Saw a post elsewhere that stated that the earliest known Soviet 5.45x39 (AK74) round was dated 1969. I’m a little skeptical. Can someone confirm or refute that 1969 date?
I can not say if 1969 exists as a head stamp but as Russian sources say there were some made already in the end of the 1960’s which had no head stamps and were copper clad cases.
In terms of real specimen I can confirm “539 70”.
Earliest known headstamp is 539 68. An example of this cartridge is mounted on a russian board we have at AACAM. It also includes rares cartridges like 5,45 x 40 SN-P, 7,62 x 51 (early soft point production), 12,7 x 108 ISL Duplex, etc.
I’ll try to post some pictures in the future.
Like the 7,62x39 and 41 before it, the 5,45x39 cartridge was designed independantly and before the rifle then made to use it…Kalashnikov was given samples of the M43 cartridge, and told to develop a “avtomat” for it, well into 1944-45.
So it is not strange that the “small calibre” 5,45 was already being made several years before the definitive rifle was first made ( “1974”).
IN any case, cartridge development is easier done with a bench barrel for testing, rather than trying to adapt an existing rifle during the cartridge design trials. Once the cartridge design and parameters are finalized, then one can think of making (or modifying) the new calibre rifle. Typical Russian pragmatism.
The same thing happened with the development of the 4 x 27 mm cartridge at CETME. Several bullet types were tried but all the trials were made in bench barrels, not a single gun was made before the project was cancelled.
Some more on the 4 x 27 in
municion.org/phpBB3/viewtopi … =305#p1392
The earliest known specimen with head stamp is “539 68”. Here is my specimen:
And here are 69 and 70:
Before 1968 TPZ marked experimental cartridges with head stamp “* *” (I think this specimen is dated to 1967, in 1966 cartridge had a very different case, check below):
But development of 5.45 (initial caliber denomination was 5.6 mm) has started with necked down 7.62x39 military or/and 5.6x39 hunting cases:
Bimetal (copper clad) cases actually are younger. It was later Tula KBP’s attempt to introduce production of bimetal cases in this caliber: