Why hasn't 5.45x39 caught on?


August 31, 2004, 06:04 AM
Reviewing the latest AK-vs-AR thread, I've noticed that most AK owners own the 7.62x39 version. In fact, most AK owners I know own either that version or the .223 version.

Why hasn't 5.45x39 version caught on in a bigger way? The only ammo sources I've seen are online only, and the big ammomakers don't seem to have it in their catalogs. Heck, I don't even see overseas combatants using the AK-74's that much... :scrutiny:

Why isn't it more popular here & abroad?

Thanks in advance.... :D

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August 31, 2004, 06:26 AM
I know why I don't used it- No reloadable brass plus odd bullet diameter.


August 31, 2004, 07:31 AM
I would guess it really hasn't caught on in America due to its chambering in mostly only AK series rifles, non-reloadable cases, and .223's availibility since the early 60s.

August 31, 2004, 08:05 AM
I'm also wondering if the lack-of-lethality concerns expressed by our spec-ops guys in the Middle East concerning our .223 rounds apply to the 5.45 as well.

45 Fu
August 31, 2004, 09:40 AM
This is just my opinion, so yake it for what it's worth.

I think the primary reason is availability and price of ammo. There is just so much 7.62 and .223 out there. It's also cheaper.

I also think the reason the 7.62 is so much more popular has to do with a few things. First, there are just more weapons chambered for it out there. Second, I think most Americans just like their rifle rounds in the .30 range. Most hunting rifles you will see range from the .30-30, .308, .30-06, and even the .300 mags. Sure, you see a good many in .270 and .243 (not counting the short and super short mags), but the .30 is still king. As stated above, I also think the inability to reload is also an issue.

Most people I know have AKs and SKSs that double as both a SHTF and hunting rifle and do not trust smaller calibers as much to be able to down game such as deer. Sure, it can be done with the smaller calibers but there is much to be said for the bigger hole.

August 31, 2004, 10:11 AM
As an SSG82 owner, I really, really wish one of the Big Three would load this stuff. Maybe Winchester will step up, since they've already started loading 7.62x25, 7.62x54R, and 9x18 Mak.

Nothing's worse than having a precision scharfschutzengewehr and having nothing but crap steel-case ammo to shoot through it. :(

Gun Wielding Maniac
August 31, 2004, 01:16 PM
I think it HAS caught on. I see far more 5.45x39 mm AK shooters then .223 caliber AK shooters. I own 3. And most 5.45x39 is cheaper then any domestic .223 or even most foreign surplus.

August 31, 2004, 01:41 PM
I wouldnt be surprised if part of the reason was that its not legal for deer in states with >.22" laws.


August 31, 2004, 05:51 PM
I'm with GWM, I think it has caught on a bit. It and the rifles that shoot it have only been coming in country for a few years, it took a long time for 7.62x39 to become as commonplace as it is.

There's already some AR uppers for it, there are more AK74-variants coming out from different sources right around the corner, etc.

I have a SAR2 and a Bulgy 74 that I just built chambered for it, and I really love them and the caliber. It's a sweet shooter...

And Wolf and barnual 5.45 is indeed cheaper than most surplus .223 stuff, by a decent bit... Of course those are the only choices you have admittedly...

August 31, 2004, 06:03 PM
About the overseas-combatants user thing, the Ak74 didn't come out till, duh, 1974. Many of the countries that got free AKs and manufacturing plants got them in the 50s and 60s, and being Communist countries, didn't exactly have billions to spare to switch rounds, so they stuck with what worked. The ones in the hands of terrorists were expendable, give them the old "it works" AKs instead of your shiny new ones, especially when you just switched to the new caliber and have MILLIONS of old ones laying around to give away.

You won't see too many outside Europe (issued to various countries) or Afghanistan (captured from the Soviets).

The round is catching on slowly. The 5.56 had a 40 year headstart remember.

rock jock
August 31, 2004, 06:15 PM
The 7.62x39 was the original commie rifle. Having both the AR in 5.56x45 and the 7.62x39 is like having a Cold War in my gun safe.

Ohen Cepel
August 31, 2004, 06:16 PM
Most guys who want an AK want a 7.62 round (and the cheap mags/ammo).

If they wanted a smaller round they would buy an AR.

It has never done anything for me and I have always been afraid that the ammo would dry up for it. Just my 2 cents.

Vern Humphrey
August 31, 2004, 06:55 PM
I'm also wondering if the lack-of-lethality concerns expressed by our spec-ops guys in the Middle East concerning our .223 rounds apply to the 5.45 as well.

The Russian military bullet for the 5.45X39 is highly lethal. In fact, the Chinese tested virtually all modern rifle ammo and the 5.45X39 stood out for lethality.

The core of the 5.45X39 military bullet is shorter than the jacket, leaving an air space under the nose of the bullet. The Russians say this is for ease of manufacturing (might be true), penetration (true -- the flat-nosed core is a fairly good penetrator) and accuracy (also true -- the center of gravity is behind the center of pressure.) So they can plausibly claim it isn't "to increase suffering."

