Modern Intermediate Calibers 008: The Soviet 5.45x39mm

A 5.45x39mm 7N6 cartridge, flanked by two of its predecessors. The 5.6x39mm (left) was developed from an early Soviet ballistic test round using the 7.62x39mm case head, which was designed to duplicate the performance of the early .222 Remington Special (right), later renamed the .223 Remington.

A 5.45x39mm 7N6 cartridge, flanked by two of its predecessors. The 5.6x39mm (left) was developed from an early Soviet ballistic test round using the 7.62x39mm case head, which was designed to duplicate the performance of the early .222 Remington Special (right), later renamed the .223 Remington.

In the late 1950s, after the first public demonstrations of the AR-15 and its new small caliber, high velocity cartridge, the Soviet Union took notice of the radical developments in military .22 caliber rounds in the United States. By 1959, four years before the adoption of the AR-15 as the M16 by the US Army, Soviet ballisticians were already testing Soviet-made replica 55gr spitzer FMJ bullets fired at over 3,000 ft/s from modified necked down 7.62x39mm cases. This program for a new small caliber high velocity lasted into the late 1960s, but it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that the 5.45x39mm caliber was eventually issued alongside the AK-74 rifle, a modified but significantly more effective variant of the previous 7.62x39mm AKM assault rifle.

Let’s get into the ballistics:

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Despite its lighter bullet, the 5.45x39mm round retains its energy better than 5.56mm from comparable barrels, thanks to an excellent, carefully designed bullet shape. Even better, 5.45x39mm rounds are typically lighter, with the steel-cased 53gr 7N6 ball round weighing about 10.7 grams per shot. Despite its superior ballistics, however, the 5.45x39mm caliber has not seen the benefit of advanced antipersonnel projectile designs such as the M855A1 EPR and Mk. 318 SOST in the US, and therefore typically possesses inferior lethality. Russian armor piercing rounds such as the 7N22 and 7N24 are, however, very effective against body armor.

Note: All ballistic calculations are done with JBM’s Trajectory calculator, using the ballistic coefficient appropriate to the projectile being modeled. In this case, the calculations were done assuming an AK as the parent rifle. Also, keep in mind that there is no single true velocity for a given round; velocity can vary due to a large number of factors, including ambient temperature and chamber dimensions. Instead, I try to use nominal velocity figures that are representative of the capability of the round in question.



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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  • guest

    “inferior lethality”, lol 🙂

    • Kivaari

      That is true when you look at wounds caused by the 5.45.. v. 5.56mm. In living tissue the 5.45mm leaves an insignificant wound in tissues not considered immediately life threatening. AS mentioned elsewhere if the bullet hits muscle or empty intestines w/o cutting significant nerves or blood vessels the GSW victim has a good chance of surviving. ANY bullet that takes out CNS or major arteries/veins is in serious DOO. Unlike the 5.56mm a wound to the thing or calf w/o bone impact is likely to be minor with the 5.45mm v. 5.56mm.
      The early reports out of Afghanistan about how terrible the rifle and cartridge were, were wrong. Once the rifle and ammo was inspected and tested it was found to be just so-so in wounding. Sitll the combination gave the Soviet soldier a better package than he had while armed with the 7.62x39mm.

      • guest

        Ah, the infamous “like a .45 ball round” report.
        Look at actual BG tests of these rounds as well as actual combat wounds and autopsies, and not some comparisons with civilian/exotic nonsense but en-masse issued military ammo. At the very best the short stubby 5.56 bullet shatters at close ranges, at longer ranges it will performs much like 9mm ball or similar (narrow wound channel, no tumbling, insignificant PC), same for older 7,62×39 ball, but 5,45 will tumble consistently, twice, at all practical ranges, and never in the entire history of the cartridge were any “corrections” necessary like creating some obscure pre-fragmented (almost) bullets for it like for the 5.56

        • M855A1 is not pre-fragmented, as that would violate the Hague Convention.

