The Russian Avtomat Kalashnikova, otherwise known as the AK-47 to us capitalist dogs, is undoubtedly the most mass-produced rifle in the world. It fires the 7.62x39mm Soviet round that was developed shortly after the close of WWII and has remained relatively unchanged since its release.
The AK-47 is a symbol of ingenuity and rugged reliability; however, a rifle is only as good as the ammo you feed it. And with so many different ammo varieties available in today’s market, it can be hard to figure out what the best 7.62×39 ammo is for your beloved AK-47.
In this article, we’ll share with you our top picks for the best 7.62×39 ammo and we will explain what you should look for when purchasing bulk 7.62×39 ammo.
If you can’t wait, the best 7.62×39 ammo for your AK-47 is Wolf 122 gr FMJ because it is extremely reliable and the AK was designed to fire this type of ammo.
If you’re new to the AK-47 platform or the 7.62×39 in general, you might want to read our buyer’s guide for what to look for when buying 7.62×39 ammo by clicking HERE. However, if you simply want to get to our top 7.62×39 ammo selections, keep reading.
Now I know you’re itching to get out to the range, so here’s our list of the best AK47 ammo.
1) Wolf 122 gr FMJ – Best Overall
2) Winchester PDX1 120 gr HP – Best for Self-Defense
3) PMC 123 gr FMJ – Most Accurate
4) Arsenal 122 gr FMJ – Best Bulk
Determining the best ammo for your AK-47 relies heavily on what you want it to do. If you’re going hunting then you’ll want a soft point (SP) bullet or for target practice you’ll want some inexpensive full metal jacket (FMJ) factory loads for punching holes in paper, cans, or clanging steel.
That being said, the best 7.62×39 ammo for your AK-47 (or SKS) is one that goes bang every time you pull the trigger and doesn’t break the bank. For that purpose, it’s hard to beat steel-cased Wolf Ammo.
- Casing: Steel
- Bullet Type: Full Metal Jacket
- Bullet Weight: 122 grains
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,396 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 1,556 ft-lbs
- Some shooters prefer a brass case of a steel case
If you’ve shot AK’s for any period of time, it’s likely you’ve shot Wolf Ammo or had someone recommend it to you. To summarize this 7.62×39 ammo, it is made with the same principles as the AK-47 itself: rugged reliability and function.
Wolf Performance Ammunition (or WPA for short) is an excellent choice for any AK owner for its low cost per round and outstanding reliability. In all my years of shooting AK-47s I’ve not had one round of Wolf every fail to fire. Not. One. Round.
Although the cases are not reloadable, steel cased ammo offers exceptional feeding and extraction in an AK-style rifle and their low cost per round makes them an awesome choice for plinking or target shooting at the range.
For that reason, it is my top pick for the best 7.62×39 ammo for your AK-47. However, if you prefer brass cased ammo, I do have another option for you.
If shooting steel cased ammo in your rifle makes your skin crawl, then an excellent alternative to Wolf is Prvi Partizan 123 grain FMJ ammo. Prvi Partizan is manufactured in Serbia and often bears the headstamp “PPU”, which is an abbreviation for the company’s name in Cyrillic.
Prvi Partizan 7.62×39 ammo offers shooters a brass-cased alternative to Wolf for a slightly higher price point. However, you’ll have the smooth feeding and reloadability of brass cased ammo for your AK.
When something goes bump in the night and you reach for your trusty AK-47 to defend your castle, you want to make sure that you have high-quality ammo loaded into your firearm. An AK with a nice red dot optic makes for an incredibly potent home defense firearm.
Although many shooters prefer a 12 gauge loaded with buckshot or a handgun like a Glock 21 chambered in 45 ACP, the AK-47 offers homeowners a reliable, magazine fed semi-auto platform that has been battle-tested for decades.
The one thing to consider when using a rifle indoors is overpenetration, because the last thing you want to do is hit a family member or innocent bystander. The 7.62×39 is often described as “barrier blind”, meaning it is effective at resisting deflection from things like foliage, interior walls, and clothing.
This typically applies to soldiers around the world who are bound by the Hague Convention and can only fire full metal jacket (FMJ) bullets in their AK’s. However, as a civilian you are not bound by these conventions in a home defense situation.
