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7.62x39 vs 5.45x39

7.62x39 vs 5.45x39 Feature

Table of Contents

Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy want to go over the 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 cartridges today. These are two popular cartridges which have been utilized by many firearms since they came on the scene in the 20th century. AK enthusiasts in particular have enjoyed these cartridges and swear by them. Our goal with this blog post is to go over these two cartridges and provide a brief overview for each of them while delving into their features and traits. Without further ado, let’s get into it.

TelaAmmo 7.62x39
TelaAmmo 7.62x39

What is 7.62×39?

The 7.62×39 cartridge was introduced in 1944 and represents an early intermediate cartridge. While the intermediate 7.92×33 Kurz precedes the 7.62×39, the latter is still in common use today while the other has been completely phased out of conventional usage. The cartridge officially entered service in 1945 and served as the standard issue military cartridge for the Soviets for most of the Cold War, still seeing some limited usage today. Beyond the Soviet Union, countless other countries on nearly every continent have utilized the cartridge in one form or another. This is mainly due to the fact that many surplus firearms worked their way around the globe as newer equipment became available and countries sold off or exported surplus arms.

The round was developed by the Soviets to address the desire for an intermediate cartridge which could be utilized in a variety of different weaponry. The goal was for infantry arms such as a light machine gun, semi-automatic carbine, and select-fire rifle to utilize the same cartridge. This mission was achieved and made manifest with designs such as the SKS, AK-47, and RPD and RPK light machine guns.

Among civilian shooters, the cartridge is a staple, particularly among milsurp shooters and AK enthusiasts. Before some of the recent sanctions and gun control laws which were passed in recent decades, 7.62×39 ammunition and firearms chambered in the caliber were both prevalent and extremely affordable. Stories of sub $100-dollar Russian SKS rifles and heaps of 7.62×39 spam cans are common from the 1980’s and early 1990’s. In today’s market, many of the old surplus arms have seen significant price hikes due to things such as sanctions and supplies generally waning over the years. Modern production firearms chambered in the 7.62×39 continue to keep the cartridge relevant and in common usage.

 

What is 5.45×39?

The 5.45×39 cartridge was developed in 1974 for use with the AK-74 rifle. The cartridge was intended to replace the currently issued 7.62×39 round and perform similarly to the West’s 5.56x45m NATO round. By going to a smaller diameter projectile, higher velocities could be achieved. Simply put, what the 5.45×39 may lack in mass when compared to the 7.62×39, it makes up for in its velocity and extended effective range. A lighter projectile traveling at higher velocities allows for a higher degree of penetration as well, a factor which was important to the Soviets during the Cold War era. Both the 5.45×39 and 5.56x45mm NATO loadings like the M855 “green tip” round were designed to have good effect on target when up against body armor of the Cold War era.

Like its predecessor, the 5.45×39 has been utilized in a wide variety of firearms. Everything from mainline service rifles such as the AK-74 and AK-12 to shorter firearms like Krinkovs and even RPK light machine guns in the cartridge. The 5.45×39 essentially sought to be the Soviet’s answer to the 5.56x45mm NATO round. Many 5.45×39 loadings were developed for military usage such as the multiple 7N6 designations designed to have good effect on body armor.

Civilian shooters adore the 5.45×39 cartridge and AK-74 pattern rifles are some of the most popular firearms in the world of AKs. Shooters enjoy the light recoil of the 5.45×39 and find it to be a capable and handy cartridge. Unfortunately, this round has been harder to get ahold of lately, mainly due to sanctions and the lack of widespread production enjoyed by something like the 7.62×39. Recent sanctions and scarcity of ammunition has led many 74 owners to divest themselves of their 5.45×39 ammunition and rifles. This painful reality was observed on forums such as The AK Files within recent years. That being said, we are finally seeing more importation of the round while domestic companies are committing to manufacturing the cartridge.

 

How Available is 7.62×39 Ammunition?