          Actual autopsies don’t reflect glowingly on the 7N6 caliber… Which by the way doesn’t make it a bad round.

        • Kivaari

          What? The 5.56mm still tumbles at extended ranges. What doesn’t happen is it doesn’t break apart. The wounds from the 5.45 are pretty consistent, in that they do not make major holes unless they hit bone or fluid filed organs. Just like any bullet going fast, if it hit fluids it sends the liquids spreading out, as they don’t compress, the tissue gives. Like a liver “shattering” or a stomach “exploding” like a milk jug full of water. 7.62x39mm and 5.45mm tumble, mostly in a bi-lobed pattern. Due to the heavy construction of the Soviet designed bullets (heavy steel jackets with steel cores) the wounds are typically less dramatic than an fragmenting bullet. Remember the 9mm BALL, .45 BALL, .38 BALL, 7.62x51mm BALL (US) all more often than not leave a simple wound chsnnel where as even the rifle round looks like it could have been made by a 9mm. That the wound channel of the .38 Special (9x29mm) looks just like a 9x19mm. That a .45 wound looks just like a, now get this, a 9mm.
          This isn’t some gun magazine reporting with guys shooting milk jugs, this is from real life and death GSWs, backed up by lab studies. I refer you to the wound ballistic laboratories of the US ARMY.
          So much of what is repeated in the blogs is gun store BS. Ask guys in the military and without almost no variance you will get some of the dumbest answers known to man. Ask ER nurses and surgeons, and they can’t tell you what gun made any particular GSW, unless they recover a bullet from within the wound.
          It is like the oft repeated comments about the 7.62x39mm and 5.45x45mm. Some people just “know” they have to do more than what they really do. “Everyone knows” that .30 caliber bullet makes a bigger hole than pistol bullets, except for those that treat such wounds.
          Every bullet pretty much can deliver various severity of wounds. Now and than a bullet, like the 5.56mm will simply be going so stable and have limited tissue impact that it wont tumble until after it leaves the person hit. Arm and calf wounds. Hit the bone with a 9mm and it may take an arm off. Hit muscle and it may leave a neat little hole.
          Take a 6.5x52mm and hit Kennedy in the back of his neck with one that stays together and the bullet is recovered nearly intact. Then hit him in the head with a bullet that went to pieces and half his head left the back seat of the limo. Bullets do strange things. BUT, the 5.45 has a consistent record of holding its shape and leaving minor wounds in some tissues.

        • Kivaari

          BG was used to confirm actual tissue studies without the huge expense of killing more goats or hogs. First came tissue studies, than the search for a reliable substitute that replicated what was observed in tissue. The shooting of living tissue is costly and quite variable so getting consistent performance between animals. Even using thigh v. thigh on the same critter is hard to get the same result. BG done within standards is consistent.

      • noob

        If I got “a wound to the thing” in any caliber I’d say my life would be over. Or at least all the fun bits of my life.

  • AK

    And I thought the M855A1 was just the latest flavor of “bandaid round”, because the original M193 worked great out of the 20 inch 1:12 barrel, but not out of the 14.5 inch 1:7 barrel. Out of a standard lenght AK barrel, this round will yaw and is plenty effective. And cheap to produce.

    • The M4 Carbine was not issued until M193 ammunition had long since ceased being standard.

      • AK

        Well, yes, but the reason for the adoption of the M855 in 1977 as the NATO standard was to be “more humane” than the M193, not more effective.

        • BillC

          No dude. You are a case where a little bit of information does a lot of damage.

          • AK

            Well, at the end of the day, the development of military small arms may not be all about effectiveness and suitability for the current use. It’s more about politics, cost and anticipated future use. Case in point: killing off of .280 British – which would, even today, be the perfect all-around ammo for military use.
            In the same vein, the M4 is in no way “the ideal” military rifle, but it’s good enough. So is the AK-74. Likewise for the ammo. Other than the lenght, the old M16A1 with M193 is superior to the current M4 M855 combo, especially against unarmoured targets, that’s a fact.

