Issue 26 Who Knew? A Guide to 7.62 Ammo Steven Kuo 2 Comments, Join the Conversation Who Knew? A Guide to 7.62 Ammo. Many aspects of guns, ammunition, accessories, and other related topics engender strong and passionate opinions — often outsized to any rational, objective assessment of the issues at hand. Take the 7.62x39mm round, for instance. Some people seem to think that it’s the most amazing thing ever invented, a one-shot man stopper that can pass through 10 layers of concrete, the heart of a legendary weapon system that never stops functioning whether covered in mud or dipped in concrete. Others seem to think that it’s the spawn of the devil, an overhyped, inaccurate, blooping mortar round that’ll turn you into a Bernie-loving Communist just by looking at it. Cut away all the hoopla and internet bravado, and you’ll find that the 7.62x39mm is a solid intermediate rifle round that’s proven to be very effective for its intended purpose. As a fighting cartridge with an appropriate projectile, it’s shown to deliver great penetration and good terminal performance within close to medium range. For sure, its ballistics wouldn’t be your first choice for long range, but as you’ll see in our testing, it’s not an inherently inaccurate round, as some may believe. Designed at the tail end of World War II, the 7.62x39mm cartridge was optimized for self-loading rifles. The case is highly tapered, contributing to easier feeding and extraction, but also resulting in the extremely curved and very distinctive AK magazines known the world over. The first Soviet military production 7.62x39mm cartridge was designated the M43, spec’d out with a 123-grain steel core and copper-plated boat tail bullet along with a Berdan-primed steel case. Most of the domestically manufactured commercial ammo in this guide use brass cases and Boxer primers, while the former Eastern Bloc churns out pallet after pallet of steel-cased and Berdan-primed ammo. To help mitigate corrosion, steel cases and jackets feature some sort of coating or treatment, such as lacquer, polymer, or zinc. We asked renowned AK builder Jim Fuller about steel cases. He said, “AKs are designed for steel cases; they run best. The AK’s extractor is wide and designed to pull steel cases. The round can take a beating in the action. Still, I don’t usually see problems with brass cases in 7.62x39mm AKs, though brass can get ripped up in 5.56mm AKs or out-of-spec chambers.” Regarding primers: Boxer primers are the standard here in the states — the primer has a cup and anvil, while the pocket in the case has one hole in the center, making it easy to reload. Berdan primers don’t incorporate an anvil; it’s in the case instead with two flash holes. The difficulty of removing Berdan primers and lack of support in the reloading marketplace makes reloading them much more challenging — most U.S. shooters don’t seem to bother trying. Without further ado, please peruse the following pages highlighting 23 different 7.62x39mm loads. Please note that MSRPs are shown, but street pricing is often much lower. In addition, some manufacturers don’t institute list prices, so those with asterisks are estimated. There’s everything from cheap FMJ hoser ammo to state-of-the-art defensive ammo. In particular, take note that we achieved some impressive accuracy with a cartridge that many believe is inherently inaccurate. That’s not the case, as shown by sub-MOA and MOA groups from some offerings — as well as some surprisingly good results from some cheap imported ammo. Please do check out the sidebar on testing procedures and keep in mind that the accuracy results shown here are from our particular test rig, and your mileage may vary. Even so, our group sizes ranged from 0.87 MOA at the very best to 4.1 MOA at very worst. Average group size went from 1.09 to 3.20 MOA. And the smallest group size for each product went from 0.87 to 2.23 MOA. Pretty damn good for a so-called inaccurate Commie round. Who knew? Corrosive Surplus Ammo This article focuses on commercial ammo, but many folks have stocked up on imported surplus ammo. Supplies have dried up with importation having been halted, but you may still have opportunities to purchase surplus ammo. They’re typically steel cased with corrosive Berdan primers. Corrosive primers contain chemicals that leave salts behind after being ignited. Salt