Skip to main content

7.62x39 Reloading Da7.62x39 Reloading Informationta

7.62x39 Reloading Information
There are a number of excellent .308-diameter bullets that expand the sporting utility of the 7.62x39: (from left) 100-gr. Speer Plinker; 110-gr. Barnes TTSX; 110-gr. Hornady V-Max; 110-gr. Sierra Varminter; 125-gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip; 125-gr. Berger FB Target; 150-gr. Nosler E-Tip; and 150-gr. Hornady GMX.

There are a number of excellent .308-diameter bullets available for reloading 7.62x39 ammo: (from left) 100-gr. Speer Plinker; 110-gr. Barnes TTSX; 110-gr. Hornady V-Max; 110-gr. Sierra Varminter; 125-gr. Nosler Ballistic Tip; 125-gr. Berger FB Target; 150-gr. Nosler E-Tip; and 150-gr. Hornady GMX.

The AK47 and its numerous variants are certainly on the very short list of guns that have been produced in the highest volume. The gun has proved to be great for what it was designed to be - an assault rifle. The ammo it uses is the 7.62x39 Russian, a modestly sized little bottlenecked number that fulfills its military tasks very well. The case also provides a wonderful option for introducing young or recoil-sensitive shooters to centerfire rifle shooting.

In the AK47 and SKS variants (none of which is actually an assault rifle, because they lack a full-automatic capability) sold in this country, the accuracy of the 7.62x39 is rarely anything to write home about. But in assault rifle mode, accuracy isn't the primary consideration. Accuracy depends largely on pushing good bullets through a good barrel. Almost any cartridge shape can be made to shoot well if those two conditions are met. The 7.62x39 is no exception.

Let's talk about bullet diameter for a moment. Since the AK47 variants have been made all over the world, bore diameters are all over the map as well. Some are as small as .308, and some are well over .312 inch. Since the more or less nominal groove diameter for 7.62x39 is .310 inch, and the SAAMI standard for bullet diameter is .310 minus .002, regular .308 bullets meet the spec. But you shouldn't be a bit surprised to find guns chambered in the U.S. for this cartridge that use a .308 groove diameter.


All the bullets used in the loads listed here are standard .308 diameter. They are safe to shoot in the AK47 variants, and all shot very well in our .308-groove-diameter pressure barrel. The .310 bullets that are available for the 7.62x39 may very well produce somewhat higher pressures than you would want if fired in a .308 barrel, so you need to know the barrel dimensions of your gun. If you substitute .310 bullets for the bullets in the table, you must drop back to the starting load level and proceed with caution.


[nggallery id=182]

The supply of cases for reloading is not a serious problem, but it does require some care. There's plenty of foreign-made ammo in this caliber, and I would suggest avoiding it for several reasons. The first is that the quality varies wildly. Second, much of this stuff has steel cases that are a pain to reload. Third, much of the foreign ammo uses Berdan primers, and that severely complicates reloading. I used Winchester cases and IMI. Yes, the IMI are foreign-made, but I know from sectioning some that they are brass and use standard American Large Rifle Primers. Federal, Cor-Bon, Remington and Sellier & Bellot all build ammo in this caliber, so case supply isn't a problem. The primer supply, which has been terrible for so long, is opening up a little. All the loads listed use Standard Large Rifle primers, although Magnum Large Rifle primers could be used if necesary. This is a substitution that underscores a fact-of-life premise: Whenever you change anything, always drop back to the starting load level and work up carefully from there. Generally, Magnum primers won't significantly increase chamber pressures if the Standard primers were giving good ignition in the first place. But why take a chance? Drop back and work up again.

Dies are readily available. I have a set from Lee Precision that came with two neck-sizing plugs, one for .308 and one for .310. I used the .308 size because it fit the bullets better. Finally, powder selection is very good. The powders most suitable can be found - as you might expect - either at the fast end of the rifle list or, with very light bullets, at the slow end of the pistol powders.

A word about bullet weights. The typical military load for the 7.62x39 uses 123-grain bullets. Our pressure barrel, which was 1:10, shot these and bullets up to about 150 grains very well. We did shoot some 160-grain bullets and noticed some evidence of yawing on the target. If I were building up a gun for the 7.62x39 and wanted to shoot heavy bullets, I would use a 1:8 barrel. If cartridge overall length is a consideration, the heavy bullets intrude too deeply into the case and use up case volume. That compromises performance. Of course, in single-shot guns you can modify the throating to allow a longer cartridge OAL.


The 7.62x39 cartridge is just about the perfect size for new shooters. With the current crop of premium bullets, the cartridge becomes plenty adequate for deer hunting applications. There are even lead-free bullets for places where you are required to use them. The FMJ bullets found in much of the cheap foreign-made ammo in this caliber should be avoided like the plague.

