Barnaul: Barnaul ammunition usually appears under the Bear brand name. You’ll find this Russian-made ammo in boxes labeled as “Golden Bear,” “Silver Bear” and “Brown Bear.” The 7.62x39mm Golden Bear ammunition includes 123-grain full-metal-jacket (FMJ) or hollow-point (HP) rounds as well as a 125-grain soft point (SP). All Golden Bear rounds have Berdan-primed steel cases that have been coated for improved functioning, but they’re not reloadable. Silver Bear cartridges also have Berdan-primed steel cases, but they’re zinc plated and polished bright. Brown Bear ammunition uses steel cases that are available with a mil-spec lacquer coating or a polymer coating.
CorBon DPX: CorBon makes precision ammunition for self-defense and hunting. The company’s newest offering in 7.62x39mm is a 123-grain load that pushes CorBon’s solid- copper DPX (Deep Penetrating X-panding) projectile to a velocity of 2,300 fps. Using a solid bullet negates concerns over slug separation (maintaining 100-percent bullet weight) and ensures deeper penetration for hunting or self-defense. This design also offers very reliable expansion with a polymer tip for an enhanced ballistic coefficient (BC).
Federal Premium: Federal Premium offers three different 7.62x39mm loads, and they all feature reloadable boxer-primed brass cases. The Fusion line features a 123-grain SP load designed specifically for deer; its fused jacket and pressure-formed core provide maximum expansion and penetration. Federal’s Power-Shok 7.62x39mm ammunition features a traditional lead core with a copper jacket and a 123-grain SP bullet. It handles a wide array of hunting scenarios at a more economical price. For high-volume shooters, Federal offers a 124-grain FMJ load in its American Eagle line.
Hornady: Hornady has recognized the benefits of steel-case ammunition in AK rifles. In fact, that is what the rifle was originally intended to use. To that end, Hornady offers both 7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm ammunition with polymer-coated steel cases and non-corrosive Berdan primers. The 7.62x39mm load features a 123-grain SST (Super Shock Tip) expanding bullet with a polymer tip to for a better BC. Its “InterLock” ring ensures the core and jacket stay locked tight together during expansion and penetration. The 5.45x39mm load uses a 60-grain V-MAX expanding bullet designed for accuracy with a polymer tip and a flat trajectory. The swaged lead core produces dramatic fragmentation on targets such as varmints for maximum effectiveness.
PMC Bronze FMJs: Precision Made Cartridges (PMC) offers the Bronze ammunition line for high-volume 7.62x39mm shooting. These 123-grain FMJs produce a muzzle velocity of 2,350 fps from a 20-inch barrel. Despite its economical price, the Bronze line of ammunition is made to the same high standards as PMC’s offerings. All of the cartridges use new, reloadable brass cases and boxer primers. PMC makes the rounds to SAAMI or military standards with strict quality-control procedures.
Red Army Standard: Century Arms manufactures and imports many AK variants, and the company also imports economical ammunition made in various Eastern European military factories under the Red Army Standard name. Several rifle loadings are available: 69-grain 5.45x39mm FMJs; 148-grain 7.62x54R loads with traditional FMJs and copper-jacket FMJs; two 7.62x39mm loads with 122-grain FMJ and HP projectiles and one 123-grain 7.62x39mm FMJ load. These rounds feature non-corrosive primers and lead-core bullets, and like traditional military ammo from Eastern Europe, these cartridges have lacquered steel cases and Berdan primers so you can’t reload them.
Remington Core-Lokt PSP: Remington offers hunting and range loads in 7.62x39mm. The Remington hunting load uses the company’s time-tested Core-Lokt bullet technology. In this load, you get a 125-grain PSP bullet that compromises an exposed lead core with a progressively tapered copper jacket for reliable, controlled expansion and deep penetration. The shape of the bullet offers a better BC for a faster, flatter-shooting projectile. For more standard range use, Remington offers a 123-grain MC (metal case) bullet. This cartridge is more economical and allows for a larger volume of shooting.
TulAmmo Rounds: TulAmmo makes ammunition at a Russian small-arms factory. These rounds are reasonably priced and deliver reliable performance in the widest selection of 7.62x39mm ammo, including the heaviest bullets available for the caliber. TulAmmo offers 122-grain FMJs and HPs, 124-grain FMJs, HPs and SPs, and 154-grain SPs. For the 5.45x39mm, there is only one offering: a 60-grain FMJ load. TulAmmo uses Berdan-primed steel cases for all of its ammunition.
Winchester Ammo: Winchester offers a rather broad line of 7.62x39mm ammo with four loadings. The PDX1 Defender load, specially designed for personal protection with a 120-grain bonded HP, also features a notched jacket for consistent expansion and a 2,365-fps muzzle velocity. The protected HP tip reliably functions in semi-automatic firearms. The Razor Boar load handles tough and dangerous game with a 123-grain, solid-copper bullet with an expanding HP. The case is nickel plated for reliability and corrosion resistance, and a low-flash powder is used to help maintain night vision. The Super-X line is designed for more traditional hunting and features a 123-grain SP projectile for large, thin-skinned game. Finally, Winchester offers a traditional 123-grain FMJ load for target practice and plinking.
Wolf Performance Ammunition: Wolf takes advantage of large production facilities in Russia and Ukraine to import ammunition at economical prices. Lately, Wolf has drastically expanded its product lineup with brass-cased ammunition in addition to its standard steel-case rounds. For the AK, the company offers a good selection for both the 7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm. Wolf Military Classic rounds use plain steel cases and FMJ, HP or SP bullets with Berdan primers. Wolf Polyformance ammunition features polymer-coated steel cases for improved feeding and extraction and better reliability in inclement conditions. Finally, the company offers a 7.62x39mm load with a 123-grain FMJ bullet loaded to Russian specs, meaning the steel cases are lacquer-coated with a waterproof sealant around the primer.
For many years, most of the available 7.62x39mm AK rounds came as surplus from Eastern Europe or Russia itself, with occasional Chinese shipments and, at least once, some horrible Egyptian ammo. Most of that surplus is now gone or committed to other uses, but fortunately, several American and foreign manufacturers have responded to consumer demand for new and clean ammunition for AKs. This ammo ranges from inexpensive range ammunition to well-designed hunting, self-defense and target rounds. Of course, AKs are available in several different chamberings, and many of the manufacturers listed here offer a variety of caliber options. Here is a roundup of some recent offerings.
For more information about the AK rounds mentioned in the gallery above, please visit the following sites.
PMC Bronze FMJs
Red Army Standard
Remington Core-Lokt PSP
Wolf Performance Ammunition
This article was originally published in ‘AK-47 & Soviet Weapons’ 2017. To subscribe, visit outdoorgroupstore.com.
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