Chinese 7.62x39 surplus accuracy?


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30cal_Fun
December 7, 2013, 08:03 AM
I bought this Chinese 7.62x39 surplus to shoot in my Bulgarian Arsenal SAR-M1 AK. My local gun shop had it for a good price so I picked up some for me and a couple friends that shoot this caliber.
I couldn't find much about Chinese surplus 7.62x39 with the search function except for some WTS threads.

The 61 over 74 on the headstamp indicates it was manufactured in China in 1974 (and corrosive).
I pulled some of the rounds because I'm going to mexican-match it with some hornady 123gr FMJ .310 bullets.

The case is copper washed, soft steel. It's filled with a small stick-type powder, about 24,75 grain.
It has a 123 grain boat-tail bullet that has a bi-metal jacket made of copper coated soft steel with a lead covered steel core.

Does anyone have any experience with this ammo?
What can I expect from this ammo accuracy wise?

http://i495.photobucket.com/albums/rr319/LewisPhotoB/Surplus%20Ammo/IMG_0854Mirrored_zpsa2c22b6d.jpg

http://i495.photobucket.com/albums/rr319/LewisPhotoB/Surplus%20Ammo/IMG_0845_zps015810c8.jpg

http://i495.photobucket.com/albums/rr319/LewisPhotoB/Surplus%20Ammo/IMG_0864_zpsbac3ac30.jpg

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carbine85
December 7, 2013, 09:33 AM
If it's anything like the Chicom surplus I had it's very dirty and produces a lot of smoke. I have seen several places around here selling it cheap. As far as accuracy goes it's no better than any other surplus I have or had. I never paid any attention to the head stamps so I can't say if it's the same or not.

30cal_Fun
December 7, 2013, 02:05 PM
Thanks for the answer. I know this ammo is corrosive, so I will be cleaning it very well after every range trip.

Montman
December 7, 2013, 03:18 PM
The Chinese stuff I have is smokey - and about 20-30% split the neck of the shell when fired.

Reloadron
December 7, 2013, 04:07 PM
Poured into the US during the early 90s. Most of what I shot was in either SKS or AK rifles. The steel cased copper wash stuff shot fine for me and I don't recall any excessive smoke. Overall for what it cost it worked just fine.

Ron

sexybeast
December 7, 2013, 04:33 PM
Poured into the US during the early 90s. Most of what I shot was in either SKS or AK rifles. The steel cased copper wash stuff shot fine for me and I don't recall any excessive smoke. Overall for what it cost it worked just fine.



Yup. Always went bang. Bought some back in the early 90's for 9cents a round.
In California they banned it outdoors and many indoor ranges also banned it. outdoors because they said it may start fires.
May not be considered armor piercing but it might as well be. At a range I shoot at some some bozos shot at a steel guard that was 1/4 inch thick steel at 25yds. Went right through it!

Marlin 45 carbine
December 7, 2013, 05:11 PM
the chicom mil-surp ammo was banned by billary from import into the usa.
I have shot much of this in my M30 ruger with great results except for haveing to clean due to corro primed. wish I could get my hands on a cheap supply of it, it's at least 1$ a shot when found at all.

Reloadron
December 7, 2013, 06:17 PM
Yup. Always went bang. Bought some back in the early 90's for 9cents a round.
In California they banned it outdoors and many indoor ranges also banned it. outdoors because they said it may start fires.
May not be considered armor piercing but it might as well be. At a range I shoot at some some bozos shot at a steel guard that was 1/4 inch thick steel at 25yds. Went right through it!
Yeah, went well right till Clinton put an end to it. I remember selling the NORINCO in a gray 20 round box for $2.00. Bought that stuff for under $100 a case of like 1200 rounds. Those were the days. :)

The irony is I have thousands of rounds of 7.62X39 around here and the only rifle I have that shoots it is a Chi Com SKS that I haven't shot in a decade or more. Figures...

Anyway, as I mentioned, the fine Chinese stuff always worked just fine for me.

