It is said that the Soviet 7.62x39mm M43 round for the SKS carbine and AK47 assault rifle has its roots in pre-war Nazi Germany when its army found that the 7.9x57mm round was providing a range that the average German infantry personnels no longer needed. They do, however, desperately needed firepower.
The Russian army tested out several designs and by 1944, they have developed their own version of the intermediate cartridge that was known as the 7.62x39mm M1943 cartridge.
Are All SKS Ammo the Same?
Not all SKS ammo are the same. Not all ammo that are used for SKS rifles will be the same ever. There are a few good reasons why that is. For one, they will be available in different grains (also known as weights). They are definitely the same calibre for sure. However, some of them will weigh a bit less than the others.
Is The SKS Rifle the only Rifle to Use 7.62x39mm Rounds?
During its development of the new cartridge, the Aoviet Stavka (high command of the Soviet Union armed forces) decided that a whole range of new small arms should make full use of it.
The 7.62x39mm round was first used in the RPD light machine gun, to be followed by the SKS, a semi-automatic carbine. And finally in a fully automatic rifle, a ubiquitous AK47. With a relatively short overall length of 56mm (2.205 inches), the 7.62x39mm cartridge from the beginning was optimised for self-loading rifles.
On top of that, besides Soviet allies and its SKS and AK variants, there are many other close copies of those firearms using the 7.62x39mm ammunition.
We feel that it is worth mentioning that the Ruger Mini30 self-loading carbine, which was introduced in 1987, shares many of the same designs with the smaller calibre Mini14 Ranch Rifle. Followed by the bolt-action M77 Mark II rifle in 1991.
Nonetheless, the early Mini30 rifles are known to have problems with Russian steel-cased ammo. Since that the Mini30 is set up for .308 bullets while the Communist Bloc ammo is .311 in diameter.
Aspects of Great Ammo
Due to the low prices and affordable weapons that come with the 7.62x39mm ammunition, many gun owners presently have stocked up on imported extra ammo.
But Eastern Bloc surplus military ammo is basically steel-cased with corrosive Berdan primers. So that means you will need to clean your gun regularly after shooting. Otherwise, it will make it difficult to reload.
Your other solution is to buy commercial 7.62x39mm ammunition that is available in full metal jacket (FMJ), soft-point (SP), and hollow-point (HP) varieties.
As you can purchase locally made commercial ammunition with Boxer-primed reloadable cases, there is also affordable foreign production commercial ammo with steel cases and jackets. If you are to go by the rule, then this ammo features some kind of coating treatment such as lacquer or polymer to help mitigate corrosion.
The rounds are widely used in the civilian world and are popular for hunting and home defense due to the bullet expansion. Those versions of the 7.62x39mm ammunition usually feature lead-core expanding or non-expanding projectiles.
Consider the combination of price, ballistics, and limited recoil. Then this round is a great choice for plinking at the range and for target shooting. The Russian 7.62x39mm features ballistics similar to the revered .30-30 Winchester. Hence, you can generally expect an effective range of around 250 yards.
But the high-quality factory ammunition or hand-loads using soft-point bullets up to around 150 grains that put this cartridge far ahead of many .30-30 loads regarding delivered energy beyond 100 yards.
With high-quality ammunition, you can make groups easily under 2 inches at 100 yards. However, the price of one of that ammunition can be 2x or 3x the cost of the cheapest commercial ammo.
At the same time, you should keep in mind that the 7.62x39mm bullets are actually 7.92mm in diameter, realistically speaking. Hence, you should stick with .311 diameter bullets if you are firing an SKS rifle.
For some gun users, using the US-made ammo with .308 diameter bullets may leave some doubts in their minds about effective cycling from time to time. It may lead to excess Bore Erosion due to Gas Cutting.
As there are many different kinds of ammunition with many different purposes, each one has its own ups and downs. If you plan on using your weapon for hunting, then you should consider the muzzle velocity and terminal performances.
If you choose the 7.62x39mm for home defenses, then you will need reliability and stopping power. Hence, in the following list, you may find what you need that is appropriate for your different styles of shooting.
The Best SKS Ammo: Reviewed
Here is a list of some of the best ammo for SKS rifles that are currently on the market. It is crucial that you find one that works well with you and your SKS rifle best. That way you are able to shoot rounds that have a good deal of velocity and impact.
This SKS ammo listed can be used for target shooting, hunting, or even both. For each SKS ammo we have listed, we will be having a closer look at some of its main features that make these stand out from each other – alongside some pros and cons.
1. Wolf Polyformance Ammo 7.62x39mm 123GR FMJ
A lot of recent and new gun users are quite happy with these rounds when they bought it. They mentioned how the impact left a good amount of damage on their paper or large game targets.
One of the users mentioned how for his SKS rifle, he will not use any other bullets for big game hunting applications. He further adds that the shooting groups were tight and make precise kill shots look easy peasy. Generally, the rounds are said to be nice and light in weight and are able to fit in most SKS magazines.
