AK47 hand loads


March 12, 2012, 11:36 PM
I just bought an AK47 and plan to reload 7.62x39. Any tips tricks with this gun and cartridge ?

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March 12, 2012, 11:42 PM

4.99 a box academy fmj is your friend.

Unless you need a hunting load or just want to see how good you can get your rifle to shoot there's no advantage to handloading this caliber.

posted via mobile device.

March 12, 2012, 11:46 PM

I was wondering that as well, I see Russian ammo cheap at LGS if it was worth it, that's why I don't bother with 9mm.

I was wondering also if there was anything special to consider with the rifles loose tolerances you hear about.

The test target with this gun was impressive, 30 yds I think, all in the same hole.

March 12, 2012, 11:48 PM
Most of the stuff you "hear about" AK's are from people who have never owned or fired one.

March 12, 2012, 11:51 PM
The thing is x39 ammo is only slightly more expensive than 9mm

X39 brass isn't exactly cheap and once fired is hard to come by. Combine that with throwing brass far and wide and denting it up badly and it just ain't worth it.

posted via mobile device.

March 13, 2012, 12:10 AM

I don't know how much experience you have reloading generally, or for military semi-autos specifically. And I certainly do not intend to come across as an expert because I am not.

But, in addition to the very true comments you've already received (it ain't worth reloading for this caliber) and with which I agree, I will offer this.

Leaving out the fact that you can simply not save any money reloading, there are some safety issues relating to military rifles, especially autoloaders.

First, is "hard primers". There is a special grade of primer made for this. If you use regular primers there's an enhanced possibility of an AD upon chambering a round. Hard (that is to say "insensitive") primers do not eliminate this risk but they minimize it.

The second risk applies to all autoloaders (rifles and pistols) and not just military weapons. It is "squibs". I imagine you know that a squib means that the primer has fired but has not ignited, or has only partially ignited, the powder charge. The result is that the bullet fails to exit the barrel.

Sometimes, but not always, the bullet travels such a short distance that, even if you manually load the next round, it will not fully chamber, and the gun will not fire.

It has happened to me, with a Makarov pistol, that I had a squib but, somehow, there was enough of a detonation that the gun actually DID cycle and it DID chamber a new round, and this new round DID go into battery. It was only because the report sounded funny and because the recoil felt funny, that I did not pull the trigger again.

Had I done so, I would have blown up the gun, and possibly, my face. The bullet was about halfway down the barrel, stuck.

On that occasion I was using high end factory ammunition - not reloads. However, I would point out that, in my opinion, no hand loader is gonna have the equipment, the quality control systems, and the ORGANIZATION to produce ammunition that is reliable as factory ammo. I did not say more accurate, but more reliable.

Hence, I would be very disinclined to reload for any autoloader, and especially for a military type semi-auto. It is all too easy to get a squib, your finger twitch, or for whatever reason, continue shooting, and have an accident.

This is on top of the fact that brass is expensive and you NEVER recover all of it. Sometimes I think that the cases have gone into near earth orbit because no matter how hard I look I simply cannot find them. Brass is possibly the most expensive single component of a bullet and is the ONLY one that can be recycled.

All of the above is why you're best off shooting (and hand loading for) revolvers for fun and autoloaders for whatever other purpose you may have.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.


March 13, 2012, 10:28 AM
Learn how to anneal brass. I get over 20 reloads on my brass by annealing every 5th or 6th time. Use a bullet apropriate for your barrel. Some AK's have fairly large groove diameters and require .310 or .311 bullets, or if using cast bullets, even larger. Best accuracy is often not max velocity - H4198 works well for me. AK's can be a lot more accurate than you often hear.

David Wile
March 13, 2012, 11:19 AM
Hey folks,

I've been reloading more than 50 years, and more than 40 of those years have been for semi-auto rifles and handguns. Not once in all of those years have I ever had a cartridge fire except when I pulled a trigger and the bolt was fully closed. That includes factory ammunition as well as my reloaded ammunition, and I only shoot factory ammunition when I buy it to get the brass for reloading.

In addition to shooting jacketed bullets in semi-auto pistols and rifles, I also do what a lot of folks decry - the use of cast bullets in semi-auto rifles as well as pistols. Yep, even use them in gas operated rifles like my M-1 Garands as well as others. My semi-auto rifles have included three M-1 Garands; a Colt AR-15 in .223 (no cast bullets in .223 however); at least seven rifles in 7.62X39 including one Colt AR-15, two AK-47s, three Russian SKSs, and a Ruger Mini-30; a 6.5X55 Swedish Ljungman; and an M-1A.