          • How would a round with all of the trajectory arc and ineffectiveness of the 7.62×39 and all of the weight of the 7.62 NATO be the “perfect all-around ammo” for the military?

          • Joshua Knott

            Huh? I know you’re a student of firearms history, and I would assume you read the army’s book on how infantry were found to have fought, even with a cartridge capable of 1000 yards the common infantryman would only engage at distances in which they thought they could be most effective ,hence the 300 yard golden rule. I mean if it’s past 3-400 yards it’s JDAM time for the bad guys. That being said , 7.62×39, is still an effective and efficient round for that need. It’s not a want. Just like 5.56 it’s hard to switch to something else whereas you know what works.

          • Sermon 7.62

            7.62 is capable of hitting targets from 800 m, but these targets are not people. The settings on the rear sight from 300 to 800 are for “group targets”, such as cars, trucks, mortar teams, etc.

          • That’s not how the US Army thought at the time, but regardless the .280 British is highly overrated. Maybe I’ll do my next episode on it…

          • Kivaari

            Isn’t the common notion that anything tested than rejected is somehow superior to what we finally adopted? It seems like everything is superior as long as it isn’t the 5.56mm “mouse gun”. Like the 5.45mm, it is inferior in wounding compared to the 5.56mm, but you get greif if you tell the readers the facts.

          • Kivaari

            If the 7.62x39mm is so effective, why did the Soviet Army replace it 40 years ago with the 5.45x39mm? It baffles me to think that the Russkies would invest so much time and money into the 5.45mm if it did not offer a significant improvement over its predecessor. From everything I read about the AK74 the soldiers achieved a 2.5 times increase in the ability to hit the targets compared to the AKM. It was not just the flattened trajectory alone. The combination of the muzzle break and the round made it easier to train the soldiers. Improved marksmanship thanks to the combination makes for a better fighting force. Going backwards to the 7.62×39 in an AKM fitted with an AK74-type muzzle brake wont give the same results.
            I don’t understand why so many people keep supporting the choice of the Russians as being so wrong. They certainly did not make this change willy-nilly. Why is the 7.62x39mm a better round and rifle combination than the AK74?

          • I have owned both. The transformation of the AK by going from 7.62 to 5.45 cannot be fully appreciated unless you shoot them (especially in full auto).

          • Kivaari

            That’s why I can’t figure out all those that keep thinking the 7.62mm is so superior. The 74 makes sense to me. It must have made sense to the Soviets as well.

          • Biggar boolitt?

          • AK

            Of course the loadings would have evolved over time, but it is a suitable round from 0 to 800 meters, and conceivable weapons chambered for it could be available from PDW to universal machine guns. If you would be looking for one round to replace them all, this would be it.

          • LOL PDWs in .280 British. Yeah, you can chop down a rifle in just about any caliber, but the .280 British is far from suitable for that role.

          • AK

            So is the 5.56 or 5.45. That was my point. My other point is, .280 was way ahead of its time and is probably still the best “allrounder” you can get, especially considering modern powders and bullet designs, and by that, I mean it could conceivably be used in all firearm roles adequately, unlike say 5.56.

          • Nooooo… .280 British is in a completely different class of “unsuitable”.

            As for it being the best “all arounder” possible, even today, no I don’t think so at all. For one thing, its projectile design is terribly primitive.

          • AK

            Didn’t I just mention modern powders and projectiles in my previous post? And what I’m saying is, it COULD be used from PDW to GPMG, unlike say 5.56, and be overall better performer. Not that PDWs should carry any real weight in the consideration anyway, since they are a marginal weapon in military terms – but the .280 Brit could be used in it, although silly, but also in the standard rifle, DM rifle, sniper rifle and GPMG. 5.56 would not be up to snuff at least in the latter two.

          • Technically, you could make a .308 PDW, too, doesn’t make it a good idea.

