7.62x39mm M43 Soviet Intermediate Cartridge

Development of the Soviet 7.62x39mm M43 cartridge was initiated in late 1943, when the Red Army requested the development of new, intermediate power weapons and the ammunition to match.

These weapons were intended to fill the gap between pistol-caliber submachine guns and full-power rifles. This requirement came from studying two then-new weapon systems: the  German MKb.42 assault rifle and its 7.92×33 cartridge and the US M1 carbine and its .30 M1 cartridge.

The first prototype cartridges were developed in 1944, featuring steel bottlenecked cases 41mm long, loaded with pointed, flat-based jacketed bullets with a lead core. The first batch of weapons for this cartridge were developed in late 1944, and included bolt-action and semi-automatic carbines, light machine guns and automatic (assault) rifles.

In 1947 the cartridge case was shortened to 39mm, with the added introduction of a slightly longer, boat-tailed bullet. This bullet had a mild steel core. In this final form it was adopted for service in the Soviet Army. While officially replaced in front-line service in the Soviet army by 4.45×39 ammunition in 1974, it was never officially declared obsolete. Plenty of 7.62x39mm weapons are still in service with Russian army and law enforcement forces. This cartridge gained widespread acceptance along with many weapons chambered for it, produced in the USSR, its former Eastern allies and China.

Today this is one of the most widely used military cartridges in the world, with weapons and ammunition produced in many countries and in many versions. Hunting versions of the 7.62×39 M43 round are also manufactured in several countries; those usually feature lead-core expanding or non-expanding bullets.


Designation Bullet weight, g Muzzle velocity, m/s Muzzle energy, J Comments
7.62×39 57-N-231 8 710 2010 Standard military ball bullet with mild steel core
7.62×39 7N23 8 730 2130 Armor-piercing bullet
7.62×39 US 12.5 300 562 Subsonic, for use with silenced AKM rifles