In all my reloading for all those semi-auto rifles I always used plain old standard rifle primers - no magnums and not hardened. I also used cast bullets in all of them other than .223 and the 6.5X55 Swede. The reason for never using cast bullets in those two calibers was because I never had bullet moulds for those two calibers. I do cast for a lot of different calibers, but off the top of my head I guess I only used one .30 caliber cast bullet for all my semi-auto rifle use. It is a 155 grain gas checked Guy Loverin design and is sized to suit each rifle used.

In my experience, I have not had any problems with reloading for semi-auto rifles or pistols. Do I lose brass? Sure do, but I generally shoot where I can recover my brass more easily. I also do not find that my semi-auto brass lasts a long time since I shoot mild loads.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

Mikee Loxxer
March 13, 2012, 11:36 AM
My quality control is much better than factory as I can inspect EVERY cartridge to make sure there is an adequate powder charge to ensure that the bullet leaves the barrel. Manufacturers only inspect samples of batches.

March 13, 2012, 12:11 PM

" No hand loader is going to have the equiptment, quality control systems, ORGANIZATION to produce ammunition that is as reliable as factory "

I will argue your opinion, and question your source regarding quality control of reloads v.s. quality control of factory. That said, in more than 30 yrs. of reloading, and nearly 50 years of shooting I have yet to encounter a squib, mis-fire, or any other failure from one of my own reloads. I have however wittnessed countless squibs and mis-fires that other reloaders have encountered with their reloads. In fact, I have seen some guys that had almost as many failures as they did functional reloads of their construction.

On the flip side, although I have never had a squib with factory amunition, I have indeed had numerous mis-fires with factory ammunition. I'll trust my reloads hands down against any factory ammunition regardless of it's price / quality. If an individual is reloading correctly it goes without saying that reloads are going to be significantly better in every aspect, including reliability.

I load on a single stage press for auto loading weapons, bolt actions, wheel guns, and shotshell. Other than the basic reloading set up, what quality control or other necessary equiptment is going to reduce squibs or mis-fires? 99.9% of all failures are the result of a reloader not reloading correctly, and such individuals need to go back to square A of the learning process.

March 13, 2012, 12:17 PM
I imagine you know that a squib means that the primer has fired but has not ignited, or has only partially ignited, the powder charge. If you had a squib, you forgot to put the powder in it, or at least not enough powder due to a powder measure bridging, etc.

Simple as that.

Squibs simply do not happen without some help from a careless reloader.


March 13, 2012, 12:45 PM
Ditto on the standard primers. All I use are winchester large rifle primers and never a slam fire in many thousands of rounds. But then I do clean my gun often and verify the firing pin is clear of debris. Using cast bullets, home made aluminum gas checks, bulk component buys, and annealing brass, I'm loading 7.62x39 for $80 a thousand and getting damn good accuracy with a scoped AK.

March 13, 2012, 01:47 PM
I don't know where you got your information Vtuck2, but it lacks fact. If this is what your experience has been with reloaded ammunition, you've either been associating with some very careless, and or, inexperienced reloaders. If you ask most reloaders what inspired them to reload in the first place, I'll bet you most will say it was to produce better quality ammunition, while saving a few pennies per round. Quality of course includes reliability and accuracy.

March 13, 2012, 08:34 PM
Any decent sources for brass, or do I have to buy the "expensive" stuff from walmart and keep reloading that brass?

March 13, 2012, 08:38 PM
I am with R W Dale on this one. I find that with my SKS that reloads are only marginally better and the cost of commercial components makes reloading almost a wash for me. I think that if you do not need .311 bullets that it would be more cost effective. I have all the components to reload 1K as well as the dies, I can reload IF needed. :) But why??

March 13, 2012, 10:59 PM
"Squibs simply do not happen without some help from a careless reloader.



To be clear: In my entire lifetime I've had two squibs. Both were from the same box of high end factory "self defense" ammunition. The first one had partial ignition. It ejected the round, chambered a new one, and went into battery. But the report and recoil were weird so I stopped and checked.

Therefore, I must conclude that the round DID have a powder charge.

And to be clearer: I have yet to reload my first round. So, needless to say, I'm not claiming to be any kind of expert. Notwithstanding that some people may have had perfect results reloading I've seen many reloads fail. Empirically, I cannot assert that factory ammunition is more reliable than reloads. But subjectively, it would seem logical that it is. No hand loader has the kind of material, financial, and organizational resources that a "for profit" business does.

