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Home | Ammunition | Reloading 7.62x39 #2
AK-47.net: Reloading 7.62x39 #2 
 
    By Bob Horn
Subject: 1. Introduction

The 7.62x39 cartridge is, in many ways, a reloader's 
dream.  It's economical to load and exceptionally 
accurate (even questionable surplus ammo is often
more accurate than one would expect).

Nevertheless, it hasn't piqued the interest of
reloaders in the same way as it's smaller offspring,
 the .22 and 6mm PPC cartridges.  This is probably
 due to the availability of inexpensive East 
European and Chinese ammunition.  After all, 
reloading is primarily an economical measure 
for most shooters, and loaded ammunition has, 
until recently, been cheaper than reloads.
  

All this started to change in the U.S. after the importation of arms and
ammunition from China was banned by executive order.  The BATF has
further complicated matters by classifying ComBloc steel and steel-core
bulleted ammunition as "Armor Piercing."  Chinese ammunition, though
still available, isn't as cheap as it once was. Russian ammunition is
often little less expensive than reloadable U.S.-manufactured
cartridges.

For the first time since the 1968 ban on U.S. imports of surplus arms
and ammunition was lifted in 1986, reloading the 7.62x39 offers not only
substantially improved performance, but economy as well.

------------------------------

Subject: 2. Table of Contents

        1. Introduction
        2. Table of Contents
        3. Can Steel-cased Ammunition be Reloaded?
        4. Reloadable (Boxer-primed) Brass
        5. Bullets
        6. Sources
        7. Cast Bullets
        8. Loading Data: Disclaimer and Safety Notes
        9. Loading Data from C.E. Harris
        10. Handloads With Accurate Arms Powders
        11. Handloads With Hercules Powders
        12. Handloads With Hodgdon Powders

------------------------------

Subject: 3. Can Steel-cased Ammunition be Reloaded?

This is probably the most frequently asked question about reloading the
7.62x39.  Opinion is sharply divided on the subject, with some taking
the position that steel cases are perfectly OK to reload, and others
that it is not only impractical, but downright dangerous.

Regardless, the availability of reloadable, boxer-primed brass and the
expense and difficulty of dealing with Berdan primers makes this a
dubious practice in this writer's opinion, at least in the U.S.

------------------------------

Subject: 4. Reloadable (Boxer-primed) Brass

The 7.62x39 cartridge is manufactured by Federal, Remington, Winchester,
PMC, and Lapua, including inexpensive "white box" FMJ rounds from
Federal (American Eagle), Winchester (USA brand), and PMC.

Brass is available from Federal, Winchester, Remington, IMI, and Lapua
(and, no doubt, others this writer has neglected).

------------------------------

Subject: 5. Bullets

Bullets suitable for the 7.62x39 are available from many of the major
U.S. manufacturers, although they are sometimes listed under ".303
British."  Look for a .310- to .311-inch diameter bullet in the 120- to
130-grain weight range.  Acceptable results have also been reported
using .308-inch, 150-grain jacketed bullets intended for the .30-30.

------------------------------

Subject: 6. Sources

The following suppliers list 7.62x39 components in their most recent
catalogs.  The list is by no means exhaustive.

Gander Mountain (Brass, Bullets)
Box 248, Hwy W
Wilmot, WI  53192
USA

 For Orders Call:  (800) 558-9410
      Fax Orders:  (800) 533-2828
    Int'l Orders:  (414) 862-3406
Int'l Fax Orders:  (414) 862-3516

Customer Service:  (800) 426-3371
Commercial Accts:  (414) 862-3405

TDD:  (800) 558-3554

French/Spanish Translators:  (800) 558-9410


Graf & Sons (Brass, Bullets, Bullet Moulds)
Rt. 3, Hwy. 54 S.
Mexico, MO  65265
USA

Technical Service or Questions:  (314) 581-2266
                           Fax:  (314) 581-2875
              Telephone Orders:  (800) 531-2666


Midway (Brass, Bullets)
5875-L W. Van Horn Tavern Rd.
Columbia, MO  65203
USA

Telephone:  (800) 243-3220
      Fax:  (314) 446-1018


Natchez Shooters Supplies (Bullets, Bullet Moulds)
Box 22247
Chattanooga, TN  37422
USA

      Telephone Orders:  (800) 251-7839
Information and TN res:  (615) 899-0499
                   Fax:  (615) 892-4482


Widener's Reloading and Shooting Supply, Inc. (IMI Brass, Bullets)
P.O. Box 3009 CRS
Johnson City, TN  37602
USA

Telephone:  (615) 282-6786
      Fax:  (615) 282-6651

------------------------------

Subject: 7. Cast Bullets

The only cast bullet moulds truly proper for the 7.62x39 are those based
on C.E. Harris's 52A design for NEI.  Following the demise of that
company, Harris made the design available to Lee, which produces moulds
as their 312-155-2R and TL312-160-2R designs.  Now that NEI is back in
business (51583 Columbia River Hwy., Scappoose, OR 97056, USA) Walt
Melander can provide Harris's original 52A design.

Gas port fouling with self-loading rifles is surprisingly light.  The
gas piston of SKS and AK-derived rifles will foul, but this is readily
taken care of with a little steel wool, Marvel Mystery Oil (or Dexron
IIe/III Automatic Transmission Fluid), and elbow grease.  Harris has
reported that fouling with the Ruger Mini-30 was only a problem during
endurance testing.