Ron

Rollis R. Karvellis
December 7, 2013, 06:34 PM
You could buy a SKS, and they would throw a case of it in the deal. Or was it a case of ammo, and a free case of SKS', I, can't remember now but it all was good, and fun. Enjoy it, and see if you can find any .308.

30cal_Fun
December 8, 2013, 04:22 AM
Thanks for all your replies!

I read about the Clinton ban, just ridiculous.
7.62x39 surplus is the only chinese ammo you can get here, no .308 or other types/brands. We only have about 40.000 shooters nationwide so we are not a large user of ammo. We are completely dependent on what happens to be imported. Gunshops will buy must ammo without considering the brand or type. So most of the time you overpay grossly for ammo you would call plinking ammo in the USA and sometimes you can get good ammo for next to nothing. PPU or PMC .223 can easily go for 50 cents a round but I payed 12 cents a round for this ammo.

I will use a couple hundred rounds to mexican-match with the hornady bullets, the rest will be practice ammo.
I'll post results next week when I can test the ammo and the reloads.

blarby
December 8, 2013, 05:28 AM
Just out of curiosity, why the meximatch, and why waste good bullets replacing the steel core ?

If ammo is as rare/spendy as you say- i'd use the cheap for cheap, and save your reloading bullets for better quality ammo.

30cal_Fun
December 8, 2013, 05:59 AM
Good question, I asked myself that too.

I did a lot of calculations of what it would could me to reload 7.62x39 with good, modern components against what it would cost me to just reload this surplus with modern bullets. I was given 600 hornady bullets for free by a fellow shooter, so that component was already in.


Mexican-matching this ammo:
600 Hornady bullets: free
1000 Sierra 123gr .303 Pro-Hunters: 310 dollars
Using the case, primer and powder of this surplus ammo: 12 cents a round.
Cost per round for the first 600 rounds: 12 cents.
Cost per round for further rounds: 43 cents.

Reloading with all-new components:
600 Hornady bullets: free
1000 Sierra 123gr .303 Pro-Hunters: 310 dollars
200 brass cases: 120 dollars
1000 Primers: 56 dollars
Powder: 163 dollars to fill 1000 rounds
Cost per round for the first 600 rounds: 34 cents.
Cost per round for further rounds: 65 cents.

Reloading components have become VERY expensive here in The Netherlands in the last two years and there is no sign of the prices ever coming back down.

So you see, it is much cheaper to just mexican-match these rounds with quality bullets than it is to reload new ammo. Plus it saves me a whole lot of time and effort. I don't think the accuracy difference will be noticeable.

blarby
December 9, 2013, 12:07 AM
Ok, I was unclear.

Why not just leave them as is ? You aren't going to make match ammo out of com block surplus. Since reloading components are so expensive, why are you considering wasting even the bullets on these cases- before including the labor of pulling, weighing, and recapping them all.

Buying new *39 brass defeats the purpose of reloadin when you can get assembled ammo that cheap.
Now, if you could find reloadable once fired boxer primed brass....nother story.

If bullets were that expensive and hard to find- i'd be castin' if I were you :D

KansasSasquatch
December 9, 2013, 02:23 AM
I have to agree with blarby. Just replacing the bullets won't make it much better, if at all. Not to mention, most x39 rifles aren't close to being match grade rifles. One of those nice CZ rifles in x39 is probably the best "common" rifle in that caliber. If you don't have one of those you might as well shoot the ammo as is. If you want to make good x39 ammo try to find some PPU/PRVI ammo and use it to reload. Over here its about $10/box. Just going based on the component prices you listed I'd say it'd probably be $20/box over there. Maybe get 5 boxes and reload the brass until you run out of those Hornady bullets?