So, notwithstanding that there's always an exception to be found to every statement, I would still trust factory ammunition over reloaded stuff for both autoloaders and concealed carry.

Just an opinion by a "two squib" guy who's always used factory ammunition (but who will soon go down the hand loader's trail).


March 14, 2012, 12:12 AM
For what it's worth, I trust my handloads more than I trust factory ammo, and I trust factory ammo more than I trust someone *else's* reloads...

March 15, 2012, 01:19 PM

I shot the new SGL21 yesterday. Lots of fun. Soft shooting with that muzzle break. More accurate than I expected. So, I shot steel cases and 40 rounds of brass S&B. All cases had a nice gash and dent just below the shoulder.
1) Is this case abuse normal for AK's?
2) quick search shows brass not too available and expensive
3) should I just shoot the russian steel or czech brass?

Thanks in advance,

David Wile
March 15, 2012, 03:28 PM
Hey Rikman,

The 7.62X39 is soft shooting in any rifle with or without a muzzle break. Then again, I only ever shot it in semi-auto rifles, and semi-autos absorb virtually all the felt recoil to me. I used the 7.62X39 in AK, SKS, AR, and Mini-30, and it seems they all put a dent somewhere below the shoulder. Some may be more pronounced than others, but they are nothing to worry about. I simply full-length resize the cases and reload.

The dent in the reloaded round will disappear when discharged in your rifle, and for a few parts of a second it will look perfect until it is once again dented in the extraction process. I load more on the mild side and get many loadings out of my brass. In fact, I have more problems losing such brass rather than wearing it out.

If you are going to shoot where you will have a lot of problems finding your spent brass, I would then think it would be better to shoot the cheap blast and forget-it stuff. If you can recover all or at least most of your brass, then I would go for reloadable ammo and make my own. I have not bought any new ammo for a lot of years, but I think there are some sources to buy Boxer primed ammo today at a reasonable price. If you can recover your brass, you can reload very good quality ammo for less money than the blasting kind.

While I bought a large supply of Russian bullets years ago at a very good price, I actually use my own cast bullets most of the time. When using cast bullets for reloading, the cost per round comes down real far. The time spent making each round goes way up with cast bullets, but that is just good time for me - I don't play golf.

So, if you can recover your brass, by all means reload your own. If you cannot recover your brass, buy whatever is the cheapest you can find. Either way, have fun shooting.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

March 15, 2012, 03:57 PM
I see some people posting who think reloading is a chore or only done to save money.
First and foremost, I posted before that using the very nice Berry's plated .311 125 grain bullet I can load for less than that $4.99 Academy, without shipping costs. I also cast for the round, and that drops the costs FAR lower.
I reload not just for better accuracy, which is one, or to save money, which is another, or even to keep shooting when the WalMart shelves are bare, (2009 was a good year for range time), but because I enjoy it. I enjoy loading, casting, and having a nice finished product I know I can trust.
BTW, I have never used magnum primers in 7.62x39mm reloads. I currently use a vz-58 and CZ 527M in this caliber, and have no issues with plain jane Remington 9.5 primers. Especially with the bolt action, finding my brass is VERY easy. :)

Forgot to add, I reload and cast for 9mm, too. :) Guess I am all kinds of screwed up, ain't I? :D

March 15, 2012, 07:14 PM
Thanks for the replies guys,

I think I'l buy some Lee dies and see what I can make. My hand loads have certainly been way more accurate than factory ammo.

March 16, 2012, 01:46 AM
Hey VT,
Even though you have many strong and obviously very educated and well informed opinions about reloading, I disagree with nearly all of your statements. Especially that reloading does not save you money and that reloaders are not able to meet or exceed factory ammo reliability. I have reloaded and fired over 500 rounds in the AR-15 I recently built. I have had absolutely ZERO problems. I can't say the same about the 100 or so rounds of Federal factory ammo I have shot through it. Also, my reloads are significantly cheaper (19 cents vs. 33 cents, which is actually a pretty good price for factory ammo) and have superior accuracy.
And to be clearer: I have yet to reload my first round
I rest my case.:rolleyes:

To the O.P.
My friend recently bought an Arsenal SGL21 and we found a great deal of 500 pieces of brass at the last gun show. Finding cheap .310" bullets may be interesting but he agrees, steel is the way to go for blasting away but for hunting rounds or rounds that may be considered 'premium', reloading will save a LOT of money. Buy cheap steel ammo for plinking and unless you can find a good deal on FMJs, use the brass to load quality ammo. His AK doesn't 'tear up' brass ammo, but it does put a decent dent into the side of it. He was shooting Winchester brass cased that he got at the gun show.

