What’s the Best Caliber in an AK Platform Rifle?

Get your vodka and Adidas track suit ready, comrade, because we’ll be talking about the best ammo for the AK-47. Today we’re going to be looking at, among other things, the state of the 7.62x39mm in 2019 as well as other ammo for the AK series rifles including the 5.45x39mm, 9x39mm, and the 7.62x54R.

The first thing that we need to cover here is the single greatest problem with AK-47 ammo. I have talked about this in the past and I think it rings true today, as not much has changed in terms of the import and export scene in the last several years. The problem I am referencing is that American AK ownership is linked hand-in-hand with foreign imports that originated in largely Soviet-bloc countries.

I love the AK rifles series. I love Mosin Nagants. In fact, I have hardly met a gun I haven’t liked on some level so long as it functioned with reasonable accuracy and reliability. What I don’t love is watching my guns turn to paperweights when ammo is suddenly gone.

300 BLK (L) and 7.62x39mm (R) are very, very close in power, but the 300 BLK has a huge advantage in accuracy and is domestically produced. The fired 5.45 case (middle) is from an original 7N6 cartridge.

Case in point: 5.45x39mm, which is an excellent cartridge, but completely pointless to own as an American. The only good ammo available in quantity was the 7N6 cartridge, which was often found for as little as $75 per 1080 rounds. That made owning an AK-74 feasible and cheap. All that changed when 7N6 was reclassified as armor piercing ammo and subsequently banned from import.

Just like that, the AK-74 in American hands became nearly useless. Unless you had 50,000 rounds stockpiled, there was no ability to resupply for the average 5.45mm shooter.

If you don’t think that the same thing can happen to the 7.62x39mm, you’re naïve. The only good 5.45mm was the 7N6, period. The 7.62x39mm M43 cartridge was essentially just an FMJ bullet and thus most AK ammo out in that caliber is basically the same. The same can’t be said for 5.45mm. The whole reason to own one was because of how good the 7N6 was. The basic lead core soft point stuff just doesn’t cut it.

What am I getting at here? Is that crazy millennial arguing that the AK rifle is hovering on the verge of oblivion in the United States? Is he going to argue we should all shoot 300 Blackout in an AR rifle (you absolutely should)?

What I am getting at is just that I don’t have particular faith in the ability of the domestic market to fill demand currently met by foreign import. Imagine Wolf, Tula, PMC, Brown Bear, and many others vanishing from the shelf. Hornady and some others would be left, but they are comparatively pricy and have brass cases as opposed to the cheaper lacquered steel cases.

I think the primary benefits of the 7.62x39mm has been low cost and decent power at short range. I would have to say that there are no other significant advantages to it other than that. If you remove any variable above, you instantly lose what can be gained from the cartridge.

If you’re shooting American-made brass-cased ammo in an AK, you may as well own a 7.62×51/.308 Win in an AR-10 and take advantage of greater power and accuracy at the same cost.

The real issue with today’s AK-47 ammo is that it has been bested in nearly all ways by domestic calibers of domestic manufacture. The 300 Blackout round beats 7.62x39mm in all the areas that count aside from cost. If you take that away, the 300 BLK is far superior.

Even the 9x39mm is a waste of time because we’re not getting the same SP-6/7N9 projectiles the Russian military uses. The 300 Blackout is, again, better in this respect because its technology is within the grasp of most shooters today.

The very best ammo for the AK series rifles is the kind that’s plentiful and affordable, both of which are constantly threatened by an arbitrary import ban. An American company would have to make serious investments in machinery to be able to turn out ammo that’s cheap enough to match the steel-cased fodder that is currently imported.

I do not see that happening as the market that’s consuming cheap AK ammo is small compared to the wider shooting public, thus making it instantly vulnerable to collapse should an import ban be lifted.

Looking at 7.62x54R, which is chambered in a number of AK-type rifles as well as the venerable Mosin Nagant, we have seen a steady increase in price despite the lack of quality increase. Again, if you own a Mosin and like it, by all means buy ammo for it. If you have been watching the market for Mosin rifles, you’ll know that prices have risen to well over $300-450 in general, which is up from the $75-90 they were only a decade ago.

The supply is drying up and, along with it, the demand for cheap ammo. The Mosin used to be a great beginner’s rifle as it was cheap, powerful, and reasonably accurate. Now that you can get an AR-15 for the same price, I fail to see why a budget-conscious shooter would opt for a gun that’s longer, heavier, and lower capacity.

The 9x39mm is an interesting one that I have only briefly touched on. In the wide world of AK-47s and related rifles the 9x39mm has long been pitched as the one that will take us all by surprise. I’ve heard that it will make the 300 BLK obsolete and become the next subsonic king. I like humor when it comes to guns, and that, friends, is a funny joke.

7.62 East vs. 7.62 West: The 7.62x54R and 7.62×39 compared to 7.62×51 and 7.62×35. The American rounds carry substantial advantages for the American shooter.

The problem is that some people don’t see it as a joke. I hear time and again that [insert next great thing here] will unseat the 5.56mm, .308 Win, and .45 ACP, but they all fall flat. What, dare I ask, is the .300 HAMR good for? .30-30 in an AR? How about 6.5 Grendel? 6.8 SPC? None really do anything spectacular, they just do one thing a little better than an existing caliber while being far harder to find in quantity and expensive by comparison.

In short, the 9x39mm may be a hot thing for about a day, but at the end of that day it is still at the mercy of import bans, non-standard parts, and has very popular domestic competition.

A new .35 caliber option is the 350 Legend. Time will tell how well it sells, but the new straight-walled Midwestern deer cartridge offers a great deal and is compatible with many 9mm suppressors. Some new factory rifles I’m aware of come pre-threaded for this purpose and there are a couple companies working on heavy subsonic loads.