30cal_Fun
December 9, 2013, 04:56 PM
New brass cased, boxer primed ammo (S&B) is also about 60 cents a round, very close to what I would pay if I reload from scratch. If I can get close to the performance of modern production or handloaded ammo without all the case prepping and reloading and at a fraction of the cost than that's a very good option to consider.
I know an AK is not a match rifle, but I think replacing the bullets will make for a noticeable improvement. We're not talking sub MOA here. If surplus gets me 4MOA, handloads get me 2,5MOA and the mexican-match gets me 3MOA, I'll stick with the M-M.
The most important part of accurate ammo are consistent powder charges and well made projectiles. I'll test them this week to see what difference it makes. Now if the difference is hardly noticeable I'll just reload completely and leave this ammo as is.
What it comes down to for me is exploring options and comparing cost versus performance.

And casting my bullets? Thats a hobby within a hobby within a hobby. Don't feed my addiction any more than strictly necessary please :D

GaryL
December 9, 2013, 11:47 PM
The Chinese steel core was pretty good in an SKS.

Average groups I saw at 100 yds with iron sights, from my experience, as best I recall:

German Steel Core - 2.5-3"
Chinese Steel Core - 3-3.5"
Chinese Lead - 3.5-4.5"
Russian Lead - 5"+

30cal_Fun
December 10, 2013, 07:10 AM
3-3,5MOA with Iron sights is very nice. I don't have any optics on my AK, I would be very happy with 3-4MOA.

30cal_Fun
December 12, 2013, 07:21 AM
Didn't have the opportunity to shoot the rifle yesterday, it will be some weeks before I can test the mexican-match. I'll post an update when I can test the ammo.

HOWARD J
December 13, 2013, 11:11 AM
I picked up 2 cases in late 80's
Norenco 7.62 x 39 steel case, corr, berdan primer, copper wash steel bullet
2200 rds @ 8 cents--came in 10 rd stripper clips
Very accurate in AK, SKS----used American ammo in Mini 30
My sons use it in their SKS & AK--- still have about 1200 rds
Too bad Clinton got to it

Swampman
December 13, 2013, 11:39 PM
My experience with Chinese 7.62x39 was exactly the opposite of GaryL's.

I found the lead core to be MORE accurate than steel core.
That may be due to simple differences between various lots of ammo.

I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the accuracy you get with with your "Chinese Match".

IF you resize the cases necks for consistent neck tension and RUTHLESSLY cull any cases with split necks, no matter how small. You'll probably have quite a few split when you start seating bullets, at least thats been my experience when seating bullets in old Russian copper washed steel 7.62x39 cases.

I'd also recommend that you get an average charge weight from 20 to 30 randomly chosen cases. Then consolidate all your powder and dispense uniform charges. With care and a little luck, I'm betting you can beat the consistency of Cultural Revolution era Chinese manufacturing.

If you see any signs of problems around the case mouth/neck don't even bother pulling them, just shoot 'em up at short range or use 'em for "shoot while moving" practice.

A light chamfer on the inside of the case neck may help when seating. A regular chamfer tool (NOT Lee) will work, but it'll dull quickly even though the steel isn't much, if any, harder than brass.

I prefer to use a fine, cone shaped stone chucked into my drill to chamfer steel cases, just remember to dress it often.

GaryL
December 14, 2013, 10:14 AM
3-3,5MOA with Iron sights is very nice. I don't have any optics on my AK, I would be very happy with 3-4MOA.
Sadly, I doubt I could do that anymore. That was 15 years ago. 30 years ago I was shooting an old British 303 to 1-1.5 MOA with mil-surp ammo. My eyes haven't gotten better over time. And that old mil-surp, if there's much left, hasn't gotten any better either.

30cal_Fun
December 14, 2013, 11:13 AM
Swampman:

That's exactly what I did with my mexican match.
I pulled 20 rounds and weighted the powder charge of each. The average was 24,78 grain and the case was filled about 90% to 95%.
I poured the powder in my powder mill and put 24,00 grain (+/- 0,05 grain) in each round. I did this for two reasons: 1, to get a little less hot round, my experience is that lighter charges yields more accurate ammo. And 2, to have enough powder for the same amount of rounds as I pulled.
With 24,00 grain the case was still filled about 80% to 85%.
Then I seated a hornady .310 123grain FMJ bullet and gave it a firm crimp.

