.215 RWS hstp'd 5.45X39


Hey all
I got given a round of 5.45x39 hstp’d “RWS .215”.
Green lacquered case with a full jacketed HP proj.
As I understand these were used in the SSG-82 rifle by the East German border guards to pick off people trying to escape to the West.
Why the commercial style hstp with the .215 designation?
Will they not chamber/function in an AK-74? Or was it to indicate match grade? Or something completely different?




This ammunition comes packed in very commercial looking boxes, so I doubt it has any connection with East German border guards. I may be wrong, but I suspect this ammunition was made after the fall of the wall and for commercial use with surplussed ssg-82 rifles. Anectdotal reports of this ammunition suggest it is not especially accurate…

I’m sure some of our European friends can add more to this.



I was under the impression that the SSG-82 was used by the Stasi.
While I realise that my round is probably commercial, my interest lies more in the hstp and the reason behind it.


It is post GDR production on the machines in east Germany for commercial purposes. If I understood right a lot of this ammo went to Switzerland for the AK-74 owners there.


If I recall correctly, the diameter of a 5.45x39mm projectile is .221". The .215 in the headstamp refers to the distance across the lands of the barrel. Why they chose this nomenclature is unknown to me.



The .215 differs from 5,45x39 slightly in the base to shoulder and base to neck dimensions.
So a tight 5,45x39 chambering will not accept .215 cartridges.
According to CIP, these are two different cartridges.

The use of .215 instead of .221 is a must for military and service calibers,
because they are always specified by bore diameter. ( miltary: bore=caliber)


Thanks all.
hbroemel-I’d just spotted that in my CIP file but hadn’t had a chance to check the differences.
So they are close enough to be interchangeable but due to CIP as they are different chambering’s CIP require’s different designations?



The difference is only about 1/10mm or .04" in shoulder length.
But the applicant (RWS or the German Democratic Republic) wants to have a different caliber name. CIP does not make decisions without applicants demand.
Maybe this was done earlier, at DDR’s time, when they created this little sniper rifle.
From the drawings it’s no problem to fire a 5,45 x39 out of a .215, but vice versa it can make problems. Perhaps Warsaw Pact wished to have an equal, slight incompatibilty with the civil version of the 5,45x39 alias .215 as we had with the 5.56x45Nato alias .223 Rem.



I don’t believe we have to put the .215 into a Warsaw Pact context. There were no “liberal” gun laws in those countries, so there were no such rifles available outside “armed forces”!

It is my guess - I have no proof! - it all was a quick business opportunity for Frankonia who had the chance to bring the 2.000 SSG-82 rifles into the surplus market and needed fodder for some of its, including its main market. You may remember at that time it was impossible to trade with the regular ball ammunition which was banned because of the mild steel core bullet. So VEB Spreewald jumped in and made it for or under the name of RWS before their production facility was closed.

Case production drawings allow length tolerances in the neck area of -2/10 mm, by the way.


I just found this photo on the AFTE web site .