Close Range: 6.8mm vs. 5.45x39


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Facebutt Sterling
March 23, 2008, 06:10 AM
I'm thinking of getting either an M468-type weapon (6.8mm), or an AK-74-type weapon (5.45x39) for close-range defense (up to 200 meters). What are the pros and cons of each? I like the 5.45x39mm because I've heard it's a small round, but very vicious (it tumbles like crazy once it pierces flesh). But I hear the 6.8mm has major knock-down power. Severe pain and damage (5.45x39) vs. extreme knock-down power (6.8). So essentially, what are the pros and cons? Which one would you choose? And please don't hold back the AK-74's pros just because it's the commie's weapon. :D

Thank you.

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possum
March 23, 2008, 06:50 AM
i would go with the 6.8 it will have much better terminal ballistics. the only thing that might tip me to the other choice is ammo prices the 6.8 ain't cheap but there ain't much ammo out there that is, but the 5.45 not to long ago was real real cheap and a member on this board bought a whole pallet of 5.45 ammo and a few 5.45 ak's. if i could find the ammo real cheap then i would go with the 5.45 ak and ammo to last a few years.

but again though the ammo is cheaper for the 5.45 the 6.8 is gonna be a better performer.

poorfolks
March 23, 2008, 06:57 AM
i am wary about new calibers until they are proven. call me old fashion, but the thought of spending that much money on a rifle then having to fire form the brass just to shoot it sucks.

possum
March 23, 2008, 06:59 AM
i am wary about new calibers until they are proven. call me old fashion, but the thought of spending that much money on a rifle then having to fire form the brass just to shoot it sucks.
poorfolks,
welcome to thr, that is a very good point as well, ammo avalibility might be a problem.

Pilot
March 23, 2008, 07:01 AM
I have two AK-74 type rifles in 5.45 but they are strictly range toys, not self defense. Its a great, flat shooting and accurate round. It would work fine for SD out to 200 yards, but so would 7.62x39 if you want an AK platform. I know nothing about 6.8MM.

stubbicatt
March 23, 2008, 10:15 AM
The 5.45 is a better round by those standards of evaluation such as penetration and wound ballistics than the 556 .mil round. The rifle that shoots it is stone reliable. It is quite capable to about 500 meters.

The 6.8 is a good cartridge based on what I've read. The rifle that shoots it is also pretty good.

I guess in the end it is more of a standardized, well proven, readily available round versus one that is not.

It occurs to me that if one shot stops are a concern, and probably they should be, you might do better to get a 7.62 Nato. Also, a "defense" shot at 200 meters *might* be difficult to justify in court. Just a thought.

nathan
March 23, 2008, 10:37 AM
5.45 is great for SD or human targets. Id stay with reliable 7.62 x 39 round and be happy. In all honesty it boils down to marksmanship to be able to hit the target. Any bullet will do if you do your part.

Vaarok
March 23, 2008, 10:40 AM
5.45 is far cheaper, which matters both for practice and amount ready-and-loaded.

DnPRK
March 23, 2008, 11:03 AM
I believe the 5.45x39 ammo available for sale is lead-filled FMJ, not the military projectile with the air space in the nose that makes it tumble.

Bigfoot
March 23, 2008, 11:35 AM
6.8 by far. A penetrating/tumbling bullet is ok (just ok IMO) for defence against body armor but I'll take a bullet that frags and drops your typical bad guy right now. Keep a mag full of SSA TSX loads for barriors/body armor/car parts. Make sure you research the chamber and twist rate ie. get a 1:11 or slower twist and/or the improved chamber. The 6.8 is also a good deer/hog gun.

takhtakaal
March 23, 2008, 11:38 AM
I believe the 5.45x39 ammo available for sale is lead-filled FMJ, not the military projectile with the air space in the nose that makes it tumble.

