The Return of the 8M3 Effect Bullet

by Andrew

The AK has a problem as a defensive rifle. Rifle projectiles that do not yaw, fragment, or expand tend to produce wounds that are little more severe than those produced by pistol bullets. In 7.62x39mm, this problem is compounded by its relatively low velocity, when compared to 5.56mm, 5.45mm, or full power rifle cartridges like 7.62x51mm. Some 7.62x39mm FMJ does yaw reliably, but even the good stuff, like Yugoslavian M67 or Golden Tiger 124 gr FMJ, does not yaw until it has penetrated four inches or more. More common FMJ like Wolf, TulAmmo, or any of the differently colored Bears tend to yaw even later, if at all. There are a great number of “hollow point” loads available in 7.62x39mm from the various Russian brands but, with very few exceptions, these projectiles behave exactly like full metal jacket in tissue. There are a few American loads that have excellent terminal performance, but these are far more expensive.There are Russian 124 gr and 154 gr soft points available, and these do generally tend to expand well, but they are not reliable and some users have reported feeding problems with soft points. What’s worse, Russian ammo makers seem to change components more often than Bruce Jenner changes his mind. You never really know what projectile will be loaded in the ammunition you buy, unless it is actually labeled with the specific projectile design, like Western ammo.

TulAmmo 7.62x39mm 124 gr 8M3 hollow point ammunition comes in 100 round packs.

That’s where the 8M3 “effect” bullet from Ulyanovsk comes in. Loads made using this hollow point bullet with internal scoring on the jacket developed a formidable reputation for brutal terminal performance. Unfortunately, the last lots using this bullet were imported over a decade ago. Russian ammo makers switch components at will and without notice so there are endless rumors that a particular lot of Tula or Silver Bear is being loaded the the 8M3 bullet, but these rumors never seem to pan out.

So when TulAmmo introduced 100 round packs of 124 gr HP that are actually labeled as 8M3, Kalashnikov owners were understandably enthusiastic. Still, there were some that were a bit skeptical. Could this really be 8M3 or was this just a marketing ploy to sell more cheap steel case ammo? The Chopping Block tested Tula’s new offering in calibrated 10% organic ordnance gelatin and found that it is, indeed, a fragmenting bullet that appears by all measures to be genuine 8M3.

  • Rifle: Romanian WASR 10/63 16″ bbl
  • BB calibration: 591.5 fps, 3.7″
  • Average velocity: 2,442
  • Penetration: 14.7″
  • Retained weight: 55.9gr

The numbers are excellent. Approximately 2,400 fps velocity with an ideal penetration depth of 14.7 inches. This meets the FBI recommended minimum of 12″ without exceeding the max recommendation. Right in that Goldilocks spot. The disruption produced is astounding and leaves nothing to be desired with extensive fragmentation, but the size of the fragments are of a size that is large enough to cause significant wounding. The neck, that is the distance the bullet travels before starting to yaw, fragment, or expand, is so short that it is barely measurable.

Folks, this is exactly what AK owners have been waiting for. The best part is the price. At 26¢ a round, shipped, this ammunition is perfect for stacking high in case of zombie space aliens. Like most Russian ammo, it has a sealed neck and primer and it has a polymer coated case with noncorrosive primers.

Is it the best ammunition available? Not quite, but it’s close. Western makers have better quality control standards and the Fusion and TSX will both retain good terminal effect farther down range and should be expected to perform better against barriers. Tula is also not known for being the most accurate ammunition, but let’s be honest, accuracy isn’t the AKs forte and Tula is certainly accurate enough to be useful at any practical defensive distance. It’s not a great choice for hunting, either. Again, Western bullets that don’t leave as many lead fragments behind are probably a better choice here too.

The one thing this ammunition is good for is that it is absolute murder on tissue while being affordable enough to be purchased in quantity. That means you can be confident in your zero and in the ability of your rifle to cycle this ammo. The importance of training far outstrips the importance of ammo selection, so when you are able to find dramatically more effective ammo that is affordable enough to train with, that is profoundly useful.


Andrew is a combat veteran of OEF and has performed hundreds of ballistic tests for his YouTube channel, The Chopping Block ( He is an avid firearm collector and competitor and lives with his family in Arizona. If you have any questions, you may email him at

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  • Eastern orthodox moose Eastern orthodox moose on Feb 13, 2017

    7.62x39mm is fine iv'e seen hogs drop with russian sp rounds all the time, fmj is fine as long as it hits something vital, the same people that say 7.62 sucks praise .300blk which is a weaker 7.62 boggles my mine, however 5.45 or 6.5 Grendel are probably the best "combat" rounds on earth

    • Chop Block Chop Block on Mar 02, 2017

      @eastern orthodox moose Nobody said that 7.62x39mm sucks. It does have some marked limitations. A man I respect greatly told me that the wounds he observed from late yawing 7.62x39mm FMJ were similar to wounds he has seen from .38 spl RNL. That will also kill stuff dead if it pokes holes in your hydraulic system.

  • Nathaniel F. Nathaniel F. on Feb 20, 2017

    I am so butthurt that they didn't bring this back with a lacquered case.

    • See 2 previous
    • Nathaniel F. Nathaniel F. on Mar 06, 2017

      @Chop Block Yeah, no kidding!