Question on Mil-surp ammo


December 21, 2006, 07:58 AM
Hi all,

Question for all you experts and hand loaders. What makes mil-surp ammo so crappy in terms of accuracy?

Different bullets?
Different powder charges?
'Loose' tolerances for case dimensions? (or loose tolerances in general)?
Crappy quality control at the manufacturing plants?

Follow up question:
Are there degrees of crappy-ness for bulk ammo? Meaning is stuff like Radway Green (British) or Lake City (US) generally better than the stuff made in Russia, Pakistan, India, etc, etc?

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December 21, 2006, 08:22 AM
First, when it comes to US and British mil-surp (and possibly Russian), have you documented a lack of accuracy? Note that while "minute of man" is all that is required for military applications, much of it is 4 MOA or less.

I don't think that any of the factors that you mentioned are in place, and QC ensures that it isn't "crappy". The goal of the military is to have it go bang every time and to feed without issue, and mil-surp does this very well.

Foreign stuff, such as Pakistani, may be the result of crappy practices, but I am certain that this isn't their goal, just the outcome of a culture rife with corruption and still existing mostly in a pre-industrial state.

December 21, 2006, 08:32 AM
I haven't documented anything in mil-surp....yet. I am deciding between a Savage 12BVSS and a Tikka T3 in .223. Most of the responses from people on this board say not to shoot bulk ammo through either as that defeats the purpose of a very accurate bolt gun. But no one really offered why. So I am just curious as to if there is a true difference (and what the difference is) or if this is just a case of 'conventional wisdom' based on ammo from 20-30 years ago that doesn't really have a basis for newly manufactured bulk ammo.

December 21, 2006, 09:22 AM
Well, I for one can relate, as I've never gotten "good" accuracy with any milsurp ammo (8mm or 7.62x54R are the only ones I've used). The best I ever used was 7.62x54R Czech "Silvertip" which was nearly as accurate as commercial ammo I tried. But in 8mm, eveything I've tred was wildly innacurate (like 3-4 MOA) even in guns that would shoot 1+ MOA with commercial ammo. (and I got ahold of some 60's German stuff that was dowright unsafe---fired a few rounds and had BIG case splits on 2. I let it slide after the first, thinking it was a "fluke" but after the second, you better believe we quit shooting THAT stuff).

I think if you "pull down" some of this stuff you'll find both charge weights and bullet weights to be somewhat inconsistant---far more inconsistant than most handloaders would accept. Also, I think that the ignition (primer) is not very consistant with ammo that's been sitting around for years.

As mentioned, this stuff was only required to meet "minute of enemy" accuracy, and most of it does. FIne for plinking as well. But if you're gonna shoot paper, I think you'll find most dissapointing. as always YMMV.

December 21, 2006, 09:47 AM
I've not had accuracy problems with Lake City.
The limited experience that I have had with British SS109 was that it shot reasonably well, but I really wasn't expecting match accuracy.
IMO Russian and Whadafuksistan ammo is downright scary. If you just want something to burn in a beater SKS maybe. Do you really want to run third world cobbled fodder through your H&K, FAL or M1A?

December 21, 2006, 09:59 AM
Most of the responses from people on this board say not to shoot bulk ammo through either as that defeats the purpose of a very accurate bolt gun.

Good advice. Shooting ammo built with acceptable accuracy tolerances of 4MOA in a rifle capable of sub-1MOA makes no sense. Spend the extra $$$ on good ammo for those rifles, and get the accuracy out of them that they are capable of.


December 21, 2006, 10:00 AM
My 1903A3 will do 1.5" groups with surplus Lake City 30.06. My K31 will do equally as well with Swiss surplus, but that is an aberation.

My .308 rifles will do 2 to 4 MOA with my SA surplus.

It depends on what surplus and what rifle. In general, most surplus is not made to be extremely accurate, only good enough. Also, some surplus is delinked machine gun ammo. It is not "crappy", but it ain't match ammo. Military wants 3 or 4 MOA minimum and that is what they get. Some ammo is better, some is not.

If you want to blast away, a precision bolt action rifle is not the one to do it with. Save that rifle for nice match ammo and try to hit the same hole. Get an AK or some other semi-auto for playing around.

December 21, 2006, 10:12 AM
My .308 rifles will do 2 to 4 MOA with my SA surplus.

My FAL will do the same thing with SA ammo. IMO the SA is some of the best .308 Surplus out there but I would not shoot it through any of my hunting guns.

Too bad NATO is paying SA to destroy it instead of selling it to the USA.:mad:

December 21, 2006, 10:36 AM
Thanks for the replies. I think I'll go for the good stuff to zero the scope and try a box of different kinds just to see what is good and what isn't.
I am guessing I won't be getting too concerned with 1 MOA or under. I am looking at 223 because it is plentiful and fairly cheap. I won't be spending $20 for 20 rounds of any kind of 223 ammo - seems silly unless you are into serious competition shooting. Nor will I be hand loading anytime soon. Cheaper per round? Yeah, until you figure in your time. Although that may change if 10mm prices continue to go up.
I would love to go with an AR - but I don't like the price tag on them. I can get a bolt and a good scope for less than an AR. I don't need it for home defense - my Benelli 12 gauge will work just fine for that (or 9mm or 10mm).

December 21, 2006, 11:16 AM
I don't remember who first said it here on THR, but the thing was:

"...If ya won't drink their water, don't shoot their ammo..."

In my experience with 7.62x54 ammo, the Czech (or was it Hungarian??) "Silver Tip" is decent stuff. The Albanian ball was the worst in terms of consistancy...some of those rounds, the bullets almost fell out if you turned the ammo nose down. Lots of dings and cracked necks, too...some of the case dings were deep enough that I pulled the bullets. Had a buddy weigh some of those bullets I pulled...varied from 143-158Gr.....from the same paper-wrapped bundle.

Mil-Surp ammo, unless it is the designated "Match" type ammo, was made to be minute-of-opposing-force accurate.

December 21, 2006, 01:23 PM
"...If ya won't drink their water, don't shoot their ammo..."
That's a line worth stealing. :D

December 21, 2006, 01:43 PM
"...If ya won't drink their water, don't shoot their ammo..."

Interesting, I lived in Ecuador for a while and I wouldn't drink their water. A year ago I bought some Ecuador 8mm (only 30 rds, thank God) and had to double hit 1 in 3 rounds. One box sits in the collection and I'll probably never fire it.

But the surplus romanian from the 1970's (8mm mauser) is fairly accurate, I want to work up a reload to mimick it for hunting, when I start reloading. My mauser loves to eat up romanian 8mm, and it hates most yugo stuff (not sure why, it's a yugo gun:confused: ) Also it likes turkish ammo from some years. Each gun will like certain brands or countries ammo better. Play around, and see what your gun likes.

December 21, 2006, 02:07 PM
Shooting good-quality surplus in your gun won't hurt it. Aussie .308 gives ~1" - 1.5" groups in my Savage 10FP; certainly good enough for casual shooting. In .223, look at the Black Hills "blue-box" 55 gr; good ammo by all reports and only a couple cents more per round than surplus stuff.

December 21, 2006, 07:26 PM
well, shot some "Curry" today in my FAL and must stayed, for the most part, inside the 7 ring...but hey...all I am doing is pulling bullets and dumping powder the fun way. :D

One thing is for certain, however....this stuff...makes your gun stink like the a$$ once your done shooting. :(


December 22, 2006, 12:14 PM
The bullet is the largest factor towards accuracy by far. If you pull the surplus bullet and replace it with a match one of the same weight, you'll typically see some impressive results.


December 22, 2006, 12:36 PM
The military primary focus is reliable ammo that is accurate "enough" and available in large quantities. Generally they are restricted to FMJ ammo as well. Just to mass produce quantities easier you will allow more tolerance in terms of bullet weight, eccentricity etc. than match ammo. I believe most ammo has meet a requirement of something like 4 moa or so. That is considered good enough. Minute of bad guy torso at 300 yards or maybe a bit more. Again, the keys are reliability, quantity, and accuracy, probably in that order.

You really don't need the match quality stuff, and it's associated expense, to feed your MG's or rifles that are doing most of their fighting at 200 yards or less. Besides, as taxpayers, we would not really want to be supplying sierra 77 grain match kings for use in SAWS. For snipers or DMRs, yes, but linked full autos that are good enough anyway, I think they would have the money spend or more belts of the stuff that already works.

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