I like what is being tried with the 7.62x39mm today. It is the best all-around ammo for the AK-47 family and it deserves the reputation it has earned the world over. But while I like it quite a bit, it’s fast becoming a risk.

I enjoy that companies like Maxim Defense have released their PDX rifle in 7.62x39mm, but I think it may drop off the list of offered chamberings in the years to come as there are hardly any good subsonic options available and a short, supersonic-only rifle is not something that many people will want in the long run aside from a dedicated few.

Something to consider if you are a diehard fan of the AK system is one chambered in a domestic caliber. An AK in 5.56mm is a great solution to the problem that surrounds the availability of 7.62x39mm and other import calibers. IWI makes some excellent rifles in their Galil series that chamber .308 Win and 5.56mm and take common AR mags, so you won’t have to hunt down special magazines.

The AK system is going strong today thanks to a dedicated following. While I believe that there will always be a market for the 7.62×39, I can’t say the same about 5.45×39 or 9×39 unless import laws allow the good bullets back in.

The latter two just don’t make the grade when 5.56mm and 300 BLK are dominating the scene. My advice would be, if you have an AK and like it, keep it. Just make sure you stock up on lots of ammunition for the days and years to come.

 

 

comments

  1. avatar guest says:

    You’re wrong about 5.45. There’s plenty of good ammo options for it.

    1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

      And *again*, you just drop a turd without substantiating it.

      List those “plenty of good ammo options for it”, fuckwit…

      1. avatar Dr. Honkler says:

        Classicfirearms has wolf 750 round packs for 20cents a piece, and SG ammo has red army standard for 22. And they are many other sites selling it. There are plenty of options for cheap 5.45, but you know, you actually have to go on the internet instead of prowling around you local Walmart. Which is something you fucking retarded boomer fudds can’t seem to grasp you wrinkly heads around.

        1. avatar Kenneth says:

          Did you read the article? Allow me to quote it: “The only good ammo available in quantity was the 7N6 cartridge, which was often found for as little as $75 per 1080 rounds. That made owning an AK-74 feasible and cheap. All that changed when 7N6 was reclassified as armor piercing ammo and subsequently banned from import.”
          So the point was never made that there was no cheap 5.45 available, the point was specifically about the 7N6 round, not just any old 5.45X39 rounds.
          Words mean things. One should always read and understand an item before making a comment on it. One appears so much more rational and reasonable that way. Don’t you agree?

      2. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

        Gettin’ a little grouchy in your old age there brah?

        1. avatar Geoff "I'm getting too old for this shit" PR says:

          Moi? 😉

          We’ve been getting a number of folks popping in here and not contributing to the TTAG community.

          Just hurling insults and making what they think are ‘cute’ comments.

          I admittedly hurl insults. But at least I make efforts to contribute to the discussions in the comment section.

          Unlike the likes of little ‘guest’ and ‘Dr. Honkler’…

        2. avatar Kenneth says:

          Geoff:
          We’ve always had those, but have you noticed the increase after RF’s departure and the hiring of the new snowflakes?

      3. avatar FuckOldPeople says:

        Good god man, stay on facebook.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          So, you want to have sex with your parents and grandparents? You’re a very disturbed person.

  2. avatar merlin says:

    “What, dare I ask, is the .300 HAMR good for? .30-30 in an AR? How about 6.5 Grendel?”
    don’t be silly.
    the hamr can do anything the blackout can do … and more.
    and the grendel outperforms both the 7.62×39 and the 5.56 by a large margin.

    1. avatar Kenneth says:

      I’m a long time Wilson guy, and love their products, but still, you should beware of marketing claims. There simply is no way to get the extra velocity they are claiming without higher pressures(which they claim the Ham’r is lower than the 5.56 at 50-58K, but the standard 5.56 is 62K), or more case capacity, or some new powder formulation, or some other major change.
      Simply claiming that a slower twist rifling is going to give the same case and powders 300-400 fps more velocity on the same weight of projectile, AND at less pressure to boot, is just not believable.
      Marketing hype is everywhere, and I don’t see Wilson, or anybody else either, as being immune to the lure of easy money simply through hyped up stories. It’s also suspicious that they choose to market it mostly as a competitor to the .30-30 instead of the 5.56 or .300 blk, which it is much more akin to. That suggests to me that some marketer came up with the idea of selling ARs to the Fudds, which are notoriously ignorant about ballistics. Or almost any other technical matters either.
      Buyer beware.

    2. avatar SteamTroller says:

      This is not contested in the article. What this is about is availability. Are you going to foot the bill for a range day of 6.8 or 300 Hamr? And if so, does your local supplier have enough for you to? 223, X39, 45acp and 30-30 are virtually ubiquitous, and available in varied purpose loads even at Wally World.

  3. avatar Widdler says:

    762×39, don’t fix what’s not broken. Still cheap and available where I live…for now anyway.

    1. avatar Madcapp says:

      That is the correct answer, minus a period between the 7 and 6. Good 7.62×39 about 20 cents a round when you buy by the case, which is comparable to quality 9MM ball ammo, but drastically more powerful. You can’t approach those economics with any other caliber. Case closed.

      1. avatar LarryinTX says:

        That is a decimal point, not a period. Since we’re being picky.

      2. avatar Widdler says:

        “Why Johnny Tyler!”, thank you. 7.62, question was so easy I hit the buzzer without proof read.

        1. avatar Widdler says:

          Well shit, wrong button again…way to much coffee, whatever. You know what I mean!