However, on impact in flesh, the core slides forward into the void under the nose. This puts the center of gravity ahead of the center of pressure and destablizes the bullet, causing it to yaw rapidly -- it will usually yaw 720 degrees in just a few inches. This produces wounds all out of proportion to the size of the bullet.

Dave R
September 1, 2004, 12:05 AM
Does anybody make ANY rifle other than an AK in 5.45X39?

You can get CZs, Rugers (Mini30) and AR's in 7.62X39.

September 1, 2004, 12:08 AM
223 AK is more of collector item. not many parts availible usually bout the same price as AR15 when it finally gets built or you buy quality rifle. though lots of potential with russian saiga 223 conversion magazines are pain in the ass.

I chose saiga 223 for conversion. plenty of ammo at every store I go to. sure that 5.45x39 is dirt cheap but how good is it. dont doubt terminal ballistics. you can reload it but its berdan so not as easy as boxer primed. reload materials real pita to get hold of.

SHTF you really want a ammo you cannot reload or find. SHTF any in the country will dissapear in New York minute, heck even the widely availible ammo will probably dissapear just as fast.

wolf 223 is $100 for 1000 you might find lower price on 5.45x39 seen it as low as $75 though sells out at most stores periodically.

September 1, 2004, 12:30 AM
I have a SAR-2 also, figured I didn't need a SAR-1 since i have a SKS nor a SAR-3 since I have an AR. I like variety.

September 1, 2004, 07:31 AM
Because the Soviets lost the Cold War. :D

September 1, 2004, 09:00 AM
Considering Poland has switched to a 5.56mm AK for nato compliance, and the other ex-Warsaw-Pacters probably will be too, expect 5.56mm AKs to become more common.

September 1, 2004, 11:51 AM
Dave R,

Please see Tamara's post.


September 1, 2004, 01:01 PM
I think that it is because you can't find any cheap rifles at gunshows chambered in them. It has been almost 2 years since I last saw a SAR-2 or SAR-3 at a gunshow. Maybe after 9/14 there will be more of them but if you can't get the hardware the software is worthless. IMHO.

September 2, 2004, 09:38 PM
Having two AKs chambered in 5.45, I will also say it has a slightly smaller following. The main reason 7.62 is more popular is because the former Soviet Union flooded the globe with AK-47s. Thus the 47s are cheap, used by, and manufactured in almost any 3rd world nation. The 5.45 really only caught in Russia and some of her closer client states. Once the Berlin wall came down, there were no more client states to issue the new round and rifle to. Also, with so many AK-47s out there, the Russians had flooded their own market. Why by a new AK-74 and resupply your army when you already have a couple of zillion rounds of 7.62X39 and more AK-47s than their country could hold.

Personally, I believe the 5.45 to be far superior to the 7.62 in almost every way.

Our local gunshop stocks it, and seems to sell quite a bit of it. They also had a couple of SAR-2s last time I checked, but they sell all of their AKs quite briskly.

September 2, 2004, 11:20 PM
There was a company making AR uppers for it and calling a .21 Ghengis or something like that.
I would guess that the reason that it hasn't caught on is that we already have the .223. They both do essentially the same thing, but 5.45x39 isn't nearly as common.
Why buy a gun that you gotta order ammo for if you can buy one that takes ammo from Wal Mart instead?

Tamara - This isn't exactly what you asked for, but it is a place to start. Maybe you could handload for it.

September 4, 2004, 04:37 PM
It has caught on with me. My Bulgarian AK-74 is my favorite gun to shoot right now and I plan on owning some more rifles in the future that can shoot 5.45x39mm.

It is more expensive to shoot than the AK-47, but still not bad. There is one gunshop close by that carries the ammo, but they charge $139/1,000 rounds. Other than that, I have to buy it online and the cheapest I've found it with shipping is $123/1,000 rounds.

September 5, 2004, 12:55 AM
Vern Humphrey makes some good points in his post above, about the lethality of the 5.45. Looks like he's read David M. Fortier's 2003 article in the Shotgun News. You can find it in the SN Treasury Issue IV. Fortier is that guy who's always evaluating assault rifles for the gun mags, with pictures of himself completely decked out in Warsaw Pact militaria.

No offense, but I suspect MOST, that's MOST, AK owners are looking for a cool, fun, cheap, bad-boys-like-bad-toys weapon, not a mousier version of the same gun (with less available ammo). No flame intended, just a guess.

Tamara: As an SSG82 owner... Dave R, Please see Tamara's post. And I thought I was a gun nut. I've known about the 5.45 for years, but I've never heard of the SSG82. Point being, the only things more obscure than the 5.45 are the other (Non-kalashnikov) weapons chambered for it. Doesn't do much for the round's popularity.

September 5, 2004, 09:04 AM
Because the Soviets lost the Cold War.


Used to be when someone lost a war, they gave up their toys. Consequently they became cheap fodder for the US milsurp market.

Arisakas, Mausers, etc

If they'd flat out lost, it might have been our preferred plinker caliber.

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