5.45 x 39 mm
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Re-Loading data and dimensions for 7.62 x 39 calibre

Disclaimer... This page is a collecting point for fragmentary information that comes to light during my wanderings through my old notes. As a result it may be incomplete or even contain some incorrect information. It would be unwise to rely on this page of information until this warning notice is removed.

Date... Originator...
Bullet Dia... Main Usage...
Die Set... Intended barrel length...
Primer... Max overall length...
Trim Case... Max Case length...
Crimp... Bullet Seating...
Shell holders... RCBS... Lyman... Pacific/Hornady... Bonanza...

dimensions of 7.62 x 39 cartridge (AK47)

Case Dimensions ("W" = Water capacity)

Wt. Grains
lb/Sq in
ft lbs
Jacketed1110000IMR 222233.3 Gr33.4 Gr44,44455,5556666777788



The information given and photographs in this lighter coloured panel are mainly due to J.A. Freeman and are reproduced here with his permission. Jeff has his own website that concentrates on AK47 & AK74.

The 7.62x39 cartridge

This was invented by the Russians and adopted as the M-43 cartridge in 1943, but was originally inspired by the German 7.92x33 cartridge and Mkb-42 assault rifle combination with it's 30 round magazine.

Chinese Manufactured 7.62x39 mm

Surplus ammunition packing, photo...Jeff Freeman As a result of massive aid given by USSR to China, the Russians supplied the machinery and technicians to set up arms factories in China. The 7.62x39 mm cartridge and SKS as well as AK-47 were adopted by the Chinese in 1956.

The first Chinese 7.62x39 mm ammunition imported to the USA was military surplus. It was packed in 2 sealed metal tins per wooden case. The

All the ammunition that is packed in the paper wrapped bundles has steel cored bullets.

Tins of paper wrapped ammunition Two tins of paper wrapped ammunition with winding keys standing on wooden outer crates.


Outer crate for 1,100 rounds Another view of the lower crate that shows the wording more clearly.

Third type of tin holding 720 rounds of  paper wrapped ammunition Two packages of 20 rounds, the lower one with stripper clips

Chinese surplus ammunition was also packed in 20 round paper wrapped bundles tied with string in tins of 700 or 720.

Two packages of 20 rounds, (right) the lower one with stripper clips

The tins that hold 700 or 720 rounds are packed in pairs in wooden outer cases of 1400 or 1440.

Chinese 7.62 x 39 Headstamps

The top number indicates the number of the factory that produced the ammunition. The bottom number gives the year of production.

Various headstamps of Chinese produced 7.62 x 39 ammunition

Comparison of steelcored and lead cored 7.62 Chinese bullet

Detecting steel cored bullets

Chinese steel cored ammunition was banned in USA as of February 1994, as all Chinese ammunition uses bullets having a copper plated steel jackets, a magnet is of no use, because it will sticking to the steel bullet jacket and not the steel core. The only way to tell if the round has a steel core is to pull a bullet. Steel cored bullets are over 1" long, have a boat tail, they will also have traces of black sealing compound on them.

In the comparative picture the steel cored bullet is on the left and the lead cored one on the right.

Sectioned Chinese 7.62 x 39mm cartridges

The cartridge in the centre of the group at left, has a steel cored bullet. The others on either side have lead cored bullets except the one on the extreme right that is an experimental round with plastic beads in the nose.

Only Chinese factories numbered 31, 71, 311 and 351 made lead cored ball. (maybe 61 also, but not sure) [Jeff's note]

Any other Chinese factory code will be steel cored bullets.

Lead cored ball from factory 31 ALWAYS has a green case mouth seal. Lead cored ball from factory 71 ALWAYS has a knurled crimping groove on the projectile.
Lead cored ball from factories 311 and 351 is harder to tell, but generally the rounds have NO case mouth seal or primer seal and date from 1991-1994
The earliest known lead core from factory 31 is 1990 dated. The earliest known lead core from factory 71 is 1988 dated.

Commercial Packaged Chinese ammunition

20 round cardboard box packages 20 round cardboard box packages
20 round cardboard box package 20 round cardboard box package

All the commercial ammunition was packed in the same style wooden crates as the surplus ammunition show above. The first commercial ammo that Jeff saw was the green box Norinco that was packed 20 rounds per box, 600 rounds per tin, and 2 tins per wooden case of 1200. After this initial batch all the ammunition was packed with sixty 20 round boxes per wooden case and all the boxes were wrapped in one large clear plastic bag.

Russian 7.62 x 99 mm ammunition

Until the break up of the Soviet Union all arms and ammunition were banned from import to the US. A large amount of steel cored ammunition was imported in late 1993, but due to the re-classifying 7.62x39mm steel cored ammunition as armour piercing in February 1994 very little of it made it into the hands of shooters or collectors. It was packed in unmarked 20 round boxes of plain fibrous cardboard.

The image at right is of a box of 20 rounds with a single round laying on top of it, the inset shows the headstamp.

  Simple packet of 20 rounds Russian 7.62 x 33 ammunition
Tula Cartridge Works headstamp Tula Cartridge Works
Tula is known for the quality and reliability of its ammunition. Tula has been manufacturing all types of ammunition for over 100 years and in that time has produced hundreds of millions of rounds. There are very few manufacturers in the world that have more experience than The Tula Cartridge Works, whose staff take great pride in their products.

Tula Cartridge Works initially produced ammunition with the TCW headstamp illustrated at right, which later became the WOLF brand. Early imports of Tula cartridges came in sinple white boxes with black lettering. Early imports of Wolf ammuntion into USA had TCW headstamps even though they were packed in 'Wolf brand' boxes. Now all the Wolf brand production has a WOLF headstamp. Variations do exist, but I have no documentation.

 Originated... 04 February 2007, Additions... 08 February 2007, Additions... 21 June 2007, Code Altered... 17 May 2008,
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