At 123grains, a lot of gun owners mentioned how these rounds are pretty light. So, therefore, the bullets can travel pretty fast. That means if you are looking for getting a kill shot, or hit the bullseye quicker than you can say your own name, then you are going to like and enjoy firing these off at the range or while you are out in the field.
These ammo may not be the heaviest hitters, but they will build up enough speed to make up for it. If you need to know anything, full metal jacket rounds are known for making an impact and leaving some serious damage. These rounds are said to be no different.
Also, Popular Wolf ammunition comes from the Tula Cartridge Plant in Russia. It offers a wide variety of economically priced ammo lines available in Wolf Performance, Wolf PolyFormance, and Wolf Military Classic lineup.
One of the best series of their military caliber 7.62x39mm is its Wolf PolyFormance series with new technology polymer coatings applied to make it ideal for any high volume shooter.
Should you already know, some 30 round magazines have issues with feeding any steel case ammo. So that means the Wolf engineers developed a slick PolyFormance coating that enhances smooth feeding and extraction.
At the same time, the Wolf PolyFormance Ammunition produces 7.62x39mm cartridges topped with a bi-metal bullet. These bi-metal bullets have a lead core covered with a mild steel jacket and plated with copper.
Although the bi-metal bullets are not steel core bullets, the mixture of copper and steel makes them magnetic. This is so that they can be prohibited for use at the indoor ranges due to the possibilities of fire hazards.
Its steel-cased WPA ammunition is non-reloadable, Berdan-primed ammo that uses a non-corrosive powder and primer.
At the same time, the Wolf PolyFormance Ammunition factory loads drive a 123-grain FMJ bullet at approximately muzzle velocity (MV) of 2450 feet per second. That is just a bit slower than that of Prvi Partizan 123 FMJ at 2554fps and reaches 1586 ft-lbs of energy at the muzzle.
If you are someone who is into hunting games, then this ammo will be perfect for that. It’s good especially when you need rounds that will easily tear through hides and make kill shots quick and easy for big game targets.
Besides all of that, the shooting groups are going to be so tight, you will swear that you will be one of the best marksmen when it comes to SKS hunting. These rounds are serious ammo for your SKS ammo. If you want a quick and lasting impact, then these are what you are looking for.
The Wolf PolyFormance Ammo 123GR FMJ is the real deal when it comes to hunting with an SKS rifle. Just load some of these in your magazine and you may just end up with a magazine full of some of the best hunting ammo you have used up to this point.
It’s fast, accurate, and devastating. It’s 3 of the best things you will want to get out of these rounds.
PolyFormance Ammo by Wolf is considered as acceptable-level ammunition for many people. Its 7.62x39mm WPA is exceptionally inexpensive ammunition and not all that accurate. However, it will provide you with excellent practice ammo for those long days at the range.
2. Wolf PolyFormance 7.62x39mm 123GR HP
A lot of gun owners and gun users are relatively happy when they got this round. They are definitely not disappointed when these are able to rip through paper targets at various distances.
The majority of them used these for causal and even competitive shooting. One of the users say that the shooting groups are pretty strict with consistency at ranges between 100 yards to 150 yards. What’s even better is that these rounds never jammed in most magazines at all. For what is worth, they were easy to fire and are quite fast in terms of its velocity.
You should look into the hollow point version of the Wolf PolyFormance Ammo. The hollow points are known for breaking apart and making small rips. That’s why it makes wounding an animal a lot easier.
But it also works for the purpose of target shooting groups. So nonetheless these lightweight bullets will travel quite fast no matter what the application is. Upon impact, the damage will be done. They may just be what you are looking for if you want to leave some pretty impressive damage to your targets.
If you want something that is reliable and comes with jam-free shooting, then it takes the right kind of ammo to make sure that you are getting the best out of every shot.
Besides Wolf PolyFormance 7.62x39mm cartridge with FMJ bullet, there is also a rendition with Hollow Point (HP) bullets intended for hunting and self-defense. The hollow point projectiles cause the ball to expand upon entering any games as it penetrates and disrupts more tissues.
At the same time, this version also features a non-reloadable steel case with a polymer coating and Berdan primers. It features the same 123-grain weight, and this load almost duplicates the ballistics of the FMJ projectiles with a muzzle velocity of 2396fps and muzzle energy of 1555ft-lbs.
Also, it is steel-cased and Berdan-primed. This ammo is great for those who wish to train with their AK47s.
These will come in handy for target shooting for the purpose of casual or competitive usage. But there may be a good number of hunters who may rely on these since they tend to create a nice sized wound for the big game, or even small game targets.
If you are really looking to make an impact with each shot, then these are the rounds you will probably end up using for your intended application.
This Wolf PolyFormance Ammo 123GR HP can travel just as fast as its FMJ counterparts. Maybe even slightly faster. However, it can do quite a substantial amount of damage in the process.