            I really, really don’t think most people understand just how large the .280 British is. I guess it’s always compared in images to the .30-06 or .308, so it looks small and svelte. It’s not. It’s one of the absolute largest and heaviest intermediate calibers there is. It’s 25% heavier than 7.62×39. Depending on the load, it can have recoil comparable to a 7mm-08.

            It’s a big beefy caliber, which doesn’t make it bad or anything, but that is the reality that runs counter to the story people seem to tell about it being this beautiful compromise.

          • AK

            I realize that it’s like a shorter 308. But the concept is sound, the bullet size is more ideal for intended use, and the power level is just about right. There are many modern pressings that emulate it, because it strikes a good balance. It really seems that the adopted intermediate calibers were all made a bit too small. Something like a 6.5mm version of 6.8 SPC could be the winning ticket nowadays.

          • The original intended .280 load was actually pretty bad. The case can do a lot, sure, but once you start augmenting its performance it gets out of “intermediate” territory pretty quick.

            It should be noted, for example, that British testers considered the much-lauded late 140gr@2,600 ft/s load to be basically uncontrollable in fully automatic. And that makes sense, because at that point you’re in .300 Savage territory!

          • Kivaari

            Remember it was rejected for a reason, so it must be better.

          • Arathar

            Saying 6.8 could be the winning ticked nowdays is completly hilarious and senceless. Its bullet is thick and short, insanly bad ogive. And the brass casse is outdated since over 3 decades.

          • AK

            I said a 6.5mm fitted into the AR form factor could be the ideal compromise for military use, and that entails a whole lot more than just flight ballistics. Seems in any case we are stuck with 5.56 cartridge dimensions for the time being, although any new round should not chamber in 5.56 to prevent the literal “.300 blackout”. Difficult task.

          • Kivaari

            OH, OH! You sinned by telling the truth about the 7.62x39mm. “Everyone knows the 7.62x39mm round is superior to the 5.56mm”, except those in the real world.

        • Actually, it was for standardization and long-range lethality reasons.

          Although FN did at one point or another market M855 as being “more humane” than M193 to the nations who swung that way.

          Realistically, M855 has similar terminal effectiveness and fragmentation range to M193.

        • Kivaari

          The Swedes promoted the SS109 that way, but it actually caused equal or greater wounds than the M193. The higher rotation speeds and long bullet made it better for long range work.

  • Giolli Joker

    In the most useless of the comparison criteria, 6.5 Grendel and 5.45×39 win as the most aesthetically pleasing cartridges… I find some sort of appealing visual balance in the long bullet over a short case.

    • It also happens to be by far the most ballistically efficient configuration.

      • Giolli Joker

        Sure.
        Maybe it’s knowing this that my eyes instinctively appreciate more that configuration.

        Can we apply the motto: “If it looks good it flies good”?

        • John Yossarian

          I too love those long, “hung” 5.45 bullets: “Once you go Bloc, you never go back!”

          • Kivaari

            Freudian.

  • therealgreenplease

    That’s it? No mention of the “poison bullet” lure?

    • Giolli Joker

      This series of articles is basically raw data with limited commentary. There’s been and there will be more to be said.

  • ostiariusalpha

    Woot! Woot! Мал, да удал; the Little Cartridge that Could! I’ve become quite a fan of this cartridge thanks to your articles, Nate.

  • Schnee

    I’m heavy on this round–spam cans and a Smith AR and Saiga/Galil conversion. I’ve been toying with the idea of rebarreling a Mossberg, Savage, or Howa .223 bolt action to shoot this round. Please will someone other than the East German snipers make a bolt action in this caliber?

    • Schnee

      Love child of a Saiga 5.45 and a de-milled Galil.

      • Sermon 7.62

        That’s a bastard son of mutilation.

        • Schnee

          I think it’s as beautiful as Natalie Portman, another Russian/Jewish product.

          • Sermon 7.62

            More like Masha Gessen to me.

      • Kivaari

        That’s a good looking rifle.

