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The 7.62x54R Russian (7.62x53R)

By Chuck Hawks

The 7.62x54R ("R" for rimmed) was adopted by the Russian Army in 1891 in the Moisin-Nagant infantry rifle, and was used in both World Wars and the Korean War. This cartridge is also referred to as the 7.62x53R when chambered in Finnish rifles. Russian 7.62x54R rifles commonly have a groove diameter of .312" and a bore diameter of .303", while Finnish rifles have a groove diameter of .308", a .300 bore diameter and take standard .30 caliber bullets.

The Shooter's Bible shows two Norma factory loads for the 7.62x54R. These are reasonably available in the U.S. The first uses a 150 grain bullet at a muzzle velocity of 2,953 fps with muzzle energy (ME) of 2,905 ft. lbs. The other uses a 180 grain bullet at a MV of 2,575 fps with ME of 2,651 ft. lbs.

Here are some specifications of interest to reloaders: bullet diameter .308" or .312" (depending on rifle), maximum COL 3.048", maximum case length 2.115".

The Hornady Handbook of Cartridge Reloading, Sixth Edition shows a variety of loads for the cartridge, with both .308" and .312" bullets. As with the .303 British and .308 Winchester, bullets from 150-180 grains would seem to be the best choice for most hunting purposes.

The following are typical loads from the Hornady Handbook using .312" bullets. The 150 grain Hornady spire point bullet can be driven to a MV of 2,400 fps with 46.8 grains of H380 powder, or to a MV of 2800 fps by a maximum load of 54.3 grains of H380.

The 174 grain Hornady bullets can be driven to 2,200 fps with 42.1 grains of W760 powder. A maximum charge of 52.3 grains launches that bullet at a MV of 2700 fps. These Hornady loads all used Norma brass and Federal 210 primers; velocities were taken in a 26.5" barrel.

Note: A full length article about the 7.62x54R Russian can be found on the Rifle Cartridge Page.

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Copyright 2005, 2016 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.