  4. avatar Kenneth says:

    Agree. As usual. I don’t think I’ve ever caught Mr. Wayner in an error of fact, not even a slight one. And since he knows his facts, I seldom disagree with his opinions and/or conclusions, either.
    I still think the 7.62X39 is the overall best cartridge for the AK, but OFC there are always exceptions to every rule. 5.45 is better under the timer in matches, for example. But the 7.62 is all one really needs for most game in the US, and it has more ‘stopping power’ too. But at the expense of more recoil and slower recovery time. Everything in firearms is a trade off. This is why the question of; “What is the best”, must be followed by the qualifier; “Best… for what?” The .22RF is a hell of a great little round, really good for targets up to maybe 50 pounds or so, but it makes a piss-poor choice to stop a charging buffalo.
    And the admonition to stock up on 7.62X39 if you have one is particularly important for that round since most of the ‘brass’ is non-reloadable.
    Yes, I know that one CAN reload Berdan cases… once… maybe…. But there are good reasons why people very seldom do.

    1. avatar Truckman says:

      That’s the reason I don’t hunt with my AK I use my old heavy SKS no recoil to the amount and easy to reset on target quicker besides here you can only have 5 rounds

      1. avatar Kenneth says:

        I, too, prefer the SKS when I choose to hunt with the 7.62X39. I don’t have any ammo restrictions, but a big mag hanging down just makes a hunting rifle unhandy and uncomfortable. And I can’t picture being attacked by a horde of crazy elk or moose. I’ve always found ten rounds to be plenty.
        Even the three round capacity in the long magnum cartridges, like .300 and .338 WIN, is almost always plenty. Few indeed care to shoot 30 of those in a few seconds!

        1. avatar Southern Cross says:

          That’s your experience. My experience when hunting with a SKS that could take AK magazines, it was very useful to have 30 rounds on tap, and another magazine, and box of 20 rounds in another pocket. We would engage herds of pigs that would typically number 10-20 and need all that and the bayonet as well.

          Of course, your mileage may vary.

        2. avatar Kenneth says:

          Southern cross:
          Naturally. Everything always varies by the situation. In Montana we don’t have anything to shoot at that takes a large number of rounds in a few seconds, other than at the range.
          The only thing that comes close is Prairie Dogs. But they aren’t like a feral hog hunt in Texas(I did choose the AK for that situation. I prefer a larger round than 5.56 for hogs, but the .300BLK might be very good for that also. I’ve just never used that particular combination.). Prairie dogs all live in towns of hundreds, but after a few get shot they all go down the holes. Then, after a short while, they come back up and start running around again.
          So one might shoot hundreds of rounds in a day of dog hunting, but only a few at a time. I know guys who bring portable reloading setups and reload their brass in the truck during the lulls and shoot the same brass many times over in the same hunt.
          But I like to bring lots of guns instead. That’s what makes prairie dogs fun. You can get anything from a shot at twenty feet, to a thousand yards. So I start off with .22RFs and then give up when I can’t hit them with a .300 mag any more.

  5. avatar California Richard says:

    6.5 Creedmore….. Everybody knows that’s the bestest round evar!

  6. avatar Matt o says:

    I own a 762 ak but if I were to buy another it would be in 5.56. Blasphemous you say? I don’t care, it’s a good round and there is nothing save 9mm that can beat it for availability.

    1. avatar Mark says:

      So why not get an AR then? It is blasphemy to run 5.56 mm in an AK because that’s not what the rifle was designed for.

      1. avatar Chris Dumm says:

        Many of NATO’s easternmost new members use AK-100 variants, chambered in 5.56 for NATO ammo standardization.

        I’ve shot the hell out of an Arsenal SLR-106 for several years now, and I can authoritatively say that it’s just as reliable as (and rather more accurate than) any 7.62 AK.

        What sucks about 5.56 AKs? Nothing! (Except the cost of the gun and magazines…)

  7. avatar B320 says:

    Josh,

    Is that 300Blk factory fresh or hand-made? If hand-made, may you please share the manufacturer of the projectile? Heck, even if its factory, I’m curious who sells tainted-cased 300Blk with point, jacketed bullets.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. avatar JOSH WAYNER says:

      SIG

  8. avatar Michael says:

    The AK-47/7.62×39 was designed for minimally trained peasants with no shooting experience. Useful to wound out to 200~300 meters. Enemy casualties are 3 times more effective than enemy kills. An excellent example of the successful combination of form and function. Beware of anyone whose only firearm is an AK, especially if it has optical sights.They have lost focus on the true purpose of rifles, (hitting) and redoubled their efforts with dubious technology, (“if it looks bigger, I can hit it better”) Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, over…-30-

  9. avatar MB says:

    Not entirely accurate, there are no inexpensive good ammo options for 5.45, there are choices if you want higher end brass ammo. On the 7.62×39 there still are multiple won’t find anychoices of steel and brass cased , you just won’t find any in the $.10 price range any more, but there is plenty of $.18-$.24 a round steel case stuff that may not be match grade, but goes bang every time… And there still is a reason to own AK-47’s, they are great fun guns and can be used for home defense ( in rural areas ) and hog hunting.Surplus 7.62x54R is not as plentiful as it once was, and certainly not $.08 a round like a few years ago, but it’s still cheaper than .308 and just as potent. All flavors of AK-47’s, Vepr in 7.62x54R are not readily available right now, but Romanian PSL’s are being imported again, but the $3,000 price does not make a PSL a good value or investment any longer, and you are limited to under 150 grain ammo for the PSL

    1. avatar Raoul Duke says:

      Commercial 5.45 is still available and goes for the same price as 7.62×39 and brass 5.45 doesn’t exist.

  10. avatar fteter says:

    The moral of the story: pick a rifle caliber, standardize on it, then stack it high and deep.

