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Difference Between 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 Cartridges: A Comprehensive Guide

Explore the contrasts between 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 cartridges. Ballistics, applications & more. Make informed decisions for your shooting preferences.

For any responsible firearm owner, shooting enthusiast, hunter, competitive marksman, law enforcement officer, or military professional, comprehending the intricate distinctions between cartridges like the 7.62x39mm and the larger in dimensions 7.62x51mm NATO and their capabilities and limitations is an essential responsibility.

Their histories, and physical characteristics—including trajectory and energy transfer—ballistic performance, and applications—will all be compared in this thorough examination. 

Understanding the more subtle distinctions covered extensively in this guide equips firearms enthusiasts to choose the most appropriate rifle and cartridge pairing aligned with their needs, avoiding the pitfalls of compromising effectiveness by selecting the wrong tool absent key nuanced knowledge. 

By delving into the nuances separating these iconic Cold War era calibers remaining relevant today, shooters can safely and effectively run their preferred platform through drills at the range or into the field. 

Let’s examine what sets the AK-47’s 7.62x39mm apart from the larger 7.62x51mm NATO used in Western battle rifles and machine guns.

Related Topics:


Unraveling the Basics of 7.62x39 and 7.62x51

A. 7.62x39 Cartridge: History, Design, and Applications

The 7.62x39 cartridge originated in the Soviet Union during World War II. The Soviets attempted to swap out their outdated bolt-action Mosin-Nagant rifles with more contemporary semi-automatic rifles as the conflict continued

They also wanted an intermediate cartridge that was smaller than the full-power 7.62x54R used by the Mosin-Nagant, but more effective than pistol rounds at typical infantry combat ranges.

After testing various prototypes, the Soviets adopted the 7.62x39 mm M43 cartridge in 1943. The 7.62x39 fires a .312" diameter 123-grain full metal jacket bullet at around 2,350 feet per second (1,445 ft-lbs muzzle energy).

The 7.62x39 was designed for the SKS carbine and found immense popularity when used in the AK-47 assault rifle. Its relatively mild recoil and adequate ballistics out to 300 yards made it well-suited for automatic fire. 

The 7.62x39's combination of compact size and moderate power filled the gap between pistol caliber submachine guns like the PPSh-41 and larger battle rifles.

The 7.62x39 cartridge has given armies, rebels, and insurgents all across the world equipment since it was first introduced

Even after the Soviet military replaced the AK-47 with the 5.45x39, the economical and reliable 7.62x39mm remained popular with many non-Soviet militaries. 

Additionally, the cartridge gained a strong civilian following, used for hunting, target shooting, and self-defense. The 7.62x39 shows no signs of fading away any time soon.

B. 7.62x51 Cartridge (NATO): Evolution and Utilization

After World War II, the United States and NATO countries sought a standard rifle cartridge to replace the .30-06 and various other calibers in service. 

The objective was to produce a more compact cartridge that would perform similarly to the.30-06 in semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines.

The 7.62x51mm NATO was the culmination of this effort. Adopted in 1954, the 7.62x51 fires a .308" diameter 147-grain bullet at around 2,750 fps (2,470 ft-lbs). With performance nearly identical to .30-06, the 7.62x51's case is over 1/2" shorter.

The U.S. military designated the M14 rifle to fire the new 7.62x51 cartridge. However, the M14 saw only limited service in Vietnam before being replaced by the M16 and its 5.56x45mm ammo. 

Despite this, the 7.62x51 became a standard cartridge for NATO and many Western militaries. It continues serving in general-purpose machine guns, designated marksman rifles, and sniper rifles.

Commercially, Winchester marketed the nearly identical .308 Winchester alongside the 7.62x51. Hunters and sport shooters took to it quickly. 

The .308 Winchester's popularity never waned and is now one of the top hunting cartridges in the U.S. With a wide selection of bullet weights and designs, the versatile .308 continues proving itself in virtually every shooting application.


