Russia considering dropping the use of the 5.45x39mm cartridge by the military

Online translation of article intro:

The Russian army may soon abandon weapons of caliber 5.45 mm

5 Tuesday, February 2019, 23:23, IA "Amitel "

Due to insufficient penetration of bullets by manpower in personal protective equipment.

Efforts will be aimed at improving cartridges and weapons caliber 7.62.


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Feels like it was just a week ago I read how the 7N39 5,45x39 is, according to Russian sources, capable of penetrating the upper frontal slope of an M1A2 and still have enough energy to make the air inside spontaneously combust, sending the turret flying and crushing capitalist spirit worldwide…?



Yes, those “anti-capitalist” bullets! :-)
But you said it incorrectly Ole, it should be “anti-democratic” (as that is evil per default) bullets in the new spirit of PC and dogooding.
A 5.45mm vs frontal armor of an M1? Is it nuclear then?

The press releases on the comback of the 7.62mm are much criticized by Russian experts as they came from too many people (i.e. so-called “experts”) talking way too much while knowing too little.
Exactly like it is happening in the west.

Given Russia also works on calibers like 6.7x51 and others I would like to wait for what really will end up in their inventories.

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You are so humour!LOL
And what is 6.7x51?

The 6.7x51 is this one.
So far mainly for snipers and MGs.

Source: internet.


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You’re correct of course Alex, the “capitalist pig” term isn’t very PC nowadays ;-)

While my joke was obviously hyperbolic, the Russian documents about the 7N39 Igolnik (and even some Ukrainian reports from the UKR/RUS conflict where it apparently has been seen in limited use) makes it seem like it indeed can punch through a couple of tanks, Mt. Rainier, the Pentagon, and then some, all through the sheer willpower of the cartridge to honor the Motherland.

In Norway, we obediently started using the 7,62x63/.30-06 cartridge just as the US stopped using it, then started using 7,62x51 just as the US started using 5,56x45, and now we’re using 5,56x45 just as the US is trying to find a new 6,5/6,8 cartridge… about 65 years after the Brits came up with the .280 and .280/30.

I’m guessing we’re up for a new round of Russian officials debating wether the AK-12 should be in 5,45, 7,62, 12,7 or some new meme caliber.
Then we’re up for a couple of years with “AEK or AK?”, followed by promo pictures of the two new rifles, before another statement of “we’re doing a new test round of the rifles supplied to compete in the decision of a new unified rifle for the Russian armed forces in caliber… wait, which caliber was it?”

Popcorn anyone?


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Ole, nice summary!

I know some people will dislike me maybe but as you say Norway and also Germany adopted 5.56mm when everybody knew for about 3 decades the caliber is cr… emmmm “under-performing”.

And again as you say, they are constantly searching for the “new” miracle in ~6.5mm and while being like a dog chasing every passing car they miss to finally adopt a cartridge and put an end to the misery.
Instead it becomes a never ending story.
And then there is all those who almost daily come up with a new caliber in ~6.5mm just trying to maybe become the selected one (and sowith being selected for prestige and becoming wealthy - they all want to be on this train!).

Why is NATO (haha) or the members is/are not able to make a tender, have a closing date and all that was handed in by that date will be evaluated and the best selected and then fielded?
Instead they are all looking at a “new” caliber (the said “daily”) which is promising 1 m/s Vo more, 100 gram less recoil and 3 more cartridges to be carried in a “warfighters” loadout? And the only effect from this is that they are using under-performing stuff for decades now.
For how many decades will this continue?

I would not be surprised if the (also struggling) Russians will have a replacement caliber for the 5.45mm before NATO will have one for 5.56mm.

And we’ll need LOTS of popcorn!

EOD - I don’t like you anymore (:-) Of course, a bad joke on my part. I agree with you completely. I never could understand what was wrong with the 7.62 x 51 that my country would go to a varmint cartridge to fight a war with. Further, the M4 carbine, with its 14-1/2 " barrel which makes the 5.56 a 175 meter cartridge at best, is beginning to be the main issue, when it started out for special troops and those that should not be encumbered with a longer, heavier weapon. Then, then hang so much junk on it that it weights as much as our old Garand M1 .30 M1906 caliber rifles, which by the way, I would rather have in a fight than an AK, M16 or any other small caliber rifle.

It does, though, make it interesting for us cartridge collectors, since we have lately, it seems, showed interest for US Forces and others in so many different case-types of ammo that it looks like the Chinese Army in Korea, when they were armed with American, Russian, British and Japanese types of small arms. God help the poor Ordnance Sergeants that have to provide ammo for all these different types.

Yes, I am an old codger. Modern doesn’t always mean better.

john M.