  • Niko

    “inferior lethality” – not, when used on shorter barrels or non fragmenting ammo or longer distances or with cheap surplus ammo

    • Sermon 7.62

      For Americans, it’s a must. Something has to be inferior to their 5.56 super cartridges.

      • Joe

        What, in your mind is a superior SCHV round that is readily availible today than 5.56x45mm?

        • Sermon 7.62

          I don’t understand the meaning of SCHV

          • Joe

            Small Caliber High Velocity.

          • Sermon 7.62

            To answer this question one needs to compare the both calibers through the same platform. It’s going to be possible soon. But I think that 5.45 is a better round. I don’t like the concept of fragmenting bullets.

          • yodamiles

            No body like the concept of fragmenting bullets, especially the people who got hit by it. Seriously, m855a1 are damn nasty. I love it.

          • Anon

            Seriously, what’s not to like about multiple wound tracks caused by fragmentation?

          • Kivaari

            The fragmentation is what made the 5,56mm M193 such a good performing round. The 5.45mm is such a hard jacketed bullet that it doesn’t fragment. It leaves a hole the same shape of the bullet however it is oriented as it passes through tissue. Unless it hits organs with high liquid content, like the liver or a full stomach, the performance is inferior to any load that fragments.
            The typical 5.45mm round “tumbles” one and one-half times, leaving a bi-lobed wound track that is usually insignificant in what it does to tissue.
            Many people think a “tumbling bullet” is spinning end over end many times, when they don’t do that. The 5.56mm under 200m starts its tumble, gets 90 degrees (sideways) and breaks apart sending the pieces in multiple directions. It makes a nasty wound – but that is what stops the bad guys.

          • Sermon 7.62

            The last time US had some serious experience in combat was in Vietnam. Tell me more about the good performance of 5.56, it’s entertaining.

          • Kivaari

            Seriously? WE treat the wounded we create, we don’t run over them with tanks. WE have combat wound experience every place we are helping as advisers. Grenada, Panama, Iraq (x2) and Afghanitan (The “Soviet Vietnam”).
            WE shoot bad guys than save their lives. They shot us and we try to save out guys lives. With thousands of our troops dead and wounded in the last 15 years of war we do know a few things about GSWs. That and we do have quite a bit of local experience in major inner-city settings. WE train our surgeons in Level 1 and 2 ERs.

          • Sermon 7.62

            Such a great people. Keep on doing that, brother!

          • Someone find me that clip of the school principal from Billy Madison…

          • Sermon 7.62

            Their major roads were destroyed, but supplies moved instead through the jungles, carried by human caravans at night, or through networks of tunnels. “Caucasians,” one general told the press, “cannot really imagine what ant labor can do.” His comment reflects one of the main reasons war continued–the belief that the Vietnamese were a slightly lesser people. General William Westmorland claimed that: “Human life is cheap to the Asian. They don’t feel the same way about death that we do.”

            The Vietnam War and the Tragedy of Containment
            by Michael O’Malley

          • Now I know you are Rousso’s alt.

          • Sermon 7.62

            You knew that before because I said so.

          • yodamiles

            Hahahahahaha, I was going to joke about that awhile back. Their comments were so similar its uncanny. XD

          • Kivaari

            Most people recognize the failing of the Vietnam experience. We are now friends with our former enemies. Look at Russia, it has become an adversary again, thanks to its adventures overseas. Putin wants the Soviet Union restored, we prefer independent states. WE like having Eastern European states being part of NATO. Russian seem to fear the west again, yet the West has no desire to take over Russia. WE trade a great deal and that benefits both spheres. It just baffles us why Russia expands into territories former client states. Like the Ukraine and Crimea. History? Fear? Greed?

          • Sermon 7.62

            From a historical point of view, Crimea is and has been a part of Russia for the last couple of centuries. Ukraine is a state that is composed of the former Russian territories, and some Polish lands added.

          • wclardy

            If you look objectively at Russia, it started becoming an adversary again because of *our* adventures overseas. Long after the original raison d’etre for NATO faded, the NATO/EU leadership has advanced the borders of that alliance through the territory the USSR viewed as a defense buffer, with repeated instances of NATO (including American) politicians advocating for adding nations which have been at war with Russia in the last few years (Ukraine and Georgia come to mind).