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: Split Core Hollow Point
- Bullet Weight: 120 grains
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,365 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 1,490 ft-lbs
- Expanding bullet to minimize over penetration
- Brass case, reloadable
- Reputable company known for self-defense ammo
- More expensive than steel case FMJ ammo
Winchester PDX1 is a well-known self-defense ammo with an impressive ballistic gel tests. The split core hollow point bullet technology utilized in the PDX1 allows the rifle bullet to begin expanding immediately when it impacts a bad guy. This helps minimize the over penetration potential for the bullet as well as improving terminal ballistics by retaining bullet weight.
Winchester also loads their PDX1 ammo in brass cases which use Boxer primers, meaning you can reload them if you wish. The only downside to the Winchester ammo is that it is slightly more expensive than bulk FMJ ammo like Wolf, Tula, or Barnaul. However, PDX1 and all of our honorable mentions are American made 7.62×39 ammo, which is always a good thing.
Sometimes finding self-defense ammo in stock can be difficult as bulk 7.62×39 ammo is much more common. Therefore, we have a few alternatives for you that can are effective at putting down four and two-legged varmints.
Our first honorable mention is the 123 gr Hornady SST. The SST bullet has a polymer tip that ensures smoot feeding into the chamber and protects the bullet’s hollow point to ensure uniform expansion. The Super Shock Tip (SST) has been one of Hornady’s premier hunting bullets for semi-automatic firearms and more than capable of stopping a whitetail or a bad guy.
Our second honorable mention is the 123 gr soft point Federal Premium Power-Shok ammo. Soft point projectiles are an excellent choice for home defense as the bullet expands rapidly when it encounters tissue, minimizing over penetration. Federal Premium has a long history of providing excellent self defense ammo to law enforcement and civilians for concealed carry, and their Power-Shok bullets do not disappoint in their 7.62×39 Soviet loads.
I’d be lying if I said that a run-of-the-mill stamped AK-47 is a highly accurate shooting platform. The AK is built with loose tolerances to ensure outstanding battlefield reliability instead of pinpoint accuracy.
This is not to say that 7.62×39 is not an accurate round, quite the opposite in fact. When loaded into a solidly built SKS or Ruger Mini-30 carbine, the 7.62×39 can provide acceptable accuracy within its effective range.
However, if you’re looking to milk every ounce of accuracy out of your AK without delving into the realm of match-grade ammo, here is our recommendation:
- Casing: Brass
- Bullet Type: Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)
- Bullet Weight: 123 grains
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,350 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 1,495ft-lbs
- More consistent shot-to-shot muzzle velocity
- Brass case, reloadable
- Less expensive than self-defense ammo
- More expensive than bulk steel-cased ammo
PMC is a Korean ammo manufacturer that is fully vertically integrated. This means that every piece made by PMC cartridges has been fully manufactured from start to finish by PMC, with the primary advantage of vertical integration being quality control.
Consistency is the key to accuracy, which is why long range target shooting competitors typically reload their own ammo. Although the AK-47 is not as accurate as a precision bolt-action rifle like the Remington 700 or even a semi-auto AR-15 carbine, if you want tighter groups with your AK then we recommend that you pick up some PMC Bronze 7.62×39 123 gr FMJ ammo.
With considerably tighter shot-to-shot muzzle velocity variability, I’ve found that my AK’s typically shoot more accurately with PMC than other brands of ammo. They use Boxer primers and brass cases, so you can reload them, and PMC is generally less expensive than match-grade or 7.62×39 self defense ammo so it is easier to buy in bulk.
If you can’t get your hands on some PMC ammo but still want to tighten up your AK-47 groups, then we’d recommend you take a look at the Sellier & Bellot 123 gr FMJ ammo we have in stock. Based in the Czech Republic, Sellier & Bellot (S&B for short) is well known in the shooting community for producing reliable and consistent ammo for the range and for self defense.
When it comes to finding the best bulk 7.62×39 ammo, the one thing on every shooter’s mind is price. You want the best ammo for the lowest possible price point so that you can stock up for any potential SHTF situation or so that you can weather the storm of political or supply chain related ammo shortages.
- Casing: Steel
- Bullet Type: Full Metal Jacket
- Bullet Weight: 122 grains
- Muzzle Velocity: 2,396 fps
- Muzzle Energy: 1,555 ft-lbs
- Lowest cost per round
- Steel-cased ammo
- Berdan primed
When you’re looking for bulk 7.62×39 ammo, you want the lowest possible cost for the best ballistic performance and reliability. We found that Arsenal 122 gr FMJ ammo met all our criteria, especially price.
