For the past couple months my beloved Mosin Nagant 91/30 has been on lockdown at my Dad’s place waiting to make the trip to Northern Colorado into my loving arms. Back around Christmas we flew as a family and I didn’t care to attempt flying with a gun (though it’s 100% legit) while the little ones were with us. So, when family made the trip out to visit it meant my Mosin and a couple hundred round of ammo made the trip too.

Image courtesy of AimSurplus.com. Click the pic for 440 rounds of 7.62x54R for under $80!!!

About a month ago I had a minor argument with my buddy Owen over at ALLAK47.com regarding comparison specs of the Soviet 7.62x54R rimmed rifle round in service since 1891 WAY out east. Anyway, I mentioned that the 7.62x54R was the most similar to the American 30-06 Springfield round and Owen quickly corrected me saying it’s most ballistically similar to the 7.62×51 NATO (or .308 Winchester for sporters). It was one of those times where I was 100% convinced I was correct but upon more recent research it occurred to me that I’d need to eat crow and apologize because Owen was right. Military pressures of the 30-06 fairly well surpass those of the 7.62x54R (again, the “R” stands for rimmed referring to the little RIM around the base of the shell aiding in extracting. It’s also cheaper to mass produce than rimmed ammo).

Even with a longer barrel (28 inches at roughly 2700 ft/s), the 7.62x54R can’t stack up to the 30-06. The problem? Well I guess it’s the solution… Essentially being a smaller overall size and weight, this means the shooter can carry more 7.62 NATO ammo on hand pound for pound than the 54R cartridges. Is it accurate? Yes. Is it cheap to buy? Yes. Is it the best round out there? No. Unfortunately, the debate about the best and most versatile rifle round is still just that. A debate that will continue endlessly until the cease of civilization. What do you think the best rifle round is?

Image courtesy of Wikipedia.

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8 Responses to How Does the 7.62x54R Stack Up?

  1. Adam says:

    I used to be an avowed 7.62 NATO guy. My bug-out rifle (FAL, then later a homemade scout rifle) was chambered in 7.62. I started handloading for it to save money and still have a decent supply. I thought that having the option of being able to make 600 yd and further hits on targets was the beginning and end of the best caliber conversation.

    Then I realized a few things. 1) There are no ranges longer than 200 yds anywhere near my home for me to practice the 600 yd. shots I was anticipating having to make in a SHTF or hunting scenario. 2) I have no business shooting an animal from that far away because I have no practice and where I live there are no shots that long anyway. 3) There are other calibers that are cheaper now, and handloading is a pain for me to do too often.

    It doesn’t help that I bought an AK and fell in love. Now I am a dyed in the wool 7.62×39 maniac. I can hunt within realistic distances for me, it’s cheap to stock up, I can pick up a box at WalMart if I forget to pack ammo for the range, and if I need to defend myself it’s got a pretty good track record in that category.

    • Ebbs says:

      Very well said and interesting argument, Adam! I suppose one of the biggest arguments for 7.62 NATO and 5.56 NATO is how common a round they are on US soil and in many places around the world. Though the AK is the highest produced battle rifle of all time meaning the 7.62×39 round should be lying around too.

  2. J.A. Devlin says:

    I read this article, and I’m wondering if there is something I’m missing here? I didn’t really see anything about your experiences shooting surplus ammo that would make me want to buy or stay away from it. In fact, I’m wondering if there’s a section of this that wasn’t cut an pasted into your article. So I’ll chime in.

    I own a PSL-54C. It’s a Romanian DMR, which I like to call, “The Poor Man’s Dragunov”.

    I love this rifle, because even though it’s a Dragunov Wannabe, I can still put together a very good grouping at 300, and 500 yards with minimal fuss with it, using cheap, TULAmmo. I know that I’m probably speaking blasphemy, but here’s what I’ve come to find out.

    Not all 7.62x54R ammunitions are equal. Are there some better than standard Nato for shooting? If you take a look a look at what the average rifle that fires a 7.62x54r round, (Mosin Nagant, RPK, PSL, Dragunov etc.) vs. The average rifle that fires 7.62×51 Nato, you’re going to find that there’s a hell of a lot of difference in the quality of not only the components, and construction, but in the performance of the rifles in question. Even then ever mysterious Dragunov, which I have fired, will NOT even come close to what an M-1 Garand will do with a good scope.

