Blown up 7.62x54R


What would make this round to blow up? Headstamp: ZV 39



“Blow up” is probably not the correct description. The case split and may or may not have resulted in a catastrophic situation. Gas certainly escaped but with a rimmed cartridge and a tightly breeched rifle it may have all been contained in the chamber.

The reason? I would have to see a lot more detail than your scan shows. It could have been fired in a grossly oversize chamber, or the wrong chamber most probably. The brass could have been brittle for some reason. Maybe a reload using brass that had been fired originally with mecuric primers. There are several possible explanations. Maybe a combination of all of the above. But cases that I have seen that looked like that were usually fired in the wrong chamber. It appears to have too little body taper for a 7.62x54mmR and too steep a shoulder angle. Has the primer been indented?



A wrong chamber or even a fire could produce a result like that.


Note that the fissure stops before reching the neck.


A scratch caused in the case during the draw process can also cause a failure like this.


I would say that it is a cartridge defect, not related to the gun it was fired in. The case is not bulged like would be found in the case of a grossly oversized chamber or the wrong chamber. Not too many other calibers where you can accidentally fit a 7.62x54r into the chamber either . I suspect that a steel case and it’s age are the culprits here, assuming the case was recently fired. Years ago I shot up a bunch of WWII German 7,9 mauser cartridges that produced a lot of split cases just like this. I assume there was internal rust that caused the case to become weakened. Some of the surplus 7.62x54r on the market right now will give split cases too. Steel is not quite as elastic as brass and can be more prone to splitting.




Seeing a full side view and the indented primer, I say AKMS has it right.


  • Sometimes the rounds may come from the factory with problems because of poor manufacture and bad quality control process. I’ve noticed almost a small split at some unfired Albanian made 7.62X54R cartridges with brass cases [headstamped “88” or “89” over “3”] at the shouder-neck area. If you have 7.62X54R ammo manufactured in Albania, it’s a good idea to check carefully each round before loading it into the weapon magazine [or belt]. Liviu 03/18/07


I have fired quite a bit of this Albanian 7.62x54r ammunition with the badly formed cases. Dents, creases, splits, etc… Surprisingly, there have been no case failures at these deformed areas. I have fired 1950’s Hungarian 7.62x54r ammunition that looked factory-fresh that upon firing showed pierced primers and case splits. That Albanian stuff looks scary!