Reduced Loads: 7.62x54R


February 16, 2008, 03:46 PM
recently got an M44 and an M38. Have only shot some wolf gold so far. M44 slugs to .314, M38 slugs to .310 or .311. Bought some Hornady .312 150gr FMJ bullets for the M44, and am interested in some reduced loads for it.
Can't find much info on the web about it, or at least I can't find much "recent" info about reduced loads for 7.62x54. Found some ancient 1994 articles by an "Ed Harris".

So I am interested in members' success with various reduced loads for the 7.62x54, for FMJ, NOT cast. Thanks!!

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February 16, 2008, 07:09 PM
I found loading 7.62x54R with a 123gr bullet makes for a nice light recoil round. I do not have my loading book infront of me but I loaded it with 48gr of Varget but you will need to check that with your reloading manual before trying it.

February 16, 2008, 07:56 PM
yes, I plan to shoot the 123gr .310 "sks" bullets in the M38, which I slugged and got a .310 to .311 reading.

For the M44, which I slugged and got a reading of .314, I plan to shoot .312 bullets.

Got the M44 for my son to shoot, he's 10. The normal kick is... like a mule. He would enjoy it more with a lighter load. I plan to load some rounds with the starting loads per the Hornady book, but I was also interested in real "reduced loads". Hornady never lists any, only the Speer book does. But the :cuss: Speer books do not have that caliber.

February 16, 2008, 10:50 PM
Just in case you check in here before TFL, here's ideas for several levels of reduced load.

February 16, 2008, 11:31 PM
You might also look around on the web for some of that Czech training ammo that was all over a year or more ago.
It has a big boom, but almost no recoil. Shoots very well in some of my mosins out to 100y.
Corrosive, but pleasant and fun to shoot.

February 17, 2008, 12:16 AM
Thanks very much!

I'll try out the starting loads for 7.62x54 as per the Hornady book when I go shooting next weekend. Maybe I won't need to further investigate "reduced loads" if the starting loads feel pretty light.

I'll keep an eye out for any of the czech training ammo at the gun shows I go to.

February 17, 2008, 10:03 AM
Maybe you should consider a different rifle for your son. I don't find the Mosin recoil to be all that objectionable, but there are 7.62x39 rifles around which are accurate enough and recoil much less.

While I haven't experimented with the x54r with reduced loads, I would think that your sight settings would be adversely affected if you were to drop the charge too much. Since it is a cartridge which headspaces on the rim, I would think you would be more likely to find a very light load which doesn't adversely affect brass life. (One of the hazards of loading reduced loads in cartridges which headspace on the shoulder is that you will get shoulder setback which makes that brass dangerous to fire with full boat loads later.)

You might look into reduced loads for the 308, which has a very similar case capacity. I don't remember the powder, 5744 or something like that, which worked really well in that application.

BTW, C.E. Harris is one of the most knowledgeable gun writers of the last half of the 20th century, whom, along with Mick McPherson, have imparted some of the greatest arcane gun nut knowledge to the cognoscenti out there. C.E. Harris is the father of Ed's Red bore cleaner. Great stuff at a bargain price.

35 Whelen
February 17, 2008, 10:34 AM
Go here:

There's a plethora of reduced loads available there. Since the 7.62x54r is similar in case capacity to the 308 & 30-06, loads won't be hard to find. Speer has them in their manual. Personally, I'm a little leery of using very reduced loads with cast bullets, but that's about all I shoot with cast bullets. 13 grs. of Red Dot with 180-200 gr bullets is a really good load. A "standard" load for cast bullets is 16 grs. of Alliant 2400.
Good luck.

February 17, 2008, 01:12 PM
Disclaimer: My experience only, for informational purposes only.

You can use Ed Harris' "The Load" of 13 grains of red dot with jacketed bullets. Just expect about 100fps less. I use this load in a 91/30 myself, both with jacketed and cast. Works great. Just give the case neck a good firm crimp to let your initial pressure go up before the bullet exits the case, and you will be good to go.

In fact, just about any cast load will work with jacketed bullets, provided you don't go so low that the bullet won't exit the barrel (a second shot would be bad news). Expect about 100fps less with any jacketed load originally developed for a cast bullet. Also, if you have the Lee 2nd edition manual, you could use the load data in the .308 cast bullet section. That load data is using normal rifle powders.

In all honesty, though, I cast my own bullets for the Mosin, and use about 7 grains of red dot for a nice gallery load. Definitely subsonic, and very quiet. It's about like shooting a .22 LR. I've heard reports that people have used as little as 4 grains of pistol powder (red dot) with cast bullets, so I'd guess that 7-8 grains of red dot would still have your FMJ/JSP exit the barrel safely. I'd start with the 13 grain load, and work down no further than say, 7-8 grains. I would check after each shot that you have a clear bore. Small charges of pistol powder in a large case won't blow up like some slower rifle powders can.

Be safe, and go to for advice. They will have WAY more info than you need.

February 17, 2008, 01:31 PM
thanks again. I do have the Lee 2nd edition manual.
The articles I found by "Ed Harris" were dated around 1994 or so, that's why I was leery of using them... I mean, are all powders the same as they were 14 years ago...? not sure...

Maybe you should consider a different rifle for your son.... there are 7.62x39 rifles around which are accurate enough and recoil much less.

