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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

The Barnes TSX-BT bullet, made entirely of copper, has a solid shank and hollow-point. It offers near ideal terminal ballistics for hunting.
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 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 ammunition.

From left to right: .223 Remington, .300 Fireball, 6.8 SPC, 7.62x39.
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.