Analyzing Technical Aspects: Ballistics, Recoil, and Performance

A. Ballistic Characteristics and Performance Variations

When examining the 7.62x39 and 7.62x51/308 side by side, some distinct differences emerge that impact their ballistic performance and capabilities. Let's take a high-level overview:

Cartridge Dimensions

  • 7.62x39Case Length: 1.528"
    • Overall Length: 2.205"

  • 7.62x51/.308 WinchesterCase Length: 2.015"
    • Overall Length: 2.8"

The 7.62x51 case has over 25% more capacity than the 7.62x39, allowing it to hold a larger powder charge.

Standard Bullet Types and Weights

  • 7.62x39123-125 grain full metal jacket
    • 154-grain soft point (hunting)
  • 7.62x51/.308147-168-grain full metal jacket
    • 150-180 grain soft point (hunting)

The 7.62x51 fires heavier bullets than the 7.62x39, though both use .30 caliber projectiles.

Muzzle Velocity and Energy

  • 7.62x39~2,350 fps
    • ~1,445 ft-lbs
  • 7.62x51~2,700-2,800 fps
    • ~2,350-2,650 ft-lbs

With its higher powder capacity and heavier bullets, the 7.62x51 understandably has a substantial advantage in muzzle energy over the 7.62x39.

Trajectory and Effective Range

  • 7.62x39:Effective range: ~200-300 yards
    • Bullet drop around -10" at 250 yards
  • 7.62x51:Effective range: ~600+ yards
    • Bullet drop around -6" at 250 yards

The 7.62x51's flatter trajectory gives it an edge at longer ranges, whereas the 7.62x39 is more optimized for closer engagements.

These ballistic differences significantly impact each cartridge's capabilities and ideal usage, which we will continue to explore. First, let's examine how recoil differs between the two.

B. Recoil Management and Handling

Another area where the 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 diverge is recoil, particularly in rapid-fire scenarios. 

Here are some key comparisons:

  • 7.62x39 (AK-47 platform)~6 ft-lbs of recoil energy
    • Mild and very controllable in rapid fire
  • 7.62x51 (M14 platform)~15-20 ft-lbs of recoil energy
    • Moderate and more difficult to control in rapid fire

The 7.62x39 has approximately 66% less free recoil energy than the 7.62x51, making it much friendlier to shoot in semi-automatic or automatic platforms.

Lower recoil improves shooter accuracy and target reacquisition speed. This translates into more hits on target, especially in shorter-range rapid-fire scenarios. The 7.62x51 is by no means unmanageable, but it requires more training and technique to control effectively during rapid engagement situations.

Some tips for managing 7.62x51 recoil include:

  • Utilize a muzzle brake or compensator to redirect gasses and reduce felt recoil.
  • Use a recoil pad buttstock to absorb and dissipate recoil energy.
  • Improve shooting stance to align the body behind the rifle and utilize skeletal structure.
  • Grip the rifle tightly and lean into the recoil, using your arms to brace against it.
  • Isolate trigger finger from grip to avoid pulling shots as recoil hits.

Understanding recoil differences and utilizing proper techniques levels the playing field between the two cartridges when rapid-fire accuracy matters most.


Firearm Compatibility and Chamber Pressure

The 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 are designed for and most commonly used in very different types of firearms. Additionally, their ideal chamber pressures vary significantly.

A. Firearms Engineered for 7.62x39 and 7.62x51

The 7.62x39 was designed from the outset to function in semi-automatic rifles with detachable box magazines. As such, it works best in gas-operated autoloading firearms like the:

  • AK-47 and AK variants
  • SKS
  • Mini-30
  • AR-15 (using modified magazines)

Conversely, the 7.62x51 was envisioned as a general issue military cartridge for use in rifles like the M14, M60 machine guns, and later, sniper rifles. Accordingly, the 7.62x51 sees the most use in the:

  • Semi-auto battle rifles like the M14, FN FAL, HK G3
  • Belt-fed machine guns
  • Precision bolt action rifles
  • AR-10

The cartridges' ideal firearms are quite different, though both work in certain mutual platforms like the AR family of rifles.

B. Chamber Pressure and Ammunition Interchangeability

The maximum average pressure (MAP) specifications also differ between the cartridges:

  • 7.62x39: 45,000 PSI
  • 7.62x51: 50,000-60,000 PSI

This makes the 7.62x51 more sensitive to chamber pressure variables and its ammunition less interchangeable.