    1. avatar Michael says:

      Amen…-30-

      1. avatar Darkman says:

        Times 10,000 rounds. You can NEVER Have ENOUGH AMMO. 7.62×39 for AK. 223/556 for AR15. 308 for AR10. Why? Because these are the most readily available calibers for each platform. It doesn’t matter if something else is “Better”. Use what is most available now and if SHTF.

        1. avatar E6H says:

          Exactly, it’s what you own now. Whatever that rifle is, stock up on ammo for it. Be it 9x19mm, 5.56,5.45, 7.62×39, 300Blackout or 7.62×51. The AK series was originally designed for a mid range round. I own a RPR in 6.5 Creedmoor and I’d trade it for a 300 WinMag anytime. Semper Fi.

    2. avatar GS650G says:

      I standardized on .308. Bolt gun, AR, and lever gun. Got rid of the .270, .222, 243, etc.

    3. avatar Steven King says:

      The problem with “standardization”? What if…. no When the SHTF and you are isolated scrounging for survival and all you have is a 5.56 AR or a 308 or even a .22 you are pretty much limited and forced to be very careful with your ammo.. I have handguns in 357 Mag/38 special, 9MM, .45, 10MM, .22 Mag and rifles in .22lr, .223/5.56, 7.62×39, .308/7.62×51, 300 blackout, 7.62x54r, 8MM as well as a 12 gauge in pump and shortened side by side.. .223/5.56 will probably be the easiest to find along with .22lr but just about everyone will be looking for that stuff and it will become scarce in a hurry (unless you live next door to Lake City armory) and 45/9MM will be the same so I keep a healthy supply of everything with over 15000 rounds combined and I constantly add to as well as rotate my “stash” with nothing over three years old… Just keep stuff separate keep it labeled and keep it dry, there are benefits to holding to a standard but if you make it about one gun and it breaks or you can’t find ammo???? Diversity allows for greater possibilities not to mention giving those less likely to be able to defend themselves a chance. Say you have a young girl or boy that can’t handle a 12 gauge or a 308 but could use a .223 or a 22 Magnum their survival chance just got way better… I have multiples of guns in each caliber and spare parts/field repair kits for all that are available I field strip and clean each one at least once a month and after every use they get a detailed tear down… No matter what you choose just take care of your stuff and it will take care of you… AR platform is probably the best most diverse, one lower will fit a .223/5.56, 300 black, 7.62×39 and .22lr upper a couple of quality lowers and a handful of magazines opens several doors….

      1. avatar barnbwt says:

        You always were a great fiction writer (though not so much these days, obviously)

        1. avatar Steven King says:

          ????? Time for “fiction” is long past dude… You doubt the honesty of my post? My ability to amass a stockpile of weapons and ammo? My ability to use and or care for those weapons? Or perhaps you are one of the sheep that just go along to get along who does not believe that those power hungry assholes in Washington won’t blow this bitch up if they don’t get their way.. You don’t know me, you don’t know anything about my financial situation or my desire to keep my family safe when the dumb asses that refuse to see the writing on the wall come around trying to take my stuff or endanger my family… Good luck to you and yours….

        2. avatar barnbwt says:

          Right o’er your head; your handle is “Steven King” which is really similar to a famous fiction author. But since you are such a dick about it…

          Are you also licensed to use the special boots used by ninja to walk on walls?

          “amass a stockpile of weapons and ammo?” sounds like something a leftist troll playing a gun nut stereotype would say. So does the rest of your post, Mr. Shackleford

  11. avatar jwm says:

    I love my Makarov. I really like my 91/30. I still miss my sks. Never really got into AKs but I see why folks did.

    These were great guns when they were sold in barrels for little money. I bought mosin nagants for as low as 45 bucks each. In march, in Utah, I saw a rack full of 91/30s going for 4-450 each. No. Way. In. Hell.

    The ammo was cheap. I bought x54 for as little as 1.75 per 20. No more.

    And here in CA we can no longer mail order. My 9×18 is rare on the local shelves.

    The days of cheap surplus are gone. It was good while it lasted. I still regret not buying that new in the box Polish m44. But for the same 150 bucks I could get 3 Russian m44s.

    1. avatar S.Crock says:

      I was lucky enough to get into milsurp a little just before it got overpriced. At the time I wanted to buy so much more but now it costs as much for a sks as it does a budget AR. The days of surplus deals are most likely gone unfortunately.

  12. avatar Nanashi says:

    What about 9×19?

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      A platform as cumbersome as an MP5, has straight blowback recoil (but still better than an AR9’s), and uses stupid single-feed mags (because the Scorpion-mag PSA thing isn’t out yet)?

      If you mean the Bizon, then 7.62×25 is way radder 😉

  13. avatar Asdf says:

    6.5 Grendel is the best ammo for the AK platform.

    1. avatar Rad Man says:

      I love my Grendels and would buy an AK in a second.

      1. avatar barnbwt says:

        There’s Grendel VEPRs…

  14. avatar Minuteman says:

    Everyone needs to stop buying 7.62×39 ammo right now. Damn Russian ammo is no good.

    1. avatar Mark says:

      Agreed, which is why I buy Hornady 7.62 x 39.

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      What about the American companies making 7.62×39 for our Afghan “allies”? Can’t some of that be diverted to domestic usage?

  15. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    Нет, калашников в порядке.

    No, AK is fine the way it is.

  16. avatar Dr Honkler says:

    Do people in this comment section not know how to use AmmoSeek? I’m looking at the site right now and there’s like 10 different website selling 5.45 for under 25 cents per round. Granted your options definitely pale compared to 5.56, but a 5.45 gun is far from unshootable.

