a commonly available round could be a handy thing to have and would be capable of wringing more performance out of the round than a standard AK. Some creative hand-loading would only increase the range of possibilities.

    • My girlfriend owns a 527 in .223. It is a wonderful rifle.

      • InfidelCrusader

        Your article has pushed me over the line on my decision to acquire one. The thought of using the 154 gr soft-points in it intrigued me but the thought of using a 170 gr load intrigues me even more. My only real concern is the twist rate of the 527’s barrel. Is its 1/9 rate compatible with the heavier bullets?

  • Give me a cookie

    This has to be one of the most retarded posts I have ever seen in the history of firearms. 7.62x39mm for Grizzlies? Jesus…

    Also the .30-30 spanks the 7.62x39mm in velocity and weight but don’t let reality stop yourself from posting your jerk off article.

  • Steven Meyer

    I’ve been hoping and waiting for anyone to pick up the gauntlet Gen. Klashnikov laid down to improve the 7.62×39 round instead of developing the 5.45×39 .I wish you all sucess.

  • therealgreenplease

    So I’m thinking AR-10 upper and some sort of a hybrid lower like the MGI. The AR-10 upper would allow for a proper 7.62×39 build (ala the CMMG mutant) and with a custom upper you could make it accept a standard 5.56 bcg and barrel (it would just be wildly overbuilt). So with one lower you could conceivably swap between 7.62×39, 5.56×45, .300 blk, 6.8spc, 6.5 grendel, and even 9mm. It might be a touch heavier than a dedicated gun but that’s pretty remarkable versatility if you think about it. Get a good .30 cal can and you can shoot all of those rounds suppressed too with one stamp.

    • maodeedee

      But with an AR-180 why not just go with 308? And 308 can be loaded subsonic with 220 grain bullets with a 1-11 twist.

      • therealgreenplease

        That too! The more calibers the merrier!

  • The_manBEar

    ooor 300 blackout?

    • maodeedee

      Right because 300 Blackout is supposed to be ALMOST a 7.62 x 39 which is supposed to be ALMOST a 30-30 as long as you don’t take case capacity into consideration.

      It’s just like a 308 is ALMOST a 30-06.

  • maodeedee

    The only way the 762×39 would be equal to the 30-30 would be if you necked it up to 35 caliber and loaded it with 180 grain bullets. Trading mass for velocity is a losing proposition and 125 grain bullets loaded to a similar velocity as a 150 grain bullet in a 30-30 does not equal the 30-30. And 170 grain bullets in the 30-30 work better on larger animals anyway, and the 762X39 does noit have the case capacity to launch the heavier bullets to equal the 30-30.

    • You’re wrong about all that, something that would be obvious to you if you had closely read the article.

  • Devil_Doc

    I’ve shot deer and black bear with x39. It’s a very effective sub 200 yard round that is only hampered by bullet selection.

  • Роман Бронцевич

    Post-soviet armies still use 7.62УС (Subsonic) 7.62×39 ammo with +-170 gr bullets, so idea is ain`t new.
    The problem is the height drop.

    • These load are supersonic, and have similar trajectory to 123gr 7.62×39.

    • iksnilol

      Subsonic loads are like 200-220 grains.

  • Ondřej Turek

    Longer 7,62×39 bullets require altered chamber cone – at least I’ve been told that by former CZUB technological director who mentioned that regarding the Sa. Vz.58 development (the Warzsaw Pact required the Vz.58 to be able to fire “special”, longer-length 7,62×39 bullet, although it was never introduced or even seen in the CSLA and CZUB engineers had to reverse-engineer it from provided Soviet samples.)

  • uisconfruzed

    It’s funny how you’ll get more responses commenting that you don’t like an AK, than if you had superb trolling skills on any political website.
    They’ve been battle proven for decades, and I still have no interest.

    • Sasquatch

      We only comment when we see bull crap comments on how they are crap. So whos the troll? Plus have you ever nocked a Glock in the comment section? Oooweee do the glockanazis not like that.

      • uisconfruzed

        Oh crap. I’m screwed, I’m a Glock fan as well.
        They fit ME, that’s why.

  • UniontownOne

    sold my SKS years ago… my AK47 just sits around, but I did get a CZ527 in 7.62×39, really like to rifle, (would like to do the same in 223)… my question is… would your heavier bullets need a different twist rate to keep them stable?

    • Nope, as mentioned in the article 7.62×39 rifles including the 527 already have a tight enough 1/9 twist rate.