March 16, 2012, 02:33 AM

Thanks, for the reply. I've never been able to make it to a local gun show or any for that matter. I'll check one out soon for reloading components.

March 16, 2012, 02:43 AM
Here are a few of my beat up 7.62x39's (s&b)

March 16, 2012, 09:21 AM
You also have the option of modifying the steel case ammo. Pull the bullet, dump the powder and replace with the powder of your choice and re-seat the bullet.

I used to do this a lot a few years ago using IMR 4895. Steel cased ammo has huge variances in neck tension, powder charge and bullet weight. By "remanufacturing" the ammo you can at the very least, control powder and neck tension and that does show up as better accuracy.

This is a lot less work than fully reloading a cartridge and powder is your only extra cost.

You can replace the bullet as well if you want to build a more specific cartridge. I found the 125grain Sierra Pro Hunter bullets to work very well.

March 16, 2012, 10:28 AM
rikman - those dents look pretty extreme to me. I've got over 10,000 cast loads through my AK and none of them look like that. I would consider a new recoil spring or try some different loads if my brass looked like that.

March 16, 2012, 12:24 PM
been experimenting with the Yugo SKS, and found that a healthy dose of h4895 (22.5 gr) and 190 gr LEE (175gr mold) gc sized to .314 puts them in 1/2" @ 50 yds. make sure to dip the op rod in Marvel's, bc it will lead a bit, but not bad enough in the barrel to decrease accuracy. Been getting about 1740 fps +-11 with that load. It works well in my buddy's ak as well, no signs of pressure from either. sks has digested about 250 +- rounds without lead plugging up gas ports.

Please work up to this load, as it is a very heavy for caliber bullet, and this load is not found in any reloading manual. Don't take my word on anything, this is a load I worked up for MY gun. be safe, neither I or THR is responsible for your handloading practices.

March 16, 2012, 12:53 PM
I can think of several reasons to load for the 7.62x39. 1 Accuracy 2 Use of premium bullet for hunting 3 reliability (I started hand loading because of several misfires in Remington factory 270 Win ammo). 4 Cost (Premium hand loads are cheaper than Premium factory).

I have not loaded for the 7.62x39, but I use the brass for my 6mm PPC AR. I like the Remington brass because of the small rifle primer pocket, but it is getting hard to find. Remington Federal and Winchester brass all produce sub MOA out to 600+ yards. The domestic brass is very good quality and should hold up well.

For some one new to loading, use a bullet with a cannelure and a firm crimp. If the bullet slides forward or back in the neck, you could get pressure spikes.

Good Luck

March 16, 2012, 03:54 PM
"Hey VT,
Even though you have many strong and obviously very educated and well informed opinions about reloading, I disagree with nearly all of your statements. Especially that reloading does not save you money and that reloaders are not able to meet or exceed factory ammo reliability. I have reloaded and fired over 500 rounds in the AR-15 I recently built. I have had absolutely ZERO problems. I can't say the same about the 100 or so rounds of Federal factory ammo I have shot through it. Also, my reloads are significantly cheaper (19 cents vs. 33 cents, which is actually a pretty good price for factory ammo) and have superior accuracy.
Quote (from one of VT's responses):
And to be clearer: I have yet to reload my first round
I rest my case."

Fellas. As the moderators have pointed out ad nauseum, this is "the high road". I simply do not understand why the expression of an opinion - right or wrong - should evoke a personal attack. By way of example:

In response to the OP I posted an opinion. I have re-read my post. I cannot see anything in it that was offensive - regardless of whether any of you consider it right or wrong. I did not say that reloading for military and other semi-autos was suicide. I simply mentioned some concerns. And I stand by them. A tiny bit of effort (google is your friend) will quickly disclose that I am not the only fella in the galaxy who has these concerns).

gamestalker clearly and forcefully stated that he disagreed. Fine. No doubt he is a very experienced reloader. And more importantly, he was civil.

Then rcmodel chimed in. His response was a little more shrill.

Finally, fisherdave joins the fray. By this point, blasphemous statements are attributed to me that I never made. Y'all will please notice that I never claimed to be an expert. In a follow-up post, I freely offered that I have yet to get into the reloading game.

