5.45x39 M74 Questions (5N7 Vs 7N6 vs 7N6m)


Hello all. I have some unanswered questions about some of the relativly early Soviet M74 cartridges.

I recently aquired a sealed case of soviet surplus 5.45x39. The crate and cans are marked 270-75-lot number format. The factory on the wood crate and the steel tins in it are marked 270 lugansk and the 1975 date then lot number. Upon opening the crates i found cartridges headstamped 3 74 which are apparently Ulyanovosk cases made the previous year. Are these 5N7 or 7N6 projectiles, and why is the tin loaded with a diffrent headstamp than the crates and tins that it contains.

This has sparked two questions, the one about the diffrent factory and date than the markings on the tin (why, how?) and the fact that i was of the impression from wikipedia that these should be the “5N7” projectile weighing 50 grains. What is the diffrence in those two loadings? (5n7 and 7n6) and was the change over to 7n6m really 1987? was 7n6 produced along with the 7n6m with the hardened core? as in were they still making both loadings? this 5n7 loading seems to me to have been an early loading, wikipedia putting it as the first production m74 projectile, and if anything is going to be an early production m74, i would sure as heck think that 1974 and 1975 loadings would be it. I suspect that these are what is refered to as 7n6 because they appear nearly identical to late (1991) bulgarian 5.45 that i have cut open, with the same relative hardness of the core and everything. so i take it the bulgarians did not ever go to 7n6m or at least not in 1991 yet.

I am really mainly seeking more info on the 5n7 loading, and when 7n6 was started and when 7n6m was converted. In addition does anyone know if the other nations like poland and bulgaria ever changed from the widespread 7n6 with the mild steel core. Also my guess is that with these early lots that Uly produced the cases and sent the to lugansk where they were loaded to get their production up and going in the first few lots of real mass production, whch this early dated stuff probibly is.

-Thanks in advance for any info.

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Welcome here AIRcarbine,
There might be some confusion on designations which is also spreading in the net, in particular in non professional ammo discussions. (who ever is the one to judge what is professional and what is not)

I have never heard of a 5N7 load. Actually it should not exist as per its numbering since the first digit is giving the class of ammunition. In the Soviet/Russian system the “7” here is the one for “infantry ammunition”. What ever the “5” of the “5N7” would be it would be no index for small arms ammunition and sowith not for a 5.45x39. Short there is no 5N7 and I wonder who “invented” this one and spread this designation (clearly somebody who is not into the Russian designation system - a western “specialist” I guess).

Ulyanovsk cases in Lugansk tins: Over the years it happened more than once that factories were supplied with components from other makers - reasons are as manyfold as the colors of a rainbow. Here, when we look at the date of 1974, it might be that Lugansk may have not been fully set up for case production and got cases from Ulyanovsk in order not to cease production/loading.
Side note: Also there were factories which never run an own case production like TsNIITOChMASh (61) in Klimovsk which used cases made by KSPZ (711) in Klimovsk for a very long time.
It also happened that factories made cases with factory numbers of other plants when it was required.

7N6 and 7N6M: Russia developed these and others like the 7N10 (PP) and 7N10M (PP) and later the 7N22 (BP) and finally the 7N24 (BS, tungsten carbide). Recently also the AP-T 7BT4 (BT).

Except for Lugansk of today’s Ukraine which inherited the 7N10 and is still making it (other markings though than during USSR days) I do not know of other countries which changed (enhanced) anything on their licenced 7N6 from the old days of the Warsaw Pact. Remember that shortly after the 7N6M (I never positively identified one) was developed/adopted the Warsaw Pact went down together with the USSR. Means they had too little time to switch to the USSR’s enhancements. After the fall all countries were busy surviving and were cutting their defense budgets + they had plenty of ammo stocked so there was no need for newly produced one. After everything had settled and the dust of the events of the 1990’s was gone, most (not all) WAPA countries switched to mainly NATO calibers.

The only country I know to actively develop military 5.45x39 ammunition is Russia.

Please anybody correct me if I am wrong.


This 5N7 loading is referenced in a few Internet locations, three or four that i can think of, and in at least two books on the subject. An overview is given at the english wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5.45×39mm All sources state a 49-50 grain projectile at a slightly higher velocity than the rather universal 7N6 (915 m/s vs 880 m/s).

It is also referenced in “Kalishnikov AK-47 Assault Rifle” book by Gordon Rottman on page 30 which can be seen here: books.google.com/books?id=BwWSjq … n6&f=false

This book uses the same specifications as above listed on wikipedia. The loading is also mentioned on the russian language wiki page for the m74 round, or was as of recently.

I am begining to think that this 5n7 designation is simply an error which is referencing the early 7N6 with mild steel core because some of the places that name the 5n7 loading seem to (rather UN-clearly) refer to 7n6 as being a heat treated core without the 7n6m designation. I have no idea where the 49 grain 915 m/s figures came from unless it could have been some sort of prototype durring the cartridge development long before it was the M74 round.

