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Super powered Soviet cartridge (3 posts)

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Posted 09/22/201008:58 AM

   A young man was talking to me about AR-15's and tactical this and that the other day.  I made a mention about how Smith and Wesson was making an AR in 5.45 caliber, and he didn't even know what I was talking about.  There are plenty of mostly AK's out there on the market chambered for the 5.45mm, so it is pretty well known.  There was a time this wasn't so.
   Back in the late 1970's there was a rumor here and there about the Soviets doing an upgrade to their AK weapon's system.  Then the ill-fated Soviet invasion of Afghanistan took place and the rumors were everywhere.  Reports came back from Afghani doctors about dreadful wounds on patients who were lucky enough (or maybe unlucky enough) to be brought in for treatment of gunshop wounds.  Gunshot wounds in the tribal areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan are common enough that the doctors generally knew what to expect.  These were different, however.  Shattered joints, extreme trauma, all were signs of high velocity at work. 
   Rumors became an uproar that the Soviet forces were using a different and as yet unseen weapon.  Ultra high velocity, hollow-point bullets, explosive bullets, flechettes, even poison bullets.  4000fps velocities, a breakthrough in powder technology.  All these were speculated about, but nobody really knew.  Not even the CIA, supposedly. 
   Galen Geer who was a writer for Soldier of Fortune Magazine decided to take a trip into the charming Afghan hill-country to find out just what was what.  An arms dealer had agreed to bankroll his payment for a sample rifle, if indeed there was any such thing.  So Geer started out in the snake-pit of Peshawar and asked around about any news.  There was a rumor there of a 22 sized cartride of enormous power.  The Soviets had used for years a 22 cartridge similar in size to a necked down 7.62X39 in competition.  Lapua sold brass for what was called the 220 Russian.  The cartridge was little known here, and still is little known, except as the base cartridge for Pindell and Palmisano's wildcat benchrest cartridges.  The 22PPC and 6mmPPC.  Could the mystery cartridge be the plain-old 220 Russian?
   Geer took photos of a captured rifle and brought some cartridges back out of Afghanistan.  In the meantime, the arms dealer backed down on his plan to pay for a rifle.  Things broke down and Geer came back to the USA via South Korea.  He was thoroughly shaken down at the Customs booth, and all his cartridges were confiscated.  The photos mysteriously disappeared, but Geer managed to do an end run around the authorities and slipped some cartridges in by another route.  Later, Robert Brown from SOF managed to handle one of the new rifles and brought back more ammo.
   The NRA was supplied with ammo in a quantity sufficient for testing.  The NRA approached JGS Tool in Coos Bay, Oregon to make reamers for the cartridge.  RCBS made reloading dies to specs that the NRA had someone draw up, and Boots Obermeyer made two  cut-rifled test barrels.  One was for a Universal receiver, the other for a 788 Remington.  Due to a Soviet oversight, the velocity of the new ammo had already been calculated.
   A Soviet publication had come to light which listed the amount which a moving target would have to be led with both 7.62 and the new round.  A little mathematics did the rest.  Muzzle velocity should be about 2950fps.
   I won't bore you with the specs for the Russian 5.45X40 round.  It is easily looked up if you are interested online or in Cartridges of the World.  Except for the bore size, the cartridge looks a lot like a necked down 7.52X39 (which it really isn't), and performs about like a 222 Rem.
The idea that the Russians were going to convert all the old 30 caliber AK's to the new round proved to be false.  They built all new rifles from the ground up, evidently.  Most of their satellite allies picked up the round before the fall of the USSR and all of the others.
   Now instead of going on some hajj to the middle east to find a single cartridge, you can buy Polish ammo by the case.  Far as that goes, you can buy the rifle that shoots it too.  Strange how things work out.     
Joined: 08/20/09
Posts: 1098

Posted 09/22/201012:30 PM

IMR:Very interesting read.I didn't know any of this had happened.Roger
Faster horses,younger women,older whiskey,and more money.
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 6899

Posted 09/22/201003:23 PM

AK-74exhale and squeeze
Joined: 04/23/09
Posts: 2455

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