The 7.62 NATO and 7.62 Soviet cartridges may seem identical in terms of caliber. But that’s where the similarities stop. The cartridges have different power loads and grain sizes, accompanied by entirely different backgrounds. Learn about the difference between the two before deciding which one to get.
The Original Purpose of the 7.62 Cartridges
The 7.62 NATO is a 7.62x51mm ammunition cartridge that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) designed for use by all of its forces. It was designed to ease cartridge pressure and feeding issues.
The 7.62 NATO debuted at the same time as the M14 rifle did, but it wasn’t until the Vietnam War that American forces used them for combat. Eventually, this duo was replaced by the iconic M16 rifle and the 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge. Nevertheless, the 7.62 NATO remains highly regarded today. It’s still a cartridge of choice for mounted machine guns and sniper rifles.
On the other side, we have the 7.62×39 ammunition, which is commonly referred to as the 7.62 Soviet cartridge. It’s an all-around cartridge that the Soviet Union used near the end of World War II.
Shortly after the second World War, Mikhail Kalashnikov developed the gas-operated AK-47 rifle featuring the 7.62 Soviet cartridge. The AK-47 quickly gained popularity for its reliability in rugged conditions as well as for hunting. The rifle’s high availability made it a favorite among military personnel and private gun-owners. And with it, the 7.62 Soviet cartridge also became a mainstay.
Factors to Consider when Choosing a 7.62
The 7.62 NATO and 7.62 Soviet cartridges may have the same diameter. But that doesn’t mean that they’re interchangeable. They still have varying case length.
There are many factors involved in differentiating the 7.62 cartridges. The most important factors include availability, velocity, energy, and trajectory.
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The 7.62 Soviet is arguably more accessible, much like it’s dependable partner, the AK-47 rifle. And although brand prices vary, it’s usually more affordable than the 7.62 NATO ammunition.
The 7.62 NATO has a heavier projectile than its Sovier counterpart. But it has faster velocity. It reaches up to 2,800 feet/second whereas the 7.62 Soviet only reaches up to 2,350 feet/second.
The 7.62 NATO has a greater powder load and a heavier bullet. So it’s no surprise that the 7.62 NATO cartridge delivers a higher muzzle energy than the 7.62 Soviet cartridge.
It’s no secret that the 7.62 NATO cartridge has a smoother trajectory than the 7.62 Soviet cartridge, which can drop almost twice as hard as the 7.62 NATO at the same distance.
Given these factors, it’s clear that the 7.62 NATO cartridge wins in accuracy and long-distance shooting. The 7.62 Soviet cartridge is ideal if you’re more interested in high-volume shooting. But both are tried-and-tested cartridges for today’s gun enthusiasts.
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