3-gun with an AK-47/74?


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Objekt
July 8, 2010, 07:13 PM
Has anyone done a 3-gun match with an AK-47 or -74 clone, such as a SAR-1 or -2? I would love to use my AK-74, but the only ammo I have is Russian military surplus. It is of typical Combloc "steel sandwich" construction, having a portion of its weight made up by mild steel.

That is a showstopper, because the local 3-gun mafia has a "no steel in the ammo, period" rule. I'm sure that my 5.45x39mm milsurp ammo wouldn't so much as dent their precious gongs, but have not been able to convince them of that.

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taliv
July 8, 2010, 07:41 PM
i sure wouldn't let you shoot it at my targets, especially with the -74. definitely a showstopper.

to answer your question though, lots of people shoot 3-gun with AKs

SharpsDressedMan
July 8, 2010, 07:44 PM
The Russian 5.45x39 ammo might well damage things. It does cut a bit deeper than standard rounds. You CAN get acceptable ammo by pulling bullets, and either buy correct diameter commercial bullets and reloading the steel cases for just enough rounds to do the 3-gun shoots, or buy expensive Hornady V-max (which is loaded in Russian steel cases, I hear). You could also get some scrap steel plates, and see what the 5.45 will do, for your own satisfaction.

Hoser
July 8, 2010, 08:30 PM
Stay away from my steel with that ammo.

I have 10K plus invested in targets. Destroy it and be ready for a hefty bill.

Sebastian the Ibis
July 8, 2010, 10:22 PM
Wolf magnetic bi-metal (whatever that is) in 7.62x39 doesn't make a dent in the steel targets I shoot at. The commercial 5.45 was find too. However, the corrosive military surplus 5.45 tore them up. It is amazing what nasty little round that military 5.45 is.

If I wasn't heavily invested in other calibers I would definitely take a look at getting into it.

Justin
July 8, 2010, 10:58 PM
ocal 3-gun mafia has a"no steel in the ammo, period" rule. I'm sure that my 5.45x39mm milsurp ammo wouldn't so much as dent their precious gongs, but have not been able to convince them of that.

That's because they're correct. Steel core ammo is incredibly hard on steel targets, even if they're made from AR500 armor plate.

Even if the rounds don't penetrate the targets the first tme or even the fiftieth, they will vastly increase the wear and tear on the targets, necessitating them to be replaced at much more frequent intervals.

Objekt
July 9, 2010, 03:46 PM
Ouch. Sounds like 5.45x39mm is a belted magnum masquerading as a battle rifle round, despite using only mild steel. If it will dent AR500, there's no hope. I don't know of anything harder that is also of reasonable cost.

I guess I'll have to shoot my AK with the local milsurp group. Being a group whose sole purpose is to shoot military surplus rifles & ammo at ranges up to 500 yards, they expect to repair their steel targets regularly. Ricochet hazard is minimal, because they never have a target closer than about 300 yards.

Robert
July 9, 2010, 04:34 PM
Or you could invest in your own targets and run your own match. I am sure Hoser or Justin could help you with the logistic and cost analysis of such a venture. Then you would not have to deal with the "mafia" and could set your own rules.

Andrew Wyatt
July 9, 2010, 04:49 PM
cut the projectiles in half. if they have steel jackets, you're not going to harm the steel. steel cores will pock the targets more. the information you get from cutting the projectiles may not sway the range people. IME, M855 (which is pretty similar to 5.45mm) is actually less damaging than .243 and .270 Hunting ammo on steel.

Justin
July 9, 2010, 04:52 PM
Ouch. Sounds like 5.45x39mm is a belted magnum masquerading as a battle rifle round, despite using only mild steel.


You are aware that lead is much softer than even mild steel, correct?

Even mild steel will increase the rate at which a steel target will erode, to the point of requiring it to be replaced much more often.

Your local group may allow people to shoot steel core at their targets, but if so, it's the first I've ever heard of it being allowed. Steel core has been explicitly prohibited at every 3Gun match I've ever attended, from local weekend fun matches all the way up to the national-level competitions like Superstition Mystery Mountain and Rocky Mountain 3Gun.

Objekt
July 10, 2010, 05:26 AM
Read my last post again. No 3-gun group involved. There is a completely different group which shoots exclusively military surplus rifles. Having a "no steel" rule would be silly for them, because there is a lot of milsurp ammo that can only be had in steel-containing varieties. They operate on the principle that it is more sensible to occasionally patch a target than to require that members use expensive, non-surplus ammo. The point of the activity is to shoot military surplus ammo in military surplus rifles, not to preserve hunks of steel.

