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Lead 170gr .30-30 bullets through my AK - a hand-load experiment

Discussion in 'The Kalashnikov Klub' started by Waffentomas, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. Waffentomas

    Waffentomas Semper Fidelis Millennium Member

    May 5, 1999
    Blue State
    I've gotten the impression, as a newer AK owner, that one of the allures of the platform is cheap, readily available ammo. Alas, that is not so much the case any more. Moreover, it seems AK owners don't reload as much as, say, .308 semi-types like me. Still, I decided to try and see how cheaply I could load up a good AK load for anyone out there who might be interested.

    Mods - decided to post here because it's strictly an AK load. Move if you deem more appropriate elsewhere.

    As the steel cased 7.62x39 ammo has dried up where I live, and my refusal to pay HAZ-MAT and shipping fees, I have been forced to experiment.

    Ammo is expensive and/or scarce right now, so I decided that for those of you who reload, and maybe have been reluctant to try new recipes, that I'd try one and report.

    I saw some Laser-Cast .310 bullets, 170gr RN FP, OAL .948 at Cabelas. These bullets have a place to install a GC, but I don't have a way to do that, nor do I have any gas checks. They have two lubed grooves, and a place to get a crimp in there above them. Not sure if these are going to work...So, I go back to the mantra...It's an AK, I'll just try them.

    These bullets were about $56 for 500 out the door. Call it 11 cents each.


    Laser Cast are high-antimony, but I am still worried about leading up the barrel and piston and gas hole without a gas check on the bullet. I thought about loading it to subsonic velocities to reduce this, but...It's an AK.

    I decided to try a slower burning powder with the heavy bullet, and I am using a NHM-91, so the longer barrel should also be conducive with the slower powder. I chose AA 2520, 24.5gr. AOL was 2.45 inches.


    As this was just an experiment, I only loaded up 30 rounds.

    I also loaded up a some rounds with no powder or primer just to check function and worked them last night. No problems, but the nose did get a skid mark on the tip, but repeated cycling did not impede function, nor cause any alarming bullet set-back.

    Here is the report.

    Accuracy was good, but since I was more interested in velocity and function, I only fired three rounds at 50 yards for accuracy. My AK is not very accurate, but these 3 rounds did post a 1" group.

    Velocity was a decent 1775 fps average with a SD of 22, KE of 1189. A total of 12 shots were fired through the Chronograph at 15'.

    With only 15 rounds left I loaded up and cut loose. All rounds fed issues in rapid fire.

    When I broke it down to see if there was lead fouling in the bore or lead shavings on the piston, I was pleased to find the barrel did not have any lead fouling that I could see, and a patch down the barrel came out looking like a 70-100 round range session. A little dirtier than normal, but not bad at all. No lead shavings were found on the piston, or anywhere else.

    All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this experiment.


    Bullet 11 cents
    Primer 3 cents
    Powder 8 cents
    Brass - free

    That is 22 cents a round (excluding labor)

    If you are trying shoot your AK or SKS cheaply, in these trying times, this recipe may be an option for you.

    Not sure, though, what an extended range session, or blasting session would do to the rifle, however.

  2. maxxmojo


    Oct 3, 2005
    The first thing I thought of when I saw those was whether or not they'd get hung up on the bullet guide, but it looks like you didn't have a problem with that. Neat experiment though, it's interesting to see different reloads for the 7.62x39.

  3. toshbar

    toshbar Timber Baron

    Oct 20, 2009
    Eastern NC
  4. Inebriated


    Feb 20, 2012
    Well that is just awesome.
  5. Berto

    Berto woo woo

    Sep 15, 2003
    That's interesting. I wonder if the chrome line bore might disguise leading a bit, though. I've always wondered what the limit would be in terms of heavier bullets, given the case volume, though the AK wouldn't be overly sensitive to OAL for a semi.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  6. I bet if you were to gas check em, you could up the velocity and accuracy..... but I'm sure you already know that. I've been thinking of doing the same thing. Too cheap to buy bullets tho..... I'd like to cast some and see what happens.

    Semper Fi
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  7. jwest1967


    Jan 27, 2013
    Fort Worth
    Please feel free to correct me if i am wrong, but isn't there a difference in bullet diameter? From what i understand standard 7.62 X 39 uses a .311 bullet were as the 30-30 uses a standard .308 bullet

  8. Waffentomas

    Waffentomas Semper Fidelis Millennium Member

    May 5, 1999
    Blue State
    You actually may be right. These bullets are definitely .310 and I know that a lot of the lead bullets for .30-30 are .309, so I was making an assumption here, sorry about that.