Firing hot .308 Winchester hunting/match ammo in surplus 7.62x51 rifles can be dangerous. However, quality 7.62x51 ammo is usually safe to fire in strong modern bolt action .308s. Always reference manufacturer specifications before mixing ammo.

The 7.62x39's lower maximum pressure makes it a bit more flexible and forgiving regarding ammunition interchangeability. But for reliability, it's still best to match the rifle's preferred pressure range.

In general, bolt actions can safely contain higher pressures through strength and locking design. Gas-operated semi-automatics dissipate pressure through the cycling system but may be less tolerant of ammo significantly outside design specs.

Understanding each cartridge's ideal chamber pressure prepares you to choose a firearm and ammunition that complement each other optimally.

Precision and Marksmanship: From Benchrest to Long-Range

Accuracy is paramount, whether punching paper on the benches or engaging targets at 400+ yards. The 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 achieve precision through somewhat different means.

A. Accuracy and Precision in Different Applications

Several factors influence rifle accuracy, including the firearm, ammunition quality, shooter skill, and whether to engage short or long-range targets. Let's examine how the cartridges compare.

Benchrest and Slow Fire Shooting

  • 7.62x39: Capable of 1-2 MOA or better accuracy from a quality rifle with match ammo.
  • 7.62x51: Potentially sub-MOA accuracy with precise rifle and ammunition combination.

Rapid Fire Shooting

  • 7.62x39: Lower recoil aids multiple shot rapid fire accuracy.
  • 7.62x51: Recoil management is vital for repeatable rapid-fire precision.

Hunting Accuracy

  • 7.62x39: Reliable hits on deer within ~200 yards when the shooter does their part.
  • 7.62x51: Consistent hits out to 300+ yards on medium/large games by competent marksmen.

Long Range Precision

  • 7.62x39: Can hit man-sized targets to 300 yards with practice.
  • 7.62x51:Capable precision past 600 yards in skilled hands using match-grade ammo.

The 7.62x51 holds an edge for true precision shooting. But the 7.62x39 is no slouch and offers minute-of-angle accuracy potential in the right rifle.

B. Long-Range Shooting and External Ballistics

While the 7.62x39 is suitable for hits on target out to 300 yards, the 7.62x51 really starts to outperform at extended ranges. 

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Higher velocity retention past 500 yards for a flatter trajectory.
  • Streamlined projectile shape and higher ballistic coefficients.
  • Less wind deflection when dialing shots hundreds of yards out.
  • More consistent accuracy as transonic instability is delayed.
  • Better penetration at long distances with more energy.

Of course, realizing the 7.62x51's long-range potential requires a precision rifle, high magnification optics, match-grade ammunition, and proper shooter marksmanship fundamentals.

Some keys to success are:

  • Dialing elevation for bullet drop using ballistic data or software.
  • Understanding wind effects and holding off accordingly.
  • Using front and rear rest bags for stability. -Taking time between shots for optimal accuracy.
  • Reading wind and mirage through high-quality spotting scopes.

The 7.62x51 clearly outperforms at long range, but a surprising 600+ yard shot on target from a 7.62x39 is not out of the question with skill and some luck.

Practical Implications: Hunting, Target Practice, and Self-Defense

Beyond the technical ballistics, how do the 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 cartridges stack up for practical civilian uses like hunting, target practice, and self-defense? Let's find out.

A. Hunting Applications and Terminal Ballistics

Both cartridges can humanely take medium game like deer, hogs, and black bears when used responsibly. However, their strengths vary:

Short Range Hunting

  • 7.62x39: Excellent penetration up close. Pairs well with the AK platform.
  • 7.62x51: Overpowered inside 100 yards. Bolt action rifles over gas and cycle poorly.

Long Range Hunting

  • 7.62x51: Flatter trajectory and energy for consistent ethical hits past 300 yards.
  • 7.62x39: Marginal energy past 200 yards makes distance shots high risk on deer.

Stopping Power

  • 7.62x51: More hydrostatic shock and expansion due to higher muzzle energy.
  • 7.62x39: Adequate penetration up close but less dramatic temporary cavitation.