I have been to these shoots, and they are a blast. No one is concerned about your ammo composition, and all the guys are helpful and knowledgeable. There are even some darned good marksmen in the group.
They tell me that target repair is seldom necessary, as even "steel core" ammo usually doesn't make a hole at 300 yd and up. Not sure whether that's been tried with 5.45x39mm. Getting hits at those distances with an AK, using iron sights, is perhaps questionable, so it may be impossible to say.

The self-righteous and admonishing tone of some of the replies in this thread is disappointing. Some of you are waving your indignation in my face for having the audacity to merely question whether 5.45 will really damage anything, in light of a lack of hard evidence. I'm sorry it upsets you, but it simply is not practical to shoot anything except steel-containing 5.45 ammo. I certainly am not going to break perfectly good ammo, then reload it.

Note to the wagging-finger crowd: I do own the targets in question. I pay a match fee every time I go to a 3-gun shoot, in addition to my club dues, just like everyone else. Where did you think the targets came from? Some of you should be ashamed of yourselves, writing as if I had proposed surreptitiously damage someone else's property.

Thanks to those who actually tried to answer my original question, without assuming a lecturing tone. The rest of you can pound sand.

Hoser
July 10, 2010, 08:19 AM
The rest of you can pound sand.

I *have* had people shoot some of my AR-500 targets with steel core 5.45 ammo. It put dents, dings and chips in my steel.

Pound sand huh? Not very "High Road' of you. If you don't like the answers you got, maybe you should not have asked the question.

With your attitude, it is no wonder the local mafia told you no.

HiroProX
July 10, 2010, 01:07 PM
Depends on the 3-gun tourny. Some of us opt for "Redneck unlimited class" where some course stages require different ammunition. Last one I was at required match ammo for distance, AP for covered target stages, and incendiary for another stage.

General Geoff
July 10, 2010, 02:35 PM
Steel core ammo = good for turning cover into concealment, bad for steel targets. :(

WardenWolf
July 10, 2010, 05:27 PM
Wolf makes a 5.45x39 hollowpoint. Chances are it's lead. I do know that Silver Bear's pistol hollowpoints are lead with a bimetallic jacket. I just tested mine with a magnet, and the magnet very lightly stuck to the jacket but not to the exposed core. These shouldn't damage the target any more than standard lead.

And yes, the 5.45x39 round is just plain nasty. It's essentially a 7.62x39 case necked down to 5.45mm. In Western terms, it's a case designed for a .311 bullet necked down to take a .215 bullet. VERY high velocity.

taliv
July 10, 2010, 06:31 PM
Some of you are waving your indignation in my face for having the audacity to merely question whether 5.45 will really damage anything, in light of a lack of hard evidence.

seems to me that those of us who actually own targets, and actually run 3gun matches, including your local match, have plenty of hard evidence. i also have several damaged steel targets.

you're the one who set the tone in this thread by basically insulting all the people who know steel core ammo will damage steel targets (which is apparently everyone else)

Sam1911
July 10, 2010, 06:39 PM
It's essentially a 7.62x39 case necked down to 5.45mm. In Western terms, it's a case designed for a .311 bullet necked down to take a .215 bullet. VERY high velocity.

Not really. The 5.45x39 case is smaller at the case head/rim and is profiled differently. It is also several mm longer than the 7.62x39. Different case entirely.

Bullet diameter is also 5.6mm or .220", rather than .215".

The primary loading is a 49 gr. mild steel core bullet at 3,000 fps for about 990 fpe.

That is close to, but not quite on par with the SS109 5.56mm numbers: 62 gr @ 3,100 ft/s for 1,303 ft·lbf.

The_Vigilante
July 11, 2010, 08:08 AM
I shoot my Norinco SKS carbine (7.62 x 39) in my local 3-gun matches-no one has said a thing and haven't observed any damage to the steel targets.

WardenWolf
July 11, 2010, 06:15 PM
7.62x39 is a very different round. It's lower velocity and larger caliber. It's almost exactly like comparing a Tokarev round to a .45 ACP round. They have similar muzzle energy (though the Tokarev is slightly higher), but the Tokarev round is much higher velocity and penetrates much better, and does a lot more damage to hard targets (if not penetrating them entirely). It's actually a very good comparison, as 7.62x39 has a 50% larger diameter than 5.45x39, just as .45 ACP has a 50% bigger diameter than .30 / 7.62x25 Tokarev.