7.62 reloading for sporting or military
Reloading 7.62x39 ammo for sporting or military? The 7.62x39 can be found chambered in the sleek little CZ 527 bolt action (top) or in any number of foreign surplus SKS carbines (above).

This is an interesting little cartridge that is specially applicable to single-shot, long-barrel pistols. And unlike some of the big boomers, the 7.62x39 is a lot of fun to shoot.

Current Magazine Cover

Enjoy articles like this?

Subscribe to the magazine.

Get access to everything Guns & Ammo has to offer.
Subscribe to the Magazine

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

Umarex Air Ruger 10/22 Rifle Review

In this segment of "Guns & Ammo TV," Gun Tech Editor Richard Nance and Pro-Shooter Jim Tarr head to the range to wring out the Umarex Air Ruger 10/22.

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don

Guns & Ammo TV: Cameras Don't Lie: 9mm vs .45 ACP

The age-old question, 9mm vs .45 ACP. For some, this has been asked and answered already. For others, the debate goes on. In this segment of “Cameras Don't Lie,” competitive shooters Patrick Sweeney and Jim Tarr head to the range to put the vaunted loads on record, and then consider the footage.

Cameras Don

Cameras Don't Lie: Subsonic 9mm vs. .300 Blackout

In this segment of "Cameras Don't Lie," a subsonic-ammo showdown, 9mm vs. .300 Blackout fired from AR rifles.

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

Red vs. Green Lasers: Visibility in Bright Light

In this segment of “At The Range,” Handgunning Editor Jeremy Stafford and contributor Patrick Sweeney compare the visibility of red and green lasers in outdoor, sunny conditions.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Where has all of the ammo gone?2020 Ammo Shortage Industry

2020 Ammo Shortage

Keith Wood - December 23, 2020

Where has all of the ammo gone?

Leupold launches its new DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot sight, a low-profile red dot sight designed specifically for concealed carry and personal defense firearms.Leupold DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot Sight — First Look Optics

Leupold DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot Sight — First Look

Guns & Ammo Staff - December 31, 2020

Leupold launches its new DeltaPoint Micro Red Dot sight, a low-profile red dot sight designed...

Don't underestimate the fun factor.Review: Remington V3 TAC-13 Shotguns

Review: Remington V3 TAC-13

Brad Fitzpatrick - March 08, 2019

Don't underestimate the fun factor.

The Pulsar Thermion XG50 Thermal Riflescope is the first-ever riflescope to combine a BAE sensor, onboard recording, automatic & manual calibration options, multiple color palettes, and manual focus.Pulsar Thermion XG50 Thermal Riflescope - First Look Optics

Pulsar Thermion XG50 Thermal Riflescope - First Look

Guns & Ammo Staff - September 02, 2020

The Pulsar Thermion XG50 Thermal Riflescope is the first-ever riflescope to combine a BAE...

See More Trending Articles

More Reloading

Hodgdon CFE BLK powder - a Copper Fouling Eraser propellant - is perfect for 17 Hornet, 17 Ackley Hornet, 17 Fireball, 218 Bee and 221 Fireball handholds.Hodgdon CFE BLK: Best Varmint Cartridge Loads Reloading

Hodgdon CFE BLK: Best Varmint Cartridge Loads

Layne Simpson

Hodgdon CFE BLK powder - a Copper Fouling Eraser propellant - is perfect for 17 Hornet, 17...

Given that the .224 Valkyrie is a very polite cartridge to reload, judicious handloading can just about create what factory loads are alleged to perform. Here's the .224 Valkyrie load data we found that works well with reloads.224 Valkyrie Load Data: Everything You Need to Know Reloading

224 Valkyrie Load Data: Everything You Need to Know

Joseph von Benedikt - October 18, 2019

Given that the .224 Valkyrie is a very polite cartridge to reload, judicious handloading can...

Handloaders can have a ball working 224 Valkyrie loads. Hodgdon offers several of powders suitable for the 224 Valkyrie, including CFE 223 and the IMR Enduron series, all known for limiting jacket fouling. Here's some 224 Valkyrie load data to get you started. 224 Valkyrie Load Data Reloading

224 Valkyrie Load Data

Steve Gash - August 19, 2019

Handloaders can have a ball working 224 Valkyrie loads. Hodgdon offers several of powders...

How do you decide what propellant you're going to choose in your reloads?There's More to Gunpowder Than You Think Reloading

There's More to Gunpowder Than You Think

Dave Emary - January 04, 2019

How do you decide what propellant you're going to choose in your reloads?

See More Reloading

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Guns & Ammo App

Other Magazines

See All Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now