    1. avatar strych9 says:

      The interwebz prices around $0.25/round don’t change the fact that before the 7N6 ban you could buy 7N6 for like $0.07/round, a third of the price you’re talking about which means the gun is now ~300% more expensive to shoot. This is like arguing that there’s no reason not to get a Star B in 9mm Largo just because it’s possible to find Largo. So-fucking-what? It’s still expensive in comparison to 9mm Luger at this point which makes the Star B, unless you’re collecting it FOR it’s exotic chambering, more of a pain the ass than it’s worth.

      A major reason people liked 7N6 was because they could get a decent round DIRT CHEAP and therefore shoot the fuck out of the rifle DIRT CHEAP.

      If the selling point is that the ammo is CHEAP and the ammo is no longer CHEAP then the selling point is gone. Inflation, in this case imposed inflation, in the market takes away the key selling point for the gun. That’s the whole point of the article.

      1. avatar Raoul Duke says:

        So .25 cents a round and less is no longer cheap to you?

        So you must think 7.62×39 is expensive now too since 5.45 is priced identical to 7.62×39 and it used to be .07 cents a round as well.

  17. avatar S.Crock says:

    I have high hopes for the PSA AK74 coming out this summer. If 5.45×39 guns, ammo, and mags were more readily available it would be a far more popular platform in the US.

  18. avatar Biff says:

    I think .300 BO is a good round, but the author verges on being a mindless fanboy of the cartridge. In a previous article he was going on and on about it being a viable 500 yard target cartridge. Too bad the loaded ammo capable of this cost as much as Federal GMM .308 or 6.5 Creedmoor. Now we’re being told new rifles in 7.62×39 are going to die off because that cartridge isn’t optimal for subsonic use. Never mind that suppressors are never going to be that popular as long as they are an NFA item. Cost is also huge, if you want to shoot subsonic suppressed it is far cheaper to use a 9mm PCC with 147 grain ammo at around $200/1000 vs buying .300 BO at $500-600/1000 rounds.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      And .300 Blackout isn’t even as new as the hype makes it out to be.

      Back in the mid-1990s it was known as 300 Whisper.

      1. avatar Biff says:

        True, but AAC / Remington took JD Jones’s good idea and got it SAAMI approved. Without this it never would have been chambered in common factory rifles or loaded by major ammo companies. Pretty much every wildcat that goes mainstream goes through the same process.

  19. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Steel cased lacquered ammo. After a change in administration a new bean counter took over. She thought less expensive was better. Couldn’t change the Sheriff’s mind. Gave him the firearms program back. Qualification. Wolf ammunition. I told Jim, “Not in my weapons.” He said, “That’s what we’ve got. Qualify or go home.” Me, “I’ll be right back.” I returned with U.S. made .45 ACP, 9 mm, .38 SPL, .223 and .308. I qualified 100% with all weapons. In the meantime a guy had a stuck live .223 round in his AR because the lacquer on the Wolf ammo melted and fused to the chamber wall. No thanks.

    1. avatar WI Patriot says:

      Not too mention that steel case ammunition is hard on extractors…

      1. avatar Widdler says:

        Right, not so much in AKs but i’ve replaced a few in ARs before I started reloading.

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        I mentioned that too. I wasn’t going to shoot that shit through a custom 1911. As an aside, it caused so many problems that fat ass bitch was never allowed to order ammunition again. And despite being asked, I would not take the firearms program over again.

        1. avatar Southern Cross says:

          I wouldn’t be surprised if the savings on ammunition were offset by 2-5x the cost in repairs to firearms.

    2. avatar barnbwt says:

      Steel case hasn’t been lacquered in quite some time (like, since back when it was corrosive, I think). It’s coated in a slippery teflon-like plastic now, that cannot adhere to the steel chamber like burned lacquer can.

      The bigger issue is the primer sealant, to be honest…and all military ammo will have that short-coming. Well, that and good-old blowby fouling slowly coking up the chamber walls that is seen on all auto loaders. The slightest bit of preventative cleaning makes it a moot issue.

      The world’s second most powerful (and most active) military used that ammo successfully for decades; The idea it’d gum up any old rifle in an afternoon of shooting is kind of goofy.

    3. avatar Steven King says:

      Tried wolf once in my Mini-14 out of 20 rounds three split cases, two FTF, two failed to eject and one fused to chamber.. Threw another 50 rounds away never used uncoated steel ammo again… Silver and Golden Bear only in my AK TULA in my Mosin have 1100 round case of brass 7.62×39 for my AR….

    4. avatar Hugh Glass says:

      Took my ball and went home. Sounds like just a JOY to work with…

      1. avatar MEDIC says:

        He went home and returned with quality ammo.

        No one I know of have ever claimed cheap steel ammo is more accurate. Do we really want *worse* accuracy out of law enforcement? Folks round here can shoot, but some departments (or some officer in every department) never shoot except for qualification once annually.

  20. avatar Mark says:

    7.62 x 39 is very useful. 5.45 is dead and another caliber in an AK is blasphemy from an engineering standpoint. Use what the gun was designed to run. You only need three rifle cartridges: 5.56 mm, 7.62 x 39 mm, and .308.

    1. avatar jarret says:

      I would wager a lot of afghanis that left this earth between 19790 and 1989 would be in disagreement.

      1. avatar Mark says:

        5.45 is a great round, but its days are numbered in the USA. That’s what I meant by my original comment. Kind of like who is buying .40 S and W?