  • Cameron Bissell

    I see lots of suggestions for a lever but what about a pump. Remington made a 760 in 223, a similar action would work for the 7.62×39. It’s almost small enough to work in a lightning

    • Yeah, absolutely, a well-designed pump would be sweet!

  • The_Champ

    All in all there are some interesting ideas in the article. The one gun really begging for improved 7.62×39 aim is definitely the CZ597, as many others have already pointed out. I’ve been tempted many times to buy one as a light handy bush gun.

    That said I think ‘all around’ cartridge is going to depend where you are hunting. My hunting grounds in Saskatchewan include wide open fields as much as forest and scrubby brush. The game includes white tail and mule deer very much on the large side of the deer spectrum, as well as moose and elk. I long ago settled on the .300 Win Mag as the ultimate all around rifle for these parts, and it has yet to disappoint. A superb long distance round, and very adequate up close provided a nice stout bullet is used. Barnes TTSX are my current favorite.

  • Guest

    This seems very feasible and easy to bring to market for an established company. It’s not selling the people on a new cartridge, just on the effectiveness and benefits of an old cartridge.
    With the 7.62x39mm, you can have all the benefits with this. Cheap surplus ammo for plinking, good quality hunting rounds for deer and up, and a quality varmint round (if someone would design it).
    All in all, thanks TFB for the write-up. Food for thought, food for thought…

  • Cmex

    Great post. Y’know, given what you said about 5.45×39 a while back, I’m beginning to wonder if the Soviets just came up with really good cartridges and simply forgot to go back and improve them later.

  • Nimrod

    I loved the x39…for awhile. I’ve shot deer with every conceivable factory and hand loaded x39 but it is not even close to a 150 and especially a 170 gr 30-30. No comparison in actual performance on deer. Yes the Russian Short will kill deer, just not as well as a 30-30. And don’t forget you can hand load 30-30s as well.

    And don’t forget that there were a number of bolt action 30-30s on the market like the Remington 788, Stevens 325/Savage 340 not to mention the single shot H&Rs and Thompson Center offering. Those can be loaded up to pretty good specs. I admit that I liked my Ruger Mini 30 as a brush gun but I don’t hunt hunt with it any more.

    • You can handload 7.62×39 as well.

      I agree that the heavier .30-30 loads are a better choice thanks to their great sectional density, that’s why I started experimenting with heavier x39 loads!

  • iksnilol

    Comrade Nathaniel has seen the light.

    Join us.

    *hand of Mikhail Kalashnikov appears from a blinding light in the clouds, reaching out to Nathaniel*

    But in all seriousness, how would this load fare in a 10.5 inch barrel? I always thought one of those super small bolt rifles (CZ 527 or Howa Mini) with a 10.5″ barrel and stripper clip guide would be handy as all get.

  • Christian Hedegaard-Schou

    Any cartridge can cost .25/rd when manufactured in large enough volume with simple jacketed bullets non suitable for hunting.

    And you’ve identified exactly that as a problem with 7.62×39. You recognize that you have to have new bullets for the cartridge if you want it to be successful as a hunting round, which means it will no longer cost .25/rd. Nowhere near .25/rd in fact.

    Additionally, it uses non-standard (for the US at least) .310/.311 bullets instead of the FAR more common .308 bullets.

    Then you’ve got the fact that it has an extreme taper which is fine for an AK and AK magazines, but isn’t going to stack or feed well in more common hunting rifles of the variety you see in the US.

    All of those reasons are probably why a cartridge like the .300BLK is becoming more and more popular despite the 7.62×39’s ubiquity.

    • Why would introducing a new hunting load suddenly remove all the inexpensive 7.62×39 ammo from the supply chain?

  • I had a CZ 527 Carbine. It was fantastic and could deliver .5 MOA Groups.
    But you had to re-tighten the stock bolt after every other magazine.
    It really opened my eyes to the potential of the Thirty by Thirty Nine… I’m pleased to see guns like the CMMG Mutant and PSA Hybrid coming out where we can finally get good ergos and accuracy out of these rounds.

  • BryanS

    If only I could use my nicely accurate Yugo AK for hunting here in PA. Well, I could, if ruined the rifle by permanently destroying the gas system, and would still get bothered by fuds and wardens ignorant of the law.

    Same on my M1.

    🙁

    • mig1nc

      Maybe if you installed one of those AK adjustable gas blocks and shut the gas all the way off when hunting? Would that be legal?

      • iksnilol

        doubt it, since he could just open it back up.