The 7.62x51 is superior for hunting medium game at normal distances. The 7.62x39 can work in a pinch but ballistically falls short past 200 yards. For varmints or pest control where rapid fire matters, the 7.62x39 shines.

B. Target Practice and Personal Defense Considerations

Affordable plinking and realistic self-defense practice are fun applications for these classic rounds. Here are some key strengths:

High Volume Shooting

  • 7.62x39: Cheaper full power round cost per trigger pull. More practice.
  • 7.62x51: Each shot must be more carefully aimed and critiqued.

Control and Split Times

  • 7.62x39: Minimal recoil fosters speed and accuracy under pressure.
  • 7.62x51: Managing recoil detracts from split times.

Both can capably perform home defense duties against two-legged predators when feed the right expanding ammunition. Overall, the 7.62x39 offers advantages for high round count training and realistic rapid-fire scenarios. The 7.62x51 forces shooters to slow down and mind fundamentals - not bad either.

Military Heritage and Historical Context

The 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 share entwined military histories as iconic 20th-century military cartridges.

A. Military Influence and Battlefield Performance

The 7.62x39 was created specifically for modern warfare and revolutionized infantry combat tactics. 

Some key impacts:

  • Facilitated increased maneuver warfare mobility with lower recoil.
  • Complemented assault rifles and intermediate caliber doctrines.
  • Changed squad supports weapon characteristics favoring portable automatic fire.
  • Proved lethal within normal infantry engagement distances.

It gave Soviet Bloc forces a tactical edge through much of the Cold War until the 5.56x45's adoption. Despite no longer equipping frontline units, the 7.62x39 remains in active service worldwide.

Meanwhile, the 7.62x51 served US and NATO forces admirably:

  • Standardized ammunition logistics across member militaries.
  • Offered performance rivaling traditional 30-06 loads.
  • Saw combat from Vietnam to the War on Terror.
  • Still utilized in designated marksman and sniper capacities.

Both cartridges proved their mettle repeatedly in conflicts across the world. They set the stage for infantry combat developments that continue influencing tactics today.

B. Military Battle Rifles and Caliber Adoption

The military firearms engineered for these cartridges also hold significance. Let's compare adoption and designs.

7.62x39 Military Rifles

  • SKS (1945): First 7.62x39 rifle. Semi-auto carbine feeding from the fixed magazine.
  • AK-47 (1947): Selective fire assault rifle with a detachable 30-round magazine.
  • RPK (1961): Squad automatic weapon version of the AK-47.

7.62x51 Military Rifles

  • M14 (1959): Selective fire battle rifle replacing the M1 Garand.
  • M60 (1957): Mobile belt-fed general-purpose machine gun.
  • M24 (1988): Bolt action sniper rifle based on the Remington 700 hunting rifle.

Clearly, the 7.62x39 is strongly associated with the undeniably influential AK-47 and its variants

Commercial Firearms and Availability

The 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 both transitioned from military and battlefield use into widespread civilian and law enforcement roles. Let's examine some of the iconic commercial firearms available in these calibers.

A. Iconic Firearms in 7.62x39: AK-47 and Beyond

The most legendary 7.62x39 firearm needs no introduction: the AK-47. Some details on it and domesticated variants:

  • Nearly 100 million AK-47s and AKMs were produced during the Soviet era.
  • Reliable, affordable, and simple operation endears it to civilians.
  • Iconic stampede rifle stock is both hated and loved.
  • Myriad manufacturers worldwide still produce AK-pattern rifles.
  • The aftermarket customization scene exploded in recent years.
  • The quintessential "bad guy" gun is in countless movies and video games.

It's joined by other commercial 7.62x39 firearms like:

  • SKS Carbine: Non-automatic predecessor to the AK-47 still widely available.
  • VZ 58: CZ's patriotic Czech answer to the AK-47.
  • CZ 527: Refined bolt-action hunting rifle willing to tackle 7.62x39.
  • Mini-30: Ruger's handy ranch rifle interpretation of the classic cartridge.

The 7.62x39 is commonly associated with communist weapons but retains tremendous popularity in America for its utility and nostalgic charm.