attracts water, and anyone who’s spent any time near the ocean can tell you what saltwater does to metals. Therefore, if you use ammo with corrosive primers, you need to be diligent about cleaning your weapon after sending rounds downrange — how soon afterward depends on your climate. In extremely humid conditions, corrosion has been known to start right after a range session. In very dry areas, you’ll have more leeway. In either case, salts from corrosive primers can scatter throughout your weapon, so you need to be thorough. Normal cleaning regimens aren’t always sufficient. In fact, hot soapy water is a very effective cleaning method, readily removing the salts. Of course, water is a source of corrosion itself, so carefully dry and lubricate your gun afterward. Compressed air is convenient; some like to spray WD-40 or similar. Testing Equipment and Protocol We strived to do as much fair and consistent testing as possible within the amount of ammo and time we had available. For one product, we only had a single 20-round box to provide for both the chronograph and accuracy testing. To be consistent across all the products in this guide, we settled on five rounds for the chronograph and three five-shot groups (reporting the best, worst, and average maximum spread center-to-center). Before even hitting the range, we weighed 10 rounds from the same box of each product on a Mettler laboratory scale. It was recently calibrated and is accurate to one hundredth of a gram. We present the average, minimum, maximum, standard deviation, and extreme spread of these measurements to give you a sense of the consistency. We also note in the product specs which bullets attract a magnet due to steel in their jackets — some ranges and competitions prohibit use of such bullets. Muzzle velocity is affected by environmental conditions, so we did all our chronograph work in a single session. Monitoring weather conditions with a Kestrel 5700 Elite Weather Meter, the temperature rose from 78 to 80 degrees from the beginning to the end of the session. Humidity stayed constant at 39 percent, barometric pressure was 27.43 in-hg, and our elevation was 2,374 feet. We used a MagnetoSpeed V3 ballistic chronograph, which was awesome. With 23 loads to test, we had a lot of work to do while trying to minimize weather changes. We strapped the MagnetoSpeed to the barrel, plugged in the control unit, and it reliably captured every single shot, writing the data to an SD card. It’s so convenient we could have easily done accuracy testing at the same time, but with it attached directly to the barrel we wanted totally clean results for the groups. As with the weights, we present all the statistics for you to assess the relative consistency. MagnetoSpeed V3 Chrono $380.99 brownells.com Kestrel Meter w/Applied Ballistics $699.99brownells.com For accuracy testing, we broke out a CZ 527 bolt-action rifle. Featuring a micro-Mauser action, it’s available in a variety of configurations and calibers, including a 7.62x39mm magazine-fed carbine with an 18.5-inch 1:9.5 cold hammer forged barrel that we used. The CZ also has a single set trigger, which essentially became a hair trigger once set. We made use of that and topped the gun with a Nightforce Competition 15-55x52mm monster of a scope. To make it easy to measure distances through the reticle, we ran it at 40x. CZ 527 7.62×39 $673.60 guns.com Winchester 7.62×39 Ammo $35.99 sportsmans.com We shot from a concrete bench at targets at 100 meters (109 yards), utilizing Bullseye Camera Systems’ AmmoCam Long Range Edition to keep eyes on the targets. At that distance, we were hardly stretching its transmission capabilities, but it worked perfectly. Placed downrange, a plastic ammo can houses the camera, transmitter, and battery pack. Back at the shooter’s position, a receiver/wireless access point with another battery pack allows you to connect with an iPad or other device and view the targets. The app allows you to save shot sequences, highlighting a new impact by switching before and after images. This was a cool feature, but it takes time and with the huge amount of shooting facing us we abandoned that idea and just used the camera to observe. The battery life is rated at 12 hours — sure enough after six-hour range sessions, the status lights showed 50 percent. During the accuracy sessions, we