Although it has been in service for almost four decades now, here in the United States the 5.45x39mm Russian cartridge is a newcomer. Developed as a closely guarded state secret during the peak of the Cold War, the 5.45x39mm was the Russian Military establishment’s answer to the 5.56mm NATO round. Many “old guard” types saw the 5.45 merely as a way of keeping up with the Jones. “If the West has a small, fast round, we should have one, too.”

century2.jpgWhile that thinking might have a bit of truth, the fact still remains the average Soviet soldier could carry more 5.45x39mm ammunition than they could the larger, heavier 7.62x39mm. The lighter weight projectiles of the 5.45mm also translated to a milder recoil, though the 7.62mm Russian will never be convicted of having “heavy” recoil. Like the 5.56mm M16A2, muzzle climb from the 5.45mm chambered AK-74 was slight, enabling rapid follow-up shots and a practical burst fire option.

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