In my opinion, fisherdave crossed the line into what the moderators call "snarkiness" by quoting my admission that I'm not yet a reloader, and then adding "I rest my case". Clearly, the implication by innuendo is "this guy doesn't know what he's talking about".

Without conceding this, let's assume that it's a fact. So what? Why not take the "high road" and try to set me straight? The very first victim of an insult, however overt or covert it may be, is the opportunity for a disagreement to evolve into a teaching or learning moment.

So why do it? I simply do not see the payoff. Maybe I could have learned something from you. Maybe you'd have benefited from my perspective.

I am not aware that I ever said that a competent and careful reloader is not capable of turning out beautiful, accurate, and 100% reliable ammunition. I admire those who have such a track record (gamestalker, rcmodel), and hope they will share some of their knowledge as I trod this road. From a couple of posts I've learned that it IS possible to hand load 7.62x39 rounds and still save money. I have NEVER said that reloading, properly done, was unsafe, did not save money, was not fun, or was not worth doing for any reason.

What I DID say is this: Repetitive, redundant actions are perfect for automation. For that type of activity, most humans, are no match for the machine. I did NOT say, that NO human was a match for a machine, although frankly, I'm saying it now.

Concurrent with this thread, is a thread by a member (and a very competent and conscientious reloader as best I can tell) who blew up the barrel of his 70s model Colt 1911 while shooting his own carefully and lovingly hand loaded rounds. By all accounts, he had a squib or incomplete detonation that caused the action to cycle, reload, and go into battery. Unfortunately, he pulled the trigger again.

He wasn't hurt. But it did damage his gun. I myself have posted elsewhere, about having had the very same thing happen in a Makarov, using new, premium ammunition. In my case, I noticed something wrong and stopped before I pulled the trigger again.

Now, I would not say that guy was "careless". I would say he was "human". Which leads me back to my original assertion that, in my opinion, ROUND FOR ROUND, factory ammunition surely has to be SAFER (although admittedly, not more accurate, and CERTAINLY more expensive). Neither man nor animal can match the machine for high volume production of ANYTHING except hyperbole, acrimony, insult, and er... fertilizer.

What I'm trying to say is: Lighten up. It's not the end of the world if somebody disagrees. It doesn't matter if somebody is less enlightened than we are. Occasionally, if we listen, we discover the contrary is true.

I will close with this admonition. I've been soaking up knowledge from user groups for about twenty years. Back in the dark ages of news readers all news groups were "unmoderated". This of course is a short loaded term for "uncensored".

I have lost count of the groups that started out as edens of shared knowledge and learning that were overrun by hatred spewing jackals. (No offense to the jackals).

So, to FisherDave, respectfully, I suggest that you "rested your case" too early.



David Wile
March 16, 2012, 08:57 PM
Hey Rikman,

I wouldn't be afraid to size and reload those cases in your photos, but I am wondering why the dents are as big as they are. Like Ledhore said, those dents are a bit extreme in my experience also. Something seems wrong to me also. Recoil spring too weak? Load too hot making extraction too forceful? I don't know, but perhaps other folks may have some ideas.

HJ857 made some suggestions about buying steel blasting ammo, pulling the bullets, dumping the powder and replacing it with new powder, and then reseating the same bullet or replacing the bullet with a new bullet. While I would not want to disagree with him in a mean spirited manner, I do not think his ideas of reworking cheap steel cased ammo makes a lot of sense to me.

First, when it comes to replacing the existing powder with new powder, why bother? If the intention is to insure that all the cartridges have the same powder charge, I think I have a better idea that does not require new powder. Pull the bullets from all the cartridges. Then weigh the charges in each of the first ten cartridges and find an average weight for these charges. Subtract two tenths of a grain from the average weight and let this be your new charge weight. Then weigh and recharge each of the cases with the same powder at the new charge weight. When finished, you should have a slight excess of powder remaining considering you have reduced the original average charge by two tenths. Now all of your carses will have the same weighed charge and can have the bullets reseated.

That seems like a lot of unnecessary work to me, but it certainly will insure accurate powder charges without having to throw the original powder away and replace it with new powder.

If HJ857 finds reworking cheap blasting ammo is worthwhile for his purposes, I certainly cannot say it is wrong for him. From my point of view, however, it just does not seem to be worth the effort. Then again, I cast bullets, and I know a lot of folks who would think my efforts in casting bullets is not worth the time expended.

Best wishes,
Dave Wile

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