I believe that you're wrong. While some of the stuff coming in doesn't have the air space at the head, most of it does.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/01/Cartridge_Kalashnikov_AK-74.svg/150px-Cartridge_Kalashnikov_AK-74.svg.png

The Bulgarian from Century has the 5N7 projectile, which is the one with the air pocket at the front and the steel plug.

http://world.guns.ru/assault/as02-e.htm

http://centuryarms.biz/proddetail.asp?prod=AM1352

Soybomb
March 23, 2008, 12:00 PM
6.8 by far!

rangerruck
March 23, 2008, 12:34 PM
the 6.8 will penetrate too much in your neighborhood, your walls, the next door's , etc., plus ammo cost is a ton right now. the 545 is vicious, and may penetrate your walls, but not your neighbors. plus if shooting fast and furious, the 545 has recoil like a hornet or a 22 mag on steriods.

rbernie
March 23, 2008, 01:00 PM
i am wary about new calibers until they are proven. call me old fashion, but the thought of spending that much money on a rifle then having to fire form the brass just to shoot it sucks.
Every 5.45x39 rifle is completely dependant upon cheap import ammo to go BANG; there is no indigenous supply nor are reloading components available. The bullet is a non-standard diameter that has no corollary in any US chambering.

6.8SPC brass, on the other hand, is available from at least three suppliers; Remington, Hornady, and Silver State. Bullets are readily available in component form from at least a dozen manufacturers.

Between the two, I believe that 6.8SPC is far more likely to be readily available in the USA, say 25 years from now.

the 6.8 will penetrate too much in your neighborhood, your walls, the next door's , etc., plus ammo cost is a ton right now.An expanding .277 bullet will penetrate no more than an expanding bullet in any other intermediate chambering, and IMO will provide more reliable (consistent) performance than 5.45x39 milsurp projectiles. I can also buy 6.8SPC self-defense loads for $18/box of 20, which is about the same cost as any other non-surplus chambering.

I have a 5.45x39 rifle and enjoy it. But I am under no illusions as to how much it depends upon cheap imported (corrosive) milsurp to remain viable. I am also not willing to bet my family's well-being on the premise that the terminal performance of a yawing 5.45mm 53gr FMJ projectile is as reliable as a controlled-expansion .277 bullet. I have looked at the gel tests (and sponsored one Brassfetcher test of 5.45 60gr Wolf) and do not see the reliable performance from the round that I want in a self-defense load.

You also need to bear in mind that the cheap milsurp is only cheap because some of the former ComBloc countries have been selling their stockpiles as they converted to 5.56NATO. Once the last of their stocks are sold off, there will be no more cheap milsurp. That will leave you with Wolf as the sole US source of supply. And when the political winds dry up the flow of imported 5.45 ammo (either in the guise of the continuing UN assault upon arms trafficking, or in the guise of a US Gubb'mint ban on 'non-sporting' import ammo), those who banked heavily on the chambering will be left with nothing but the stockpiles their hoarded.

Don't believe it? Just ask the MBR aficionados who believed that surplus Port and SA would always be around for pennies per round. Last I checked, a SA battle pack of 140 rounds was selling for $75/each. At least the MBR folk can look to the .308 reloading community for supplies; something that the 5.45 milsurp aficionados cannot do.

rcmodel
March 23, 2008, 01:54 PM
6.8 expanding bullets will have it all over the FMJ 5.45 ammo in lethality.

Not even a contest if you're not in the military and don't have to follow the rules of land warfare.

Course, the same could be said of the 5.56 NATO.

Load'em up with TAP or Ballistic-Tip ammo and the bad guy is going down!

rcmodel

nalioth
March 23, 2008, 02:14 PM
I believe the 5.45x39 ammo available for sale is lead-filled FMJ, not the military projectile with the air space in the nose that makes it tumble. The currently imported 5.45x39 from Wolf and Vympel (the Bear stuff) is made on the same machinery as the military ammo. It has the air space, but not the steel plug of the military stuff.

Poland and Bulgaria completely rid themselves of all of their 5.45x39 as they are transitioning to 5.56x45 in preparation of joining NATO.
Russia recently surplussed some older 5.45x39, as well.

We will not be running out of military 5.45x39 soon...

Onmilo
March 23, 2008, 02:25 PM
What is wrong with the 5.56 NATO for short range self defense?
With abundent .223 50 grain hollowpoint, 55 and 64 grain softpoint ammunition and all of it is less expensive than 6.8 and far easier to find than 5.45X39,,,,,

Piston action uppers are available from all the major players too.
Oh,,, welcome to the High Road.

