7.62 x 39 vs 54r

Being new to all this, I’m researching all I can. At the moment I’m looking at the 7.62 rounds.

I found the current 7.62 x 39 rounds are filled with SSNF 50 powder. Is the filling for the 54r the same?

And could anyone explain the difference between extruded vs ball type propellant?

Thanks guys

I think the easiest way to describe extruded would be to say that it is rod shaped and usually has a small hole down the center. Extruded powders are used in many types of ammunition, from small arms to large cal. field or naval guns. Sizes vary from a few 1000’s in dia. to close to 1 in. in dia. The larger dia. types usually have multiple holes.

Ball powder is as the name implies, it is ball shaped or round. When looking at ball powder of any one type, you will see different size spheres.

If you have the accesibility to a loading manual from any of the powder makers or mast of the bullet makers, youwill find pictures of the different grades or types of powder.

If any forum member has a site in mind showing powder types please reply.

There are other types of powder. There is Flake which is like flat squares and comes in various sizes. Cordite (actually an extruded powder) is usually found in long strings like skinny spaghetti or chopped into short pieces. And of course there is Black Powder which is in several granular sizes like F or FFFF or FG, etc.

All smokeless powders are basically nitrocellulose. The biggest difference between extruded and ball powder is the method of manufacture.

Extruded powders are made by a process very similar to making macaroni. A doughy mixture is extruded through a die and cut into various lengths.

Ball powder is made by combining the nitrocellulose with a solvent and then agitating into a froth which causes it to form into lacquer bubbles which are dried and then screened for size.

Ball powder can be produced in about 1/4 the time required for extruded types.

Flake powders are made by rolling the dough into sheets and cutting the sheets into flakes of the desired shape.


Thank you all. Not just collecting ammo but learning about it’s history and understanding it’s composition just keeps getting more interesting.

Thanks again for sharing your knowledge!


  • @ thayes: To see the difference of propellant type used by the 7.62X39 and 7.62X54R rounds you may pull [with great care] the bullet from each round. If you have the tin cans made by Russia which contain 7.62X39 and 7.62X54R, you’ll note the propellant markings [and other info] marked on top. Normally for the 7.62X54R Russian made rounds, “VT” type of propellant has been used. On the tin can can it should be marked “BT” [type of propellant “VT”], the propellant lot numer over the two digit date of the propellant year of manufacture and the code-letter used by the plant which manufactured the propellant. Usually the type of propellant used is accordind with the type of cartridge. As an example, type “P45” propellant was used for the Russian made 7.62X25 Tokarev rounds. As somebody mentioned above, the propellant tiny piece has a different shape. The larger the caliber is, the larger the propellant piece is. Some Russian made 30mm rounds may have a propellant which is shaped exactly like the cylinder used by a revolver [one central hole and other 6 longitudinal holes around]. Liviu 07/13/07