The 7.62x39 first saw the light of day in 1943 as a new development for a Russian assault rifle. After WWII the AK47 rifle that was eventually adopted by the Russians chambered it. Its military application can be compared to the American .30 M1 Carbine, although the 7.62x39 is considerably more powerful.
This cartridge has been adopted by many countries for their standard infantry rifles. Even so, it falls far short of an all-up infantry-rifle cartridge like the .30-06 or the .308. This cartridge was seldom reloaded in the U.S. before the later 1980s.
An excellent application today is in bolt-action pistols and single-shot Thompson/ Center handguns. It is powerful enough for deer-size game at modest ranges and makes a fine cartridge for recoil-sensitive shooters as long as it isn't used for any large game that is beyond its capabilities.
Reloading for the 7.62x39 is straightforward. Dies are easy to obtain. The set we used this month was made by Lee Precision. Good cases are readily available. In this country Cor-Bon, Remington, Winchester and Remington all load for this caliber. Lapua and Sellier & Bellot also distribute Boxer-primed ammo in this country.
Some other imported ammo (especially the cheap stuff) has Berdan primers and is a giant pain to reload, so be careful what you buy to get cases. Of course, if you find fired cases you can look inside and tell which primers were used. The primers used for these loads were all the Standard Large Rifle size, no magnums.
There are plenty of powders that are suitable. They are all found at the fast end of the list of rifle powder burning rates. When using the maximum loads of the slower powders, I had to revert to an old trick to be able to get all the powder in the case. If you use a long drop tube on your powder funnel and pour the powder in very slowly, you can fit more powder in the case. It just packs in better when it drops farther into the case. Actually, there's nothing wrong with using a long drop tube all the time. As with chicken soup, "it can't hoit."
The 7.62x39 does present one unique problem for the reloader. Some guns, especially those of foreign manufacture, have .311-groove-diameter barrels, and some are .308. I don't think it's a good idea at all to use .311 bullets in a .308 barrel, although you can find some sources that say it is OK. The larger-diameter bullets will cause pressures to go up, and accuracy is sure to suffer. It is best to measure (or have measured) your barrel and use the proper-size bullets. Lee's dies come standard with neck-sizing pins for both sizes in the set.
|Bullet||Bullet Weight (gr.)||Powder||Primer||Case||Starting Load (grs.)||Maximum Load (grs.)||Max. Muzzle Velocity (fps)|
|Hornady FMJ||90||Alliant 2400||Federal 210||Winchester||18.0||21.01||2,850|
|Hornady FMJ||90||Vihta Vuori N110||Winchester LR||IMI||19.0||22.0||2,880|
|Hornady FMJ||90||Hodgdon H110||CCI 200||Winchester||19.0||22.5||2,860|
|Hornady RN||110||Accurate 1680||Federal 210||IMI||23.0||28.0||2,770|
|Hornady RN||110||Norma N 200||Winchester LR||Winchester||22.0||26.5||2,550|
|Sierra Spitzer Pro-Hunter||125||Accurate 201 5BR||CCI 200||IMI||24.0||27.0||2,250|
|Sierra Spitzer Pro-Hunter||125||Vihta Vuori N120||Federal 210||Winchester||21.0||25.0||2,450|
|Sierra Spitzer Pro-Hunter||125||RS X-Terminator||Winchester LR||IMI||25.0||30.0||2,350|
|Nosler Ballistic Tip||125||Alliant R1-7||CCI 200||Winchester||22.0||26.0||2,425|
|Nosler Ballistic Tip||125||IMR 4227||Federal 210||IMI||19.0||22.5||2,375|
|Barnes Triple Shock||130||Hodgdon H4198||Winchester LR||Winchester||22.0||25.5||2,450|
|Barnes Triple Shock||130||Norma N-201||CCI-200||IMI||24.0||28.0||2,275|
|Speer HP||130||RS TAC||Federal 210||Winchester||26.0||30.0||2,350|
|Speer HP||130||Winchester 296||Winchester LR||IMI||14.0||18.0||2,200|
|*Load ran out of case volume before pressure limit was reached. Powder too slow for maximum performance.|