Of the two calibers you mention, the 6.8 is more accurate and a better long range cartridge.

000Buck
March 23, 2008, 02:55 PM
5.45 is $100/1000 vs about $600/1000 for the 6.8. One idea is to stock up on a lifetime supply of the cheap 5.45 if you can afford it and not worry about when is the milsurp going to run out.

takhtakaal
March 23, 2008, 03:04 PM
Actually, 5.45 is around $120 per 1,000, but the idea holds true. I'll be forever and a day going through the 5.45 that I already have, which I'm undoubtedly going to get more of before the supply runs out.

Frankly, with as many AK74s, whole and as kits, as have been sold, it won't be surprising when someone eventually tools up to make range fodder out of brass and boxer primers. That is, of course, when we've gotten close to using up all this lovely surplus ammo.

:D

mio
March 23, 2008, 03:15 PM
ive read a lot of good things about the 6.8 but ive never fired either round. i could buy the ak74 at dunhams but they dont carry ammo for it. in fact nowhere that ive been in a one hour radius of my house carries it. havent looked for 6.8 ammo.
if i were you id buy either the 7.62x39 since ammo can be found in most places or the .223 since ammo can be found in all places.

MudPuppy
March 23, 2008, 07:35 PM
The internet's a good place to buy 5.45 (although I hear some states make you jump through hoops to do that? bizarre).

Anyhow, I just got a hundred pounds for about $350 delivered. I'm not sure if I'd be impacted at all if they stopped importing the stuff tomorrow. I don't have a 6.8 yet, but want one at some point, but more for a bit longer range. Shorter ranges, I know I like that 5.45.

Pigspitter
March 23, 2008, 07:36 PM
Don't expect to be hitting much with the AK at 200 yards, that barrel whips like a wet noodle.

takhtakaal
March 23, 2008, 07:53 PM
You'd be surprised, 'spitter. I've managed quite well on standard B27s at 200 yards with an M70AB2 (16" UF) over iron, much better than a guy next to me with a supposedly dead-nuts 20" AR. I'm pretty sure I could have spanked this guy with an AK-74, too.

Wildfire
March 23, 2008, 07:57 PM
Hey there:
Any of the calibers could work. The 6.8 being the biggest and badest on your list. .223 is also a very good choice. Bullet design will matter when used in a defence mode. But I also would question the choice of arm. Accuracy at the distance you list will be critical. And the rifle you list is not what I would call an accurate arm.
If you used a rilfe in self defence at 200 meters , A solid one shot hit best be employed.

Facebutt Sterling
March 23, 2008, 08:24 PM
Thanks for all the replies. Bullet price is not a concern for me (maybe it should be, but it's not). I'm talking just solely for defense/shoot-out. And if the 5.45x39 doesn't tumble unless you're using specialized "air tip" bullets and not just standard FMJ, then I think I'm going for the 6.8mm. I thought the 5.45 did that with all rounds fired through it, that's why I thought it was major cool beans. Or I might get both. Although my question has been answered fine several times, I'm thinking I should have phrased the question as "If you were in a shoot-out against unarmored enemies at a range of up to 300 yards, which caliber would you want to be using?"

Thanks for the answers. I'm 70% leaning towards the 6.8mm now, regardless of round cost.

nalioth
March 23, 2008, 08:29 PM
And if the 5.45x39 doesn't tumble unless you're using specialized "air tip" bullets and not just standard FMJ The 'standard FMJ' coming from Wolf and Vymple do have the air pockets. The "standard" for the round includes the air pocket.

One of the posters has pix up showing a bisected round with the lead core and air space at the top.

MudPuppy
March 23, 2008, 08:52 PM
The 5.45 is a long bullet, yeah? I thought that was a major contributor yaw, regardless of air pockets?

I cut the tip of some wolf and it had a pocket. The "wasp" surplus does as well.

I've not done micrometer accuracy testing, but it feels pretty accurate "out there" to me. Much more so than the 7.62x39 variants.

