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  #1  
Old 09-11-2003, 10:56 PM
variablebinary variablebinary is offline
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7.62x51 vs 5.56x45 vs 7.62x39 vs 5.45x39




I'm a biased supporter of the 7.62x51, but lately I've been hearing more and more that the AK74 5.45x39 is the most effective combat cartridge because it causes disturbingly fatal tissue damage at typical combat ranges. It's said to be far more destructive than the American 5.56x45. How can this be when it is smaller than all of the mentioned calibers. How does the 7.62x39 compare to the newer smaller Russian bullet?

The main question is, if the TSHTF, which cartridge would you choose to keep you alive?

I'd stick with the 7.62 NATO, but like I said I'm baised. I'd like opinions from those more in the know than myself....
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  #2  
Old 09-12-2003, 12:20 AM
Reddevil Reddevil is offline
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I don't know much but I'll stick to my AR in 5.56x45.I think all of the calibers mentioned are readily available at most stores with the exception of the 5.45.
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  #3  
Old 09-12-2003, 12:47 AM
variablebinary variablebinary is offline
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5.45x39

I'd agree that the 5.45x39 is very hard to find. I donít think it has any American manufacturers. Wolf is the only company that ships any 5.45x39 to the United States in any serious volume. Most of the dealers I've spoken to say there is a shortage in that caliber. Impact Guns here in Utah say whenever they get a shipment that it gets eaten within a day. I'm very curious about this cartridge personally because of the wounding potential itís supposed to have. It's said to have been called the "poison bullet" during the Afghan/Soviet war due to the way it butchered flesh of the Muslim rebels. Iím not curious enough to replace my CAI HK91 7.62 NATO with a rifle in that caliber, but the physics of its size and wounding potential is certainly intriguing.
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  #4  
Old 09-12-2003, 02:28 AM
supercomp supercomp is offline
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I remember reading an article in SOF around 15 year ago, they recovered a bunch of the 5.45x39 in afganistain and did some testing on it. I vaguely remember that while the round was a fmj. the front 1/3 of the head under the jacket was hollow and would act like a hollow point on impact.
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  #5  
Old 09-12-2003, 07:36 AM
Tomac Tomac is offline
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All the aformentioned rds have their strengths and weaknesses.
7.62x51 has greater penetration & effectiveness at greater ranges at the cost of weight and recoil.
5.56x45 has less weight/recoil and a flatter trajectory but at the cost of penetration & effectiveness at longer ranges.
7.62x39 is between the two for penetration/weight/recoil but is not as effective in FMJ.
5.45x39 is an attempt to improve upon the 5.56x45. The longer bullet (nearly a full inch in length) has a hollow cavity under the tip moving the center of gravity further back causing much faster yawing upon impact than any of the other three rds. Also, the core slides asymmetrically into the cavity upon impact leading to unpredictable shifts in the bullet's path (I hit a water jug high center at 50m and the bullet exited the jug low left). The 5.45x39 is not as dependent upon velocity or upon fragmentation for it's wounding effect as the 5.56x45.
I read a report a few years ago about a test conducted by the Chinese on the wounding ability of their 5.8mm, the 5.56 and the 5.45 at various ranges using "livestock" (political prisoners?) Supposedly the 5.45 produced more serious wounds out to 300m.
Which rd would I choose? No one rd is perfect for all situations and regardless of the cartridge selected you can't depend upon anyone for resupply so if you stock accordingly then resupply is a moot point (I don't see how I can expend all my rifle ammo in aimed fire w/o either acquiring more weapons/ammo from the other side's casualties or becoming a casualty myself). A Soviet Spetznas officer supposedly said that if he were assured of resupply he'd take the 7.62x39 but if limited to what he could carry he'd take the 5.45x39 (US rds not an option for him). I'd be happy with any of the four (although I'd prefer SP ammo for the 7.62x39) in the event of the mythical "SHTF".
Just my $.02 worth...
Tomac
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  #6  
Old 09-12-2003, 09:15 AM
Reddevil Reddevil is offline
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I also thought that the Wolf 5.45 ammo did not have the hollow cavity and would not have the same wounding potential as the 5.45 ammo used by the Russians.
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  #7  
Old 09-12-2003, 09:26 PM
Tomac Tomac is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Reddevil
I also thought that the Wolf 5.45 ammo did not have the hollow cavity and would not have the same wounding potential as the 5.45 ammo used by the Russians.
Wolf 5.45 ammo does have the hollow cavity at the tip but doesn't have the hardened steel penetrator that the military load (7NP?) has so it weighs a bit more (+6gr?) 'cause the lead replacing the penetrator is more dense than the steel it replaces. Because it's a bit heavier it's also a bit slower. It would seem that the Wolf 5.45 would have slightly less wounding potential than the military 5.45 load but I doubt I could tell the difference if I were shot by either of them...
Tomac
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  #8  
Old 09-12-2003, 10:43 PM
variablebinary variablebinary is offline
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7.62 NATO