------------------------------

Subject: 8. Loading Data: Disclaimer and Safety Notes

The author hereby disclaims all liability with respect to the use of
this document.  Users of this document assume all risk, responsibility,
and liability whatsoever for any and all injuries (including death),
losses, or damages arising from the use of this information.

Unless otherwise noted, all charges are maximum and should be reduced
10% and worked up, looking for signs of excessive pressure.  Every
attempt has been made to insure that the data are correct, however it is
recommended that they be verified with published sources wherever
possible.

------------------------------

Subject: 9. Load Data from C.E. Harris

      Handloads With Midway* Cases, Winchester Large Rifle Primers
                             Ctg. OAL 2.19"
                          Source:  C.E. Harris

                        Vel @ 15'       Pressure        Remarks
                        (f.p.s.)        (c.u.p.)
------------------------------------------------------------------------

123-gr. Lapua FMJ       2325            52,080          Maximum,
26.5 grs. RL-7          18 Sd           1450 Sd         do not exceed

125-gr. Sierra .308     2167            43,170
24.5 grs. H4198         27 Sd           2730 Sd

125-gr. Sierra .308     2220            43,240          Compressed
28.0 grs. H322          13 Sd           740 Sd          charge

123-gr. Lapua FMJ       2181            42,240
27.5 grs. H322          13 Sd           890 Sd

* Cases manufactured by Brass Extrusion Laboratories, Ltd.


   Handloads With NEI 52A or Lee 312-155-2R/TL312-160-2R Cast Bullet
                          Source:  C.E. Harris

Starting loads:

Powder                  Charge
---------------------------------
2400                    15.0 grs.
IMR or Hodgdon 4227     16.0 grs.
IMR or Hodgdon 4198     20.0 grs.
RL-7                    21.5 grs.

Miscellaneous:

Powder Charge           Vel (20.5"     Remarks
                        bbl SKS)
------------------------------------------------------------------------
14.5-15.5 grs. 2400                    Cast of wheel weights, sized
                                       .312", good "I want to shoot NOW"
                                       load.  Consider 15.5 grs. Max.
16 grs. AA1680          1420 fps
18 grs. AA1680          1630 fps
20 grs. AA1680                         Maximum load
18 grs. Olin 680**      1810 fps
19 grs. Olin 680**      1930 fps       Maximum load
21.0-22.0 grs. RL-7     1900-1950 fps

28 grs. AA2230          around 2000 fps
28 grs. AA2460               "
28 grs. H335                 "

** Discontinued

162-gr. cast from wheel weight alloy, no gas check:

Powder                  Charge
---------------------------------------------
4227                    12-14 grs.
AA1680                  15.0-16.0 grs.
4198 or RL-7            17.0 grs.
4895                    18.0 grs.

Bullseye                No more than 5 grs.
WW231                          "
SR-7625                        "
Green Dot                      "
Red Dot                        "
700-X                          "

Unique                  No more then 6 grs.
PB                             "
Herco                          "
SR-4756                        "

------------------------------

Subject: 10. Handloads With Accurate Arms Powders

    Source:  Accurate Arms
       Gun:  SKS
Bbl Length:  24"
    Primer:  Fed. 210
      Case:  IMI

                Powder  Charge  Vel
Bullet          Type    (grs.)  (fps)
-------------------------------------
100 (L)         2230    27.0    1966
                2460    27.5    1950

100             1680    28.5    2614
                2015    28.5    2138
                2230    30.0    2312
                2460    30.0    2300

110             1680    28.5    2561
                2015    28.5    2149
                2230    30.0    2313
                2460    30.0    2272

123             1680    26.5    2350
                2015    28.5    2188
                2230    30.0    2281
                2460    30.0    2172

130             1680    26.5    2313
                2015    28.5    2176
                2230    30.0    2247
                2460    30.0    2231

135             1680    26.5    2332
                2015    28.5    2189
                2230    29.5    2226
                2460    30.0    2203

------------------------------

Subject: 11. Handloads With Hercules Powders

    Source:  Hercules
      Case:  Federal
    Primer:  CCI 200
Bbl Length:  20"

                        Min OAL   Powder        Charge  Vel    Pres
Bullet                  (inches)  Type          (grs.)  (fps)  (cup)
---------------------------------------------------------------------
Speer 100gr Plinker     1.830     2400          16.5    2240   44,900

Sierra 110gr HP         2.055     2400          16.0    2115   44,800
                                  Reloder 7     26.5    2330   38,300

Hornady 123gr SP        2.155     2400          15.3    1915   44,900
                                  Reloder 7     25.5    2330   45,000

Sierra 150gr JP         2.000     2400          14.8    1800   45,000
                                  Reloder 7     24.8    2145   44,600

------------------------------

Subject: 12. Handloads With Hodgdon Powders

         Source:  Hodgdon
     Bbl Length:  24"
Max Case Length:  1.525"
 Trim To Length:  1.520"
           Note:  Hodgdon recommends reducing listed charges by 6%
                  rather than 10%.


Bullet Wt.      Powder      Charge      Vel     Pres
(grs.)          Type        (grs.)     (fps)    (cup)
------------------------------------------------------
123-125         BL-C(2)     31.5       2349     38,800
                H335        31.5       2408     40,900
                H4895       29.0       2249     33,600
                H322        29.0       2323     35,400
                H4198       26.5       2378     40,400


150             BL-C(2)     29.5       2090     40,400
                H335        29.0       2132     42,500
                H4895       28.0       2154     39,300
                H322        28.5       2192     40,400
                H4198       24.5       2122     39,800
 

    

  
 

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