Question on Sako 7.62 X 39 Box

I’m curious about this 30rd box of 7.62 X 39 and who it was produced for. The warning to keep away from children would indicate a product for commercial sale. Then again, I wouldn’t expect to see a danger notice to avoid use in M60 or M73 machine guns, or the M134 minigun, on a commercial ammo box. The cartridges are FMJ with “SO 73” headstamps. Thanks.


Cool box. Looks like for US market. Was M60 machine gun ever made in 7.62x39? Since that children warning was instituted in 1968, and this box was imported to US in 1973, and Sako lawyers just wanted to remove any liability and added that “prohibited from use” note. Just a guess.

prohibited in use in m15/m60/m73/m134 guns…

so really, just ak47 and mini 30’s

A not so smart way of saying a 7.62 is not a 7.62

Yes, I understand the purpose of the warning was to differentiate the 7.62 X 39 from the 7.62 NATO but it still seems odd.

I think the only rifles in the U.S. chambered for the 7.62 X 39 in that era were a few Vietnam bring-back SKS rifles and a few hundred Valmet M62/S semi-auto AK types that started to trickle in just after the Gun Control Act of 1968. Those were made by Valmet and Sako and it makes sense they would also import ammunition to support sales of their guns. But the rare M62/S buyer probably wouldn’t need to have the cartridge differences pointed out to him to avoid the accidental loading of them in his M134 minigun.

Perhaps Sako intended this box for both civilian sales and military sales to support training with captured Vietnam weapons. Just a guess on my part too. I’ve always thought it was a cool box but still had that nagging question about the markings.

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Send a PM to Forum member Mika Pitkanen, if anybody can answer your question he can!

To Rick, Brian and all the others,

The Sako and Lapua factories sold some ball and tracer cartridges to the US government in the late 1960s - early 1970s. At first, the package was the ordinary Finnish 30-round box with markings in Finnish. After this, the box label was changed to one with English texts, although only boxes for Ball cartridges are known. There is very little exact information about these orders (they were made secretly) but it appears the US customer wanted these ridiculous warnings because they are similar in Lapua boxes too.


I agree with Pete - these warnings, to me anyway, are obviously a warning that this is NOT 7.62 x 51 NATO ammunition and not to attempt to use it in weapons of that caliber. I also agree with Mr. Pitkanen that the warnings are rather silly.

John M.

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John, not soooo silly :-) for the US
Why otherwise they say on american products (i.e. Microwave) not to try to dry your (washed) bird, dog, pets…you name it) in it???
Its silly, but maybe people had try it, with drastic results…

Thats maybe the importer would avoid, to create any danger, if someone put it in the longer chamber of the Nato-round, push it to much in, and the base is not visible anymore. Putting the rifle back in the rack, the ammo falls back…the next people can take the gun out, and fire it, if the rifle is upright…so anything can happen…human dumbness is, like Einstein said ones…I do not knew, what is bigger: space , or the human dumbness…
And factories would print anything on the boxes, what customer wants (like Mika said)…and secondly, the factory is happy to keep their responsibility as small as possible…

Have a safe time…

Forensic - regretably, I have to agree with you on that in a
sense. I do not believe that most American gun owners fall into
that category of total ignorance, but remember, packaging labels
are not much concerned with the IQ of the public, but more with
the willingness of our lawyers to sue manufacturers over stupid
antics done by the ignorant among us, and their is no shortage of
them. However, I believe that for the most part, our military
personnel - and the weapons mentioned on the box label would
indicate they were the intended user of this ammunition - are
intelligent and well-enough trained to tell the difference between
a 7.62 x 39 and a 7.62 x 51 mm cartridge.

Label admonitions like that come under the heading of “cover your


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This is not a commercial load (as already mentioned), so the version with the avoidance of lawsuits can be excluded.
The inscription is needed to avoid confusion in the warehouse.
Such cartridges were used by deep raid groups in Vietnam for captured RPD and AK machine guns. Since captured cartridges were forbidden to use for several reasons.

The fact that this ammunition ended up sold on the surplus market to civilians is a good example of the the reason why the “version of avoidance of lawsuits” cannot be excluded.

Added: This ammunition is dated from 1973. US Involverment with “boots on the ground” in Vietnam ended in March 1973. The weapons mentioned on the box, and the language of the box, would indicate production for the US. The only way that ammunition could have been used by “deep raid groups” is by ARVN, since there war with the NVA didn’t end until 1975, with the fall of Saigon. It is true that America continued to supply ARVN, so it is not impossible that some ended up there, byt since this ammo was, as I recall, sold in the USA as surplus “after the fact” in fairly large quantities, and since the US had been clandestinely making the 7.62 x 39 mm cartridge at two different arsenals in the US, that issue is clouded.
John M.

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John makes some good points.

Perhaps the military “style” box was directed towards the civilian consumer to begin with.

The fact that these cartridges appeared on the civilian market suggests that they did not leave it.
I mean, the cartridges were ordered as civilian products. Therefore, they have a minimum of information on the packaging, which is minimally sufficient.
Finns just already produced these cartridges for themselves.
Cartridges were ordered with minimal packaging costs. The order has been paid, cartridges delivered to the USA. The war ended and the surplus sold out. Nobody would drag them back across the ocean, it’s cheaper to order new cartridges.
There are sample boxes for civil and military. About that period.

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I can not tell how it squares in but there is very similar box designs for typical military loads like AP, tracer and subsonics. All marked in English.

How to read the ink stamp, what year?
By 1973, the pack design seems to be becoming more “civilian,” compared to military packs. And in 1975, “civilian” inscriptions disappear.

Stiven, I find it a little difficult to believe that a box ordered as a civilan product would carry a warning against use in the M73 and M134 machine guns. Those U.S. citizens who went through the paperwork for owning a machine gun doubtless know the difference.
I for my part share Forensic’s and JohnMoss’ view that this is a warning in the spirit of “Do not use for food” on ammunition spam cans.
The box you show does not have the “Keep out of reach…” warning on the top label, which is present in the first message by ordnance.

I think that (as always in such cases) the question is not “what it is” but “what it seems”.
By appointment, these are military cartridges.
But Finland at that time was seriously dependent on its neighbor, with whom there is a long history of strong friendship and good neighborliness. ;-)
Why tease dogs?
Therefore, cartridges have formal attributes of a commercial purpose.

These boxes also appear with a regular Finnish load label, and a new American one glued on top.


Ole, Finnish military or commercial?