        1. avatar jarret says:

          I honorably disagree with you sir for a few reasons. Bans/Embargoes change all the time. The 74 came into existence 27 years after the 47 and is still actively used by many militarys’ all over the world. Per that and my first point, there are reams and reams of surplus 5.45×39 waiting to be brought to the US. New production ammunition is still plentiful online and at gun shows, none in local stores(pricing stinks anyway) for unknown reasons. There are also a lot of kits and prebuilt 74s available for sale. Just do some internet searching and you will definitely find them available without much sweat. Lastly this round with the ak is a match meant to be; zero recoil, accurate, cheap, and effective.

        2. avatar Mark says:

          Ok, but if you want an AK74 why not get an AR15? Better ergos, ammo is the essentially the same and supply will never be an issue. The AK74 does nothing unique from an AR15, but an AK47 does.

          If you are die hard AK fan/collector than of course I understand. I just personally don’t see a role for an AK74 defensively when my SR-15 is just perfect. And I think Stoner’s design is superior to the AK.

  21. avatar M1Lou says:

    How about an AK-74 in 300BO? Yep, I built one. it’s actually great to shoot and it doesn’t tear the brass up. I call it my import ban insurance policy. If some Democrat or wimpy Republican got on the phone and used a pen to ban imports of commie ammo, I can still shoot a .30 cal AK that is pretty cheap to reload for. Plus I am going to be putting a can on it and 300BO is perfect for that. I do need to get a KNS piston most likely.

    I also have the usual 5.45s, 7.62s, and a VEPRs in .308 and 12guage .

  22. avatar ATTAGReader says:

    I do like my AK 47 and the inexpensive 7.62×39 that I have purchased for it. I like my SKS as well that shoots the same. Honestly I like the AK better than my AR. A pair of rifles designed for peasant cadres are perfect for home defense, in my opinion. And Joe Biden would agree, they sure are loud when you charge them!

  23. avatar barnbwt says:

    I can prove it’s 9×39 (aka OTS-12) mathemagically;

    1) AKs are heavy, short barrels (and gas pistons) are lighter
    2) AKs can only get so short before you have no handguard to grip with your weak hand
    3) That shortest comfortable length (Krinkov) is a ~8″ barrel
    4) Anything but a subsonic-type large bore round will make an obnoxious fireball/concussion at that short a length
    5) Blackout is stupid in anything besides the AR platform it’s optimized for
    6) 9×39 makes full use of the wider AK magwell/receiver
    7) The aspect ratio of the bullet makes it a very hard hitter (high BC/SD), but also much stronger against bending/deforming than a narrower 30 cal bullet of similar weight
    8) The case has more space than a 5.56×45, so pressures are even lower (or more power can be delivered by adding powder to make supersonic loadings)

    AKs are too heavy for anything high speed & low mass like 5.45×39, too flexible for full power rifle cartridges like 7.62x54r that make the most sense at long ranges, and too large to run weaker/shorter pistol cartridges as a sub gun. SBR intermediate-power thumper carbine is the best fit.

  24. avatar Steven King says:

    bulkammo.com has 5.45×39 from Wolf (hardly my first choice or second or any) 1000 rounds @175.00 TULA 1000 rounds @205.00 Silver Bear 750 rounds @200.00 other 20 round boxes from @5.90 to 8.75 per… I Don’t use it but seems like there is still a little bit available. I do have an AK in 7.62×39 and a NOS Mosin Nagant bought in the wrapper for $75.00, sadly there has been a crazy spike in pricing for the 7.62x54R 440 rounds Russian surplus was $99.00 now $175.00, might as well buy reloadable brass from S&B or PRVI pricey but 182 grain @.75 cents each ehh…. It’s not a weekly range piece but more of a once a month reach way out and touch something kind of gun along with my updated 1916 8MM Gerwher (aka Mauser) 98 so I don’t mind paying the price for quality dependable ammo for them.

  25. avatar barnbwt says:

    Can you guys please fix the stupid spam blocker, or at least share what the triggers are? This is getting very annoying to tap-dance around.

  26. avatar GS650G says:

    I like the fact .308 is available in everything from steel core surplus to match grade ammo and so many different weights. And it hits nice and hard.

    1. avatar barnbwt says:

      I thought you wrote “steel case” for a second. Yes, it is out there…no you should not shoot it, lol

  27. avatar lowell says:

    What’s the BEST? Easy. 5.45×39 in the form of crates and crates of 7N6.

    What should you buy one in? 7.62×39, because that’s the one you can actually get parts, mags, and GOOD ammo for. Every other AK is a specialty item with the potential to end up as a paperweight.

  28. avatar Texan Trapped in FL says:

    “What’s the best caliber in an AK platform rifle?”

    A Galil Ace in .308. An AK without all the stuff that sucks about an AK, in a better caliber.

  29. avatar J says:

    I thought the article was going to talk more about the AK-74 and AR-74 platforms and ammo available for them vs the 7.62x35mm .300 AAC Blackout (.300 BLK) AR platform. The article is just a rant on AK-74 platform vs an AR chambered in 7.62x35mm .300 AAC Blackout (.300 BLK) with little good information on why the 300 BLK is better. Tell us the difference between the Russian 7.62x39mm M43 cartridge (7.62 Soviet) and the Yugoslavian 7.62x39mm M67 cartridge. Which is better and why? Why the variations in the 30 caliber wildcat cartridges, such as the 7.62x35mm .300 AAC Blackout, .300 Whisper, 7.62×40mm Wilson Tactical (7.62×40mm WT), and 7.62×37mm Musang? Why does the 300BLK use the .308 cal bullets? Fill weight of the 7.62x39mm vs the fill weight of the .300 BLK. Tell us about Hornady SST 7.62x39mm cartridge and other manufacturers attempts to produce quality ammunition for the AK-74 and AR-74 platforms. Where is the information for us to judge for ourselves? US manufacturers could produce more 300 BLK ammunition to lower the cost of owning that platform to push the AK-47 platform out, but there is no desire to do so in bulk.