It's a shame the 5.45x39 doesnít have more domestic support. I wouldnít buy a rifle that didnít have buckets of available ammunition supply for obvious reasons. It has all the size benefits of the 5.56x45 but wounds better than a 7.62x39. I call that an ideal medium powered cartridge. I know there are plenty of AR15 fanatics out there and they swear by their rifles, but I donít have any faith in the 5.56x45. Hearing my old man tell stories about how back in Vietnam the enemy could sustain multiple clean hits with the 5.56x45 and stay in the fight. That's something you wonít hear from a majority of Marines who were still sporting M14's during most of the war. More recently, in Somalia, after the superior SS109 was introduced, the stopping potential of the current NATOís primary caliber was still lacking and well documented. Nothing argues the case for retiring the 5.56x45 and restoring the 7.62x51 as NATOís leading caliber better than this piece here:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/milita...t/1986/MVT.htm

I'm not opposed to a medium powered cartridge concept absolutely, but it's a concept that needs to be better fleshed out and researched. The soviets in this instance may have come closer to the original goal
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  #9  
Old 09-13-2003, 02:05 PM
Agrippa Agrippa is offline
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A while ago a member of AR-15.com posted this image of a bisected 5.45x39 bullet. I had no idea the hollow area was so large! I wonder what this does against metal/wood/glass?

http://img.villagephotos.com/p/2003-9/384336/056340.jpg
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  #10  
Old 09-13-2003, 02:09 PM
Tomac Tomac is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Agrippa
A while ago a member of AR-15.com posted this image of a bisected 5.45x39 bullet. I had no idea the hollow area was so large! I wonder what this does against metal/wood/glass?
At 50m vs 1/4" mild steel plate the Wolf 60gr 5.45 w/airpocket will yaw immediately on impact blowing a .50 caliber hole in the steel plate (my own tests). I don't know how much of the bullet remained to after penetration to do damage or how much damage it might inflict.
Tomac
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  #11  
Old 09-13-2003, 06:52 PM
Agrippa Agrippa is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tomac
At 50m vs 1/4" mild steel plate the Wolf 60gr 5.45 w/airpocket will yaw immediately on impact blowing a .50 caliber hole in the steel plate (my own tests). I don't know how much of the bullet remained to after penetration to do damage or how much damage it might inflict.
Tomac
I wonder what kind of varminter this would be. I can see a NEF handi-rifle in 5.45! But for now I will settle for my SAR 2(unfired as of yet ).
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  #12  
Old 09-13-2003, 10:12 PM
variablebinary variablebinary is offline
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Tomac

Any chance we can get some photos of that 5.45 vs Steel Plate at 50 yards? Maybe some comparison shots with other common calibers.
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  #13  
Old 09-14-2003, 02:40 AM
Tomac Tomac is offline
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Re: Tomac

Quote:
Originally posted by variablebinary
Any chance we can get some photos of that 5.45 vs Steel Plate at 50 yards? Maybe some comparison shots with other common calibers.
I still have one of the steel plates with 2 5.45 holes in it (I use it for a target weight at the range now). Unfortunately I don't have a digital camera so it might be awhile before I could finish the roll of film and have the pics developed & scanned. The only other rifle caliber I have access to right now is .308 and I think we already know what that would do to 1/4" mild steel at 50m!
Tomac
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  #14  
Old 09-14-2003, 02:00 PM
GI-45 GI-45 is offline
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Quote:
From the article:
As a case in point, battle experience in the Philippines, between government troops (armed with the 5.56mm M16A1) and Communist rebels (armed with vintage .30 Caliber M1 Garand and Browning automatic rifles), has shown that the greater penetration capability of the older full power cartridge gave the rebels superior effective firepower.
Now that is an interesting scenario: the M16 versus M1 Garands and BARs in a real combat environment. I wish the author had expounded on that example.
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  #15  
Old 09-14-2003, 10:32 PM
variablebinary variablebinary is offline
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Battlefield report...

Different author than the piece I linked to before, but this gives a very descriptive battlefield report of the 5.56x45 in combat during Vietnam. It's scary stuff when you think about the reality of it.

http://www.jouster.com/articles30m1/index.html
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  #16  
Old 09-14-2003, 10:34 PM
MiniZ MiniZ is offline
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Discussions on what caliber is the most effective battle round have gone on for decades, and will continue to do so, as there is really no way to determine a clear cut winner. There is a give and take with each caliber mentioned.

