Hey all, we here at True Shot Academy want to talk about 7.62x54r today. This long-standing cartridge has persisted for well over a century and remains popular among shooters. Our goal with this blog post is to provide a brief overview of the cartridge while discussing some of its traits and use cases. Without further ado, let’s get into it.
The 7.62x54r was developed by the Russian Empire and introduced in 1891. The cartridge was developed alongside the Model 1891 Mosin-Nagant rifle. After its introduction, the cartridge was utilized in other rifles and machine guns used by the Soviet Union and other powers. Notable examples of other firearms chambered in the cartridge include the Dragunov (SVD), SV-98, and PKM machine gun.
The 7.62x54r has the distinction of being the second longest-standing military cartridge in history, second only to the .303 British. The cartridge is one of the most prevalent military surplus rounds in existence and is extremely popular among shooters in the United States. The full-sized rifle cartridge has generally been compared to the American .30-06 Springfield and .308 Winchester rounds.
The “r” at the end of 7.62x54r stands for “rimmed.” This is referring to the fact that this is a rimmed cartridge. The practice of putting an oversized rim on the base of a cartridge is an older practice which has been utilized on handgun and rifle cartridges. The purpose of this rim, particularly on firearms which directly chamber ammunition, was to ensure that proper headspacing was achieved.
A potential issue with rimmed cartridges in magazine fed firearms is rimlock. This phenomenon occurs when the rim of one cartridge gets caught on the rim of another round. This will typically happen when the round one is attempting to be chambered gets caught on the next round in the magazine. The Mosin-Nagant line of rifles feature an interrupter design which is meant to aid in preventing this hang-up. Even though design features help prevent this issue, it can still occur if rounds are loaded incorrectly.
One will typically encounter 7.62x54r ammunition in surplus or modern production form. There is still a considerable amount of surplus ammunition available on the market. These surplus loadings were produced by a number of countries like Russia and other former Eastern Bloc countries. Ammunition of this type used to be cheap and prevalent in the form of sealed ammo cans. These ammunition cans were affectionately called “Spam Cans” and held 440 rounds. Modern offerings of 7.62x54r are available from companies such as Wolf, Red Army Standard, and Sellier & Bellot just to name a few. Ammunition for specific use cases, such as hunting, is also produced by modern ammunition manufacturers. An example of a specialty hunting load would be the DoubleTap Tactical 150 grain loading which features a Barnes TTSX projectile.
Despite these options, the supply of 7.62x54r ammunition is not as plentiful as more contemporary rifle calibers such as .30-06 Springfield or 5.56x45mm NATO. These other contemporary calibers can be found easily at most local places where ammunition is sold. Unfortunately, 7.62x54r ammunition is simply not as common or plentiful. This is not to say that one will face difficulty when looking for ammunition, just that they may need to look a bit harder. At the end of the day, if you want to pick up some 7.62x54r ammunition, you will be able to.
A majority of the firearms chambered in 7.62x54r will be of the surplus variety. Not too long ago, Model 1891/30 Mosin-Nagant rifles could be had for under $100. These rifles were a first rifle for many shooters who wanted to get into the hobby for cheap. These Mosin-Nagant rifles make up a majority of the 7.62x54r chambered firearms in the country. SVT-40 rifles in the caliber were also quite popular and prevalent among milsurp shooters.
As far as modern options go, there are semi-automatic rifles on the market. Notable examples include the Century Arms PSL-54 from Romania and the Zastava M91 from Serbia. Essentially, one will have no issue finding something chambered in 7.62x54r if want to pick something up in the caliber.
The most common use cases for 7.62x54r today are going to be general target shooting and hunting. When surplus ammunition was cheaper, shooters would buy multiple ammo cans at a time and burn through high quantities of ammunition. Some of the more affordable modern offerings have helped to supplement the supply of ammunition, giving shooters more options for plinking and hunting use. One will be able to dispatch medium-sized game ethically with this cartridge. One should always ensure that they are using ammunition appropriate for the game they are pursuing. This ensures an optimal and humane hunt.
As stated above, a considerable amount of 7.62x54r ammunition is going to be of the surplus variety. A lot of the ammunition of this type will utilize Berdan primers. While not all Berdan primers are corrosive, most of the corrosive ammunition on the market features Berdan primers. An overwhelming majority of the modern production 7.62x54r ammunition one will encounter on the market will not be corrosive. All in all, one can potentially encounter corrosive 7.62x54r ammunition, but not all ammunition for this caliber is corrosive. One should always inspect their ammunition and pay attention to labels when considering ammunition to purchase.
A good deal of surplus ammunition on the market will feature steel casings. The use of steel casings was generally done as a cost cutting measure and made production easier. Some imported ammunition such as offerings by Wolf and Red Army Standard will feature steel casings. Other modern production offerings such as those from Sellier & Bellot and Winchester will feature brass casings. Essentially, one will find a fair amount of steel cased 7.62x54r ammunition, but some brass cased options do exist.
Steel cased ammunition is incapable of being reloaded. Steel does not have the malleability that brass does and is more resistant to being resized. The material is also much harder on dies and reloading equipment. Brass cased 7.62x54r ammunition produces casings which can be reloaded just like any other round.
All in all, the 7.62x54r is a cartridge which has stood the test of time. The cartridge has been enjoyed by generations of shooters and still serves in some military capacities to this day. We here at True Shot offer a variety 7.62x54r loadings from multiple manufacturers. We have even received surplus 7.62x54r ammunition from the Cold War era. Whether you are looking for 7.62x54r ammunition or something else, we here at True Shot have you covered and are here to help you stock up for your next outing. 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.