    1. avatar J says:

      Sorry meant AK-47 and AR-47.

      1. avatar J says:

        Why does the 7.62x39mm cartridge have approximately 45% more case capacity than the 300 BLK if they made the 300 BLK similar to the 7.62x39mm cartridge?

        1. avatar barnbwt says:

          Because it’s loaded to much higher pressures…and because it’s going about 10% slower than an equal-weight 7.62×39

          Within a couple hundred yards it doesn’t amount to all that much difference in practice, though.

        2. avatar Steven King says:

          Basically because the 300 black is built on the smaller (diameter) 5.56 case cut down to accept the larger/longer 300 black cartridge which still allows use of a 5.56 magazine and AR lower that accepts a 300 black upper….

  30. avatar Sean G./The Rookie says:

    So, you’re saying I should rethink my idea of chambering my AK in 6mm Lee Navy?

    1. avatar Steven King says:

      Yeah… probably

    2. avatar Southern Cross says:

      You would have better results with a Valmet in .243.

  31. avatar barnbwt says:

    “I never had much use for AKs or semi-automatics; the 30-30’s a superior round anyhow…” –Booth visitor, NRA show 2017

    1. avatar M1Lou says:

      I hope the bruise from that massive face palm you did finally healed from that encounter.

      1. avatar barnbwt says:

        It’ll always be there, man, an unseen injury to my heart that will never heal…

    2. avatar Someone says:

      Maybe, for that particular Fudd’s purposes, the 30-30 is superior. And maybe he, personally, really does not have much use for semi automatic rifles. Marlin 336 is perfectly adequate for white tail deer. Nothing wrong with that.

      Full sized van is superior to Corvette – for my construction business. That doesn’t mean that I have anything against other people driving Corvettes.

  32. avatar possum, destroyer of arachnids says:

    Don’t know, I hope the supply doesn’t fizzle out. I’ve probably got snuff Norinco 7.62X39 to last the life of the riful…. .In reality we will be able to buy the 7.62X39 long after the 300Blackout fades

  33. avatar Pa John says:

    Reloaders have many options. One starter example here:

    https://www.starlinebrass.com/brass-cases/762x39mm-Russian/

  34. CREEEEEEEEEEEEEEDDDDDMMMMMOOOOOORRRRRRREEEEEEEEEEE

    Don’t for get about it!! EVER! Bow before your god! Jaffa CREE(DMORE)!

    SG-1 for those not in the know.

    1. avatar Someone says:

      If you must to utter name of our god in vain, know that it is spelled CREEDMOOR!

      https://youtu.be/FQ5YU_spBw0

  35. avatar kap says:

    AK in any caliber is better than an AR period, especially in a fire fight

  36. avatar Craig in IA says:

    “What’s the Best Caliber in an AK Platform Rifle?” Dumb question… “What are you trying to kill/shoot?” would be the first question…

  37. avatar raptor jesus says:

    You’re putting the cart before the horse.
    You’re forgetting that people get into the AK platform rifle for its superior reliability and durability. The ammo is secondary.

    1. avatar Josh Wayner says:

      I, too, enjoy durable and reliable paperweights when an imported ammo supply runs out.

  38. avatar mark s says:

    Never did understand all the hoopla around the shorter case vs longer case , create a whole new weapon around the shorter case , arguments .
    Weight , cost , barrel length , round heat , availability ?
    The 30.06 is still the best all round bullet of war and with today’s technologies and weight reduction capabilities , should still hold the day .
    Out fit our troops with the best all around cartridge ever designed and a modern weapon to deliver it and in close quarters tactical warfare accompany it with a SBR in 5.56 or 300 BO or even an AR pistol .
    I fine tuned my BNR 30 to run several factory 185 grain hunting rounds flawlessly at greater distances with plenty of energy for efficient kills and I have no doubt this AR format could be improved for this cartridge .

  39. avatar burley says:

    Author said: “The 300 Blackout round beats 7.62x39mm in all the areas that count aside from cost.”
    Umm, no, it doesn’t.

    1. avatar Josh Wayner says:

      Accuracy: 300 BLK
      Cartridge Weight: 300 BLK
      Domestic Manufacture: 300 BLK
      Projectile Varity: 300 BLK
      Practical Effective Range: 300 BLK
      Size of Platform: 300 BLK
      Weight of Platform: 300 BLK
      Modularity of Platform: 300 BLK
      Variety of Platforms: 300 BLK
      Ease of Suppression: 300 BLK

      Did I miss any?

      1. avatar burley says:

        First of all, everything with the word “platform” is irrelevant to the initial comparison.
        Secondly, every other point save one is only salient if you select a like for like comparison and then the Soviet round wins a few.
        The ONLY salient point that stands on its own merit is projectile variety. That one point simultaneously begs a whole bunch of other questions and is the reason it’s the only thing .300 BLK does have any advantage over 7.62×39. Since we’re going apples to oranges here, the .30-06 is still the KING for all the reasons you stated (except of course cartridge size/weight).
        The entire “effective range” argument is so effing dead (and entirely reliant on bullet weight) that it’s as bad as the 9mm vs.45 argument.

        1. avatar burley says:

          Furthermore: the one point the author does give to 7.62x39mm is the cost. I’ll agree it’s a significant point; a HUGELY significant point! This precious little bullet is more expensive than the aforementioned .30-06 in almost every factory flavor! With a cost factor of nearly 5x, you can bet that it’s a strong hold out for old Soviet favorite. Further furthermore, Hornady actually makes some damn fine 7.62×39 at a price point WELL below that of .300 BLK. Domestic, reliable, affordable, superior projectile…
          Your argument is indeed, invalid.

