.223/5.56 vs 5.45x39 - thoughts?

I have an opportunity to trade for a VEPR AK in 5.45x39, and I’m considering it. I’m doing research today into this consideration, but I wanted to hear everyone’s thoughts on this round.

Primary reason for making the trade would be to simply round out my collection. I don’t have an AK as I prefer the AR, but hey, this rifle doesn’t have to be my go to rifle. However, 5.45x39 isn’t as cheap as 7.62x39, so it wouldn’t be a cheaper training/plinking rifle, and I try to keep my caliber collection tight to make it more economical to keep my ammunition stocked.

There’s some nice reading over on this thread about 5.45x39 vs 7.62x39: AK: 7.62x39 vs 5.45x39

But I figure the .223 vs 5.45x39 is a good discussion worth having.


Not exactly on subject, but my 2cents anyway:
The gun and the caliber is the least of what is important.
Knowing how to use one effectively is what is important.
Less effort in deciding on what stuff to buy and more effort on how to use our stuff is much better use of our money and time.
End of unwanted advice.


Completely agree as a general rule. I’m always trying to push people to work more on their proficiency and stop chasing gear as well.

In this case? I have the option of trading one “for fun” gun I own for a potentially new “for fun” gun and am simply trying to decide if I want the new “for fun” gun.

5.45x39 ammunition availability certainly is a big notch against this trade though, which is a huge bummer. Prices on this ammo seem to be going up as it becomes more scarce.


2 posts were split to a new topic: The .22lr at 100yds nearly identically duplicates the .308 at triple the distance

It isn’t a major consideration, it’s just a consideration. I already own three .22lr rifles and two .22lr pistols. I love them all for training purposes.

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That’s my biggest hangup at the moment.

5.45x39 clearly outperforms 7.62x39 and 5.45x39 seems to be pretty darn similar to 5.56 NATO. The main benefit of 7.62x39 is super cheap training/plinking centerfire ammunition. But at the same time… if I’m going to own an AK, why not own one of the best AKs out there? Even though I am an AR guy.

I’m going to say do the trade. I truly love the VEPR rifles I own, and would like to buy more to be honest.


Kind of true, in terms of barrier penetration the 7.62 outperforms the other two though. If AK smiths would offer more AR15 mag conversions for 5.56 AKs then I would probably go that route due to the logistics of it. As is , if there was a poll I would vote for the 5.45x39, by far.

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The more I read about and watch videos about VEPR rifles, the more I’m leaning towards making the trade.


The VEPR is just a prettied up, sporterized, milled AK right, Or Am I over simplifying it?

It’s not milled, but it is reinforced moreso than a standard AK. It’s also superbly machined and quite smooth compared to a standard AK

Sootch has a great video on one.


looking at Hornady’s ballistics info, it appears the 5.56 holds onto more of its energy and is more accurate, at longer distances, than the 5.45x39.

of course, if 300+ yard shots are not of concern to you, brianpurkiss (or to you, jf89), then I guess it doesn’t matter.

I just like the round.
Cool history too.

I used think it really is a poisonous bullet lol
Heres a cool discussion on it over at the AKfiles.


The 5.45 round is definitely a lethal round
It has a hollow in the nose of the bullet that allows it to yaw when striking flesh
The wound cavities from this round is astonishing
I would say make the trade and try it for yourself if you don’t like it hold on to the rifle until you feel the value is up and dump it
There’s always a slew of folks looking for them
While there is always a debate about such things
5.45 is a far superior anti personnel round imo
You can find ammo for it you just have to dig a bit
While your not going to wind it at big box stores
I’m sure academy and fleet farms carries it

And if you don’t like it trade it for a 5.56 ak the best of both worlds


The vepr is a 1.5 mm receiver with a reinforced (rpk style) front trunnion
It also carries a Heavy barrel

I can’t beileive you resurrected a cat piss jack thread over here lmao

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Fantastic summary @akpete. I really appreciate it!

It’s definitely a dated round IMO. But due to the massive weight of the entire US military using it, it’s stuck around for a long time. More and more alternatives for .223/5.56 have come around, and even the US military is working its way away.

While it is going to take a long time to be replaced, I think .223/5.56 is on its way out. Its depreciation is going to be mostly dependent on how fast the US military moves away from it.



what I have heard is that they are moving towards a 6.8 mm round (not sure if it is related to the old 6.8 spc).

why 6.8, don’t know, but bigger entry wounds, for sure, what else (heavier bullets, probably), we’ll see

It’s a secret 6.8 round the army developed themselves and won’t release the specs on at this time - other than some chest pounding “it’s a really great round, fast, accurate, etc.” One of the things they harped on is that it can defeat any modern body armor.

Bigger rounds also tend to do better when there’s things between the person and the target - be it brush, walls, or other physical objects. Also the heavier rounds help for extended distances by reducing the environmental effects. I know the military has complained about the 5.56 performance while on desert patrols.

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Whatever round is brought online for the military doesn’t really matter
The proliferation of 5.56 is evident and the cartridge isn’t really going anywhere

People have said that in the past about mainstream cartridges. Remember when .30-06 was the thing?

It just means it’ll be VERY slow to deminish, but it will nonetheless.

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