B. 7.62x51 in the Civilian Realm: Law Enforcement and More

Despite the lack of full-auto, several 7.62x51 military rifles morphed into civilian-legal semi-automatic sporting rifles. Notable examples include:

  • M1A: Modern semi-auto-only derivations of the classic M14 battle rifle.
  • AR-10: Eugene Stoner's 7.62 big brother to the AR-15.
  • FN FAL: "The right arm of the free world" built-in NATO-friendly countries.
  • CETME: Spanish precursor to the HK91 peppering ranges with Centurion mainstays.
  • PTR 91: HK G3 clones allow civilians to enjoy the sturdy roller-delayed blowback action.

Many vintage surplus examples can be found alongside these new production models. The 7.62x51 is also popular in bolt-action hunting rifles like:

  • Remington 700
  • Winchester Model 70
  • Ruger American and Hawkeye
  • Savage 110

Law enforcement has adopted the cartridge for tactical marksmen and snipers. Competitive shooters utilize it more regularly for long-range matches. The 7.62x51 enjoys healthy civilian popularity, even if the semi-automatic rifles are less ubiquitous than AR-15s.

The commercial availability of quality firearms in 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 ensures their continued relevance for civilian shooters.

Reloading Insights and Considerations

Reloading can enhance performance with both the 7.62x39 and 7.62x51. Let's dive into some of the nuances of handloading for these cartridges.

A. Handloading for Enhanced Performance

Here are some areas where reloading can maximize capabilities:

Accurate Hunting Loads

  • 7.62x39: Limited projectile options, but can tailor close-range performance.
  • 7.62x51: Wide bullet selection enables tuning terminal ballistics for the game.

Extra Power

  • 7.62x39: Gains are minimal within safe pressures.
  • 7.62x51: Carefully work up custom hand loads to wring out a few 100 extra fps.

Long Range Tuning

  • 7.62x39: Marginal benefits for such a short-legged cartridge.
  • 7.62x51: Handloading absolutely vital for consistent 1000+ yard shot precision.

Economy Practice Ammo

  • 7.62x39: Cheap steel case plinking ammo abounds. Reloading offers minimal savings.
  • 7.62x51: Significant per-round cost savings possible.

The 7.62x51 gets the bigger boost from careful handloading, while more modest gains come from tweaking 7.62x39 loads.

  • Some universal tips for safely approaching maximum performance:
  • Start low and work up, watching for pressure signs.
  • Use cartridge-specific load data from manuals.
  • Weigh charges for consistent interior ballistics.
  • Choose suitable powders and bullet styles.
  • Never exceed manufacturer pressure specifications.

With meticulous load development and quality components, both cartridges can realize their accuracy potential.

Application Analysis: Law Enforcement and Military Usage

Let's examine how modern military and law enforcement debatably differ on the use of the 7.62x39mm and 7.62x51mm cartridges.

A. Tactical Considerations for Law Enforcement

In recent years, many law enforcement organizations embraced the AR-15 platform and 5.56 NATO cartridge for tactical applications. However, interest remains in the 7.62x39 and 7.62x51.

Benefits of 7.62x39 for Law Enforcement Use

  • Penetrates vehicles and cover better than pistols or 5.56mm.
  • Controllable rapid fire for CQB situations.
  • Proven stopper when duty handguns are outgunned.
  • Equips officers with patrol rifles and entry guns.
  • Readily available quality defensive ammunition.

Advantages of 7.62x51 for Law Enforcement

  • Long-range precision against distant threats.
  • More versatile large-frame AR platform availability.
  • Higher capacity 20-round magazines.
  • Impressive barrier penetration at range.
  • Familiarity of .308 among many officers.

Selecting a duty rifle caliber depends on likely engagement distance and use. Depending on the nature and objective of the particular unit, both offer advantages and disadvantages for law enforcement.

B. Military Applications and Caliber Selection

The 7.62x51 is seeing decreased roles among most major militaries, though still hangs on in designated marksmen rifles and machine guns. The light recoiling 7.62x39 has also faded from frontline use, replaced by smaller 5.56mm high-velocity rounds. Here are some determining factors in this evolution:

Drawbacks of 7.62x51 for Military Use

  • Weight limits the combat load of ammo carried.
  • Full power cartridge leads to overpenetration concerns.
  • Recoil reduces rapid-fire hit probability.
  • Effective but not ideal for CQB engagements.