        2. avatar mark s says:

          The cost factor is a non issue now , or will soon be , once the military switches from brass to plastics . This is also true for the heat factors involved when comparing the longer hotter cartridges to the smaller less lethal versions .
          I believe we will see the military return to the 30.06 once they accept the functionality , dependability and versatility of the new plastics .

  40. avatar Brian says:

    The 7n6 or nothing mentally effectively killed the 5.45 caliber in the United States once they were banned for import.

    The AK74 is a beautiful platform. Damn you all for a continuing to spread this talking point.

    1. avatar Josh Wayner says:

      I guess I’ll be damned. Tell me this, then, why would people abandon the platform if there were perfectly good alternatives to 7N6? The answer is that there were no alternatives that came close.

      1. avatar john says:

        ..because they are not aware/have not tested other makes for their effectiveness. Silver bear 60gr 5.45×39 exhibits the same yaw characteristics as 7n6 without the core. Extremely effective fmj round and can be found on multiple websites in stock for less than 25cents a round.

        Also wolf 60 grain fmj, laquered and non laquered
        wolf 55gr hp
        tula 60 grain
        branul produced in a sealed can

        7.62×39 is waaaaaaay more attainable and can be found anywhere you look for 18 cents a round.

        The authors view that this ammo could disappear per bans is unwarranted as we still receive ammunition made in russia as it goes through an intermediary and bypasses the ban in a known loophole that none have shown interest in closing.

        300blk is only good for suppressing, it is not equal to 7.62×39 in unsupressed form and only comes close to standard 7.62×39 velocities with lighter bullets. Its also veritable highway robbery for 50 cents a round when its all old technology (223 case necked out to 30 cal with a 30 cal projectile)that was put together and presented as new round.

        The one plus 300 blk has gotten us is watching videos of dimwits mixing up 223/556 mags and 300blk mags….and boom goes the dynamite.

        1. avatar Josh Wayner says:

          Your whole comment is somehow false. How is my stance unwarranted when it literally happened just a couple years ago? I wasn’t like I was suggesting it would happen. It already did and the 74 platform is dead as a result.

          Cope all you like, but the 300 BLK is equal or better than x39 for a huge number of reasons. You forget that the 120gr class in 300 BLK is a totally different bullet shape with a much higher sectional density. It moves at roughly the same speed as x39, but is getting 2,000 fps out of a 7.5″ barrel instead of a 16″ barrel at 2300 fps.

          Again, if the other Russian ammo was so good, why did the 74 and the 5.45 drop like bricks after the ban?

        2. avatar Brian says:

          Because of people like you shouting that it was dead and not considering any alternatives to 7n6. The loudest voices in the community cried out that “it’s all over cause I can’t shoot my cheap corrosive ammo anymore!”

          Instead of adjusting or seeking alternatives, people like you wrote blogs and articles telling everybody to move on and forget about it. So people believed it and they did. It was a good damn echo chamber.

          The mindset of 7n6 or bust killed the platform and we are $h!t out if luck today because of it.

          It was good ammo, but I sure as hell don’t miss washing out my barrel after every range trip and worrying about rust.

        3. avatar john says:

          Reply to Mr Warner as I cannot respond below.

          http://www.ballistics101.com/300aac_blackout.php

          None of those are equal to a 123-125gr 7.62 traveling at a nominal velocity of 2350fps. Note the 2400fps rounds are 110gr. Close but no cigar. Unless your speaking of your ‘handloads’ and then all is lost because we could speak of ‘handloads’ for the other caliber.

          “You forget that the 120gr class in 300 BLK is a totally different bullet shape with a much higher sectional density. It moves at roughly the same speed as x39, but is getting 2,000 fps out of a 7.5″ barrel instead of a 16″ barrel at 2300 fps.”

          I am sure you already realize 7.62×39 is also known for good velocities in shorter barrels. I’m missing your comparison numbers…….

          “Again, if the other Russian ammo was so good, why did the 74 and the 5.45 drop like bricks after the ban?”

          I’d say them dropping like bricks is an opinion since I can easily find multiple websites where different builds are in stock, Atlantic firearms, Rifle Dynamics, Meridian Defense to just name a few.

        4. avatar Josh Wayner says:

          Brian and John

          First off, it is around a 5-9% difference between normal supersonic velocities mostly due to the fact that x39 has somewhat greater case capacity. Splitting hairs won’t change the fact that they are, for all intent and purpose, the same at most ranges with 300 BLK having far better bullets and a slightly flatter trajectory. If you really want to argue less than 10% velocity difference with me, then I’ll do an article on it and you can comment there.

          As far as gun industry journalists screwing things up, I think that is false. Saying something dead is dead is not an echo chamber. The 7N6 was the only reason to shoot an AK-74. If that was not the case, we would have a plethora of 5.45mm options out there. There isn’t and that is just how it is.

          It is the truth that 5.45×39 is dead here. 40 S&W is dying. 300 HAMR is a gimmick. 6.8 SPC is trash on the curb. 6.5 Grendel is garbage but at least it is still in the bag. 6.5 Creedmoor is a fad that will pass with time to 6mm and eventually back to 30 caliber where it will all start over again as people rediscover what was done just decades ago. These are the truths of our time and you will see them come to pass as surely as the sun will rise. Blame me all you want, but I can’t in all honesty recommend a subpar gun and ammo to someone and maintain my credibility. I’d never recommend a 5.45 anything. Despite wishful thinking, it’s just not feasible on any level except to the diehard fan where cost is no issue.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

button to share on facebook
button to tweet
button to share via email