If you are looking for rounds that can make every shot count and work with just about every magazine you have got, you will be hard-pressed to find rounds like this one anywhere else on the market. This ammo is non-corrosive and non-reloadable, should you know. It is also manufactured in one of Wolf’s legendary production facilities in Russia.
3. Winchester USA White Box Ammo 7.62x39mm 123GR FMJ
A lot of new gun owners who bought this are not disappointed at all with this full metal jacket rounds. Why should they even? They are great for the purpose of target shooting – regardless for fun or for serious competition.
One of the things that really stood out was the pin-point accuracy of every shot. From ranges starting at approximately 100 yards to about 300 yards, most users are able to leave nice shooting groups on or near the bullseye.
One of the users mentioned how he has a lot more fun firing off an old stack of newspapers at his private range. The same user said that the penetration of these bullets through the stack of papers is pretty easy and never failed to disappoint.
Winchester is a brand name that has been thrown around in terms of which name may be considered reliable. A conversation about rounds and ammo will always include Winchester, in all honesty.
Winchester has been around for many years, and have been known for manufacturing consistently reliable rounds that can be used for target shooting and hunting purposes. These rounds can mostly excel for the former.
That means if you like having fun with target shooting, then these are the bullets that will not disappoint. Plus since that they are full metal jacket rounds, the impact will be astounding. You can easily tear through paper targets and smash clay pigeons like they are made of nothing.
For each passing year, the legendary Winchester Ammunition Company has developed a number of ammo lines, and a series to provide excellent performance for the shooters of all profiles.
Winchester has been trying to be more competitive in today’s market. It uses its value pack ammunition so-called “Winchester White Box” to meet the demand of price-conscious customers.
Unlike a lot of imported steel-cased, non-reloadable ammunition, the brand new 7.62x39mm ammo manufactured by Winchester USA is brass-cased and reloadable. Winchester USA uses military-grade large rifle primers of Boxer types.
At the same time, this cartridge is loaded with a full metal jacket 123-grain bullet consisting of the lead core. That simply means it is ideal for shooting at ranges with non-magnetic ammo requirements.
As it features high-quality Winchester components, the round reaches a muzzle velocity of 2355 feet per second and delivers muzzle energy of 1515 foot-pounds. As FMJ bullet types do not expand upon impact, a lot of gun users find it ideal for plinking and target shooting applications from SKS rifles.
This ammo will be great for the purpose of good, old fashioned target shooting fun. Competitors may be using this ammo for the sake of turning up and for the real deal. If you are looking for rounds that will make target shooting more enjoyable for you, plus penetration that is hard to match. Then this ammo may be the rounds that you will want for your SKS rifle.
If you like target shooting and think that it is one of your favorite things to do with an SKS rifle, then you will have very little problems in finding bullets that can make each shot as fun as the last one.
The Winchester USA White Box Ammo has the ability to penetrate and leave nice sized holes in your targets. These rounds hit the bullseye – both figuratively and literally. The best thing of all is that they are actually pretty damn affordable for most budgets.
Winchester’s value offering is staple target practice and training ammunition for extended sessions at any ranges. Although it is impossible to beat the pricing of imported steel-cased ammo, the Winchester USA ammunition is pretty well priced for one that is of domestic production.
No matter what ammo you plan on using for your SKS rifle, target, and practice shooting or hunting and self-defense, the new production ammunition in 7.62x39mm caliber will meet all your needs whether you are looking for cheap plinking ammo or reliable and serious hunting cartridges.
At reasonable ranges (around 200 yards) or less, the 7.62x39mm Russian fired from SKS carbine will do the job well without all the kick and noise of the more powerful calibers. It even provides an average group accuracy of 2 inches to 4 inches at 100 yards.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) that some new gun owners and gun users may have.
Q: What are some kind of ammo an SKS rifle use?
The SKS (semi-automatic carbine of Simonov) is a Soviet semi-automatic carbine chambered for the 7.62x39mm round. It was designed in 1943 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov.
Q: Is SKS more accurate than AK?
Many people are splitting hairs to come up with a superior rifle. However, the SKS is slightly more accurate than most SK rifles. For sure, Molot-made Vepr carbines are able to squeeze more accuracy from the platform. But for the vast majority of shooters, the SKS rifle will be slightly more accurate.
Q: Is an SKS rifle worth buying?
A lot of arms-list guns are too overpriced for many people, and a lot of them find themselves close to never being sold. Eventually, those who want actual money will sell at a price that they are actually worth. They really aren’t worth more than about US$350 for an average Yugo or Chinese.
Q: Is the SKS a good survival rifle?
The SKS is one of the most reliable rifles on the market. One of the gun users mentioned how the SKS is one of the most reliable weapons to have ever been made. They may be ugly, not ergonomic, and no glamorous. However, they definitely make quite a bang in the rifle-sphere.