Russian Soldiers Report Issues with Ammo

Matthew Moss
by Matthew Moss
Russian VDU Soldier with AK-74M. (C) Vitaly Kuzmin, a Russian defence website, recently reported that the Russian Army is having quality issues with its ammunition. The issues range from primer misalignment to powder quality and quantity inconsistencies.

Warhead’s report is largely based around the anonymous anecdotal evidence of an anonymous source referred to as the ‘Tired Machine Gunner’ and according to the author other military and industry sources and his own experiences. He begins by describing an incident involving a Kord 12.7 mm heavy machine gun where an insufficient amount of powder was used in some of the gun’s ammunition and a projectile became lodged in the barrel. So light was the round it didn’t even clear the weapon’s gas port. Squib rounds like these are extremely difficult to clear, near impossible in action, and can result in bulged or destroyed barrels if further rounds are fired in the heat of the moment.

Issued with domestic ammunition are so common place that Warhead even suggests that the “majority of both users and arms manufacturers quite confidently declare: they do not plan to work with domestic ammunition for precision applications in the near future.”

Russian Troops on Kotelny Island (Russian Ministry of Defence)

The report then discusses some quality control issues with primer and bullet seating. Warhead catalogue issues with primer alignment including primers inserted backward, sideways and not at all. Other harder to spot problems such as protruding primers and case defects resulting in out of battery detonations – with one picture purporting to show a Makarov magazine with an exploded round in the stack. The final problem described is inconsistent seating of projectiles.

The problems reported are not just with Russian military ammunition but also with ammunition made for the civilian market. Those who have had bad experiences with imported Russian ammunition have long complained about problems with split cases, poor jacketed round quality and primer issues.

You can check out the article for pictures and more anecdotal evidence from the ‘Tired Machine Gunner’ here.

Matthew Moss
Matthew Moss

Managing Editor: & Overt Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. Matt is also runs The Armourer's Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms. Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news. Reach Matt at:

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