Russian 7.62x38 ammo

I was able to find some 7.62x38 ammo this week…

Can anyone tell me more about it?
Is this commercial or surplus Russian ammo?
What grain is the bullet?
How much and what type of powder?

The headstamp has a “72” and a “38”. I assume that the “72” refers to the year of production.
Is the “38” a plant code or does it just refer to the 38mm length?

This is the Nagant Competition revolver match load. I forget when the big matches were held at Phoenix, Arizona, for the 40th World Championships, as I recall, and the Russian shooters brought target revolvers based on the Nagant and this sort of ammunition. A lot of it seemed to be left behind. Also, I think that some was imported some years ago. There seems to be a little more around than could be accounted for by the Russian team selling off the left-overs. I don’t know if it is the same date, either.

See Erlmeier & Brandt, Volume I, Handbuch der Pistolen- und Revolver Patronen, page 91, Cartridge Number 61 - 1P.

Ii is hard to classify this, since so many of the Eastern atheletes were basically professionals paid by the Government. Does that make this commercial ammunition? Tough to say. It is not the standard military revolver load I think, because it seems the bullet showing is lead and flat - a target wadcutter. Some would call that commercial. I couldn’t disagree, one way or the other.

Very interesting!

So what does the typical military round look like? Does the bullet sit half way down the case like these?

I’ve seen some pictures of 7.62X38 (Romanian, maybe?) that had cases that were flared out at the mouth like a vase. If I remember correctly, the bullet was copper jacketed and came all the way to the mouth of the case.

The front of the box reads “Sporting Revolver Cartridges”, so these were likely loaded specifically for competition, and it appears to have been loaded in December, 1972 (XII-72). On the FMJ military loads, you can see the flattened nose/wide meplat of the jacketed bullet sitting about where the nose of these WCs appear to be.

The Nagant cartridge is loaded in many forms. Some do have the very slight flare at the mouth. Usually, the tip of the bullet, often flat but not like a wadcutter, is close to the case mouth. The Russian Nagants have a gas seal. When you squeeze the trigger the last little bit, in single or double action mode, the cylinder moves forward and the rear of the barrel goes into a recess in the front of the cylinder, forming a gase seal. In a sense, the mouth of the cartridge case is actually in the forcing cone. This supposedly gives higher velocity. It probably does, but I doubt that any target acquired knows the difference when it is hit, a living target or a paper one. One of those things that is sound in theory but unnecessary in practice. Regular revolvers that don’t have that feature do just fine for target and “real world” purposes.

Again, though, you can’t generalize on describing variants of the 7.62 Nagant. EB shows seven variants in their book, and a big collection probably has far more than that. I don’t collect them, but have shot a couple of Russian Nagants over the years. Kind of different and fun. The bullets are a little light for my tastes in revolvers, but they are fun to shoot, as they don’t have much recoil, or at least not by the standards of large caliber American and British revolvers.

[Is the “38” a plant code or does it just refer to the 38mm length?

The only maker of Nagant cartriges before WWII in the USSR was Plant #38 (Zavod#38) in Tula. This part of plant was evacuated to Yuryuzan’ Town in Urals. New plant got the same name Plant # 38. They produced Nagant cartriges at least till late 1980s. Head stamp 38 at “12” and two last digits of year at “6”

Yuryuzan “38” was closed in 1989 and equipment moved to “539” in Tula.

EOD’s information about the Yuryusan (38) plant closing in 1989 with the machinery moved to Tula (539) is confirmed by the 9mm Makarov cartridge.
the highest date from Arsenal 38 is 1989 and the lowest date found so far from 539 is 1990.

Man! How do you guys know this stuff!!!