      • BryanS

        Needs to be proven that it is not easily modifiable without tools. So, Ive heard the opinion from multiple state sources that you would need to do everything from weld the gas tube shut, pull the op rod, or just thread a screw into the hole on the barrel.

        Nothing consistent, and still going to have you explaining it for half hour or hour while they call back to see if its actually legal, while the guy over the hill with the 30-30 lever gun drums 7 rounds into a berm. trying to hit a doe at full sprint.

  • Benjamin Goldstein

    Norinco make a great compact 7.62 x 39 bolt action….

  • supergun

    No thanks. I will keep my AR 300 Blackout.

  • Ryobiwankenobi

    As one who hunts whitetail deer with an SKS I would love to have a round that extends my range and gives some more power up close. While 125 gr SP Tulammo will reliably kill a buck at 90 yards it won’t always drop it in it’s tracks and as an “out of shape” guy that is becoming more important to me.

  • Travis Kay

    Great to read this article. I think the 7.62×39 is an excellent round, with lots of untapped potential.

  • GaryGary

    Wild boar and the 7.62×39 work great. Using a 5 or 10 rd. mag the AK becomes light and and easy to handle in brush. The hollow point and soft points by Remington feed well in most AK’s per my experience. Mount a red dot on the easily detachable side scope mount and the AK become a deadly game rifle.

  • T. Saroch

    Good idea, but nothing new to me. For 10 hrs, I have hand loaded this round with a 150 grn. Bullet for my T/C. Have harvested many deer, Rams, & oadad , at 85 to 130 yds. max. One shot, the all dropped dead within 5 yds, many were they stood. Granted, I picked my shot, & placed the pill perfectly were it needed to go- result , meat in freezer.

  • Mike

    Can we have inexpensive bolt guns for 7.62×39. Ruger American?

  • Mike

    I would love to see a Mossberg MVP is 7.62X39. This would be such a sweet gun. It would work great with the Magpul 10 round AK mags.

  • karl

    One of the reasons 7.62 x 39 hasn’t caught on as a hunting round could be the lack of manually operated rifles in that caliber. I did a search and the only current production bolt action rifle I could find in 7.62 x 39 was the CZ 527 carbine.

  • maodeedee

    “What if there was a caliber that was suitable for everything from coyote to brown bear, kicked less than your whitetail gun, fit in a micro-length (2.25″/58mm) action, and cost a quarter a round to shoot?”

    That wouldn’t be the 762 X 39. And it wouldn’t be the 762 X 39 “Improved” either because no matter how you reload it, a 170 bullet traveling at 300 fps LESS than 30-30 velocities is not what you’d want to use to go after a Brown bear in the deep brush and it wouldn’t cost less than 25 cents a round either unless you can get decent brass, projectiles, powder and primers for less than the going rate. simply put, the 762 x 39 is not equal to the 30-30 with bullets heavier than 125 grains.

    The other problem with the 762 x 39 is that it doesn’t feed well from AR magazines. All the AR’s I’ve seen chambered for this round have the lower modified to use curved AK magazines which help the tapered cartridge to feed properly. That’s why the 300 blackout is so popular, because it’s based on the smaller case capacity 5.56 case which will feed from standard AR mags, and it comes close to the 762 x 39 in downrange ballistics using 125 grain bullets.

    The 762 x 38 is truly a great round and it can do everything the 300 blackout can do and then some, but it is not the ballistic twin of the 30-30 and while the 30-30 can eventually KILL a brown bear, it’s not likely to stop a charging bear in it’s tracks the way a 375 or a 416 or a 458 would.

    • “That wouldn’t be the 762 X 39. And it wouldn’t be the 762 X 39 “Improved” either because no matter how you reload it, a 170 bullet traveling at 300 fps LESS than 30-30 velocities is not what you’d want to use to go after a Brown bear in the deep brush and it wouldn’t cost less than 25 cents a round either unless you can get decent brass, projectiles, powder and primers for less than the going rate. simply put, the 762 x 39 is not equal to the 30-30 with bullets heavier than 125 grains.”

      2,130 ft/s – 2,085 ft/s = 45 ft/s, not 300 ft/s, and after 25 yards the velocity of the 7.62×39 is actually higher. It’s a superior cartridge to the traditional .30-30 load all around, if only someone would create a suitable heavy weight bullet for it.

      You missed the point about 2cost: With a 7.62×39 rifle, you could practice for 25 cents a round, while still being able to fire effective hunting ammunition when you need to. I never said that premium hunting ammo would cost just 25 cents!

