The 7.62x54R is one of the oldest rounds still in use by militaries today. This all around workhorse still survives to this day through its ballistic performance, low price of ammo, and low-cost of its most iconic platform the Mosin-Nagant. The 7.62x54R has seen conflict the world over and remains the dedicated long-range round of the Russian Military. Shooters looking for an inexpensive, yet hard-hitting round need look no further than the 7.62x54R.
Where it all started
The development of the 7.62x54R was very much in line with the development of the Mosin-Nagant rifle. After suffering bloody losses at the hands of the Turks, the Russian commanders realized that they needed to modernize their arms to compete with the repeating rifles that were becoming a decisive element in the battles that the Russian troops had lost.
Three rifles were submitted for evaluation and the final rifle that was adopted was a combination of designs by both the Russian, Sergei Mosin and Belgian, Leon Nagant. With each contributing to the final design. While the first design that was adopted by the Russian military was the model 1891 it was later refined as the M1891/30 that was adopted in 1930. By the outbreak of the Second World War the Mosin–Nagant 91/30 and the 7.62x54R cartridge was the standard issue weapon for the Russian troops. It proved to be an inexpensive to produce and rugged design that weathered many conflicts from Europe to the Middle East. A very long and in-depth history of the development and history of the Mosin-Nagant can be found at 7.62x54R.com
Below you can see Hickok45 firing and reviewing one of these excellent rifles.
Many Flavors, one 7.62x54R
With well over 120 years of military use the 7.62x54R has seen an almost dizzying array of loading’s. Tracer, armor penetrating, steel core, soft points, and even blank rounds have all been produced for the cartridge. Currently the major military cartridges in production are the 57-N-323S, the 7N13, the 7T2, the 7BZ3, and the 7N1.
The 57-N-323S and the 7N13 are both steel core rounds designed to defeat body armor and engage hard targets, they are both known for being able to penetrate up to 6mm of steel plating. The 7N13 can be distinguished by the red lacquer band around the case mouth and is a grain lighter than the 57-N323S’s 336 grains. The 7T2 variant is a tracer round, however, and is distinguished by the green tip on the round. The 7BZ3 is also an armor-piercing round and has incendiary properties. It is distinguished by its dark red tip. Finally the 7N1 is a round intended for snipers utilizing Dragunov and similar long-range rifles. As such it is able to deliver the tightest groupings of the loadings mentioned.
The ballistic performance of the round is a bit shy of the old US stand by, the .30-06, and is roughly ballistically equivalent to the 7.62x51mm NATO which is almost the .308 WIN for civilians. However a breakdown of the two will have to wait until another article. However many think of the 7.62x54R as the Russian .30-06 due to both having similar military backgrounds and enduring popularity.
It’s Rimmed not Russian
The 7.62x54R goes by a number of names, including 7.62 Mosin-Nagant, 7.62 Dragunov, 7.62 M91, and 7.62 Russian. However that last name is somewhat of a misnomer. Officially the “R” in 7.62x54R stands for “Rimmed” not “Russian”. Being a round developed for Russian firearms this was an easy mistake to make for those in the US and the name stuck. Today you will still find people referring to it by its colloquial name. Another interesting note about this round is that it is one of the last truly rimmed rounds still in military service today. While many militaries moved to rimless cartridges the performance of the round gave the Russians little reason to make a change away from the proven round. Besides, if it’s not broke why fix it?
Firearms Chambered for 7.62x54R
The 7.62x54R not only has a large number of loadings it has a large number of firearms chambered for it. First is the almost ubiquitous Mosin-Nagant, few firearms enthusiasts have not handled one at a gun shop or have one kicking around their gun safe. Surplus Mosins are easy to find and often inexpensive. Despite not being the most accurate bolt-action rifle on the market they still make excellent rifles for deer and similar sized game.
For more modern rifles the SVD “Dragunov”, another iconic rifle is also chambered in 7.62x54R. This designated marksman rifle is still in use by the Russian and other militaries. However in the US this rifle is much more difficult to find and far more expensive.
While the round does have a long history in rifles meant for long-range engagements it has also seen use in a number of machine guns such as the PK and PKM, the PKP “Pecheneg”, the shKAS, and many others.
Whatever you are looking to do with this long-range, hard-hitting round, you are sure to find a firearm to suit your needs.
Factory Ammo & Hand Loading
Factory ammo for the 7.62x54R is easy to find, even in bulk. Hornady, Herter’s, and PPU all make good quality ammo for this round and at decent prices. For those of you looking to reload, brass, bullets, and dies are all equally easy to find. Perhaps the only thing that the 7.62x54R is missing is a greater amount of precision ammo. However this is probably due to the round being primarily fired from military surplus Mosins whose owners don’t expect sub MOA accuracy out of their rifles. However that is not to say that this round cannot be accurate, in fact Real Guns.com reports groups as small as 0.3 inches at 50 yards with certain loadings. You can go to Real Guns.com for full loading information.
The 7.62x54R is Here to Stay
With such a long history, continuing popularity and use in large militaries I have no doubt that the 7.62x54R will be here to stay for quite some time to come. If you have not fired this round go out and spend some money on a decent Mosin-Nagant and you can find out first hand why this round has endured for so long. It’s hard-hitting, inexpensive to buy, and most importantly, fun to shoot.