And also, so the Polish, Bulgarians, and Romanians never produced any ball projectiles other than in the orriginal 7n6 mild steel core configuration? i have some pretty late 1990’s Polish around and was wondering about it, seeing how the soviets started heat treating the ordinary ball loading for everyone in 1987 correct? Did they change that for all m74 ball production or was 7n6 and 7n6m both produced concurrently based on need/application basis? as in will anything with a date later than 1987 in the USSR still have the old mild steel dead soft core?
Who all produced M74 ball, all i have seen being surplussed is 539, 3, 270 and 60. leaving out frunze and vympel, both of which i have seen non soviet military style later lead core loadings from. alsop what about 188 and 711 in this loading?
-Thanks, sorry for being so wordy and confusing.


It seems the 5N7 error is wide spread then.

#60 is Frunze (after Independence of Kyrgyzstan it got renamed back to Bishkek).
You did not mention the BPZ in Barnaul (#17).

Amursk (#7) is known for 7N10 and 7N24 but since they got founded in 1975 they must have made 7N6 too. Can anybody verify a regular 7N6 on a #7 case? And once we are talking about Amursk, what is the earliest date on a #7 case?

NPZ (#188) and KSPZ (#711) reportedly never have made military 5.45x39. (wish they did)
TsNIITOChMASh (#61) might have loaded special loads (on cases made by others as usual) but that I can not verify right now since we would need to see the lids of tins containing this info.

The 7N6M cores are thermal treated steel (different alloys used: “steel 65G”, “steel 70” and “steel 75”). Cores have a minimum of 60 HRC.
As for what cores in what years and if exclusive or not is hard to say since it may have varied between the manufacturers. The best way to determine the cores is cutting them up - from 1985 onwards by year and manufacturer.


A general observation: just because an item of data is widespread does not mean that it is accurate. Very few people who write books (let alone post on the internet) do original research. That would be impractical for a general book on assault rifles, for instance: it would mean visiting scores of countries and ploughing through their national archives - assuming that they have any which are accessible to the public, and that you can read dozens of different languages. So writers copy from each other, and mistakes get perpetuated.

My favourite one concerns the armament of the Messerschmitt BF 109 fighter. Some time in the 1950s, the aircraft writer William Green wrote that later models used 15mm MG 151 as cowling guns and 30mm MK 103 as an engine gun. Both are wrong. A version with a modified MK 103 was planned but the gun was only tried unsuccessfully in one experimental aircraft, and the big MG 151 would never have fitted in the cowling. But this “information” has been copied many times since, and I occasionally see it still appearing in modern books.


Welcome AIRcarbine

Gentlemen this is very, very interesting.

Perhaps EOD you could post a listing of these various code & what they mean / how to read for those of us who are novices in Soviet or Russian ammunition. I don’t recall seeing a list in Phil Regenstreif’s excellent books (and my French is very poor). Plus I had no idea the cases ("# 7 case") had numbers, please what’s the difference or is this the last part of the code? What are the codes for other case types & do those cases have numbers & what’s the difference. All this asked knowing I might be asking for a book to be written.

2nd My favorite story about things repeated, only about ammunition, is one Fred Datig told about the so-called 10mm Bergmann Hirst cartridge. Apparently a California dealer got a box of these shorter OAL rounds & it had a handwritten label in old German. He interpreted the Stuck (sorry if misspelled) or each to read Hirst & the name has been on lists ever since.


Pete, there are no numbers to the cases (except for drawing numbers which we never may get to know). What I meant above was the factory number like #7 (Amursk).
Otherwise the cartridges have indexes like 7N6 (5.45x39 mild steel core ball). And here you are right this would fill a huge book.


Thanks EOD


Can anyone clarify what the two 1080rd tins below are meaning in terms of projectile, factory, year, etc…? I am mostly wondering if they are both the 7n6


There is large topic on ukrainian forum about 5.45x39 https://reibert.info/threads/5-45x39.204256/


Yes, both 7N6… as well as all with the designation 5,45 gs PS (5,45 гс ПС).


This response has been removed by me as it contained a statement now
believed to be inaccurate, thanks to EOD and Max, as well as a question
based on my on misunderstanding of when some information was posted here.

John Moss


Those earlier posts about Lugansk were from 2012, if that makes any difference John.


The 5N* codes in Russian GRAU indexing system refer to Radar equipment.
As mentioned above, all modern Russian military-issue small arms ammunition has GRAU codes starting with 7N*


As far as I know, it was an entirely different private-owned factory from Lugansk that was moved wholesale, men and equipment, into Russia
LPZ still operates where it stood, delivering goods to DNR/LNR separatists

Old Soviet ammo in Ukraine

I didn’t even notice that. The dates of entries was much more
noticeable on the old Forum. I had not seen it before and just assumed
that it was a current entry. Yes, it makes a big difference. I have
LCW headstamps dated 12 and 13 in 9 mm Makarov, as well as some
caliber-marked only from later. I forget when the Red Army headstamp
first came into the US, with the letters “LU” on the headstamp, but that
could have been as late as 2015.

Sorry about that.

John Moss



I was not aware of any privately-owned ammunition factory at Lugansk.
What was the name of the company, and what was their product line?

John Moss


it was not an ammunition factory, just some mechanical plant
However, Ukrainian news made it sound like “Russian occupants stole Lugansk ammo plant” and all that jazz. In fact, owners of the factory voluntarily moved out of the civil war zone into Russia, and LCW remains where it was, and now produces ammo for so called separatists.


Has anybody noticed this picture following Mechanik’s link?

Any information about it appreciated? Thank you



Alex do you have any additional information on the brass cased S&B cartridge?