again monitored environmental conditions with the Kestrel. The temperature varied from 64 to 70 degrees, humidity from 61 to 69 percent, and barometric pressure from 27.53 to 27.58 in-hg. Winds ranged from around 1 to 5 mph at half to three-quarters value. Kestrels have a sterling reputation as weather meters, and the 5700 Elite adds to that with built-in ballistics and Bluetooth. We look forward to shaking out these new features in more depth. Readers should note that CZ states the following: “Built to CIP specifications, our 7.62×39 chambers are ideal for shooting steel-cased surplus ammo. Designed to shoot 0.311 bullets, some American brass ammo may not perform as well as the imported steel-cased variety because of SAAMI brass dimensions and varying bullet diameters.” Indeed, some of the imported steel-cased ammo did much better than we would have expected, and some domestic ammo did worse. Please keep in mind that the accuracy results shown in this article are from this particular rifle. As you know, ammo will perform differently from rifle to rifle, so take these results for what they are. Chronograph Mean Min Max Std Dev ES Double Tap 150 JSP 19,69.2 1,945 1,990 16.559 45 Double Tap Lead free 123 Barnes TSX (lead free) 2,067.2 2,042 2,084 15.643 42 PMC Bronze 123 FMJ 2,248 2,224 2,276 21.494 52 Double Tap Rifle Defense 123 2,254.6 2,211 2,272 25.026 61 Winchester Best Value white box Q3174 123 FMJ 2,326 2,291 2,354 25.189 63 Sellier & Bellot 123 FMJ 2,346.6 2,321 2,391 27.898 70 Hornady 8078 123 SST 2,351.2 2,329 2,371 17.326 42 Federal Power-shok 123 Soft point 2,356.8 2,340 2,372 13.627 32 Corbon DPX Rifle 123 DPX (lead free, solid copper) 2,358.2 2,342 2,378 15.691 36 Winchester Power-point X76239 123 2,375.2 2,360 2,393 13.368 33 Red Army Standard 122 FMJ 2,412.8 2,391 2,430 16.947 39 Tula 122 FMJ 2,431 2,413 2,459 21.059 46 Red Army Standard 122 HP 2,432.2 2,406 2,466 25.946 60 Federal Fusion 123 Fusion 2,432.4 2,418 2,454 13.390 36 Wolf Polyformance 123 HP 2,439.4 2,421 2,448 11.327 27 Wolf Polyformance 123 FMJ 2,446.2 2,426 2,476 20.425 50 Barnaul Brown Bear AP762HP 123 Bimetal HP 2,448.6 2,434 2,469 12.896 35 Wolf Performance 122 HP 2,449.4 2,401 2,487 36.535 86 G2 Research Rip out 124 Trident 2,456.8 2,442 2,472 13.461 30 Barnaul Silver Bear A762HPN 123 Bimetal HP 2,463.2 2,439 2,475 14.584 36 Ulyanovsk Cartridge Works 122 FMJ 2,476.8 2,435 2,543 41.794 108 Prvi Partizan 123 PSP 2,521.4 2,503 2,537 12.973 34 Prvi Partizan 123 FMJ 2,554.8 2,541 2,563 9.121 22 Weight Mean Min Max Std Dev ES Hornady 8078 123 SST 16.126 16.07 16.16 0.0299 0.09 Wolf Polyformance 123 HP 16.235 16.19 16.31 0.0412 0.12 Red Army Standard 122 FMJ 16.289 16.19 16.41 0.0705 0.22 Wolf Polyformance 123 FMJ 16.298 16.21 16.37 0.0557 0.16 Wolf Performance 122 HP 16.307 16.24 16.36 0.0356 0.12 Barnaul Brown Bear AP762HP 123 Bimetal HP 16.309 16.19 16.37 0.0574 0.18 Barnaul Silver Bear A762HPN 123 Bimetal HP 16.312 16.23 16.39 0.0399 0.16 Tula 122 FMJ 16.313 16.22 16.43 0.0604 0.21 Red Army Standard 122 HP 16.347 16.19 16.54 0.1069 0.35 Ulyanovsk Cartridge Works 122 FMJ 16.355 16.22 16.45 0.0798 0.23 Sellier & Bellot 123 FMJ 17.158 17.03 17.21 0.0505 0.18 Prvi Partizan 123 FMJ 17.477 17.39 17.53 0.0440 0.14 Federal Power-shok 123 Soft point 17.487 17.44 17.55 0.0323 0.11 Federal Fusion 123 Fusion 17.505 17.43 17.56 0.0450 0.13 Prvi Partizan 123 PSP 17.543 17.45 17.63 0.0552 0.18 PMC Bronze 123 FMJ 17.601 17.54 17.65 0.0390 0.11 G2 Research Rip out 124 Trident 17.647 17.57 17.82 0.0759 0.25 Double Tap Lead free 123 Barnes TSX (lead free) 17.71 17.63 17.78 0.0414 0.15 Double Tap Rifle Defense 123 17.79 17.69 17.86 0.0609 0.17 Winchester Best Value white box Q3174 123 FMJ 17.862 17.74 18.01 0.0826 0.27 Winchester Power-point X76239 123 17.887 17.79 17.94 0.0430 0.15 Corbon DPX Rifle 123 DPX (lead free, solid copper) 17.925 17.71 18.24 0.1498 0.53 Double Tap 150 JSP 19.382 19.28 19.51 0.0630 0.23 Groups; Max Spread CTC (MOA) Smallest Largest Average SD Federal Power-shok 123 Soft point 0.872 1.896 1.359 0.514 Double Tap 150 JSP 1.024 1.256 1.127 0.118 Sellier & Bellot 123 FMJ 1.033 1.142 1.092 0.055 G2 Research Rip out 124 Trident 1.108 2.128 1.529 0.533 PMC Bronze 123 FMJ 1.192 2.583 2.147 0.642 Barnaul Brown Bear AP762HP 123 Bimetal HP 1.272 1.676 1.473 0.202 Winchester Power-point X76239 123 1.296 2.590 2.091 0.696 