Shooting the 7.62 x 39

Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Gary Prisendorf

I was talking with a friend the other day about just how ridiculous gun prices have become. He said if we knew back then what we know now, we would be rich. I brought up the SKS rifle, and just how inexpensive they were before the 1994 Bill Clinton assault weapons ban.
I remember the first one I ever saw was at a local gun show. The dealer must have had twenty of them in unfired, unissued condition for a whopping $89.00 each. I had to have one and went home with my new Chinese SKS rifle and 10 boxes of Norinco ammunition that I paid two dollars a box for.

It didn’t take very long before I realized there was a lot of room for improvement when it came to accuracy. The rifle was only capable of six inch groups at 100 yards with the cheap Chinese ammunition. So I started handloading the 7.62×39 cartridge, but the best I could ever do with the SKS was 3 and 4 inch groups at 100 yards.

I eventually bought a Polytech AK clone and a Russian made SKS, but it was pretty much the same thing, poor accuracy. I knew that the rifles weren’t known for accuracy, but I always wondered just how accurate the round could be if it was shot out of a quality bolt action rifle. About 10 years ago, at a local gun shop, I found a CZ 527M bolt action carbine and I really liked the way the little carbine looked and shouldered and I bought it on the spot.

I recently went to my local gun club and brought along my three rifles chambered for the 7.62×39 cartridge, a CZ527M, a Polytech AK clone and my Russian made SKS. I really hadn’t done much load development with them, I only worked up a safe load that seemed to shoot decent and functioned well in the semi-autos.

I shot the three rifles at 100 yards with about a twenty mile per hour cross wind. All of my shots from the three rifles printed just off to the right. I blame that on the wind, but I’m pretty sure at least some of it was shooter induced.

I shot a total of six, five shot groups, two groups from each rifle and kept the best group from each rifle.

As expected the AK clone shot 3.764”, the SKS did a little better at 3.155” and the CZ527M turned in a 1.690” group.

Russian_SKS_TargetPolyTech_TargetCZ 227M TargetI’m confident that with a little load development I can get the little CZ to shoot under an inch and a half at 100 yards. I may even take it deer hunting this fall, it’s plenty accurate enough for hunting and probably 90 percent of all the deer I’ve ever shot were within 100 yards. With a 125 grain Sierra Pro-Hunter® #2305, if I do my part, I am confident the Pro-Hunter® will produce one very dead deer.

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7 Responses to Shooting the 7.62 x 39

  1. Christopher Kuna says:

    Could you be a little more specific with load details? What case did you use? what powder? what primer? Charge weights ? Thanks !!!!


  2. Ben Lattiet says:

    Great timing I have a 527 on order in the same caliber. Think it will make an excellent brush gun. Open sights and 50 to 100 yard shots. Keep us informed on your load development if you would.


  3. Harold McCannell says:

    I load the same load ,same gun and get under 1/2″ groups but use mag primers and Privi brass.Going to a .311 150gr bullet will give you another 100 yards range , more ft/lbs energy + penetration for larger game. Large Alberta WT and mulies no problem.Cutting just under an inch with 29gr of H-335 with a 150gr Sierra .311 Will increase slowly as the groups are tightening with no pressure signs.Some are using 31.5gr but I’m being cautious .


  4. Smokerr says:

    Is Sierra going to include a modern bolt action loading for the 7.62 x 39?

    I am planning on building a .308 version and am not seeing much data out there that is not also intended for the SKS or AK .


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