Super Confused Handloading the 7.62x54R


Joshua M. Smith
September 26, 2011, 05:30 AM
Hi Folks,

I've been searching around trying to remember what my favorite Varget load has been for the 7.62x54R.

Now, I Googled my name and the caliber. Plenty of info came up. Seems I started loading with 45 grains and worked my way up. Sounds about right.

However, I'm sitting here looking at a new manual dedicated to the 7.62x54R. It's a collection of Hodgdon, Sierra, and Hornady loads.

For a 150grn bullet...

Hornady lists 37.2grns starting/46.5grns max for 2800fps.

Sierra lists 43.0grns starting/47.0grns max for 2600fps.

Hodgdon lists 47grns starting/50.5grns max for 2985fps.

I can understand some discrepancy due to barrel and bullet, but I'm honestly puzzled here.

Why is Hodgdon's starting load above max for Hornady and right at max for Sierra???

I simply don't understand. I've been loading the 7,92x57J and haven't seen anything as wide open as this.




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September 26, 2011, 09:43 AM
You first have to look at the details under which the testing occurred. Different testing equipment, be it test fixture or actual rifle fitted with pressure pods , different diameter bullets, barrel lengths, as any number of variables can affect the powder charges listed at each company offering the data.

For safety concerns, see how your equipment mirrors each company's data and use the data that closely approximates your equipment's use.
At the least, use the lowest data numbers available and get a chronograph to cross check the numbers, and watch for pressure signs on the case and for heavy bolt lift after firing. Always take the safe route.


September 26, 2011, 11:32 AM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.
I have worked up 180 gr bullet loads [with a 4895 bulk powder I have QL characterized] in the Mosin Nagant 7.62x54R until the bolt lift was too stiff.

79 kpsi Quickload is ok
83 kpsi Quickload is stiff bolt lift

? psi hot loads, pound the action open, no change in headspace, those are tough rifles. The rimmed case is a great safety feature.

My jug of Varget is right on the money for it's characterization in the Quickload library.

I am going to guess that the most Varget you can fit under a 150 gr bullet is 53.6 gr, which would only get you 64kpsi.

September 26, 2011, 11:52 AM
Now, I Googled my name and the caliber
You have to Google to find out what your favorate loads were??

Don't you keep records when you reload??

I can tell you in about 1 minute what a load was I was loading in 1970, or 80, or 90.


September 26, 2011, 01:11 PM
The data on the 54R tends to be a bit choppy. Testing was often done 20 or 30 years or more ago, when available rifles were usually old M91's or narrow bore Finns.

I usually go with the lower end and work up, but sometimes it's pretty clear that the person working the loads simply didn't know the rifles well and thought there was some kind of KB danger. That explains the exceedingly low range you sometimes run into. The biggest complicating factor is that what works for one Mosin won't necessarily work well for another. So each new rifle means new tweaking.

Joshua M. Smith
September 26, 2011, 04:20 PM
Thanks folks.

RC, I can tell you that for H335 it's 48.2grns.

The Varget data is older -- it's the first powder I used -- and I am having a heck of a time finding my notes on it. I know what book it's in, but it somehow got removed from my library.

Might just have to start over with that powder.



November 17, 2011, 11:32 AM
I too am in the process of learning x54R loads, but for a PSL instead which is pressure sensitive in the gas system. Ideally I'd use a 150-155 grain bullet bu that doesn't exist in .311 in a boattail shape which is what I'd want. For some reason, Hodgdon's data doesn't include the 174 grains bullets. What's good for autoloaders with that weight? BLC2 maybe? I'm told I should be careful not to use a slow powder because it's not good for semis.

November 17, 2011, 12:13 PM
Keep an eye out for 148 grain pulled bullets, or ratty old surplus ammo that's on bargain.

November 17, 2011, 02:44 PM
There really are not widely accepted standards for maximum loads in the 7.72x54R. What I picked for a safe and satisfactory pressure level is around 50 KPSI, though S&B 200 grain tested at 58 KPSI.

In my Finn M39, that got me 2840 FPS with a 150 grain bullet.

35 Whelen
November 18, 2011, 07:55 AM
Why is Hodgdon's starting load above max for Hornady and right at max for Sierra???

Simple: the 7.62x54r has a nominal barrel groove diameter of .310". Hodgdons data uses a 150 gr. Nosler bullet which is .308", Hornady's 150 gr. bullet for this (and like European militarty cartridges)is .312" diameter. Likewise Sierra's is .311".

FWIW I've gotten very, very good groups with the 150 gr. Hornady in the several 303 Britishs and 7.62x54r's.


November 26, 2011, 08:34 PM
I have recently started handloading for my 91/30 and have found that both Barnes TSX-FB, 150 gr .311 - 52g Hodgdon BL-C(2), PRVI Case, CCI 200 - got me out to about 2800 fps.

It is difficult to find a variety of .311 bullets out there; however, if you look for 303's, those will suffice in the Russian rifles.

I have had good luck with Sierra 303 cal, .311 HPBT 174 g, using Varget.

I was looking at the Lapua site,, (, and they have some good info on the 7.62x54R. I am going to look into getting some of the Vihtavuori N-140 to work with, since it looks like the most versatile.

Also note, that lead cast bullets loaded at 10 - 20% below max work very well. I use gas checks and have not had any leading issues to date. I am shooting to keep the velocity at or below 1800 fps.

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