South African 7.62x39


I have South African 7.62x39 with 11, 12, 13 & 14. I was told these are Load designators, not factory codes. However, there seems to be some problems with this thought. I have the following loads:

11 87–Ball, Blank, Dummy, Proof, Armor Piercing

12 87–Ball, Soft Point

13 88–Ball, Blank

91 14–Ball, New Primed Empty

As can be seen, each of these numbers is being used for more than one load type. So, do the numbers really stand for different CASE modifications rather than LOAD types or are the headstamp bunters being used indiscriminately?


Ron, as you said it is load designators. They just get mixed sometimes.


It seems to me that there are an awful lot of inconsistencies with these designations. Four variations of ball round within the space of four years doesn’t seem quite right to me.
Does anybody have any boxes to confirm the designations for these rounds?


Guys, you made me walk into my basement.

According to:
Ammunition And Explosives Regulations R.S.A. (S.A.D.F.), 1985

The hs markings post 1983 (before they had letters like the British) are:

11 to 19 Ball
21 to 29 Tracer
31 to 39 API
41 to 49 Blank
51 to 59 Grenade Propelling
61 to 69 Spotter-Tracer
13-1 to 13-9 HPT ( Ball)

Please note that the first figure gives the load type and the second the number of the modification.
For example a “13” would indicate a ball projectile of the 3rd modification.

As we can see it is not the best idea to use laod indicators in head stamps since they cause more confusion than clarity due to reality in ammo factories.


Okay, I won’t argue anymore…;-)


EOD–Yes, that information agrees with what I have always been told. All I can say is that the Quality Control as far as headstamps is concerned is pretty bad. Also, how come we never see, at least in 7.62x39, the correctly headstamped rounds, like a 31 headtamped AP?


Have you ever seen a true South African AP round? I would bet that your RSA 7.62x39 black tip “AP” round was one of the ones made up for a sales brochure. If any were actually made, I doubt they got out to the US. I’ll have to check with “NatoDave”, but I’m not sure of they even made a version in 7.62x51.


This caliber was never really “service” ammo in South Africa. It was made in very small quantities for use by special forces and some for friendly foreign governments. As such the load codes do not always match the actual load. For instance, blanks are used in training not combat, and the special forces would not need to be trained at such a basic level, they really needed ball ammo. Same with AP ammo, we were fighting a guerilla war against insurgents mainly on foot, so AP ammo was not generally needed. If there were vehicles & armour involved then we responded with APC’s and tanks which had ammo more suited to defeating armour. The same applies to the 7.62x51 ammo, there were some developmentals made for study but they were never adopted.

There is a real AP in 7.62x39, not just the well known photo dummy, but it is actually a AP-HC and has a yellow tip (also known in 7.62x51). They have TC cores. The photo brochure was made after 1989 after hostilities had ended and they were hoping for export sales, they were not for local use. Same with tracer ammo, South Africa did not have LMG’s in 7.62x39 so except for some guys who wanted the last 4 rounds in the magazine to trace so they knew they were nearly out of ammo, there was no requirement. Tracers were also only developmental & never adopted.


Will, gang,

I have heard that Lapua was somehow responsible for some of the capital equipment and manufacture of SA ammo in 5.56x45mm, 7.62x39mm and 7.62x51mm NATO in the 80’s. Any truth to that?

The stuff has had high demand by end-users (sealed battlepacks usually) for it’s high quality. As an aside Lapua has turned out some of the most consistent high-quality ammo I’ve tested.