7.62x39 SubSonics


These subsonic 7.62x39 rounds came out of Israel and are loaded into East Bloc cases. The two center rounds have the remains of Israeli blue tip markings, and the right has a dark grayish/blackish tip. The story I recall from these rounds is that they were loaded for special forces use, and that there was some South African connection. That’s all I know, can anyone add any info?


If I had a dime for every time I heard that one about some obscure specialty cartridge. RSA and Israel make for great collector cartridges like that!


True enough, but they did come out of Israel, and the right-hand one doesn’t fit the others. Some of those stories do turn out to be true. For the time being, I’m keeping an open mind on these.


That’s what I mean, most of the stories are true, there’s so many great specialty cartridges from South Africa & Israel. They had designers thinking outside the box.


It is necessary for you to disassemble these cartridges. When you have control over the reload it is impossible to trust headstamps and marking. It is necessary to disassemble a cartridge and attentively to research its parts. Russian subsonic cartridge 57-N-231U has a big bullet and a smaller amount of gunpowder. The smaller amount of gunpowder doesn’t accelerate a heavy bullet faster speed of a sound, and heavier bullet has enough energy for destruction a target. If your cartridges have not enough gunpowder and a usual bullet I will tell that it is home made hunting cartridges. Still, I don’t trust that Israelis can’t buy cartridges for the special troops. I think that these cartridges were made by Arabs, and they have got to Israelis trophies


Jon, no.4 is loaded with a .303 Mk VII bullet weighing in at 172gn. My specimen was disassembled when I got it so I can’t tell you anything about the powder charge other than that the live round apparently contained less than the normal charge. The void in the case is filled with a piece of sponge.
These rounds have been discussed before, I’m pretty certain it was on this forum, and it was concluded that this was probably locally loaded for Rhodesian special forces.


Thanks, Jim, I found the thread.
I will pull some examples and check powder and bullet weights. If they are “legitimate”, my big question is how did they all get together in Israel?
More soon.


Perhaps they were deliberately made from captured cases to provide no connection with Israel?


I can tell you that in the case of those Russian early headstamps - letter codes and “58” date, they are all ones
that showed up in Isreal, probably in the hands of one of Arab armies in one of the wars there. I don’t
recall the exact year, but our store purchased the entire lot of 50,000 rounds of 7.62 x 39 (I should say the entire lot we were offered - we had no way to know if more came in, but I never saw it advertised if it did) that was the first importation of surplus 7.62 x 39 and was part “new stock” and part battlefield scrounge. I suppose it all came
from the battlefield, but there was on large lot of Syrian 7.62 x 39 in sealed, original boxes, white with black Arabic
writing. Much of the load was repacked into any of the small Russian-type boxes. There were boxes with green
stripes, red over black stripes, and dead plane. All held ball rounds of mixed headstamp. There were also palin boxes that seemed to be still with all the original contents, Russian rounds all having the same headstamps. All of the headstamps you showed except the “21” code headstamp were in that shipment.

We later found out, although there was no effect on us since the ammunition was legally imported, that the exporter
from Israel did not have permission to export the ammunition, which the Israeli Army had wanted retained for their use in captured SKS and AKx.

A lot of collections benefited from that load. Since the ammo was mixed anyway, I bought several hundred rounds, but on my lunch hours, picked them out of boxes to get about ten of each headstamp (I bought among that a box
or two of the Syrian ammo). At that time, virtually no one had seen any Syrian ammo and the early Russian headstamps were very rare. Amazingly, twenty or thrity years later, I still have probably ten or twenty rounds left from that lot, all common cartridges now.

Evidently, the Israelis had more of this ammo, and turned some of it into special loadings.


Falcon, the blue tips are an Israeli dead giveaway, but it is odd that they would be with the dark tip rounds.


What I was thinking is so that the fired cases wouldn’t be linked to Israel.


I had the “17 58” specimen in my collection years ago and Russ Cornell told me these came out of Rhodesia originally. The powder charge was about 1/4 or 1/3 of the normal amount of what appeared to be the standard WUFL type, under the sponge as was mentioned.



Russ got some of these headstamps from me. I cannot speak for any other importation that that
which we purchased from the importer, and it came from Israel, not Rhodesia. In truth, these Soviet
headstamps could show up anywhere in the world. Our shipment was very early - wish I had recorded
the date or at least the year - and most of the headstamps in the shipment had not been seen to that
date by some very advanced collectors. Again, I can’t speak for any other importation. I would say that
shipment we got arrived in the mid-1970s, or perhaps a bit earlier. It was after we moved our location,
which was approximately 1972. as I recall. We were at that location at least 25 years before the store
closed, and it was not long after we reopened (we were closed for the move only two days) at the new
location that we got that shipment, to the best of my memory. The ammunition I was speaking of, by the way, was all original ball ammunition - it contained none of these odd Israeli adaptations, as well it should not have, since the ammunition was not in the possession of the
Israeli Government, but rather a private firm. There was later trouble over that, as I mentioned before, but none that involved us, so I don’t know the details, only what the importer has told us as a matter of interest.