Another untapped application of 7.62x39 is use to shoot medium and
heavy bullets at subsonic velocity for silenced use. The best US
equivalent of this application is SSK Industries' 300 Whisper, also
known by the non-proprietary near-identical equivalent .300 Fireball.
Both of these are essentially shortened .223 Remington cases, necked
up to .30 caliber. Slow pistol powders such as Hodgdon's H110 are
typically used for these subsonic rifle loads. It is desirable to
have limited case capacity: when there's just a little powder rattling
around in a big case, ignition consistency suffers. Instead of all
the work required for a wildcat like 300 Whisper or .300 Fireball, the
regular 7.62x39 case can be used. It has a little more case capacity,
but subsonic loads with fill ratios as high as 75% are certainly
possible. With a 10-inch barrel and a short sound suppressor, a
semi-automatic rifle in 7.62x39 could be more compact than a regular
16-inch AK-47 but able to quietly thump 180 to 220 grain projectiles
into anything within about 125 yards.
The Barnes TSX-BT bullet, made entirely of copper, has a solid shank
and hollow-point. It offers near ideal terminal ballistics for
The accuracy of 7.62x39 has been criticized. The primary reason is
that neither the SKS nor the AK-47 rifles were designed for accuracy;
they were designed for cheap manufacture, simplicity, and reliability.
Further, mil-spec 7.62x39 is typically has two to three MOA
accuracy. With a good bolt action from CZ or another maker, MOA or
sub-MOA results should be possible from hand-loads or Lapua factory
The 7.62x39 cartridge's reputation is in some sense held hostage by
the mil-spec ammunition that has flooded the market for years. Its
terminal effects can be dramatically improved today by simply choosing
a better bullet, such as the Barnes TSX-BT or other JHP. Although
having a limited powder capacity compared to its bore size is usually
thought of as a problem, 7.62x39 is a good choice for SBRs and
dedicated suppressed carbines. With modern technology applied to the
7.62x39 as it has been to other cartridges, its capabilities and those
of the AK platform can be transformed.
From left to right: .223 Remington, .300 Fireball, 6.8 SPC, 7.62x39.