So short answer: a 7.62x39 round in any form isn't going to do nearly as much damage to a steel target as a 5.45x39 round. Smaller caliber / higher velocity is the key to superior penetration.

Justin
July 12, 2010, 05:59 PM
The self-righteous and admonishing tone of some of the replies in this thread is disappointing. Some of you are waving your indignation in my face for having the audacity to merely question whether 5.45 will really damage anything, in light of a lack of hard evidence. I'm sorry it upsets you, but it simply is not practical to shoot anything except steel-containing 5.45 ammo.

You asked why your local 3gun matches prohibited the use of Steel Core ammo. You received answers from, at my count, two match directors, an assistant match director, and one competitor with long-term range officer and match experience.

After receiving answers from people on the administrative side of running a match, you persisted to claim that the ammunition wouldn't damage targets, despite the experience these people have with damaged targets.

That's probably why the responses were on the snarky side of things.

I have been to these shoots, and they are a blast. No one is concerned about your ammo composition, and all the guys are helpful and knowledgeable. There are even some darned good marksmen in the group.
They tell me that target repair is seldom necessary, as even "steel core" ammo usually doesn't make a hole at 300 yd and up. Not sure whether that's been tried with 5.45x39mm. Getting hits at those distances with an AK, using iron sights, is perhaps questionable, so it may be impossible to say.

If your local guys run a milsurp match that allows steel core, I'd say go ahead and shoot that. Clearly they're willing to take on the added costs of upkeep on their targets, or maybe the number of people shooting the match is small enough that it doesn't matter if you all shoot steel core.

Regardless, just know that your match is an anomaly, and steel core ammo is not likely to be allowed at other matches due to the damage inflicted on the targets (which results in the targets having to be repaired/replaced more often, which costs money.)

I have a hard time believing that Match Directors at large matches would feel the need to go to rather serious lengths to keep steel core ammo from being shot at their matches, to include announcements at the shooter meetings, notes in the match booklets, and in some cases, the use of magnets to perform spot checks on competitor ammo, if steel core ammunition didn't cause damage to their targets.

After all, why go to all the trouble?

Note to the wagging-finger crowd: I do own the targets in question. I pay a match fee every time I go to a 3-gun shoot, in addition to my club dues, just like everyone else. Where did you think the targets came from? Some of you should be ashamed of yourselves, writing as if I had proposed surreptitiously damage someone else's property.

You know, even though I've helped to run matches for over a year now, I very clearly understand that the targets and props belong to the club. Yes, my match fees help pay for these things, but that doesn't mean I can do whatever I want with it, especially if it means that other would not be able to use these items because they'd been damaged heavily.

Zak Smith
July 12, 2010, 06:31 PM
Note to the wagging-finger crowd: I do own the targets in question. I pay a match fee every time I go to a 3-gun shoot, in addition to my club dues, just like everyone else. Where did you think the targets came from? Some of you should be ashamed of yourselves, writing as if I had proposed surreptitiously damage someone else's property.
By that logic you can simply destroy anything at the club, since you're a member and pay match fees once a month. That argument is bogus for obvious reasons.

Furthermore, in a fair number of local matches, some of the target systems are privately owned by individuals - usually the M.D. or staff - who "lend" them for match use.

Ammo restrictions are almost ubiquitous at matches, and I mean that in the broad sense:

* most do not allow incendiary or tracer ammo
* many do not allow AP bullets or those with steel in them
* most have some sort of caliber/cartridge restriction

Rules in this class are usually there for some combination of these reasons: safety, preventing target system damage (which can influence safety, if not just screwing up match logistics as targets need to be replaced), and logistics/fairness in scoring.

Armor steel is not particularly cheap. It can be a pain in the butt to have to repair the rest of the target system (e.g. stands). If a target goes down during a match, the shooters on that stage are delayed until it can be repaired, or the stage is thrown out, or the scoring will end up unfair to the people who shot it before or after the target was down. These are all things that make the match staff's job harder, make the match cost more money, or screw up match logistics.

Also consider that sometimes the host range has rules in place about what ammo can be shot on their property, period. The match staff has to incorporate those facility/range rules into the match rules.

Impact velocity is the main killer of targets, with bullet material composition somewhere behind. At the long-range matches that I am involved with, we have developed a 3200 fps muzzle-velocity limit because, for close targets, the resulting impact velocities will cause target damage. This isn't because we're a mafia -- it's because the damage incurred if even a considerable minority of the shooters used ammo that damaged the targets would make them unsafe and unserviceable for match use within one season, if even that long. In the case of one of our matches, replacing 60 targets would cost somewhere between $2000 and $6000 and a easily a man-week of labor to repair everything. That's a non-starter.