Hornady 8078 123 SST 1.319 1.378 1.342 0.031 Prvi Partizan 123 PSP 1.368 2.560 1.965 0.536 Corbon DPX Rifle 123 DPX (lead free, solid copper) 1.388 3.860 2.623 1.236 Barnaul Silver Bear A762HPN 123 Bimetal HP 1.623 1.845 1.739 0.111 Red Army Standard 122 HP 1.670 2.536 2.168 0.447 Wolf Polyformance 123 FMJ 1.740 2.375 2.068 0.318 Double Tap Lead free 123 Barnes TSX (lead free) 1.781 2.195 1.972 0.209 Red Army Standard 122 FMJ 1.804 2.872 2.186 0.478 Wolf Polyformance 123 HP 1.878 3.190 2.559 0.657 Federal Fusion 123 Fusion 1.915 2.543 2.132 0.356 Winchester Best Value white box Q3174 123 FMJ 1.937 3.986 3.201 1.106 Tula 122 FMJ 1.970 2.078 2.026 0.054 Wolf Performance 122 HP 1.977 4.107 2.801 1.144 Double Tap Rifle Defense 123 2.134 3.560 2.802 0.626 Prvi Partizan 123 FMJ 2.157 3.137 2.546 0.443 Ulyanovsk Cartridge Works 122 FMJ 2.229 2.784 2.548 0.287 Bear Ammunition Company Brown Bear Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain HP (yes) Case: Steel (polymer coated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: Russia Overall Length: 2.181 inches MSRP / Price per round: $7.60 (20 rounds) / $0.38 URL: www.bearammo.com Notes: Through the Bear Ammunition Company, Barnaul offers a family of products with the “Bear” moniker — Brown Bear, Silver Bear, and Golden Bear. The Barnaul Cartridge Plant has a long and storied history dating back to Emperor Alexander II in the 19th century. It was one of the first cartridge plants in St. Petersburg, supplying products to the Russian Army during World War I. With the German siege on the city during the following world war, the plant was moved to Barnaul and produced about half of Russia’s ammo during the war. And they’ve kept going ever since. Brown Bear ammo is steel-cased and polymer-coated. It performed well in our testing, displaying excellent consistency on the chronograph (though average on weight) and surprisingly good accuracy in the CZ 527, at a very economical price. Its 1.27 to 1.68 MOA groups were the smallest of the imported steel-case offerings by a good margin. Bear Ammunition Company Silver Bear Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain HP (yes) Case: Steel (Zinc plated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: Russia Overall Length: 2.178 inches MSRP / Price per round: $8.72 (20 rounds) / $0.44 URL: www.bearammo.com Notes: The next step up from Brown Bear, Silver Bear ammo has zinc-coated steel cases. In turn, Golden Bear (not tested) features brass-plated steel cases. In our testing, Silver Bear didn’t group quite as well as its little brother (with its smallest at 1.62 MOA), but was very consistent on weight. Muzzle velocity consistency was above average. It was also a pretty hot round, with an average muzzle velocity of 2,463 fps. Corbon DPX Rifle Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain lead-free solid copper (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.178 inches MSRP / Price per round: $42.92 (20 rounds) / $2.15 URL: www.corbon.com Notes: Corbon’s a family owned business known for its defensive loads. Hailing from South Dakota, they’ve been making ammo for over 30 years. The DPX bullet is designed to perform well after penetrating a heavy barrier, maintaining 100 percent of its weight due to its homogeneous solid copper construction. Yet while it punches through hard barriers, Corbon states that it only penetrates 11 to 18 inches in ballistic gelatin, ideal for tactical applications. Its best group out of our CZ 527 was good at 1.39 MOA, but the average opened up to among the largest in this article. Consistency on the chrono was good, but on the lab scale was the least. We should note that Jim Fuller cited Corbon as one of his favorite loads for performance and accuracy in his builds. Double Tap Barnes TSX Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain Barnes TSX (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.182 inches MSRP / Price per round: $39.95 (20 rounds) / $2 URL: www.doubletapammo.net Notes: Doubletap Ammunition has been manufacturing ammo since 2002 and is known for producing a wide variety of loads and calibers. Indeed, they sent us three varieties to test (two shown here). Barnes TSX is one of our favorite hunting bullets, delivering deadly results with its all-copper construction. However, it may have also suffered a bit from the CZ’s