The 7.62x54mmR rifle cartridge is a Russian design dating back to 1891. Originally designed for the Mosin-Nagant rifle, it was used during the late Tsarist era and throughout the Soviet period, in machine guns and rifles such as the SVT-40. The Winchester Model 1895 was also chambered for this cartridge per a contract with the Russian government. It is still in use by the Russian military in the Dragunov and other sniper rifles and some modern machine guns such as the PKM. The round is colloquially known as the "7.62 Russian". The name is sometimes confused with the "7.62 Soviet" round, which refers to the 7.62x39 cartridge used in the SKS and AK-47 rifles.
The 7.62x54mmR originally had a 13.7 g (210 grain) round-nosed full metal jacket (FMJ) bullet. Due to experiences in the Russo-Japanese War, it was replaced in 1908 with a 9.7 g (148-grain) spitzer FMJ bullet, which has remained standard to the present. To increase accuracy, the Dragunov SVD uses the 7N1 variant of the cartridge, which uses extruded instead of ball propellant and has a 9.7 g (152-grain) boat-tailed FMJ bullet. The 7N14 is a new load developed for the SVD. It consists of a 9.7 g (151 grain) projectile which travels at the same 850 m/s (2723 ft/s), but it has a lead core and is supposed to be the more accurate of the two.
Large quantities of 7.62x54mmR military ammunition were made with steel cartridge cases. These perform well, but do not lend themselves nearly as easily as brass cases to the re-sizing necessary for good handloading. It should be noted that the vast majority of 7.62x54mmR ammunition encountered will be Berdan primed, which is generally not considered reloadable.
Thanks to the increasing popularity of the Mosin-Nagant rifles, commercial versions of this cartridge with non corrosive primers are nowadays very easy to find in sporting goods stores all across the United States at reasonable prices, usually lower, compared to the popular 30-06 Springfield. A good assortment of bullet weight, ranging from 9.6 g to 13.2 g (148-203 gr), and bullet construction (FMJ, soft-point, Spitzer, Round Nose) is available. Some of the popular brands for the 7.62x54R are: Norma, Sellier & Bellot, Winchester, RWS, Wolf Ammunition, Hotstot, Prvi Partizan, Igman and Barnaul.
Wolf Ammunition offers a 13.2 g (203 gr) FMJ boat tail Match version of this round, as well as a 150-gr version intended for the Dragunov and PSL semi-automatic rifles.
7.62x54mmR maximum C.I.P. cartridge dimensions. All sizes in millimeters (mm).
Americans would define the shoulder angle at alpha/2 ≈ 18.5 degrees. The common rifling twist rate for this cartridge is 240 mm (1 in 9.45 in), 4 grooves, Ø lands = 7.62 mm, Ø grooves = 7.92 mm, land width = 3.81 mm and the primer type is Berdan or very rarely large rifle.
According to the official C.I.P. (Commission Internationale Permanente pour l'Epreuve des Armes à Feu Portatives) guidelines the 7.62x54mmR case can handle up to 390 MPa (56,564 psi) piezo pressure. In C.I.P. regulated countries every rifle cartridge combo has to be proofed at 125% of this maximum C.I.P. pressure to certify for sale to consumers.