7.62x39 odd bullet

I found this in a lot of old mixed ammo. It stood out because the bullet looks different. I weighed the round and it also weighs about 40 grains more than the other Russian ammo in the lot. The headstamp is 17 58 (Soviet- right?).

The bullet itself is silver colored with a little of what looks like gold-colored plating that is mostly worn off. I can’t see any sign that it’s been messed with or reloaded somehow, and the rest of the ammo was mostly Russian from 1950 and after. A few rounds had no headstamp at all but otherwise looked like standard Russian or Chinese copper-wash stuff.

Any idea what this might be? I thought about pulling the bullet to look at it, but decided not to in case it turns out to be something collectible somehow.

Another question- is any of this old Russian ammo worth more than just shooting ammo?

Yes, “17” coded ammo is made by Barnaul in Russia or those days when it was made it was the USSR.
Can you tell us what packing the cartridges came in?

Unfortunately I can not tell about the projectile which seems to be very interesting but on the question if there is interetsing or valuable Russian ammunition of this kind I would definately say YES!
The unheadtstamped rounds also are certainly good cartridges which I never would shoot. (just my view on it)

I think the Finns reloaded Italian 7.35 bullets into Russian 7.62x39 cases at one time. Could this be an example of that?

You have a rare and interesting cartridge there. The projectile is a .303 British MKVII and the cartridge was loaded in either South Africa or Rhodesia as a subsonic for use with a “silencer” or suppressor. I found one of these exact same rounds in an odd-lot of assorted cartridges at a gun show once. Probably my best “junk box” find ever. This was back before the internet and I did not know what it might be, so I pulled the projectile thinking it was just some weird reload. Found that it contained about a 1/3 charge of what appeared to be normal powder and it was topped with a square chunck of foam padding, like what you would see an “egg crate” mattress out of. Sadly, mine was in poor shape and I eventually traded it off to another collector… It would certainly make an interesting sectioned cartridge. According to an advanced 7.62x39mm collector I know, SA and Rhodesia made a few variations of these subsonic loads, sometimes even using the regular 7.62x39mm ball projectile. They can be found with red tips for identification. Nice find!!!


Interesting; does anyone know how these compare to the issue Soviet subsonic “US” ammo, or does anyone have examples of the US to show?

Elk, can you give any more info on when and where you found this round?

It was in with a bunch of old mixed loose 7.62x39 ammo I bought. Most of it was Russian 50’s with a few others mixed in.

When I get time later I’ll post a photo of the rounds with no headstamp at all, but really they just look like regular old copper-wash ammo with no headstamp.

The oldest in the lot are 50 and 51 dated brass-plated steel-case rounds. There was just a few of these. Are they shooting ammo or of some collector interest?

I wouldn’t shoot any of those early-dated Russian rounds, unless I had hundreds of them. Why shoot them at this stage. Once the panic buying subsides, 7.62 x 39 ammo will be relatively cheap and easy to get again, hopefully, and probably better if for no other reason than it is almost 60 years newer. That is old ammo now.

As time goes on, these early Soviet rounds are going down range or slipping into collections, and eventually will be scarce.

Why we are on the subject [kinda]. Was the 7.62x39 used in the Korean war?


The box I found my treasure in (circa 1994) was full of Czech 7.62x45mm ball, Israeli 5.56 short range practice cartridges, various makes of 7.62x39mm. All of it was in sad shape Most of the x39 was Soviet, but there was some Egyptian in there too. Other calibers mixed in as I recall, but nothing I was interested in. I presumed this stuff to be range pickups and battlefield capture from Israel, or just “floor sweepings” from one of the big importers like Century.

No idea how this homemade “US” round compared to the Soviet model, but I recall hearing that they were intended only to be used in milled receiver AK-47s, not the stamped receiver AKM. Something to do with the strength of the two different types, but it may just be a myth…


Has it been established who produced the unmarked CWS-cased rounds? Presumably they were intended for clandestine use but any ideas when they were made and where were they used?

The unheadstamped round I used to have in my collection had a definate Soviet “feel” to it. The tone of the copper colors and brass primer, the case mouth crimp all were comparable to 1950’s Soviet 7.62x39mm with headstamps. One of those intangible things that become somewhat instinctive after handling lots of cartridges. I think if you were to see an unheadstamped Chinese 7.62x39mm, you would be able to compare it to a known, headstamped round and find all the similarities.


Regarding the question about use of the 7.62 x 39 in the Korean War, while I have read claims to that effect, I have never heard of anyone with any substantiation that this caliber was used by either the NKA or the CCF in Korea, nor have I ever seen a picture of any weapon of this caliber in any pictures relating to Korea, or heard of any being brought back as souvenirs.

The Russians themselves were still in the process of rearming with the post-war weapons when the Korean War ended. Not likely they would be exporting them yet. Of course they did send both armies plenty of small arms, but of the types being replaced. 40 years ago, I had a DEWAT PPSh 41 made in Russia in 1944 or 1945, but captured in Korea.

Not impossible that the 7.62 x 39 was used, but…!

Here are a couple photos of some with no headstamp:

Your “7.62x39 80” round is probably Syrian. I think the only way that Syrian, Russian, and South African ammo could come together is if they were all Israeli surplus. The Syrian and Soviet would be from stuff captured from the PLO in Lebanon, and the RSA subsonic brought into Israel for special-forces use. They could easily have come together on any base when training ammo got de-chambered and dumped in a big bin in front of the armory. Alot of Israeli surplus AK ammo came in to the US in the mid to late 1990s.

Yes, the “7.62x39 80” cartridge is most likely Syrian. Finland also used this exact headstamp, but the poorly applied headstamp and primer crimp on the pictured example is typical of Syrian cartridges, not Finn. Can’t tell for sure about the unheadstamped rounds because of the picture and their condition. I’d call them Soviet, given that they were found with mostly Soviet headstamped cartridges. If they were found with a lot of Chinese cartridges, they they might be of Chinese origin.

In any case, you have a nice group of cartridges to build a collection around.


Interesting to compare my “7.62x39 80” headstamp with Fatelk’s.
I had previously thought mine to be of Syrian origin but in light of AKMS’s comments I’m now not so sure! Finnish?

This one is a Finish export case for a SEA country.

Here are some photos of a mix of headstamps. I bought this stuff for shooting ammo, but will pick out and save any that’s interesting enough to keep.

I’d say it is all interesting enough to keep…

Not your run-of-the-mill surplus ammo. There are some interesting headstamps there. If you are interested in collecting the 7.62x39mm cartridge, then you have a nice, instant collection.