Limitations of 7.62x39 for Military Use

  • Limited effective range.
  • Terminal performance deficits on extremities and cover.
  • Advances in body armor outpaced its penetration.
  • Inherently limited ammunition versatility.

Emerging cartridges like 6.5 Creedmoor and 6.8 SPC aim to address capability gaps that led to the decline of previous military 7.62mm cartridges. Though battlefield effectiveness is still proven, wholesale retirement is unlikely.

Both calibers soldier on in the hands of trained marksmen and machine gunners, even as general issue roles continue evolving.

Gazing Forward: Future Trends and Advancements

The best of any cartridge lies ahead, as new technologies emerge and firing platforms mature and diversify. The future looks bright for both the 7.62x39 and 7.62x51.

A. Evolution of Cartridge Technology

Modern smokeless powder developments deliver improved slow burn rates and energy density that can incrementally increase velocities in existing cartridges without added pressure.

Ballistic engineers churn out new projectiles with higher ballistic coefficients and carefully tailored terminal performance. Detailed Doppler radar studies unravel the intricacies of bullet flight, fragmentation, and tissue interaction.

These trends benefit existing cartridges like the 7.62x39 and 7.62x51, even if lacking the glitz of new wildcat offerings.

For the 7.62x39

  • Hunting bullet designs provide enhanced terminal ballistics.
  • Meticulously tested hand loads tailor velocity to platforms.
  • Heavy subsonic loads maximize sound suppression.

For the 7.62x51

  • Scenar and other very high BC match bullets push 1000+ yards in competitive and tactical performance.
  • Short barreled bolts reliably stabilize new projectiles.
  • Stronger actions harness progressive powders for added velocity.

Renowned cartridges see their capabilities grow thanks to shooting sports fueling continual innovation.


The 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 clearly share some commonalities, hence the nearly identical names. However, as we've seen, their designs, history, and performance differ in many important aspects.

The 7.62x39 thrives where a compact, controllable, medium-range cartridge is paramount. It tends to live in semi-automatic platforms offering high-volume fire.

Conversely, the 7.62x51 exceeds at roles demanding precision and extended reach. It most often serves in manual action rifles or machine guns.

Understanding these nuances allows proficient gun owners, competitive shooters, hunters, and professionals to select the proper tool for the task at hand. One cartridge may outperform in a given niche, but smart marksmen can wield either effectively within intended parameters.

This journey through the 7.62x39 vs 7.62x51 conversation highlights the complex interplay of factors determining cartridge capabilities. There are few simple answers or absolutes. Rather than search for superiority, the inquisitive shooter seeks knowledge of strengths and limitations.

Hopefully, this guide proved educational and thought-provoking. Shooting communities thrive through spirited yet respectful discussion and debate. The next time you're at the range or perusing the gun shop, consider starting a conversation about the pros and cons of the 7.62x39 compared to the 7.62x51. There is always more to learn!


Q: What is the difference between 7.62x39mm and 7.62x51mm NATO cartridges?

A: The 7.62x39mm has a shorter case length of 1.528”, fires a lighter 123-grain bullet at around 2,350 fps muzzle velocity, and is commonly used in the AK-47. The larger 7.62x51mm NATO has a case length of 2.015”, fires a 147-168 grain bullet at 2,700-2,800 fps, and saw adoption in military rifles like the M14. Key ballistic differences include the 7.62x51 mm flatter trajectory and higher energy retention at distance.

Q: How does recoil compare between 7.62x39mm and 7.62x51mm NATO?

A: The 7.62x39mm has significantly less free recoil energy, with about 6 ft-lbs in an AK-47 platform versus 15-20 ft-lbs in a 7.62x51mm M14 rifle. This allows for faster follow-up shots in the semi-automatic fire with the 7.62x39mm cartridge. The 7.62x51mm has more perceived recoil but is manageable with proper technique.

Q: What firearms are commonly chambered in 7.62x39mm versus 7.62x51mm NATO?

