Soviet API ammunition in 7.62x25mm and 7.62x39mm

I understand these were/are fairly common, but actually wonder what their intended targets are. For example, were Soviet soldiers supposed to use API from the PPSh-41 submachine guns against enemy troops, or tanks, or unarmoured vehicles, or what? What was their tactical niche?



I had always assumed that both of these calibers in API were meant for use against standard light vehicles/trucks, and fuel-drum sort of targets. And in 7.62x25 caliber, these would be coming mostly from the ppsh like you mention for this sort of ammo. One could also shoot out electrical transformers and the like, with ammo such as this, with good effect.

In his “History of Soviet Small Arms and Ammunition”, Bolotin mentions setting fire to structures as one of the uses of the incendiary versions of the 7.62x39mm round, but, as DK says, a more likely use would be against machinery and vehicles.

Russian sources mainly say that the 7.62x25 API was to be used against light vehicles and the tracer round was for target indication by squad leaders.
By the way, has anyone ever seen cardboard boxes for the API and tracer cartridges?

The 7.62x39 as API, tracer and spotter (with tracer) were mainly intended for the RPK and RPD light machine guns in this caliber.

EOD, Regenstreif’s French-language “Munitions Militaires Russes” (I saw it mentioned in the thread on Russian ammo earlier, and picked up a copy on ebay) shows a 70-round cardboard box for the 7.62x25 tracer, marked as both “trassiruyushchej pulej” and with a green stripe.

I would more accurately describe 7.62x25 API rounds as fairly scarce. I have examples of Tokarev tracer boxes, but I have never seen an API example.

I’d say the 7.62x25mm API is pretty scarce. Last time I saw one for sale I think it was going for about $100.00. Must not have been very effective, since it does not appear to have stayed in production for very long. Same for the 7.62x39mm API. The Soviets stopped manufacturing it by the late 1950’s to early 1960’s. I’ve fired 7.62x39mm API against steel and wood targets to evaluate it’s performance. Against mild steel, it’s penetration is lacking compared to rifle caliber AP. It does have a good incendiary effect. When fired into solid wood it leaves a nice sized charred area where the incendiary filler ignites.


AKMS, when “testing” the 7.62x39 API it might be adivisable to test it against things it was intended for (or against) like vehicle engines and fuel tanks.
I would be curious to see that since it is almost impossible here in Germany.

Jon, would it be possible to see an image of these tracer boxes?

EOD, here’s a scan of the box in the Regenstreif book mentioned above; it’s unfortunately B&W (as in the book), but the thick stripe at the bottom should be green. The label reads “Pistol Cartridges with tracer bullets Calibre 7.62mm 70 pieces”.

SDC, thanks for the posting. This box here looks like a post war production. Does anyone know what hs were inside?

The book only says that the rounds inside were the modernised “PT” (tracer with steel core), which we know went into production after 1943. Nothing else that I can see, sorry.

My two Soviet tracer boxes are essentially the same as above, one with a slight label variation. The headstamps in one of them were 539 > 49 <. In addition, I have examples of Soviet ball and tracer boxes, and Hungarian ball boxes that were repacked with Soviet 539 , 711 51, and 539 > 49 < tracer rounds. All had an added green stripe. These came to me out of South Africa, captured at some point from Angola, Namibia, or Mozambique. I would guess that they were repacked in Hungary and then sent to Africa.

Jon, thanks a lot for your info. So far I have never seen tracers from 539, just 711, 710 and 38.

I have Soviet tracers from 38, 270, 539, 710, 711, and no H/S Tula. I have a report of one with a 3 * 45 III H/S, but I have not seen it.

Great Jon, so the 270 is also new to me.

I know nothing about a Soviet 7.62x25 tracer with a steel core. Where did you get this info?

Sorry, my bad; I meant steel jacket.

Thank you. I was frantically practicing my French and preparing to reread Regenstreif!