7.62×51 Military Ammunition

A friend obtained a batch of ammunition built to 7.62×51 NATO specs. Differences from commercial .308 Winchester include

  • full metal jacket bullets (not full actually, but open to the core at the base of the bullet hidden in the case, complying with the Geneva Convention against expanding bullets),
  • gunk sealing the bullet in the neck to prevent ingress of moisture and to grip the bullet more tightly under handling and recoil,
  • crimped primer preventing a loose primer jamming or exploding prematurely in machine-guns, and
  • gunk around the primer sealing it against the ingress of water or oil.

Some of these features may reduce accuracy but the increase in reliability makes them worth it. A shooter with a bolt-action rifle may fire 10K rounds in a lifetime while a military shooter with a machine-gun may fire that many rounds in an afternoon. When it comes to life and death, increased reliability matters.

From the Geneva Conventions:
“Art. 16. In addition to the prohibitions which shall be established by special conventions, it is forbidden:
(1) To employ poison or poisoned weapons, or projectiles the sole object of which is the diffusion of asphyxiating or deleterious gases;
(2) To employ arms, projectiles, or materials calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.
Entering especially into this category are explosive projectiles or those charged with fulminating or inflammable materials, less than 400 grammes in weight, and bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body, such as bullets with a hard envelope which does not cover the core entirely or is pierced with incisions.”

This kind of ammunition is useful for casual target-shooting but is not legal/desirable for hunting big-game because of the non-expanding bullets. Better bullets and accuracy can be obtained by choosing individual components of ammunition and reloading. Some 7.62×51 brass have Berdan primers not easily reloaded. Buyer beware…

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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3 Responses to 7.62×51 Military Ammunition

  1. L.H.B says:

    I’ve never hunted, really (can’t stand guts, you know), so I just plink. Been out of the game for several years, actually, and just getting back into it, and I’ve noticed the changes too.

    We’re pretty much down to Hodgdon/IMR/Winchester, Alliant and Ramshot/Accurate (which I can’t find in MB) now, aren’t we?

    I use a lot of RL7 for cast loads, but it’s gone up at least $10 over the last 10 years. I’ll grudgingly use IMR, but stick powders are horrible in my measure. I should do some development with 2400, as the charges are fairly light. I can get by with RL7, 2400, and Unique for probably 90% of what I do (and I load for a pretty wide variety).

    I just happen to have a 250 Savage that collects copper at an astonishing rate, so I’m going to try this new CFE223 powder Hodgdon has out and see if it lives up to the hype. Having to clean every 10 shots because of copper fouling is a chore otherwise. (I don’t have a mould for that one).

    I picked up an SKS last fall, just for a lark, and finally got out to fire it with this chinese ammo from the vietnam era. THAT stuff is Dirty, corrosive, and it STINKS! LOL. Not a gun I’ll be reloading for. When the cheap surplus is gone, I’ll get rid of it.

    Take care

  2. L.H.B. wrote, “You on the canadiangunnutz.com forum, Bob?”

    Not regularly, but I might visit. We plan to fire off some of this stuff this weekend. I was a member of the DCRA way back in the 1970s and used a lot of IVI military stuff. My handloads shot better at 900m… Crimped primers were a pain and case capacity was a wee bit smaller. Not really a problem. I’m mostly an occasional hunter and plinker these days. Gardening is more my speed.

    My stocks of powders suitable for .308 have run out. It looks like IMR4064 will do the job well for that and several other similar cartridges. Prices for powder are horrible now that one outfit produces most of the cannister-grade powders these days. Monopoly is rarely a good thing for consumers. Then there’s paperwork on imports. I think it’s time Canadian suppliers for stuff returned.

  3. L.H.B says:

    Tradeexcanada has a deal on case lots of 7.62×51, as I recall, though I believe it still amounts to some 50 cents a round, or thereabouts.

    Also remember that if you are reloading the Nato cases to reduce your charge by a grain and work your way back up, checking for pressure signs, because military brass is heavier than commercial, which means less volume and therefore higher pressures with any given load as compared with commercial brass.

    I’ve never seen berdan primers in the stuff, personally – mostly just in the com-blok calibres.

    I bought a few hundred once fired .308 cases sight unseen, and they all turned out to be 7.62 military stuff. Quite a good deal for me, since I intend them for my Norc M-305, and those have a reputation for being pretty hard on brass.

    You on the canadiangunnutz.com forum, Bob?

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