Actually, my son & I shot my sks last weekend. He thinks it's 'too wimpy'. My Enfield .303 is his favorite milsurp. btw, his group was .5" better than mine... doh!

I'll load up 20 rounds of "starting loads" from the hornady manual for 150gr bullets. Probably will do some with 40.4gr Vihta N-135, and some with 41.7gr IMR 4895, since of the powders listed, those are the only 2 I currently have.

February 17, 2008, 01:42 PM
Couple things: Save that wolf gold brass. Decent stuff.

As for powders being the same, 14 years is not ancient. Having said that, powders do change. In general, though, Red Dot is a pretty standard powder. Same for Unique/Bullseye. The good news with the 13 grains of red dot load is that you have some wiggle room on the top end. It's safe to go work up to 15 grains in half grain increments until you hit the best accuracy for that rifle. If you look for standard signs of pressure, you should be safe starting at 13 grains. One thing I would mention is that Ed Harris says a double charge will overflow the case. This is NOT TRUE in the 7.62x54R. I have double charged (intentionally, then dumped powder) to verify this, and there was still a little room in the case, so double check for double charges before you seat the bullet.

One added advantage of the Red Dot is that the small charge weight means that it is a VERY cheap load compared to 40-50 grains of rifle powder. If you ever decide to go the cast route, it's almost cheaper than .22LR.

February 17, 2008, 02:06 PM
thanks, firefly. I've never used red dot, and don't have any. I currently have Unique and 2400 for pistol powders (I don't shoot pistols very much). I may have a few other pistol powders too, but not sure.

February 17, 2008, 02:21 PM
I use red dot exclusively in half a dozen pistol calibers and just started using it for 30-06 bolt actions. Tried 14g with a 150g berry's .30 cal bullet in an 03 and 03A3 and it did very well. Haven't tried them but yesterday I loaded a 110g berry's .30 round nose over 15g red dot to use for coyote hunting in a 30-06 FN Mauser.

February 17, 2008, 02:37 PM
I may have to get some Red Dot then.

February 17, 2008, 03:34 PM
another good load for about any 30 cal size rifle is 22.5grs. of SR 4759 under a 150gr. bullet.thats my reduced load for my 303 Enfields,8mm Mauser,K31 Swiss,7.62X54R Mosin Nagants,7.62X51mm/.308. jwr

February 18, 2008, 10:04 AM
With a cartridge adapter for 32acp to 7.62x54, 0.5 gr Bullseye, 32 cal lead ball pushed down in the case.

The load sounds like a pellet gun in the long barreled 91/30, but the powder charge must be reduced for the short barreled M44.

The load will kill grouse, but has a different scope zero than heavier loads for the ruminants.

February 18, 2008, 06:56 PM
Red dot is the only powder I use, though my needs are limited. I only reload .38spec and the Mosin. It's a good powder for that, as it's fairly bulky, and even a small charge fills up a good chunk of the case. Makes a double charge pretty obvious, though like I said, it won't overflow a 7.62x54r case.

March 9, 2010, 09:33 AM
I pull the bullet, dump the powder, load 5 grains of TRAIL BOSS. then put the bullet back in backwards with the big hollow lead base exposed. Havent chronographed it yet. But no overpressure signs. I'll post some pics when I can. Its quite enough to penetrate a 2 x 4.

March 9, 2010, 12:35 PM
Edit: I can't find the loads. But if I were recreating them now I'd probably experiment with some trail boss. That's been giving me very accurate plinkers in the .450 marlin. IMR has data for the .30-30 that should transfer well to the 54R.

March 9, 2010, 03:06 PM
Found some ancient 1994 articles by an "Ed Harris".And it is as good now as it was then.

Lyman #49 has lead bullet reduced load data too.

But since you have jacketed bullets, and insist on no lead bullets, you will not find much info on greatly reduced loads.

Jacketed bullets simply cannot be slowed down as much as lead bullets and still insure getting them to come out of the barrel every time.

Lyman #49 list several light loads with a 150 Hornady JSP bullet running in the 30-30 Winchester velocity range.


March 11, 2010, 11:55 AM
One thing that I'm surprised hasn't been mentioned is Hodgdon's Youth Loads (

From the PDF:
"For all cartridges we chose H4895 because it is the slowest burning propellant that ignites uniformly at reduced charges...To create loads of this type for target and plinking, we recommend our 60% rule with H4895. By taking the maximum charges listed in our 27th Edition reloading manual with any given cartridge and multiplying it by 60% the shooter can create a 1500 to 2100 f/s load, depending on the bullet weight shown. This works only where H4895 is listed. Do not use in a cartridge where it has not been shown...Call Hodgdon Powder Company if additional information is needed. Loads may be adjusted up or down to achieve best accuracy. Do not reduce by more than an additional 10%."

1. Find a published load that shows H4895 as being suitable (most likely with lighter weight bullets).
2. Take the maximum charge and times by 0.6
3. Verify with Hodgdon that this will be a safe load
4. Tweak the charge a bit until you find an accurate load
5. Take your boy hunting

March 12, 2010, 04:29 PM
I was about to recommend using H4895 at 60% of Max but "azar" already gave you that good advice. I will add, many reloaders are now using Trail Boss for reduced loads for rifle calibers. I'm not sure of the charges but if you write Hodgdon they will supply load data if it's not on their Load Data Site (

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