East German(?) Short Range 7.62x54R

Hi folks. I

As far as I know, these are East German cartridges loaded on cases supplied by other Warsaw Pact nations. I have one with a plain bullet also, and am not sure of its intended use.

The DDR did tool up and make the 7.62 x 54R, but for some reason, not much of it. Even top German collectors don’t have one, and a couple that are known are either empty cases or unfinished empty cases, I believe. I have a fair DDR collection, and have never even seen a DDR 7.62 x 54R headstamped case, much less had a chance at one.

In the Warsaw Pact scheme of things, not each country made every military item. The DDR, for example, made only small arms ammunition, RPGs, some hand grenades and I think land mines. They did not made large caliber rounds except for training dummies. It was probably an efficinet system that eliminated some duplication.

The DDR loaded these practice rounds on cases supplied by their Warsaw Pact allies. If I recall correctly, the one with the un-blackened projectile is NOT from DDR. The DDR types use a unique, flat based, steel core projectile similar to the boattailed M-43 type. I think you will find that the un-blackened type will have a regular M-43 projectile and was loaded in Hungary. I’m sure someone will correct me if I am wrong, but this is what I remember from some years back when I sort-of collected this caliber…


AKMS - I guess this is too far off of the subject. While I didn’t mention it, I thought I, too, had one of the “short range” 7.62 x 54R rounds with a plain, uncolored bullet, but looking, I don’t have that caliber. What I have is a round headstamped “05 90” in 7.62 x 39m/m with a bullet of the same exact ogive as the black bullet rounds, but it is standard GMCS, not blackened.

Compared against a normal 7.62 x 39

Do these short-range rounds not have the same sort of black nylon core that the 7.62x39mm Ubungsmunition rounds have?

Thanks for the replies. The ones I have look like the cases were made and primed in the country that the headstamp shows, but the bullets all seem the same. According to this webpage, they are steel cored.


John, the only “05 90” headstamped rounds I have seen is a tracer and the Ubungspatrone you mentioned… I’ll look at my German language reference books to see if I can shed any light on this. The “Heavy” projectiles from DDR tend to be round-nosed in profile.

SDC. No, the 7.62x54r practice rounds do not have the “plastic” core of the 7.62x39mm rounds. They have a mild steel core, and aside from a flat base instead of a boat-tail, the projectile is typical M-43 in design. Note that the 7.62x54r practice tracer is exactly the T-45 tracer projectile of the 7.62x39mm. I suspect that the ball version has the same flat-based design as the tracer to make it a ballistic match when fired.

Hendere, the projectile is steel cored. I just sectioned a specimin for a friend to confirm this. I do beleive that primed cases were supplied to DDR for loading and I have not seen any evidence that these rounds were used outside of East Germany.


AKMS - I had the tracer as well as the

Only a billion? I would have thought there would be a lot more than that. Seriously.

Mischinger’s book on VEB Konigswartha shows the Patrone M-43 US (Unterschall) on page 93. This appears to use a normal 7.62x54r type LPS projectile which would account for the heavy, but pointed bullet in your “05 90” case. The referenced specimens are from “04” though…

Is the ogive on your round more pointed, like a 54r projectile?

My headstamp checklist form Russ Cornell shows Ball (unconfirmed), Tracer, Short Range, Helmet Test and Subsonic (Unterschall) all loaded in “05 90” cases. I’m guessing this is what you have…Nice!

My list shows “04 88” as highest ball round and “04 89” as last headstamp from “04”.

Odd that there is no “05 89” and “04 90”. I wonder if things were winding down by 89-90 or there was sufficient inventory on hand (one billion!) that both plants did not need to produce ball by then.


AKMS - as I mentioned in my first entry about them, my “heavy bullet” M43 round has exactly the same round-nose ogive as the 7.62 x 39

Sorry John, I totally mis-read your post about your round having the same round nosed profile as the plastic cored practice cartridge. This is a Helmet Test cartridge. It does have the same jacket as the practice round only a solid lead core. (From a sectioned specimen in my collection). It is called a “M 43/P6”. See page 38 of Mischinger’s book on the “05” factory. I was told once that these were also used as a sub-sonic load by snipers. Can any of our German friends confirm this?


Does anyone have a copy of the range table that came with these cartridges? Like a fool, I didn’t ask for the one I saw lying in the open case.
Muzzle velocity on these is about 2400 fps from a Finnish M39.

I don’t have a copy to post, but one of these tables in a reference book I have shows the following:

Ubungspatrone M-39 intended for use in MG PKT, PKMS, PKMB

For 400 meter range, sight setting of 4 is used.
For 600 meter range, sight setting of 7 is used.
For 800 meter range, sight setting of 10 is used.

Maximum range is shown to be 2,700 meters.

Considerably less drop compared to the plastic cored 7.62x39mm practice round!



Thanks for the data; I’m going to look at my notes for the sight settings I used. The M39 is sighted for the heavy ball round. The short-range round is fairly accurate, but that coating on the bullet really fouls the bore. My boxes show a fair number of rounds that have bullets with burs caused by the case mouth scraping the bullet during the seating process. Picking these out materially improves accuracy, although with a machine gun, who would know (or care)?

Since the M/V is the same as the 7.62x39mm round, I can’t help wondering if one of the purposes of this round was to allow units without RPK’s to duplicate the tactical use of MG’s chambered in the smaller cartridge. Maybe the ballistics are just a coincidence. For a “short range” cartridge, though, 2700 meters is a long way.

A reason why we don’t get to see 04 90 could be that there were already plans to close 04’s small arms ammo facility and produce other products there, like RPG. I believe Gerd Mischinger says something about it in his book.

@AKMS: a bit far off this topic but a word on M 43 P 6 as subsonic load for snipers
I know of a study to develop an M 43 - Unterschallmunition (M 43 US)), dated December 1986. Different models were discussed there, one of them being an unmodified M 43 P 6. Test results brought that P6 was inadequate because cases were not ejected reliably. Use of another powder to improve the else satisfying P6 was discarded because of unstable combustion. Winner in that study was “M 43 US3”, based on Nctp powder and M39 bullets. Maybe that sniper story is a bad story?

Hans, you are probably right about the “sniper” story. Started out as a test, and after many people tell the story, the details change…

Good to have so many knowledgeable people here to put these bad stories to rest…