chambering (see testing sidebar), with accuracy that was just average in our testing; the smallest group was 1.78 MOA. Consistency on the scale was good and on the chronograph above average. It was also the slowest 123-grain load, at 2,067 fps. (WEB EXTRA) Double Tap JSP Bullet (Magnet?): 150-grain Speer JSP (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.176 inches MSRP / Price per round: $32.95 (20 rounds) / $1.65 URL: www.doubletapammo.net Notes: Our CZ 527 really liked Doubletap’s heavy 150-grain Speer jacketed soft points. Designed primarily as a hunting load, this round posted excellent accuracy and consistent group sizes, hovering just a bit over 1 MOA. Its smallest group was the second best in this guide. The 150s were less consistent on weight and muzzle velocity, but you can’t argue with the superb results. Double Tap Rifle Defense Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain Rifle Defense (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.185 inches MSRP / Price per round: $32.95 (20 rounds) / $1.65 URL: www.doubletapammo.net Notes: Doubletap’s Rifle Defense ammo didn’t fare as well in our testing as its brethren, with accuracy results near the bottom of the pack and below average consistency in muzzle velocity and weight. Still, the Rifle Defense projectiles are designed to provide good expansion for personal defense and small to medium game, and 2 to 3 MOA will certainly get the job done. Federal Fusion Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain Fusion (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.185 inches MSRP / Price per round: $31.95 (20 rounds) / $1.60 URL: www.federalpremium.com Notes: Federal’s been an American institution since the 1920s, and we tested two of their three offerings in this COMBLOC caliber. Their Fusion line is designed to provide affordable hunting loads, in particular for deer. Amongst the pack, the Fusion was average in accuracy (the smallest group was 1.92 MOA) and consistency of weight, good in muzzle velocity consistency. Federal Power-Shok Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain soft point (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.190 inches MSRP / Price per round: $32.95 (20 rounds) / $1.65 URL: www.federalpremium.com Notes: Federal’s Power-shok offering has a soft point bullet designed for hunting. And hunt you shall, as this ammo boasted the smallest group in our testing, at an impressive 0.87 MOA. Other groups opened up more, but the average size was still among the best. Consistency of weight ranked second best and of muzzle velocity was above average. G2 Research Trident Bullet (Magnet?): 124-grain Trident (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.178 inches MSRP / Price per round: $56.99 (20 rounds) / $2.85 URL: www.g2rammo.com Notes: G2 Research is a relatively new ammunition company making waves with its unique projectiles for defensive ammo. Their premium Trident rifle ammo features solid copper bullets designed for good penetration and maximum expansion through light or heavy clothing, opening into three nasty petals. In our testing, it was on the hot side with a muzzle velocity of 2,457 fps with good consistency, while measured weight was much less consistent. Accuracy was very good, with a best group of 1.11 MOA and an average of 1.53 MOA. Hornady 8078 Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain SST (no) Case: Steel (polymer coated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.185 inches MSRP / Price per round: $47.25 (50 rounds) / $0.95 URL: www.hornady.com Notes: Hornady’s been manufacturing ammunition since 1949, and now has more than 300 employees and more than 108,000 square feet of production facilities. It’s one of the few American companies manufacturing steel-cased ammo, and its polymer-tipped SST (Super Shock Tip) loads have an excellent reputation. Its accuracy in the CZ was good, though others were better, but notably it had the most consistent group sizes by quite a bit, with a narrow range from 1.32 to 1.38 MOA (also contributing to a third place finish in average group size). Showing Hornady’s manufacturing prowess, the extreme spread of measured weight was just 0.09 grams across 10 rounds, the best of this bunch. PMC Bronze Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain FMJ (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: