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AK-47.net: 7.62 x 54R
      By P. Labbett
The Soviet armed forces, have made a practice of issuing a variety of special loadings in their standard rifle and machinegun caliber ammunition. This variety of loading was particularly noticeable in 7.62 mm. x 54 ammunition. Apart from loadings known to have existed during the 1914-18 war period (incendiary, explosive, tracer and armor piercing), seven main variations of 7.62 mm. x 54 other than ball were issued from the early 1930s.
Three types of ball, apart from special low velocity "Partisan" ammunition, were issued after the original round nosed 210 grain model 1891. These were the 150 grain type "L" of 1908, the 182 grain type "D" of 1930 and the current 150 grain steel cored type LPS. In addition a 200 grain boat tailed match bulleted cartridge has been in Soviet special loadings were largely made up with copper-washed steel cases and were identified by colored bullet tips.   With the exception of tracer, AP/incendiary and incendiary ranging, all the other special loadings shown are now obsolete or obsolescent, as are ball rounds other than the LPS. The 7.62 mm. x 54 cartridge is still in first line service in the USSR and in other communist countries with the SVD Dragunov snipers rifle and with various medium machine guns.

Details of 7.62 mm. x 54 special loadings are as follows:

Armour Piercing Type B-30. This was a boat-tailed bullet 36.2 mm. long and weighing 170 grains with a hard steel core. The bullet was identified by a black tip.

Tracer Type T.46. This title appears to cover the two types of Russian-designed tracer that have been in service since the war. Both types weigh 148 grains and both are identified by green bullet tips. The earlier model was flat based and 38 mm. long and contained a metal canister holding the tracer composition. The second type was slightly shorter at 35 mm. and was slightly boat-tailed. With the second type of bullet the envelope forward of the case neck had a distinct step and the tracer canister was open at the front end as well as at the rear.

Armour Piercing Tracer Type B T. This was a flat based bullet weighing 157 grains. The forward part of the envelope was filled with a steel core, the rear holding a tracer canister. Identification was by means of a purple bullet tip.

Armour Piercing Incendiary Type BS-40. This type, now obsolete, was identified by having an all red colored bullet with a black tip. This was a flat-based bullet weighing 187 grains. The core was of tungsten carbide with incendiary composition contained in the forward part of the envelope.

Armour Piercing Incendiary Type B-32. Two distinct forms of AP/1 exist under this title, both identified by a black over red tip. The earlier pattern weighed 154 grains and was 36.8 mm. long and boat tailed. The forward portion of the envelope held incendiary composition behind which was a steel core. In fact two alternative incendiary compositions were used in this pattern, a phosphorus/aluminum mixture or, later, Thermite. The second distinct B-32 type was slightly longer and was stepped between the cannelure and the start of the boat tail. Inside, the steel core was placed further forward and incendiary composition was placed not only in the forward portion of the envelope but also in the very base of the bullet, under the core, the rear of the envelope being closed with a small copper disc.

Armour Piercing Incendiary Tracer Type BZT. This was a flat based bullet, 40.7 mm. long, identified by purple over red bullet tip. Weight was 142 grains. Within the envelope was a short steel core, forward of which was incendiary composition and behind which was a tracer canister.

Incendiary Ranging Type ZP. This was a boat tailed bullet weighing 160 grains and identified by a red bullet tip. In the forward portion of the envelope was located incendiary composition, the center of the bullet being taken up with a striker mechanism and an explosive capsule. This bullet was sensitive and liable to premature explosion, and was intended solely for machine gun use.

Generally, Soviet designed 7.62 mm. x 54 ammunition is either made by or used by the other communist armed forces, but some alternative patterns have been manufactured since 1945.

Czechoslovakia who has long had a thriving arms industry appears to have a more independent approach to design and has produced at least two 7.62 mm. x 54 cartridges of native design.

Czech heavy ball. Made in the early 1950s this was a boat tailed bullet weighing 181 grains and 38.5 mm. long. The bullet core was of steel and the bullet bore no identification color code. At the same time the Czechs were also manufacturing their copy of the Russian Type "D" bullet, this having the same yellow-bullet tip as the Soviet made bullet.

Czech Type TzSz Tracer. Also dating from the early 1950s the Czechs made a heavy tracer bullet. This was a boat tailed design weighing 182 grains and being 37.7 mm. in length. Like the Soviet designed counterpart, the Czech bullet was identified by a green bullet tip.

Soviet 7.62 mm x 54 LPS ball (silver tip) has a muzzle velocity of 2,850 feet per second and the ballistics of this bullet are those that the special loadings are intended to match, at least at a certain range. Soviet special loadings will generally be found with propellant charges weighing between 48 and 50 grains.

Article from "Guns Review" Volume 25 No. 9 September 1985.

7.62x54R Military Ammunition Color Codes

A post in rec.guns. from Don Francis who added some clarification and the Misc Info.

Soviet bullet tip color codes for the 7.62x54R
Bullet Tip Color Bullet Type Bullet Weight
None Ball 148gr.
Yellow Heavy Ball 182gr.
Silver Light Ball
Green Tracer 148gr.
Black B-30 AP 170gr.
Black w/Red Band B-32 API 155gr.
Red Bullet & Casemouth
Black Casehead & Black Tip
BS-40 API 187gr.
Purple w/Red Type BZT, API-T 142gr.
Red w/Red Primer Type ZP, HEI Ranging
Green Bullet, Casehead,
& Casemouth
Sub-sonic (pre-1941)
Green Tip & Green Primer Practice Ball (post-1941) 60gr.
Copper Cap Pre-1930 AP 167gr.
Misc info:

Most early M1891 Russian 7.62x54R was loaded with black powder. There is a rifle grenade launching blank made as well as various dummy & blank rounds. Russian 7.62x54R with the Cyrillic character that looks rather like "III" with a comma hanging off the lower right on the case head was intended for the ShKAS machinegun only.


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