    Frankly, if they are not for the .30-30, not sure what they'd be for, other than 7.62x39. Thanks for pointing that out.

    I've just never seen load data for weights above 150gr for the AK/SKS.

    Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will chime in and help us out.

    Regardless, the fact remains that you can shoot these bullets with success through your AK.

    And considering I just saw 1000rd cases of Tula at a LGS for 40 cents a pop + tax, this is cheaper.

    ....I just confirmed that the bullet used is, indeed, intended for the .30-30.....
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2013
  9. Lee makes 2 molds specifically for 7.62x39, but not as heavy. Only one of em is gas checked. I have Bern toying with the idea of getting the gas check mold, and picking up a Freechex 3, and making my own gas checks.
  10. toshbar

    toshbar Timber Baron

    Oct 20, 2009
    Eastern NC
    You can add a gas check to any lead bullet.
  11. I've never used gas checks, but I see that there are a lotta molds made specifically for gas checks. They have an allowance at the base of the boolit.
  12. Gas checks are small copper cups that go on the base of the bullet. IIRC lee sizing dies work to seat the check. .310 bullets will be for 30-30 rifles, but the ones with worse bores generally. Lead is always at least .001 over diameter when compared to copper, so an AK would shoot better with .312 projectiles.
  13. marvin

    marvin sci-fi nut

    Mar 26, 2001
    greentown ind.
    good report. the only question i've got is where did you find load data for 170 grain bullets?
  14. Waffentomas

    Waffentomas Semper Fidelis Millennium Member

    May 5, 1999
    Blue State
    That's kind of the scary part, as there was none. And I mean none.

    What I did was look at load data for the .30-30, and I extrapolated what I thought would be possibilities. As I mentioned, I was looking for a bit of a slower powder, as I have a 20" barrel, and with the heavy bullets, seemed a good bet. It was an educated guess to use the AA2520. This was the starting load. I think I could go hotter, but just wanted a load that would cycle.

    It's interesting I've had so much play on this thread, and I appreciate it.

    I posted on an AK forum and was met with a collective 'yawn'.

    For AK reloaders, this should exciting, as you can shoot heavy lead through the gun with no ill effects. I'm going to load up a few hundred of these in a couple days, and when Cabelas gets in another box, I'll buy it.
  15. Tippyman


    Sep 12, 2010
    Is there some sort of calculator to see how many ft. lbs. this load will produce?
  16. 10mmshooter


    Mar 5, 2002
    Bullet weight in grains multiplied by velocity squared then divided by 450240. Or here 170x1775x1775/450240.
  17. happie2shoot


    Jan 5, 2008
    Waffentomas that bullet is a copy of the Lyman 311041,
    I have that mold and have shot it in a Ruger M77 IN 7.62X 39.

    5gr. 700x will get 1045 fps in a 22'' barrel, no g/c and just dipped
    in Lee tumble lube, 3/4'' at 100 yds. ,nice and quiet subsonic load.

    An LBT 175gr. LFNGC with blue lube and a g/c with 26gr. H335 was
    1932 fps and 2.062'' for 10 shots at 100 yds. also 22'' barrel, first
    5 shots was 1.563''.


    For best results you need to slug your barrel to find grove size and also find
    the throat size, fatter is almost always better with cast.

    I had an SKS that I glass bed, scoped and did a trigger job that would still not
    shoot good, then i slugged the barrel and found the barrel was .3145''. My .310
    bullet would never shoot good in that.
  18. gforester

    gforester Motorhead

    Feb 1, 2009
    Cocoa, FL
    You can find 303 British FMJ bullets still and they are a good match for the AK47. The diameter of these jacketed bullets are .311, a near perfect fit for the 7.62x39 AK. I would trust these more so than even a gas check lead bullet.
  19. ottomatic


    Oct 15, 2002
    SW Tennessee
    I have always been a fan of heavy weight lead bullets. 30 plus years ago I was shooting 150gr SWC, .356 bullets that were originally made for 38s, but I was loading them in 9mm 1911s.

    This concept seems very similar. One of the reasons I like heavy lead is that you generally can load it without the need for gas checks. Not only do they take an additional step, but they also add nearly a penny to every bullet.
  20. pugman


    May 16, 2003
    This is cool.

    This just proves what a deal AK shooters were getting pre Sandy Hook.

    You could find and buy 1,000 rounds of Golden Tiger for $219 all day long...

    I don't would non-free brass figure into this...