Auburn1992
March 23, 2008, 08:58 PM
I would choose 6.8mm but becuase of ammo prices (nearly $1/bullet) I would choose 5.45mm

rbernie
March 23, 2008, 09:41 PM
Let's borrow some images from Brassfetcher, showing the terminal performance of representative 5.45x39 and 6.8SPC rounds in bare ballistic gel. You can find the actual pics and accompanying text at http://www.brassfetcher.com/AK-74%20.html . Per the Brassfetcher FAQ, we can link these pics here and embed them in the discussion:

All information and images on this website is free for public distribution, provided that credit is given to the source of the information. This offer extends to all legitimate uses of the information, for non-political, medical, pro-second amendment, governmental or recreational usage.

I am not an expert in terminal performance analysis, and the comments to the pictures are solely my observations.

First up, let's look at the performance of standard com-bloc steel insert 5.45x39 53gr milsurp:

http://www.brassfetcher.com/images/545x39mmBlk1.JPG

The shot direction is left-to-right. Note that the bullet yawed, but exhibited zero deformation or fragmentation. The only wounding being done here is by the intact projectile itself as it yaws. Unlike 5.56 NATO M193 or M855, there is no fragmentation that would increase the wounding potential of the bullet. Bullet yaw appears to start at 2.5" of penetration and the bullet appears to assume base-first travel at 9.5" or so.

Next up is Wolf 60gr HP, with the shot direction right-to-left:

http://www.brassfetcher.com/images/545x39mmWolfHPBlk1.JPG

Notice the REALLY, really long neck in the wound track before it starts to yaw. Again, fragmentation was minimal until the end of the wound track. Surprisingly, the bullet did not begin to yaw until it had penetrated ten inches of gel and the wound cavity didn't get interesting (presumably due to moderate fragmentation) until thirteen inches in. This round may be useful for barrier penetration, but it's not particularly suited for social work. This is not advertised as high-penetration ammo, and as best I know does not actually have a penetrator insert. I paid for Brassfetcher to conduct this test because I wanted to determine if the Wolf commercial offerings were suitable replacements even for the milsurp ammo, should the milsurp become unavailable. My conclusion was that I would never use Wolf 60gr HP for serious social work.

Finally - this is a 6.8SPC controlled-expansion load made by Silver State Armory, using a 110gr Barnes TSX bullet:

http://www.brassfetcher.com/images/6.8mm%20SPC%20Barnes%20Triple%20Shock%20block.JPG

The wound cavity initiates almost immediately, and the cavity characteristics are quite dramatic. Penetration is moderately deeper than the tested 5.45x39 rounds, and yet the wound cavity is much larger.

All cost aside - which would you choose for HD purposes?

takhtakaal
March 23, 2008, 09:56 PM
I would choose 6.8mm but becuase of ammo prices (nearly $1/bullet) I would choose 5.45mm

... which trumps, for most of us, rbernie's most elegant and thoughtful post.

Yes, 6.8 is a wonder-round, but it's twice as expensive as 5.56, and eight times as expensive as 5.45 surplus. If we were using tax money, yes, we'd be tempted to foot the extra expense of the chambering and its expensive accessories, but 99% of us neither have the luxury of using tax money nor the ultimate role in making decisions concerning new weapons systems.

So, yes, all cost aside, it's great. But at 22, so is a double-tap of 5.45. I'm just sayin' ...

rbernie
March 23, 2008, 11:28 PM
But at 22, so is a double-tap of 5.45. I'm just sayin' ...Understood.

But I have 4000 rounds of 6.8SPC handloads on tap; my cost to make this (not including any cost for my labor) was about $160/1000. That's not much more more than the delivered cost of a spam can of milsurp 5.45x39...

Just sayin... :)

takhtakaal
March 23, 2008, 11:39 PM
But I have 4000 rounds of 6.8SPC handloads on tap; my cost to make this (not including any cost for my labor) was about $160/1000. That's not much more more than the delivered cost of a spam can of milsurp 5.45x39...

Just sayin...

And as of yet I haven't waded into the relatively expensive quagmire of reloading equipment and supplies in order to secure a healthy supply of 5.45x39, which goes for $120 a tin without any shipping charges whatsoever if you purchase $500 worth or more from the right vendor ...

Just sayin' ... :D

PS: UPS nicely does most of my labor for me!

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