I love the .308, I like the 5.56, and have become a huge fan of the 5.45. Maybe the 5.45 isn't something you can find at the local gunstore, but who cares? There are enough retailers on the internet that sell it that finding it has never been a problem for me. I plan ahead, and keep a good inventory. I order more as I need it. Even in a SHTF scenario, I will not go through the 3k rounds I have in storage. If I do, then I am one lucky guy, because if I can go through 3k in "battle" without dying, then I am either very good, or very lucky.

I really like the "big holes" that a .308 makes, but there is something about carrying twice the amount of ammo for the same amount of weight that makes the smaller calibers appeal to me.

This is my personal opinion, and I am in no way knocking those that have chosen the .308, and to a lesser degree, 7.62X39.

Bottom line: Train with, and become proficient with what you have. If you are using a weapon/ammo system that has known "deficencies", train to mitigate those.

I would rather stand side by side with someone who knows their equipment, and is competent, if not superior, in its use than with someone that has the ultimate cartridge but can't do squat with it.
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  #17  
Old 09-14-2003, 11:08 PM
Vic in Va Vic in Va is offline
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Variablebinary--With all due respect, I am going to point out a couple of flaws in your "Pro-7.62X51" argument.

I always preferred the M-16, or a derivitive thereof (CAR-15), for it's light weight and the amount of ammo I could carry, which, weightwise, amounts to about 3 times as much as 7.62X51 NATO. I have seen several enemy soldiers dumped, and dumped a couple myself, with the little NATO round, and it did it's job, within it's limitations, very well.

As far as engaging Soldiers at 1000 Meters with a rifle, I would never do it nor would I encourage anybody on the team with me to do it. The Redlegs were more than happy to put steel on the deck. Problem solved.

You mentioned Somalia. What a lot of people who want to bash the 5.56 forget to mention is that at the time of day the Operation was started, the Somalian Militia members were very much under the influence of Kot, which I understand is very narcotic like in it's influences on a human being. One side effect of that is that a man is harder to put down. Ask any LEO who has dealt with perps on narcotics.

The link you provided about the Marine unit is written by a very biased author, who plainly states that he thinks the 5.56 is a mousegun, which it is, but refused to acknowledge it's effectiveness due to his extreme bias in favor of the 7.62 NATO. His bias alone discounts any validity to his reports, as it is certainly not an objective report by any means. And the link provided a story of the well documented ills of the rifle when it was first issued. The issues were not totally with the rifle, but also with the ammunition and the perception given to the troops by the people wanting to rush the M-16 into combat that it was a virtually no-maintenance item. This was totally wrong. The ammunition was extremely dirty and the powers-that-be didn't think that chrome lining the bore and chamber was necessary, which was another grave error.

The M-16 platform, beginning with the A-1 series, is a very effective and depndable weapon if maintained properly. Having used it under combat conditions without nary a failure, I would not hesitate to carry it into battle again. It is not a 1000 yard rifle, General Purpose Machine Gun, nor is it a 105 MM Howitzer. It is a Personal Weapon intended to be used within it's parameters at typical small-arms engagement distances. Supporting arms, or a LAWS, AT-4, Javelin, and that wonderful M-240 can do the other jobs.

True, the 7.62 NATO can do certain things better, but I have not seen the drastic "night-and-day" differences in performance I have heard about several times.

Please do not think I am flaming you, just pointing out some details that are sometimes left out of the "argument". I just want to simply state that, in my experience, the 5.56 NATO is an effective man-killer. But, there are others that do as well and in some instances, better. Thats why mission planning is very important.

Have a good day---Vic
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  #18  
Old 09-15-2003, 02:59 AM
variablebinary variablebinary is offline
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Not anti 5.56.

Vic,

I admit I do have a bias towards the 7.62 NATO because I honestly believe it will do everything the 5.56 can and more in just about any given scenario, but Iím not anti 5.56 or against the medium powered combat cartridge concept. The point has been made enough times that a smaller bullet allows more ammunition to be carried by a soldier, and it potentially makes for more accurate shooting due to lower recoil. Both of which are positives, but given that the 5.56 is the first mainstream, widely used small caliber combat cartridge, it should be considered a work in progress rather than a final product. The current SS109 version of the bullet confirms this. Though I donít think weíll ever see the full potential of more modern versions of the 5.56 due to the bullet nearing the end of its military career as NATOís leading caliber. Rumors of DOD trials for a new, harder hitting caliber with a matching new assault rifle are said to be opening again in 2005.

The Russians seemed to have learned a great deal from analyzing 5.56 data from combat and designed the 5.45 accordingly. It has all the size benefits of the 5.56 NATO but has far more wounding potential within the magic 300 yard kill zone. Regardless of whether or not Somali militiamen are stoned on khat or not, or whether the enemy is wearing body armor, we canít expect our adversaries to play fair, making the argument for the 7.62ís return to the frontline even stronger. Even so, if we are going to continue pursuing medium powered ďmagic-bulletsĒ that defy physics, notes should be taken from 5.45, because it clearly took notes from the 5.56.