With the lowest cost per round circa fall 2022, Arsenal ammo offers you exceptional performance in your AK for a price that won’t break the bank. It may not be as accurate as PMC ammo or have the superior ballistic performance like Winchester PDX1, but Arsenal ammo goes bang every time you pull the trigger and will get the job done so long as your shot placement is on point.
Arsenal ammo is also non-corrosive but steel cased and uses Berdan primers, meaning that it is not reloadable.
From our research and experience, Tula 122 gr FMJ ammo is an acceptable alternative to Arsenal. Some shooters report issues with multiple failure-to-fire malfunctions, which is often reflected in TulAmmo 7.62×39 reviews. However, in our experience, these reports are often overblown as we had no issues with out supply of Tula ammo.
Picking the right 7.62×39 ammo for your AK-47 comes down to understanding what you want to do with your rifle.
Are you looking to go deer hunting? Then Federal Premium Power-Shok or Hornady SST ammo will do well at putting Bambi in the freezer. Or are you looking for cheap ammo for a fun day of plinking at the range? Then you should look at inexpensive bulk FMJ ammo.
Although there are considerably more ammo varieties for rounds like the 5.56 NATO or 308 Winchester, there are still plenty of different options for AK-users to pick from. The bottom line is that understanding what you want from your AK-47 is the key to finding the right ammo for it.
Now that you have a better understanding of how to pick the best ammo for your AK, click HERE to get back to our list of the best 7.62×39 ammo for self defense, plinking, and bulk purchasing.
Although not as plentiful as in years past, military surplus 7.62×39 ammo is a great source of plinking ammo that can be had for an extremely affordable price. The supplies over surplus ammo have mostly dried up thanks to the Russian ammo import ban of 2020, however if you can find some it’s a great source of hermetically sealed ammo that is easy to put away for a rainy day. However, there’s just one problem with surplus 7.62×39 ammo…
We did a full write up on corrosive ammo in this article: Corrosive Ammo: Rust Inducing Nightmare or Cheap Plinking Fun?
To summarize, corrosive ammo is caused by salts present in older Berdan primers. These salts end up in your barrel and gas system and attract water, which in turn causes your metal gun parts to rust.
Many shooters prefer to not shoot corrosive ammo, however the overall cost per round is hard to ignore when you want to stock up on ammo. However, corrosive salts can be easily cleaned out of your barrel by following the full cleaning procedure outlined in the article mentioned above.
There’s a lot of misinformation about steel-cased ammo floating around on the internet. We aren’t going to go into a full discussion here as we wrote an entire article on the subject here: Steel vs Brass Cased Ammo
However, one thing to remember is that the AK-47 is designed to fire steel-cased ammo as it is easier to manufacture and cheaper than traditional brass cases. Steel cases do not fire-form to the shape of the chamber and the AK is designed to violently rip fired cases from the firearm’s chamber.
This harsh extraction is great for removing stubborn steel cases but less optimal when firing softer brass-cased ammo. The violent extraction can sometimes be too effective and rip the soft metal of the brass case, causing a major malfunction.
Your AK-47 or newer AK-47’s like the Palmetto State Armory 100-series might run brass cased ammo with zero issues. However, we recommend running a few magazines of brass ammo through your AK before making a bulk 7.62×39 ammo purchase.
The AK-47 is a resilient and versatile weapon system that is demands a steady diet of 7.62x39mm ammo. Selecting the best 7.62×39 ammo is a matter of understanding what you want your AK-47 to do as it can double as a hunting rifle or self-defense carbine in addition to being a viable battle rifle out to 300 yards with relative ease.
The effectiveness of the 7.62×39 is so well documented on the battlefield that many rounds have sought to copy its ballistics, like the 300 Blackout and 6.8 SPC. However, you simply cannot go wrong with the original intermediate rifle cartridge that has been carried by multiple militaries across the globe.
Most AK-47’s will thrive on inexpensive steel-cased ammo that can be bought in bulk to save your precious dollars for additional range time or to buy even more ammo! However, if you demand more performance, brass-cased ammo for self defense and hunting are readily available.
No matter which type of ammo you choose, make sure to stock up here at Ammo.com as we have multiple varieties of 7.62×39 ammo in stock and ready to order!
4 Best AK-47 Ammo Picks [7.62×39] Soviet Wood and Steel originally appeared in The Resistance Library at Ammo.com.