Korea Overall Length: 2.186 inches MSRP / Price per round: $19.95* (20 rounds) / $1 URL: www.brownells.com Notes: Hailing from Korea, PMC’s manufacturing process is completely vertically integrated, meaning every component is produced in-house, even the brass. Bronze is PMC’s line of range ammo for recreation, target shooting, and competition. Tested accuracy was good, with an excellent best group of 1.19 MOA, though average group size was middle-of-the-pack. As we’ve seen before with PMC’s .223 loads, muzzle velocity was low, the second slowest of the 122- and 123-grain rounds. Consistency on the chronograph was also below average, while it was very good on the scale. Prvi Partizan FMJ Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain FMJ (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: Serbia Overall Length: 2.181 inches MSRP / Price per round: $9.95 (20 rounds) / $0.50 URL: www.prvipartizan.com Notes: Situated in Serbia, Prvi Partizan has been producing ammunition since 1928, supplying militaries, hunters, and sportsmen. We tested two of their three 7.62x39mm offerings, and they were the hottest in this guide, the FMJ with the highest muzzle velocity at 2,555 fps. It was also the most consistent on the chronograph, with a standard deviation of just 9.1. However, its accuracy in the CZ 527 didn’t shine amongst the products here, though still perfectly serviceable at 2 to 3 MOA. Prvi Partizan PSP Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain PSP (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: Serbia Overall Length: 2.190 inches MSRP / Price per round: $10.95 (20 rounds) / $0.55 URL: www.prvipartizan.com Notes: Prvi Partizan’s soft point was the second hottest load here and also posted excellent consistency on the chronograph. Its weight measurements were less so, while accuracy results were above average. Its best group was 1.37 MOA and average group size was 1.96 MOA. Red Army Standard FMJ Bullet (Magnet?): 122-grain FMJ (yes) Case: Steel (polymer coated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: Russia Overall Length: 2.187 inches MSRP / Price per round: $5.40 (20 rounds) / $0.27 URL: www.redarmystandard.com Notes: Launched by Century International Arms several years ago, Red Army Standard imports a variety of COMBLOC cartridges with attractive pricing. Its FMJ turned in groups that were a tad below average (1.8 MOA at best), while the standard deviation on chronograph was average; on weight, less so. Red Army Standard HP Bullet (Magnet?): 122-grain HP (yes) Case: Steel (polymer coated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: Russia Overall Length: 2.146 inches MSRP / Price per round: $5.40 (20 rounds) / $0.27 URL: www.redarmystandard.com Notes: Red Army Standard’s hollowpoint round delivered better group sizes (smallest at 1.67 MOA) than the FMJ, coming in roughly mid-pack. Muzzle velocity consistency was average, but weight consistency was next to last. Still, a solid and affordable round. Sellier & Bellot V332242U Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain FMJ (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: Czech Republic Overall Length: 2.19 inches MSRP / Price per round: $14.95* (20 rounds) / $0.75 URL: www.sellierbellot.us Notes: Sellier & Bellot is the elder statesman in this group, having produced ammunition since 1825. Perhaps it’s the shared provenance of the Czech Republic — the S&B ammo performed wonderfully in the CZ 527, with the third most consistent group sizes and third smallest group at just over 1 MOA. Consistency on the chronograph was good, while consistency of weight was average. Tulammo UL076240 Bullet (Magnet?): 122-grain FMJ (yes) Case: Steel (polymer coated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: Russia Overall Length: 2.191 inches MSRP / Price per round: $9.95* (40 rounds) / $0.25 URL: www.tulammousa.com Notes: Almost as old as Sellier & Bellot, Tula Cartridge Works has been in business since 1880 when it was founded by Emperor Alexander II. Tula makes a wide selection of 7.62x39mm ammo, in various bullet weights and types. This particular load was the second most consistent on group sizes (1.97 to 2.08 MOA), though the best group was larger than most others here. Consistency on muzzle velocity and weight were below average. At an estimated MSRP of a quarter per