    If you’re going to compare rounds based on performance, look into a 7N1, or Snaiperskaya round, vs. the standard 7.62x54r. Then there’s the whole primer issue, and of course corrosive powder problems. There’s a whole host of things to get into when talking about 7.62x54R ammunition. What lots should you buy when buying surplus, what lots to stay away from? I have found that Bulgarian, Czech, and Russian surplus ammunition are superior to Chinese, Romanian, and Polish. If I want to spend ridiculous money, I can try to buy Wolf Brand Gold Match Grade ammunition but it won’t perform much different than the stuff I pick up at my local Fleet Farm, or AIM Surplus. Most of the Com-Bloc surplus ammunition, was made for Com-Block surplus rifles that you can buy cheaply here in the states.

    The reason why I know a hell of a lot about this, is that I had a bolt problem with my PSL, and the primers from my ROMANIAN surplus rounds were blowing back through the aperature and into the bolt body causing the firing pin to not travel back and forth. This of course led to a MAJOR failure, which caused me to have to buy a new bolt, and firing pin assembly for it. Then there was the issue of Headspace, and getting it dialed in.

    There are a lot of things you can talk about when discussing surplus ammunition. The problem is that if you don’t do your research, you can end up having all kinds of problems. Good Luck with your Mosin!

    • Ebbs says:

      Thanks for this FANTASTIC follow-up comment (or post?)!!! I definitely failed to mention that my current experience in the 7.62x54R ammo realm lies with the Bulgarian surplus ammo. It is extremely corrosive and requires close to immediate cleaning after firing. Track record so far has been perfect with consistent velocity and accuracy among several Mosins fired including an M44 carbine.

      I’m super jealous of your PSL (poor man’s Dragunov)! I have little doubt that someday I’ll make room for one of my own. Thanks again for sharing the knowledge.

      • J.A. Devlin says:

        When I first saw mine, sticker shock put me off. $2300.00 was what our local gun store was asking.It was an import from Romania, and not a Century Arms reman. The tritium had been removed from the optics, so the reticle was good for daylight, but not lowlight shooting.

        I was going to buy it, but someone else bought it. Apparently it wasn’t to their liking because when I went back a year or so later, it was being sold as a used rifle for $700.00. It came with 2 magazines. They typically come with 4. That being said, getting magazines can be a pain. I recommend the PSL, because they are a very sturdy rifle, and they perform extremely well for a mass produced DMR. The difference between the PSL, is that it’s essential an RPK, that is non-auto. The rifle differs from the Dragunov greatly, as the Dragunov is piston operated, not gas. They perform essentially the same, with the same ammunition. You can get a Century Arms PSL for about $700.00 on various gun sites. I’m sure if you have an in somewhere, you should be able to get one at that price or better. If you need more info on the PSL 54C, go to http://www.dragunov.net. They have a lot of info.

  3. Interesting discussion. I learned a lot from both the post and the comments that followed. The 7.62x54R is a stout round and one that I enjoy shooting in various rifles. A couple of years ago Winchester started making 7.62x54R ammo, and though it will be pricey compared to surplus, it will also be clean and reliable for shooting in higher end rifles of that caliber, like the poor man’s Dragunov (I have one too)or the SVT 40. True also is the ongoing debate about the “best” caliber. That is dependent on several factors ranging from personal preference to the area/situation where it would be employed. My view on that would be that the 30.06, based on the ammo versatility and availability, would be my choice if I could only have one caliber. Thankfully, we are not restricted as such and we can tailor our weapons and ammo to meet our needs for virtually any situation where we would employ them.

    • Ebbs says:

      Thanks for the thoughts, Monty. The “Best” caliber is all relative really. Play in preference, purpose, and availability and you’ll have a different “best” caliber every week.

  4. SPONTX says:

    My favorite round to shoot lately has been the .220 Swift not very common and not a huge punch but the flat trajectory is amazing. I’ve dropped hogs in there tracks at 300yds with very little elavation adjustment. Great Round.

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