          • Kivaari

            Russia viewed free nations as a defense barrier, when they should have viewed them a trade partners. A history of invading and occupying the defense barrier is the Russian problem.

          • wclardy

            From the Russian perspective, the states along their borders have a long history of getting invaded by armies on their way to invade Mother Russia. If they’re going to be invaded anyway and invading them preemptively so that would-be conquerors of Russia get stopped before they reach native Russian territory, why should it matter to those territories who invades them first?

          • Kivaari

            How about no one invade anyone? Recognize the existing borders. Don’t have Soviet style occupation troops squashing the people for 70 years, when the occupying forces would rather be free as well.

          • wclardy

            That’s a very nice sentiment. Too bad the world doesn’t seem to work that nicely.

          • Fox Hunter

            That happened cause of Nato’s attack on Serbia in 1999, Nato was defending terrorists. Nato should have left Serbia alone in 1999. I’d agree , its not Russia’s fault, it was the democrats.

          • wclardy

            Fox Hunter, NATO was *not* “defending terrorists” — the Serbian leadership’s previous efforts at “ethnic cleansing” in Bosnia-Herzegovina had so firmly tarnished its reputation in Western eyes that even its legitimate claims of defending its territorial sovereignty were pretty much guaranteed to fall on deaf ears anywhere west of Kiev.
            Also, support for aggressively extending NATO’s mutual-defense umbrella up to the Russian border has been very bi-partisan — if anything, the more “conservative” Republican congresscritters have been much more vocal (and strident) in demanding that the United States (via NATO) protect former Soviet Republics from “Russian aggression”.

          • Kivaari

            You don’t do that. You compare them by shooting them through the rifles that are using them. Considering the AK74 uses a 16 inch barrel compared with a M4 14.5 and a M16A2/3 20 inch is what the guns are, we use the guns. Not just or only some test barrel in a fixture. When we did the initial testing of the AK74 we used AK74s and Soviet ammo brought back from your war in Afghanistan. Thanks to Robert K. Brown and SOF. The research was carried out at the US Army Wound ballistics laboratory The Presidio SF, CA. It received widespread publications in medical and military journals. That is where the hogs were shot. WE do know wha the 74 does using standard ammunition. I am sure we know how it is doing with every type of ammunition being used, since we have exploitation teams gather samples of as much Russian gear as possible. I suspect we even have copies of Russian tests, as it isn’t a huge secret anymore.

          • Sermon 7.62

            You are the best and the smartest nation on the planet.

          • Kivaari

            We know when to accept the help and science of other nations. We don’t do this in a vacuum. WE even use Russian science. Did you know that cooperation between nations has led to great improvements in medicine, military defense/offense, and farming. Let’s face it, there are great people all over the globe doing research. Even the Noble Prize committee recognizes scientists from Russia.
            You are ashamed of being from Russia, you shouldn’t be. You didn’t didn’t create Stalin or Lenin. Your past history not withstanding doesn’t need to dictate your future.

          • yodamiles

            Don’t fight with him, he’s Rousso’s alternative. You will not win an argument competition with him.
            After all he is one of those guys who believe that any Aks and it derive build outside Russia are part of some Jewish conspiracy to conquer the world.

          • Kivaari

            He seems to think that all that horrible Russian history is OK as it formed what they have now.

          • Kivaari

            He’s very insecure.

          • wclardy

            You mean they’re not?

          • Sermon 7.62

            Russia doesn’t need recognition. It sent people into space first. Russia has a long list of contributions it has made to the benefit of all people. Russia has a cultural heritage, literature and classical music, best firearms and great food.

          • Kivaari

            Your insecurity is showing.

          • Sermon 7.62

            It shouldn’t be surprising in a situation like this.

