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 is one of the oldest cartridges still in use by any military in the world. This round is mainly used in the Dragunov sniper rifle and PK machine gun. In general performance, it is in the same class as the .30-06. It is also one of the few (along with the .22 Hornet, .30-30 and .303 British) bottlenecked, rimmed centerfire rifle cartridges still in common use today. Most of the bottleneck rimmed cartridges of the late 1880s and 1890s fell into disuse by the end of the First World War.

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.

Cartridge dimensions

The 7.62x54mmR has 4.16 ml (64 grains H2O) cartridge case capacity. The exterior shape of the case was designed to promote reliable case feeding and extraction in bolt action rifles and machine guns alike, under extreme conditions.

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.


The 7.62x54R is a very potent cartridge, in the same power class as the 30-06 Springfield. This round has excellent intrinsic accuracy as well. The spitzer bullets used in the military variants have a particularly elongated shape which results in a significantly high ballistic coefficent contributing to very good long range performance and high retained energy, close to a .300 Winchester Magnum round past 500 meters (550 yards). Data for the 12.0 g (185 gr) FMJ bullet boat tail fired from a Dragunov sniper rifle, shows a retained energy of circa at 1000 m (1100 yards). When used with modern hunting bullets, it is capable of taking large game comfortably. In Russia the 7.62x54R is commonly used for hunting purposes mostly in sporterized Mosin-Nagant rifles. In that country there is not widespread use of modern magnum cartridges among hunters as in North America and this cartridge is even considered a bit too powerful for moose. Great bears including polar bears are regularly hunted with it.

Surplus ammunition

Most surplus ammunition available uses corrosive primers. One commonly encountered type is Czech "silver tip" (image), which is Czechoslovakian surplus from the 1960s. New commercial ammunition is not corrosively primed.

Factory ammunition

The Russian LVE cartridge factory states the accuracy of their common cartridge (57-N-323C) to be less than 24 cm at 300 m (0.8 mrad; 2.8 MOA) at R100 - "R100" being the groupsize of three series of 20 shots at 300 m. Their sniper cartridges (7N1, 7N14) are stated less than 8 cm at 300 m (0.3 mrad; 0.9 MOA) at R100. New civilian ammunition is available from a number of manufacturers, in a variety of bullet weights ranging from 9.7 g (150 grains) up.


7.62 Russian
7.62 Mosin-Nagant
7.62 Dragunov

See also


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