| Service history
Soviet Union, former Warsaw Pact
Russo-Japanese war, World War I, Russian civil war, World War II, Korean war, Vietnam war, Afghanistan, Yugoslav wars, Gulf Wars
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Source: Chuck Hawks  Accurate Powder  Steves Pages 
The 7.62x54mmRriflecartridge 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. 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. The main usage of this round is 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 210 grain (13.7 g) round-nosed full metal jacket (FMJ) bullet. Due to experiences in the Russo-Japanese War, it was replaced in 1908 with a 148-grain (9.7 g) 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 152-grain (9.7 g) boat-tailed FMJ bullet. The 7N14 is a new load developed for the SVD. It consists of a 151 grain (9.7 g) projectile which travels at the same 2723 ft/s (850 m/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 148 gr to 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, Barnaul.
Wolf Ammunition offers a 203 gr FMJ boat tail Match version of this round.
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 riflingtwist 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.
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.
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 yards. Data for the 185 gr FMJ bullet boat tail fired from a Dragunov sniper rifle, shows a retained energy of circa 750 ft·lbf (Expression error: Unexpected < operator.
at 1000 yards, roughly the same of a commercial 44 Magnum round fired from a revolver at the muzzle.
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.
The Russian LVE cartridge factory states the accuracy of their common cartridge (57-N-323C) at R100 < 24 cm at 300 m or < 2.8 MOA. With "R100" the groupsize of three series of 20 shots at 300 m is meant. Their sniper cartridges (7N1, 7N14) are stated at R100 < 8 cm at 300 m or < 0.92 MOA.