One will find that there are a variety of loadings available for the realm of 7.62×39 ammunition. Companies across the globe produce loadings for this cartridge. 7.62×39 ammunition is produced in countries such as Russia, South Korea, Turkey, Serbia, and the United States to name a few, Manufacturers such as PMC, Belom, Red Army Standard, Wolf, and Sterling are just a few of the brands who produce loadings for this cartridge. While it may not be available on each and every ammo rack, it is certainly common and by no means a niche round. Simply put, 7.62×39 ammunition is plentiful and can easily be found in most places ammunition is sold.

 

How Available is 5.45×39 Ammunition?

At this point in time, there is significantly less 5.45×39 ammunition offerings available than there are options for 7.62×39. Simply put, there are less companies producing the cartridge and the supply of the round has been impacted heavily by sanctions. Companies such as Wolf and TulAmmo used to consistently bring in steel cased 5.45×39 ammunition prior to import restrictions. At this point in time, companies such as TelaAmmo have started mass importation of the cartridge, helping increase the supply of 5.45×39 in the United States. Domestic companies have also announced plans to produce ammunition in this caliber, another factor which will aid in increasing the supply of 5.45×39 ammunition. At this point in time, while scarce, the 5.45×39 round is not dead. Ammunition is coming in and gradually becoming more available, meaning that we will hopefully have a sable supply of 5.45×39 ammunition again.

TelaAmmo 5.45x39
TelaAmmo 5.45x39

What is the Availability of Firearms in 7.62×39?

At this point in the market, one will find a wide variety of firearms chambered in 7.62×39. These offerings can be found in both surplus and modern production form in addition to a variety of parts kits. Surplus offerings will typically include things like SKS rifles from countries such as Russia, Yugoslavia, and China. Modern offerings will generally take the form of AKs and other firearms which can be had from a variety of countries and manufacturers. Non-AK options include things such as the CMMG Mutant, Ruger Mini-30, and even AR-15 rifles in the caliber. The market support for AK type rifles is significant in this day and age with many parts and components being available such as optic mounts, handguards, and grips. Parts kits for various firearms chambered in 7.62×39 are also still quite available on the market. These come in the form of AK type rifles and even other firearms such as RPD light machine guns. Of course, with parts kits, one must ensure that they build their kits in compliance with federal regulations. Simply put, one will have no shortage of options in today’s market as far as finding a firearm in 7.62×39 if they truly want one.

 

What is the Availability of Firearms in 5.45×39?

Most of the firearms chambered in 5.45×39 are going to be AK-74 based. These firearms will come in a variety of sizes and form factors, ranging from standard service rifles to the shorter Krinkov rifles. While Kalashnikov designs are the most prevalent firearms in this caliber, one will also find other types of firearms that accept the round. AR-15 style rifles can be chambered in the caliber along with modern production Galil models from IWI. The current production 5.45×39 Galil offering from IWI has the added benefit of being able to accept AK-74 pattern magazines, making sourcing feeding devices easy. As mentioned above with regard to 7.62×39 firearms, there are also parts kits available for firearms in the 5.45×39 caliber. At the end of the day, there are fewer 5.45×39 firearm options available than there are for 7.62×39. This is not to say that a firearm is unobtainable in this caliber, just that there are less options to select from. While many places that sell firearms may have 7.62×39 ammunition and firearms at the ready, this is simply not the reality when it comes to 5.45×39. If someone wishes to get into a 5.45×39 chambered firearm, they can certainly find something if they truly want to.

 

Conclusion

All in all, both cartridges are viable for a variety of uses and will serve shooters well. The 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 have persisted in martial use and in common use among civilians for decades, meaning they aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. We here at True Shot Ammo carry both 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 ammunition in addition to the other ammunition we carry. Regardless of the caliber you shoot, you won’t go wrong with either and we are here to help you get stocked up for the range. As always, happy shooting.

 

Need bulk ammo? At True Shot Ammo, we have a wide variety of handgun ammo and rifle ammo available to purchase. Please visit our website trueshotammo.com, call us at (888) 736-6587, or you can email us at [email protected] for more ammo options.

 

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