Here are some wounding pattern diagrams for those who are interested.

7.62x39

5.45x39

5.56x45 SS109

7.62x51


This is the website from where I obtained the images

http://www.fen-net.de/norbert.arnoldi/army/wound.html
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Last edited by variablebinary; 09-15-2003 at 03:20 AM.
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  #19  
Old 09-15-2003, 03:36 AM
LAK LAK is offline
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"Fatal tissue damage" can only come about if the particular vital tissue is struck.

I do not have a chart handy for the cartridge in question, but like the 5.56, I'll bet velocity falls off rapidly - or is significantly low from short-barreled weapons. The sometimes spectacular effects of the 5.56 come about above a certain impact velocity threshold.

I would imagine though that the 5.45x39 performs well with the right bullets at closer ranges, as it is essentially almost a ".22 PPC".
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Old 09-15-2003, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by GI-45
Now that is an interesting scenario: the M16 versus M1 Garands and BARs in a real combat environment. I wish the author had expounded on that example.
The fact that the 5.56 penetrates next to nothing makes it a less than optimum infantry round, the larger 7.62's have a considerable advantage in making lots of 5.56 "cover" into "concealment".
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Old 09-15-2003, 07:40 PM
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Re: Battlefield report...

Quote:
Originally posted by variablebinary
Different author than the piece I linked to before, but this gives a very descriptive battlefield report of the 5.56x45 in combat during Vietnam. It's scary stuff when you think about the reality of it.

http://www.jouster.com/articles30m1/index.html
Variable, I would not consider this an empirical analysis, much has been written from that conflict that cannot be taken at face value. In the fog of war, in the jungle where visiblity is limited to feet, firing F/A, many times without a direct line sight picture...you would find that even a 458 would "fail to stop". The fact is that many vets also can relate the damage done by the 55 grain 5.56, While I don't consider it a great infantry cartridge - I also don't think the Soviet round outclasses it...

I have both, if I observe a difference I will let you know...
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  #22  
Old 09-15-2003, 07:46 PM
Vic in Va Vic in Va is offline
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Variablebinary--I certainly will not fault you for your preferences, and you present very good points.

LAK--Performance does fall off with the shorter barrels, and bear in mind ALL of my experience with the 5.56 NATO was at rather short ranges. But even out of the CAR-15, the round is pretty effective at 100-150 meters. I simply do not have combat experience with it at longer ranges. We had a pronounced tendency to call Fire Missions if it got too far out. Or some Close Air Support.

Level--Very valid point. Cover versus concealment is one of the limitations of the 5.56. That's where the M-60 would give 'em heck

All in all, I still prefer the 5.56. But you can't argue the obvious. It does have limitations.

Y'all have a good 'un,----Vic
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  #23  
Old 09-15-2003, 07:46 PM
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So looking at those wound profiles the 5.45 appears to have superior penetration but just look at the fragmentation on the 5.56. BOOM! Makes it (AR15/5.56 combo) ideal for the kind of applications we as citizens use self defense rifles for.

Last edited by Mus; 09-15-2003 at 09:03 PM.
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  #24  
Old 09-15-2003, 09:23 PM
Tomac Tomac is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mus
So looking at those wound profiles the 5.45 appears to have superior penetration but just look at the fragmentation on the 5.56. BOOM! Makes it (AR15/5.56 combo) ideal for the kind of applications we as citizens use self defense rifles for.
The 5.56's fragmentation is by accident, not by deliberate design. If the cannelure isn't deep enough or the jacket too thick then the bullet will just flatten & yaw on impact like the 5.45 w/o fragmenting (Wolf .223 is a perfect example of this). Fragmentation is also very velocity-dependent, needing somewhere around 2,500-2,700fps for reliable fragmentation. If you want fragmentation from your favorite 5.56 make sure your ammo's bullet construction will provide it.
Tomac
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  #25  
Old 09-16-2003, 01:06 AM
Mus Mus is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Tomac
The 5.56's fragmentation is by accident, not by deliberate design.
Its almost hard to believe considering how well both milspec 5.56 bullets fragment eh? God must be on our side or something. Hopefully he stays that way.

Quote:
Originally posted by Tomac
Fragmentation is also very velocity-dependent, needing somewhere around 2,500-2,700fps for reliable fragmentation. If you want fragmentation from your favorite 5.56 make sure your ammo's bullet construction will provide it.
Yeah I do make sure. My point was inside my house or in an around my neighborhood out to 100 meters and very little beyond it with a 16" barrel its tough to beat. Accurate and light with light recoil to boot.
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