A: The 7.62x39mm is strongly associated with the AK-47 rifle and its variants like the AKM, as well as the SKS carbine. The 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge was used in military battle rifles like the M14, and M60 machine guns, and precision bolt action sniper rifles.

Q: How does barrel length affect muzzle velocity with 7.62x39mm versus 7.62x51mm NATO?

A: Shorter barrels have a more pronounced negative impact on muzzle velocity for the 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge when compared to the 7.62x39mm. The 7.62x39mm was designed for 16-20” barrels and loses velocity more gradually when barrel length is decreased.

Q: Which has a flatter trajectory between 7.62x39mm and 7.62x51mm NATO?

A: The 7.62x51mm NATO exhibits a flatter trajectory than the 7.62x39mm when comparing similar bullet weights. For example, with a 200-yard zero, a 7.62x51mm 150-grain bullet will drop around -6” at 250 yards, versus -10” for a comparable 123-grain 7.62x39mm bullet.

Q: What are the best uses for 7.62x39mm versus 7.62x51mm NATO cartridges?

A: The 7.62x39mm excels at short to medium-range use under 250 yards, with controllable semiauto fire in platforms like the AK-47. The 7.62x51mm NATO is better suited for long-range shooting applications and precision fire at extended distances thanks to its improved ballistic coefficient.

Q: Is 7.62x39mm or 7.62x51mm NATO ammunition cheaper and more available?

A: Surplus 7.62x39mm ammunition tends to be cheaper than .308 Winchester or 7.62x51mm NATO ammo. However, commercial 7.62x39mm is rising in price while.308 Winchester is extremely common. Good defensive loads are available for both calibers.

Q: What are some key variables in accuracy between 7.62x39mm vs 7.62x51mm NATO?

A: Using quality ammunition, both can provide good practical accuracy. However, the 7.62x51mm will achieve greater precision all else equal due to higher velocities and better aerodynamic projectiles. The lower recoil of the 7.62x39mm can aid some shooters in rapid-fire though.

Q: Is the 7.62x39 the same as a .308?

A: No, the 7.62x39 and .308 are different cartridges.

Q: Can I shoot a 7.62x39 in 308 rifles?

A: No, 7.62x39 should only be fired in rifles specifically chambered for it.

Q: Is it safe to shoot 7.62x51 out of a .308 rifle?

A: Yes, 7.62x51 can safely be fired out of most modern .308 rifles.

Q: Can you fire 308 in a 7.62 x39?

A: No, .308 should never be fired in a 7.62x39 chambered rifle.

Q: I was told 30.06 is a better cartridge than 7.62X51 NATO. If this is true, why have few 30.06 battle rifles been made since the M1 Garand?

A: The 7.62x51 NATO was designed as a shorter alternative to the .30-06 with similar ballistics. This allowed shorter action rifles to be designed.

Q: How does 7.62x51 mm compare to 7.62x54R mm ammunition?

A: The 7.62x54R is a slightly older Russian cartridge with similar performance to the 7.62x51 NATO.

Q: Is it safe to shoot .308 Winchester in 7.62 x 51 mm guns?

A: In modern rifles, yes, but in older military surplus rifles, pressures could be too high.

Q: What size round does an SKS shoot?

A: The SKS shoots 7.62x39mm ammunition.

Q: What are some modern rifles that shoot 7.62x39?

A: AK-47 variants, SKS, CZ 527, Ruger Mini-30.

Q: Can a 7.62x51mm gun use 7.62x39mm ammo?

A: No, 7.62x39mm should never be fired in a 7.62x51mm rifle.

Q: If 7.62x51 is .308, what is 7.62x39?

A: The 7.62x39 fires a .312" diameter bullet.

Q: If an AR-10 has a 7.62 stamp can it fire .308 safely?

A: Yes, a 7.62 marked AR-10 can safely fire both 7.62 NATO and .308 Winchester ammo.

Q: Can I fire a 7.62x51 from an AK-47?

A: Absolutely not, the rounds are not interchangeable.

Q: A 7.62x39 round is the same as what?

A: The 7.62x39 is very similar to the .30-30 Winchester in ballistics.

Q: Can you load 7.62x39 bullets in a 7.62x51 case or vice versa?

A: No, the cartridges have different dimensions and are not interchangeable.

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