      “The other problem with the 762 x 39 is that it doesn’t feed well from AR magazines. All the AR’s I’ve seen chambered for this round have the lower modified to use curved AK magazines which help the tapered cartridge to feed properly. That’s why the 300 blackout is so popular, because it’s based on the smaller case capacity 5.56 case which will feed from standard AR mags, and it comes close to the 762 x 39 in downrange ballistics using 125 grain bullets.”

      This is not correct. Many AR-15s in 7.62×39 use the standard lower receiver, and while historically large-capacity 7.62×39 magazines have not worked well A.) they’ve gotten a lot better recently and B.) for hunting you would be using 5 and 10 round magazines, which work just fine.

      “The 762 x 38 is truly a great round and it can do everything the 300 blackout can do and then some, but it is not the ballistic twin of the 30-30”

      That is correct, I’ve demonstrated in this article that it’s considerably superior to the traditional .30-30 loads.

      • ostiariusalpha

        Modern .30-30 loads push 160gr bullets at around 2350ft/s from a 20″ (new) barrel, so maodeedee is closer to the truth on this one.

        • Everyone wants to argue numbers. Yeah, you can load .30-30 to 60,000 PSI and you get close to .300 Savage performance, that’s not my point. my point is that .30-30 – the old .30-30 that fired a 170gr bullet at 2,100 ft/s from a 94 or 336 – is a great all around hunting caliber that has even seen use as a brown bear round. A caliber that does the same thing, while retaining energy even better and being less than two and a quarter inches long is really something, especially when – and this is the most important part – it’s already hugely popular!

          • ostiariusalpha

            60,000 PSI would be interesting! The factory Hornady LeveRevolution loads only gets up a bit over 51,000 PSI though. I think your 7.62x39mm heavy round is a great idea, and does indeed compare nicely against the original .30-30; definitely worth a try by any manufacturer. I was only referring to maodeedee’s 300 ft/s difference, where he was obviously contrasting your modern cartridge to a modern .30-30 load; which seems a fair comparison.

          • 51,000 PSI? That doesn’t sound right; that would suggest that’s not a SAAMI spec round.

            Note what he actually wrote:

            “because no matter how you reload it, a 170 bullet traveling at 300 fps LESS than 30-30 velocities is not what you’d want to use to go after a Brown bear in the deep brush”

            Really? Because the old traditional .30-30 that has been used against deer, black bear, and from time to time even brown bear, seems to work quite well.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Herpa derp. That was a .308 LeveRevolution load, please ignore. My actual notes come from Larry Gibson, his equipment measured 36,800 PSI at 2433ft/s with a temperature of 48°F, and 37,800 PSI at 2452ft/s with a temperature of 75°F; this was from a 24″ barrel with the factory 160gr FTX load.

  • Paul

    i hope hornady and wolf are paying attention, they could sell a crap ton of this stuff for hunting and we’d still have the cheap surplus for high volume practice. Would really love to see heavy & light bullets with modern powders to see the limits of this perfect rounds capabilities.

  • FalconMoose

    Good work. Thanks.

  • Gregory Peter Dupont

    That Monolithic HP154 grain bullet looks very promising…. I still use a (depleted)stash of 154 grain FMJ and SP, and always liked them…hopefully someone in the biz could tool up-either as component projectiles or loaded ammo in the 2200FPS range.

  • DeathFromTheShadows

    Who is this dumbassed author? Round nosed 30-30 bullets? Try FLAT NOSED, with the exception of the Hornady Lever revolution (or however they term it) poly tipped rounds. And as for using a 7.62×39 on a brownie? Pure ignorance, they have been know to maul hunters that took then with heavy projo .300 magnums before falling over from what shous have been a one shot kill. Other than his pure knowitall ignorance, there were a few points that were correct. It IS a hand loading hunters wet dream, and is what the .300BLK wants to be. I myself have a 20 inch barreled AR in 7.62×39 that out performs every 30-3o ever made, and is extremely accurate, better than 1/2 moa at 300yds (measured off a machine rest) And don’t buy into the myth of the round not working in the AR action. you simply have to know how to build it. the trick is nit to use M4 feed ramps, take them down to the original AR 15 ramp. they case body size and taper feeds best in this profile. and the correct magazines are needed, anything over ten rounds needs a curve, and that’s it. If you intend to feed it cheap ammo constantly and are lazy about cleaning, add a piston.

  • The Heretic

    Browning makes a lightweight takedown BLR with a 16″ barrel, Scout scope rail and flash hider in 5.56

    I am sure they could make the same rifle in 7.62×39 and I wish they would. I am not sure why they don’t.