I didn't resize the cases because the flat base bullet would give me seating problems. Maybe I'll try to find a way to put a little flare of the cases before seating the way you proposed.


A little data on the 20 rounds of this Chinese surplus that I pulled for those who are interested:

I measured the loads and bullets of the 20 rounds I pulled.
Average powder weight was 24,78 grain with minimum being 24,60 grain and maximum being 25.00 grain. Most were between 24,75 and 24,85.
It amazed me that there was a spread of only 0,4 grain between the loads tested.

The bullets were a completely different story however:
The average bullet weight was 122,93 grain with minimum being 122,35 grain and maximum being 123,65 grain.
The diameter spread was even worse: The smallest diameter was .3085, the largest diameter was .3105, most were between .309 and .3095.

The hornady 123 grain .310 FMJ (flat base) bullets only have a weight spread of 0,2 grain. And of course no measurable diameter spread.

Standard Deviation of the powder of this ammo was 0,1087 grain.
Standard Deviation of the bullets of this ammo was 0,3533 grain.

Swampman
December 14, 2013, 12:32 PM
Originally Posted by: 30cal_Fun
The diameter spread was even worse: The smallest diameter was .3085, the largest diameter was .3105, most were between .309 and .3095.

If you ever decide to reload and shoot the original bullets you might consider running them through a Lee .309 sizing die. They're pretty cheap (on this side of the pond anyway) and don't require any equipment to use other than your reloading press.

I can't help but think getting rid of .002" variation in diameter would help accuracy.

30cal_Fun
December 15, 2013, 04:42 AM
Aren't the Lee sizers only for cast bullets? I don't think they are meant for jacketed bullets.

blarby
December 16, 2013, 12:26 AM
You could swage out a few thous using them and a little lube- if they were lead core.

Steel core........ well, maybe...but asking for a sticky "send to lee" removal for sure !

Swampman
December 17, 2013, 12:38 AM
Originally posted by blarby
Steel core........ well, maybe...but asking for a sticky "send to lee" removal for sure !

Severely untrue Sir! :)

At least that hasn't been my experience while resizing 1500, Armor Piercing, M2 and 500 Armor Piercing Incendiary, M8, machine pulled .50 Caliber Bullets.

I have no scientific evidence to back this up, but I'll wager those cores are considerably harder than the mild steel used in Chinese steel core ball. There's also a heckuva lot more bearing surface and much thinner walls on the die.

I did "cheat" and lube the bullets with Mobil1 full synthetic motor oil. There was no noticeable wear on the die and the last bullet I did was the same .510" as the first.

I'll grant that the .50 cal bullets had gilding metal jackets whereas the Chinese 7.62x39 projectiles are likely copper washed steel, but I don't think that'd make any difference.

The steel used in bullet jackets is formulated and annealed to make it pretty soft since hard steel jackets would wear out even a chrome lined bore in short order.

Apparently I'm not the only person to use the Lee dies on .50 BMG succesfully. Check out the reviews in the link below.

http://www.midwayusa.com/product/155655/lee-bullet-lube-and-size-kit-510-diameter

I've also sized a few Czech 147 grain .311 LPS, steel core, copper washed steel jacketed bullets to .308 using the Lee sizer and Imperial Case Lube. There were no problems doing this except that the accuracy of the bullets sucked in my M1a, so I only did 30 of 'em.

blarby
December 20, 2013, 01:11 PM
Ill wager the torque you get on your 50 press is a bit different than a standard press.... But, ill also state "maybe" was put in there for a reason.


In any event, trying to make this com block milsurp ammo into match grade ammo is a liitle foolish to begin with, but hey ;

"Never underestimate the amount of toil and angst some poor SOB will put himself through to try and save 50 cents" -Don, you were right again.

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