round, Tula’s the cheapest in this guide. Ulyanovsk Cartridge Works FMJ Bullet (Magnet?): 122-grain FMJ (yes) Case: Steel (polymer coated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: Russia Overall Length: 2.190 inches MSRP / Price per round: $5.99* (20 rounds) / $0.30 URL: n/a Notes: While Ulyanovsk Cartridge Works is no longer in business, we had a bunch of this ammo and figured we’d test it in case readers had some stocked away, too. Similar in construction to the other Russian-manufactured ammo, this UCW load turned in the worst accuracy and consistency of muzzle velocity, and placed near the bottom on consistency of weight. Its muzzle velocity of 2,477 was among the fastest. Winchester Super-X Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain Power-Point (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.185 inches MSRP / Price per round: $30* (20 rounds) / $1.50 URL: www.winchester.com Notes: Winchester is another storied name in America, founded in 1866 and synonymous with the Gun that Won the West. We tested two of their 7.62x39mm offerings, including this hunting load with Power-point bullets. Its smallest group was good, at 1.3 MOA, though there was a large variation to the largest. Consistency on the chronograph was good and on the scale, it was above average. (WEB EXTRA) Winchester Value Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain FMJ (no) Case: Brass Primer: Boxer Origin: USA Overall Length: 2.163 inches MSRP / Price per round: $18* (20 rounds) / $0.90 URL: www.winchester.com Notes: Many a shooter has looked to so-called “Winchester White Box” for affordable range ammo. While it’s impossible to beat the pricing of imported steel-case ammo, Winchester’s value offering is well priced for domestic production. It didn’t do as well in the CZ 527 compared to the others, placing toward the bottom in accuracy and consistency. Wolf Performance Ammunition Polyperformance Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain FMJ (yes) Case: Steel (polymer coated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: Russia Overall Length: 2.184 inches MSRP / Price per round: $5.99* (20 rounds) / $0.30 URL: www.aimsurplus.com Notes: Wolf’s current production Polyformance FMJ load turned in reasonable mid-pack accuracy, with the smallest group at 1.74 MOA, and average consistency on weight. All of Wolf’s loads were relatively hot, with muzzle velocities exceeding 2,400 fps. Consistency on the chronograph readings were a little below average, though. Wolf Performance Ammunition Polyperformance Bullet (Magnet?): 123-grain HP (yes) Case: Steel (polymer coated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: Russia Overall Length: 2.181 inches MSRP / Price per round: $5.99* (20 rounds) / $0.30 URL: www.aimsurplus.com Notes: Another Wolf variant in this guide is their Polyformance 123-grain hollow-point. Its accuracy in our testing was below average (with the smallest at 1.88 MOA), but its consistency on weight was good and the standard deviation on its muzzle velocity measurements was the second best. It’s hard to complain at this price point. (WEB EXTRA) Wolf Performance Ammunition Performance Bullet (Magnet?): 122-grain HP (yes) Case: Steel (lacquer coated) Primer: Berdan (non-corrosive) Origin: Russia Overall Length: 2.182 inches MSRP / Price per round: not in current production URL: www.aimsurplus.com Notes: For many shooters, when they think about imported Russian ammo, Wolf comes to mind. Over the years, Wolf has made a name for itself selling a metric ton of affordable steel-cased imported ammo. This particular variant isn’t current production, but we wanted to see how it did, as it represents a lacquer-coated cartridge versus the polymer coatings on most of the other steel-cased ammo here. Its accuracy ranked near the bottom, both in group size and standard deviation. Same with chronograph readings, while consistency of weight was near the top, in third place. Note the sealant around the bullet and primer; many prize lacquer sealed ammo for its corrosion resistance. Explore RECOILweb:Preview - Patterned Polymer DyeingHigh Angle, High Altitude Mountain Shooting Course with Steve ReichertBrownells' YouTube Channel TerminatedNavLight - Just Enough Light NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. 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