Mobile Marksman

Personal Firearms Instruction

 The 7.62x54r Cartridge

The Mobile Marksman's favorite military surplus rifle cartridge?   The 7.62 x 54r Cartridge of course!

"What?  That is one ugly, goofy-looking, obsolete, rimmed cartridge - Why do you like that Russ?"  Well, it is a very interesting cartridge with a number of virtues - I'll explain...

The 7.62 x 54r cartridge was designed for the Russian M1891 Mosin Nagant "Three-Line" rifle adopted by Russia in, yes - 1891.  It was one of the first generation of smokeless rifle cartridges that were invented at the end of the 1800's that made the old blackpowder cartridges obsolete.

Originally it had a round-nosed 210 grain .310 diameter projectile - This was modernized in 1908 with a pointed "Spitzer" 147 grain bullet at higher velocity giving a flatter trajectory and greater range.

The Russians, then ultimately the Soviets produced over 14 million Mosin Nagant rifles & carbines  between 1891 and 1946.  They were used in the Boxer Rebellion, WW1 by the Russians, The Finnish Civil War by both Whites & Reds, The Spanish Civil War by Republican forces, The Winter War by Finns & Soviets, WW2 by Soviets and Finns and the Korean War by the Chinese and North Koreans and finally Viet Nam by the Viet Cong.  I may have missed a war or conflict but as you can see the rifle and cartridge was widely used.

This cartridge is still used today in the PKM machine gun as well as SVD sniper rifle throughout the world.  Our troops are facing it today in Iraq and Afganistan and some of our allies use it!

Ballistically the 7.62x54r is right between our 7.62x51 NATO(.308 Win) and .30-06 Springfield cartridges.  147/148 grain bullet at approx. 2800/2900 fps.  It is a very efficient and accurate cartridge performance-wise other than its rimmed casing which can provide feed issues.

In the rifle that it was designed to operate in - The M1891 - With a clean chamber and good ammo it feeds very well and is reliable.

In addition to widespread military use, it has been successfully used as a hunting cartridge in Russia and Finland since it was created.

My first Mosin Nagant rifle was a Soviet M91/30 produced by the Tula arsenal in 1937 and was brought back as a trophy from Viet Nam by some US soldier - Bought by me in 1980.  Initially, no surplus ammo was easily available in the USA and I had to shoot expensive (but very good) Swedish Norma commercial ammo.  In the late 80's inexpensive 7.62 x 54r surplus ammo became available in the USA which turned into a flood in the early 90's - Bulgaria, China, Czech, Egypt, Finland, Former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and more...Some batches were great and some really were awful!

I have been reloading (Metallic Cartridge Reloading) for this cartridge since the late 1980's - Since that time a number of good bullets and boxer-primed cases have become available for this cartridge and I load more rounds of this cartridge than any other (and I shoot a lot...)!  There is a ton of loading data available for the 7.62 x 54r and it is very easy to load for.  If you have any questions about loading data of reloading components resources for this cartridge drop me a line! (

Oh, Wait!  I said that the 7.62 x 54r cartridge had a number of virtues - They are: It is Accurate, Cheap to shoot (surplus ammo widely available), Easy to reload for, Many guns available to shoot it (over 14 million produced) and it is a good hunting cartridge too with suitable expanding bullets (comparable to our .30-06). 

The 7.62x54r rounds pictured below are Bulgarian military surplus and the box beneath them is a batch of East German training ammo.

Check out my page on the Mosin Nagant M1891 Rifles that fire this cartridge if you like this page!


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