          • Foma Klimov

            We did “create” Stalin and Lenin and are damn proud of it too. Both men were great visionaries who did much good for Russia and this world in general. By the way, you should just shut up on the topic of Russia and Ukraine, as you sound like a fool. Pardon us for minding a CIA orchestrated coup in our closest allied country, not wanting a US fleet taking our place in Sevastopol and NATO being positioned within striking distance of Moscow! How dare we not trust such a friendly, innocent and just country as the US?

            By the way, I read the US “research” and tests on 5.45 mm. It’s a joke or, more accurately, “pure propaganda schlock”.

          • Kivaari

            Silly troll.

  • Sermon 7.62

    You forgot to mention the 7U1 subsonic cartridges. There’s more options that people can choose from compared to 5.56, for example 7N39 is the armor-piercing round that uses a bullet made of Tungsten, it pinches through the 25 mm plate of St3 steel from 100 m. Russians don’t make fragmenting bullets, but I’d make some of these just to make all the haters shut up.

    • Malthrak

      The problem is that, outside the Russian military, 5.45x39mm ammo that isn’t commercially produced ball ammo (or the last dwindling stockpiles of 7N6 ball) just isn’t available to test, much less buy and shoot.

      7N39 or 7N24 or subsonic 5.45 just isnt anything any of us are going to see or get our hands on, at least as far as I am aware.

      • Sermon 7.62

        I understand, but it’s not something that can be blamed on the rifle’s design or used against the round’s reputation.

        • Malthrak

          If we’re looking at it from a complete overview of everything a round is capable of, I would agree, and it was noted in the article that the AP rounds are very capable.

          However, if we’re looking at what the target audience of this blog is (mostly civilians, mostly in the US, with probably very few, if any, Russian soldiers with access to more than basic ball ammo) then lack of access to such rounds functionally means they might as well not exist.

          • Sermon 7.62

            It’s like living on an island.

    • toms

      Newer 5.56 tungsten loads will penetrate to the same standard as Russian AP; however, those loads are just not that available in the American military. They keep some m995 around but not all that much. The Germans have some DM11 but not much. Nammo and RUAG produce some nasty AP but outside small euro SF teams is not really common.

      The problem with AP is that it leaves less of a wound channel.

      I think the Russians are onto a better tract for their intended use. That is they design rounds to kill NATO soldiers in level 4 armor. America doesn’t see itself engaging Russians so we don’t really pursue AP like we should. That says something about the whole Russia Nato strategy I think.

      The new M855a1, while a devastating round on tissue, is not AP. I would hope we could quickly replace the tool steel with tungsten if necessary.

      • Sermon 7.62

        There are more variations of 5.56 in Europe, that’s correct. The US forces fight peasants and insurgents, not trained soldiers in armor plates, that’s correct, too. But it has been the US that brought the light of progress to Iraq, killed terrible dictators like Qaddafi and liberated Afganistan, lest we forget all these deeds of honour. It’s just that 5.56 round must be used against bad people, like Serbians or gooks. So it is a good thing that it fragments.

        • Lotta Chechens and Afghans running around in Level IV plates, are there?

          • Sermon 7.62

            Lotta Afgans and Chechens used to run around in suicide belts. And please, don’t forget about Georgians.

          • Dear Diary,

            Today I learned that Level IV body armor is the same thing as a suicide vest.

            -Nate

          • Sermon 7.62

            Chechens might have been let go, but their nationalist militias started killing people in large quantities, including children. Russians had to fight back. Afgans requested help from the Russians, and Russians acted in response to that. Russians had to help.

        • wclardy

          Do I detect a tone of sarcasm?

    • I didn’t do subsonics for 5.56mm, either.

      I have pretty much restricted looking at subsonics to calibers designed to be dual-purpose.

      • Sermon 7.62

        But all these calibers are multi-purpose, too.

        • But they weren’t at all optimized for subsonic performance.

          • Sermon 7.62

            But do perform.

          • In the sense that they do actually fly slower than the speed of sound, I guess…

          • Sermon 7.62

            To guess, or not to guess?

