Bulgarian .308

Does anybody know on what purpose Bulgaria produced .308 (7.62 x 51) in the seventies? It was Cold War. Why should they produce ammunition of “the enemy”?

Dirk, for the same reason China and Czechoslovakia did. To supply friendly entities which were armed with weapons chambered in this caliber. At least China made a clandestine lot with counterfeit British “RG” headstamps - to which avail is unclear as they used copper clad steel cases what automatically put any British involvement in question and jeopardazed the whole action.
Also simple commercial contracts can not be excluded.

Some earlier discussion here: Bulgarian 7.62x51


The companion 9mmP round with the identical headstamp dated 63 first turned up when the Tupamaros (a left-wing urban guerrilla group in Uruguay) robbed a bank in the mid to late 60s and left behind a machine pistol loaded with this ammunition. My box (typical German style 16 round) came from a gun store in Lebanon and the label is in Spanish. I was subsequently told that Cuba had acquired a quantity of this 9mm ammunition and had passed it on to others.

I could speculate on reasons, but this is what I know!


Well…I should have known better…Bulgaria, poor but loyal sattelite…Thank you, gentlemen, some history unveiled once again.

Reminds me of the US making 7.62x39 brass cased and boxer primed for clandestine purposes. “Hey guys, how do we not let the enemy know we are using captured weapons?”

Here is a related question. Why are the necks of these Czechoslovakian rounds so dented and rough? They are newly made and Czechoslovakian craftsmanship cannot be questioned.

A couple of years ago on the Bulgarian market pop up some 7.62mm domestic made in the mid 60;s .
Probably produced for Egypt and according the seller with a wrong number of ammo written onto the crates-1020 not 1080.

1 Like

Thanks for the box image!

I can’t think of anything Egypt had in 1966 that was chambered in 7.62x51. There is the possibility that they purchased the rounds for supply to their friends in the Yemen Civil War being fought at that time, with both Egyptian and Saudi “assistance”.

Looking at the year these could well have been for Vietnam maybe?

I would think the number of non-US forces using 7.62x51 in 1966 would have been very small.

Don’t know if there were or could have been many captured weapons at that date. But hopefully someone will square us away about that.

For me hard to say of course but looking at the Czech 1960s manufacture it would appear plausible. Also given the fact that the Czechs definately supplied Vietnam with SAA.

Longer ago I had asked here in the forum if US reports on captured enemy SAA from SEA (1960s-1970s) were available but it seems nothing thelike is around.

Syria was using 7.62x51mm ammunition at this time & manufactured some 7.62x51mm ammunition (at least late 1950’s, early 1960’s). See page 95, Headstamp Guide: Ammunition with Turkish & Arabic Markings, Ken Elks.


Brian, good observation. Syria definately was a customer of the Czechs at some point.

I guess unless we will find these cartridges in a particular country noone will be able to tell who the real customer was…

Does anyone know of U.S. military reports from the Vietnam War indicating that Bulgarian or Czech made 7.62x51mm ammunition was found/recovered in country? I remember as a teenager seeing news reports on TV of the weapons and ammunition caches, including small arms ammunition, found by U.S. & South Vietnamese troops (side note: the reporters, then as now, skillfully demonstrated their ignorance on the subject at hand). I am sure all this was fully documented by the military with in-depth reports.


Brian - there were reports and manuals on ammunition found to be in use by the
Viet Cong and the NVA. I have a couple of them, but they are not very comprehensive,
quite frankly, and not of much value in addressing the questions on this thread.

One is titled simply “Cartridge Headstamp Guide” and was published by Hq. US Military
Assistance Command, Vietnam, Office of the Assistant Chief of staff, Intelligence. The opening
line of the foreword says “This manual is published as a guide for the identification of small arms
ammunition being used by VC and NVA forces in South Vietnam.”

The other is DA Pamphlet 381-12, May 1966, “Recognition Guide of Ammunition available to, or in
use by, the Viet Cong,” published by Headquarters, Department of the Army, Washington D.C. This
manual was probably of some limited use to soldiers in the field for purposes of writing Intel reports,
but I think it would have been pretty basic stuff for even Ordnance Corps small arms analysts, and
is certainly bottom-line basic for a serious student of small arms ammunition.

There were probably other, more in depth studies on this subject, but I don’t have information on them.
There were also manuals, a couple of which I have, that dealt simply with foreign military arms and
ammunition, but not relating them directly to that materiel captured in RVN during the VN War. The
ones I have range from downright poor, even for the times, to somewhat basic.

John Moss

In 1966 I saw a number of captured MP40s and an MG34 that were hanging on the wall of the office of the 3rd TAC Fighter Wing Intelligence Office that were captured from the VC I was told! I’m sure the NVA/VC captured quite a few M60s but I have never heard of their use. In 1966 the 173rd Airborne was using the M-16. In the AF we were using AR-15s. The guys at the Hawk Missile battery across the runway were using M-14 still. I truthfully do not know if any troops in active combat were using M-14s. My impression is that it was not in general use in the field.I think the guys in the Long Binh Motor Pool (big Army vehicle maintenance operation north of Siagon) had M-14s.

In 1969 I looked through a few thousand rounds captured in Laos which included a lot of 9mmP but do not recall a single round of 7,62 NATO.

Just one datapoint.