These events do not make anyone rich. If most matches had to actually pay for the help of the staff, they simply could not be run - they'd be losing money hand over fist. Allowing destructive ammo so that a few people can save money on ammo costs, but costing the "match" a bunch of time and money in repair makes no sense.

Hunterdad
July 13, 2010, 09:03 AM
They don't call the 5.45 the "poison bullet" for nothing. From what I've read, it will damage a gong up pretty good.

jmorris
July 13, 2010, 12:49 PM
I use AR's for the carbine but at times use a Saiga 12 for the shotgun.

On the 5.45 X 39 and AR500 plate. A friend and I were shooting his 5.45 X 39 AR15 upper last week the ammunition was steel core but I wanted to see what it did to a AR500 "test" plate that I have at my personal range, at 300 yards it did nothing but knock off paint.

Andrew Wyatt
July 13, 2010, 12:52 PM
Was it actually steel core or was it just magnetic?


if it pulls a magnet it is not necessarily steel core. cupro nickel jackets pull a magnet, as well as steel jacketed stuff like portugese ball.

IndianaBoy
July 13, 2010, 01:05 PM
sorry wrong thread.

jmorris
July 13, 2010, 01:23 PM
Was it actually steel core or was it just magnetic?

The only thing a heavy duty set of cutters would cut through was the “empty” tip of the bullet. The core was steel and quite hard, given the inability to cut the given diameter. I thought about giving a set of bolt cutters a try but didn’t want to ruin them. I was surprised to see no damage myself but we didn’t try at any range closer than 300 yds, I didn’t want to risk it coming back.

Zak Smith
July 13, 2010, 01:26 PM
I've let a bunch of people shoot M855 at my AR500 plates at 100 yards and there is no particular damage notable over what M193 will incur at 25 yards. I don't think we've had someone shoot steel-core AK-74 ammo at them - I can't remember. However, this is sort of incidental to the issue of following the rules of a match one wants to attend: the staff has rules for a reason.

jmorris
July 13, 2010, 02:59 PM
Zak makes a good point. Even if the steel doesn't get hurt doesn't mean people won't. 25 yards is too close for me shooting a rifle at steel and 300 yards was as close as I wanted to be shooting steel core.

Justin
July 13, 2010, 03:51 PM
We tend not to put steel targets any closer than 125 yards for rifle shooting.

Tirod
July 28, 2010, 09:44 AM
Reading through all this makes it apparent some aren't being up front about the reasons to limit steel core use. It's about shooter safety, first and foremost. Richochets are a highly uncontrollable situation, no one wants a shooter hit, and the worst case situation is someone would be killed. In a competition with dozens of individuals watching within range, the odds go up.

Damage to the targets is obviously less than what is spoken about, but in the long run, hundreds of shooters over time will destroy a plate target. It will only increase the risk of ricochets.

"Safety First" is the main reason, and should be the first reason given. "Shot up targets" sounds like an excuse to avoid looking less than macho. I call BS on that. It's not about the targets, it's about shooter safety, which is far more important. Man up and say so. It's safety first.

Anyone who wants bullets flying back can find the nearest recruiter. On a range, it's a game, not life and death. Don't make it that way.

jmorris
July 28, 2010, 10:16 AM
Tirod, we get it. You just didn't make it to the last 4 posts.

Zak Smith
July 28, 2010, 03:42 PM
It's well known than cratered steel is dangerous. The match directors who have weighed in on this thread will consider a piece of steel "done" if it has any craters that could cause ricochets. Nobody's ignoring safety - it is a given backdrop to the discussion.

jon_in_wv
July 28, 2010, 09:03 PM
I've never shot 3 gun but I have shot steel plates at 200y with my converted Saiga. It hits the plates fine but if the plates were any farther away I would feel a lot better about using an AR or other rifle with a little more precision.

-v-
August 10, 2010, 04:21 PM
To answer the question, I find an AK quite feasible for 3-gun. Most of the targets are large enough that you can calmly put shots in the "A" zone in 3gun. Reloads do take literally 1 second longer than an AR, but 1 second won't make that much a difference 99.99999% of the time.

frankge
August 12, 2010, 05:13 PM
Going to a rifle match tonight with my AK, no steel so Im shooting Brown Bear.

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