AK: 7.62x39 vs 5.45x39

Ok everyone let’s delve into a good old fashioned discussion just like 9mm vs.40S&W.
I want to hear what you think! What caliber do you prefer in the AK world, and why?
I will be honest I love 5.45x39.


That’s a good point. Ironically I own more 5.45 myself.


I like 7.62x39 because it’s original (and that’s what my AK is chambered for). But I think 5.45 is the better round. Moves faster, soft shooting, and most importantly, it’s lighter to carry.


If it’s not my primary platform, which the AK is not, I choose the original 7.62 x 39 just for the fun of it. +1 for availability as well.


I have not tried the 5.45x39, but I have owned AK’s and Mini 30’s chambered in 7.62x39 - and I liked them!


But what about energy / stopping power / effectiveness? Haven’t seen the 5.45’s ballistics or seen any tests so it is a legit question. Seems like the 7.62 would be a better stopper round?


Cool! Good to hear everyone’s thoughts on this.
Out of interest of what @USMCMahon stated about weight and accuracy I figured I would do some research.
maybe not everyone knows much about 5.45x39, that seems to be the case at least in the states.

A single round of 7.62x39 in 123gr bullet weights 16 grams.

A single round of 5.45 in 69gr bullet weights in at 12 grams.

It takes 453.592 grams to make 1 pound. With this info if we where carrying 1000 rounds of ammunition. The 5.45x39 is at 26.45 pounds, and the 7.62x39 would weigh in at 35.26 pounds at 1000 rounds. Looking at this it’s safe to say that 5.45 is almost 1/3 lighter than its big brother 7.62x39.
So let’s look at a maximum effective range with each. We can all argue different points of accuracy with each of these rounds, so we are looking at an average skill level, and a man size target at range. 7.62x39 will max out at 400 yards. The 5.45 will be able to push out to 600 yards. The idea here is to have the the projectile to stay supersonic, during the transsonic phase to sub sonic is where projectiles will have a struggle with staying consistent/ accurate.

Let’s take a peek at prices as of 7/19/18.
I can get 1000 rounds of 7.62x39 for $200.00 costing me .20 cents a round!
Where as 5.45x39 1000 rounds will cost $230.00 costing .23cents a round! Some difference here, but not huge. @Caw touched on a important point. He stated that not every store has ammo! Good point. In my life time I have never had a problem finding this ammo, but I realize that we all live in different parts of the states, or the world!
@JohnB and @ThisOldGun have good points as well with experience with one and not the other.
Recoil!!! In my humble opinion 5.45x39 has way less kick than 7.62x39, and that can become a factor to some shooters.
Lastly @Chuparosa brings up a very important factor. Now I hate the term knock down power, but we all know what we are talking about, and it is a very valid concern. The military arms channel did a very interesting comparison with these ammos and others and the results are very cool. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but I’m guessing 90% of you will be surprised! I know I was. Enjoy!

So what do you think? What’s right for you? Did any of this info help? Did any of it maybe change your mind? Let me and others know! Repost!


From my understanding, 5.45 is comparable to 5.56 (which is why it was selected). The reason 5.56 is effective is because it tumbles and fragments in the body, instead of the through-and-through of the 7.62, and I can imagine the same effectiveness from the 5.45.


This was a fantastic comparison. You sir, are a gentleman and a scholar.


Interesting article that TFB copied from a magazine


Any bullet from any caliber can do all sorts of weird stuff when it hits something…the 5.56 was not designed to tumble, early rifles had the wrong barrel twist for the bullet weight, bullets left barrel unstable and started tumbling before it hit anything…shoot some 70-90 grains bullets out of a 1/9 twist and they will keyhole quick…I went to basic training in 1979 and every plastic pop up target was full of nothing but keyholes because twist and bullet did not match up…the x39 will always be more popular because like others have said ammo is almost anywhere you look…40 rounds for less than 10 bucks at WM…


Hi @rjburk. Thank you for you input and experience with 5.56x45, but we are speaking about the finer points of 5.45x39 vs7.62x39 both being of Russian origin.
Do you have any experience shooting either of these rounds, or is there one you like more than another? Please let us know.


Wow that TFB article was full of good info! Thank you Brother.


I got to play with a friends wife’s Krebs custom build in 5.45x39 and his 7.62x39 Saiga conversion. The 5.45x39mm is significantly more accurate, I was shooting at 100 yards and hitting about 3" groups (maybe a tad less)with the smaller ruskie round and about 4-5" groups with the 7.62x39mm.

I guess I should have answered more like this originally:

  • The 5.45x39mm does not offer much over the 5.56 so people heavily vested in 5.56 might be better off going with 7.62x39 to give them something with a different set of traits. I mean outside of collecting or “just cause”, whats the benefit of diversifying your collection from 5.56 just for something less common with very similar size and ballistics?


  • If we are talking about 5.45x39mm vs 7.62x39mm for somebody not vested in 5.56 than I like 5.45x39mm better, assuming the you stack it deep. Both are pretty cool rounds though.