            Multiple-choice tests are often scored by formulas under which the respondent’s expected score for an item is the same whether he or she omits it or guesses at random. Typically, these formulas are accompanied by instructions that discourage guessing. In this article, we look at test taking from the normative and descriptive perspectives of judgment and decision theory. We show that for a rational test taker, whose goal is the maximization of expected score, answering is either superior or equivalent to omitting – a fact which follows from the scoring formula. For test takers who are not fully rational, or have goals other than the maximization of expected score, it is very hard to give adequate formula scoring instructions, and even the recommendation to answer under partial knowledge is problematic.

  • GD Ajax

    Are you going to cover the 6.5×47 Lapua? Or is that one too difficult and new to get a hold of?

    • Anonymoose

      I’m guessing 5.8x42mm will be next. lol

      • You might be surprised.

        Actually not sure how I am gonna do the 5.8x42mm Chinese… I have all the ballistic data, but you can’t acquire the ammunition almost at all in the USA, and there aren’t many pictures available of it, either.

        So I may end up just SolidWorksing it.

        • zardoz711

          same could be said for 9×39, no?

          • Yep. That one will almost certainly get the SW treatment.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Gotta’ do what ya’ gotta’ do. The graphs are the heart of these articles, the pics are just frosting.

        • noob

          hmm. I wonder how much it would cost to make a replica 5.8x42mm test barrel and some replica rounds based on open source data?

          would there be a range that would let you shoot it under controlled conditions?

          • Case head and bullets would be a problem. .236″ cal barrels exist, but good bullets? Not really.

            You’d end up approximating it with a 6mm based on the SPC case, which has been done quite a few times.

          • Kivaari

            6mm Lee Navy? I had a barreled action for one marked .236 Navy.

          • Actually uses .243″ bullets. XD

          • Kivaari

            Remember the “caliber” is the diameter of the hole before the rifling is cut. The original hole is 6mm or .236 inches, than it is rifled to .243. Like the 7mm is really a .276 until rifled to .284. It is why people get confused about metric calibers, they forget it is the original un-rifled hole that determines the caliber. The formula is
            Xmm divided by 25.4mm = inch caliber.

          • It would be nice if the word “caliber” meant only that, but I can tell you that even in official military documents it is used to mean virtually all of the definitions I list in the article I wrote on the subject.

            I get “corrected” on my liberal use of the word “caliber” all the time, which is kind of amusing to me as the word is thousands of years old, and predates the invention of the firearm itself!

          • Kivaari

            Even my urologist uses it. Caliber and flow. In metric as well.

          • Salty

            .22lr is the ladies choice

    • ostiariusalpha

      Er… the Lapua is a short action cartridge with over 3000 joules of energy. Not an intermediate cartridge by any reasonable definition.

  • Has there ever been a study of what distance/velocity the 5.45 ceases to rapidly tumble?

    That was always my big question with 5.45 vs 5.56 – whether the 5.45 would have a longer “lethality envelope” due to the rapidly tumbling design being less dependent on velocity.

    • Kivaari

      It only makes a bi-lobed tumble, one and one-half revolutions, most of the time.

  • Kivaari

    Nathaniel, Are you aware at what range the 5.45mm goes so unstable as to keyhole? From match shooting it is around 930-950 yards for 7.62x51mm even with match ammo. What about with standard issue ball ammo. It strikes me that the Russian use of heavy ~174 gr. boat tail bullets originally in the Maxim machineguns prior to WW2 that they have had an advantage we voluntarily gave up. The Finns captured so much of the “long range “D” ammunition that they re-chambered their rifles to take advantage of that extended range. It seems we have done so with all our heavy loads in 5..56mm getting 69-79 gr. loads performing at quite extended ranges.

  • Spidouz

    I love the look of the 7N6 bullet… even thought it’s very close to the .224 and also 53gr, it’s kind of weird it does look so much thinner and longer than most of .224 bullets. I would love to find some to compare them…