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Shooting 7.62x51mm Cartridges

copyright 2009 - Stephen Redgwell


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ISBN - 978-0-9683002-6-8
Perfect Bound - 82 pgs - 6x9
Is it safe to reload military surplus 7.62x51 cases?
If so, how do I do it? Get your answer to this and other questions in the book!


Using once fired military brass is one way for reloaders to reduce costs.  While some people will debate the merits of reloading these cases, it is one aspect of the hobby that remains popular.  In the US, there are several businesses that sell military small arms ammunition or recycled components like bullets and cases.  The once fired brass is picked up at the range and sold as surplus.


You can buy the brass as is or get it completely re-worked.  Processed cases are cleaned, polished, resized, trimmed and the primer pockets are swaged to remove the crimp.  In 2009, the full treatment was about $150 per thousand.  If you plan to use military cases, this is the best way to buy them.  You still need to inspect them for damage, but the rejection rate will be lower.


Some people buy unfired, Boxer primed military surplus ammunition, fire it and re-work the brass at home.  The big advantage here is that the cases are fired in your rifle’s chamber and not from a military gun.  You get fire formed cases without the stretching.  If you decide to do this, you will need to find someone that has a primer pocket swager or buy one yourself.  For smaller amounts, the RCBS Primer Pocket Swager Combo costs about $25.  It attaches to your reloading press and handles both large and small primer pockets.  There’s no need to buy a more expensive set up unless you intend to process military cases on a regular basis. For high volume users, the Dillon Super Swage 600 is a better option. It too, will swage small and large primer pockets.

Some of the bullets used in the tests.

Surplus military cases CAN produces groups like this!!

Once you have the cases, perform some load work ups to determine what shoots the best from your rifle.  It’s important to remember that military brass has less internal volume.  As a result, the load data from traditional reloading manuals should be used with care.  One thing is for certain, NEVER use any maximum loads from these books using military surplus brass!


7.62x51mm ammunition has been made since the 1950s. While shooting military surplus is an inexpensive way to feed your rifle, it is not accurate and the FMJ bullets are no good for hunting.


There are several factors that can affect the accuracy of surplus ammunition.  The care with which individual components are made - propellant and bullets especially - affect performance in a big way.  Mass produced military cartridges rarely group well. Variations in propellants or primers can affect chamber pressures and trajectories.  Fluctuations in bullet weight or diameter will change downrange performance.

My grandson Shawn helps prepare cases. He's five years old.

I have finished the book about reloading and firing surplus 7.62x51mm brass.  In it, you can learn how to properly prepare brass, how to determine the internal case capacities as well as tips and facts about using military surplus cases.
I tested and fired 147 grain FMJBT loads using pulled bullets.  Can you safely duplicate military surplus loads that are more accurate than what is bought at a gun show?
In addition to the 147 grain bullets, I tried 135 gr, 155 gr., 168 gr. and 175/178 gr. target bullets made by three manufacturers - Berger, Hornady and Sierra.  I included my own workups and the range results, pictures and drawings. Ten powders were tested.  All bullets were rated for accuracy and velocity. See actual target pictures of what worked best.
It's been a busy time!
Table of Contents


Cartridge Specifications

Preparing Military Cases
Understanding Military Surplus Ammunition
Reloaded Ammunition
Empty Cases
Preparing Fired Military Surplus Cases
Swaging the Primer Pockets
Primer Pocket Uniformers
Case Trimmers
Chamfering the Case Mouth
Flash Hole Uniformers

Differences between Commercial and Military Brass

Important Notes about Military Surplus Rifles - Action Strength

Preface to the Load Data Section

Load Data: Target - Includes Range Notes for all weights

147 grain FMJ BT
Notes about the 147 Grain Load
Results with the 147 Grain Load
135 grain Berger Match (308135)
155 grain Hornady A-Max
155 grain Sierra Palma (2155)
168 grain Hornady A-Max
168 grain Sierra Match King HPBT
178 grain Hornady A-Max
175 grain Sierra Match King HPBT

Powder Burn Rates
Saskatchewan Dynamite


Tikka, 308 Winchester, 7.62x51, reloading, shooting, Varmint, HB, heavy barrel