Norway was not alone in thinking that .30-06 was the way to go.
In 1951 there was a high-level standardization conference at the Pentagon where the French delegation explained plans by France to drop its own 7.5 mm M29C cartridge in favour of the .30-06, because the latter would be much more easily available from abroad in case of an emergency.
They were very surprised by U.S. and British plans for a totally new cartridge.

I think the #1 reason Norway went with .30-06 after the war was due to the amount of rifles (M1 Garands), MGs (M1919s in some vehicles we were given/lent), and ammunition we received through the post-war effort to build up our military.

As you might know, we modified some MG34s into 7,62x63 (designated MG34F1). We also converted the vast majority of the several hundred thousand K98k rifles (and variants thereof) left in Norway after the occupation, rebarreled at Kongsberg with 7,62x63 barrels and named M98k/F1.

We did buy into 7,62 NATO not many years later when we started producing our local variant of the G3A3 (Kongsberg AG-3) for both our own use and for W. Germany as part of the licensing right contract. We also made the Kongsberg M/67 target/sniper rifle in 7,62x51, bought MG3s (and modified some MG34 and 42s), and later on the Våpensmia NM149 sniper rifle in the same caliber was introduced, built on M98 actions that hadn’t been converted into the /F1 standard (aside from the new barrel and sights it also included a modification of the magazine box, feed ramp and a cut-out in the receiver to allow the longer 7,63x63 being fed from clips).


Ah, that was the very excellent 5,45x39 of the Communist paradise, the 5,45x39 of the Mafia kleptocracy … not so good.

Britain bought a sizeable number of AR-15’s in the early 1960’s for use by troops putting down a communist backed insurrection in Malaya … even then it was recognised in military evaluation reports that the 0,223” cartridge was underpowered for use outside a jungle, short-range engagement context … which, essentially is what the platform was designed for.

Yet 15 years later we signed up to the same underpowered cartridge as part of NATO standardisation … only in our case without the AR-15 platform as we decided to plough our own furrow and came up with the SA80, a rifle that is now said to be “acceptable” … after two major rebuilds, vast expense and no small embarrassment on deployments.


Peter, as John hinted by saying “varmint cartridge”:
German hunting law for example would not allow this caliber to be used on boars, deers and other game of this size (this would then include humans as per the physical size) because of “inhumanity”.
But it is considered “humane” against humans? Funny no?

In a very grim sort of way … yes.

The idea being not to kill the opposing soldier … on the basis that a wounded man takes a lot of effort to recover and return “behind the lines” for treatment … not to make this effort is thought bad for moral.

Which makes the minimum requirement “to defeat personal body armour” and then to cause some wounding effect the important matter … as body armour has improved, then so must the terminal ballistics of the cartridge.

It’s a “funny” old world.


Call in an air strike! :)

Ah!! Politics, isn’t it great. The British developed what I consider the best of the bunch, the .280 and 280/30 series but the Us decided the calibre was too small. Then what happened later the 5.56mm.
The US should have learnt the lessons from the early 1900s which made them go to the .45 ACP because fanatics don’t stop when only wounded.
One thing we learn from history is that the next generation will always make the same mistakes because they don’t learn from the past.


Short version. No, Russian Army is not considering dropping 5.45 any time soon.

All hype comes from article published by some colonel who is a die-hard fan of 7.62x39, no mater what. Said colonel wastes oxygen inside some research facility belonging to Russian MoD. His very short piece about “5.45 is not good enough, we need go back to 7.62mm” was inside a large article printed in GRAU publication.
Some stupid journalist caught this piece, and having zero idea about who and why wrote that, created yet another empty hype news item, which spread like a wildfire through the 'net


Ah, but you missed the best bit: the Swedes adopted the 7.62 mm NATO to replace the 6.5 x 55, an impressive high-performance round…sound familiar?

Personally, I thought they were on the right lines with the .270 which was developed to meet the requirements of the Small Arms Calibre Panel. The .280’s performance was somewhat distorted by the choice of a heavy bullet to meet the US long-range requirement, giving it a rather low velocity and steep trajectory.

Sure - considering that we replaced our 6,5x55 Krag rifles and carbines, and 7,92x57 and 7,92x61 MGs, with .30-06 ;-)

I would do a !!LOT!! to own an original Swedish Ksp-58 (FN MAG) in 6,5x55…

And, isn’t it funny how after 40-ish years of the Minimi/M249 being hot sh*t, the Brits are loading very hot loads with heavy Lapua bullets for their FN MAGs, basically replicating German WW2 heavy bullet MG loads…?

Somethingsomething about circles


Max, thanks for the clarification. Just goes to show “fake news” is a universal problem.