Choosing between 7.62×39 Vs. 5.56 have always been a tough decision since they are both prevalent cartridges for rifles.

Nevertheless, each category is more suitable for a specific need or shooting purpose, which I will discuss in this post.

If you are wondering which is the better option, between 7.62×39 and 5.56 ammo, you have come to the right place.

I will discuss their specs, performance, and core differences to help you make the wisest purchase decision.

Now, let’s move straight into the in-depth comparison.

7.62×39 Vs. 5.56: What Are The Differences? 

7.62×39 and 5.56 always height the spotlight as the highest-quality semi-auto gun ammo. Before moving on to the detailed specs and real-life performance, let’s first discuss the brief history of the 7.62×39 and 5.56.

Comparison Table

Features 5.56 7.62×39
Bullet Diameter 0.224 inches 0,3111 or 0.310 inches
Parent Casing 223 Remington Unique design
Neck Diameter 0,253 inches 0,339 inches
Rim Diameter 0,378 inches (9,6 mm) 0,447 inches (11,37 mm)
Case Length 1,76 inches (44,7 mm) 1,528 inches (38,81
Case Capacity 28,2 gr (H2O) 27,7 gr (H2O)
Overall Length 2,26 inches (57,4 mm) 2,2 inches (55,88 mm)
Max Pressure 55,000 psi 45,000 psi

Overview And Specs

The first significant difference lies in the cartridge size and diameters.

The 5.56 bullet has a base diameter of 0,378 inches, while the figure 7.62×39 is 0,447 inches, which is 20% larger.

However, the overall length and case length of these two categories are pretty much similar. The 5,56 cartridge also features a higher case capacity than the 7,62×39 ammo, producing greater muzzle velocity.

Regarding the overall length, the 7,62×39 cartridge has a slightly shorter length than the 5,56. It also comes with a slightly thicker case.

Another significant factor you should pay attention to is the maximum pressure.

It’s evident that the 5,56 ammo possesses more excellent pressure-bearing capacity with up to 55,000 psi, while the 7,2×39 can only bear 45,000 psi. So that’s the fundamental difference regarding the speculations of the two ammo.

Now let’s move on to their real-life performance.

The 7,62x39 Cartridges
The 7,62×39 Cartridges

Recoil

Recoil is a critical factor every gunner should consider, especially for the semi-automatic firearm. The 7,62×39 and 5,56 bring significantly lower recoil power than the larger cartridges, but the recoils between them are different.

Commonly, a cartridge with higher load capacity and weight will feature higher recoil than the lighter one.

In this case, the 7,62×39 has a much higher powder charge (123 grains), while the 5,56 will have 55 – 72 grains.

Therefore it’s evident that the 7,62×39 has higher recoil. If you want a smooth and more effortless shooting experience, the 5,56 is a better choice.

Meanwhile, the 7,62×39 is more difficult to handle and control due to its higher recoil.

Trajectory

The bullet traveling path when it gets out of the barrel when firing is called the trajectory. Though you may think it’s unimportant, the trajectory partly decides the shooting accuracy at a long distance.

The flatter the trajectory, the better. It means the bullet will travel in a straight line and doesn’t be affected much by gravity. As a result, it will travel faster and hit the target more accurately.

At the shooting distance of 400 yards, the 7,62×39 plummets more (44 inches) due to its high weight, which is susceptible to gravity. Meanwhile, the 5,56 cartridge travels in a flatter trajectory that plummets in only 23 inches.

The 5,56 ammo is the definite winner regarding trajectory when shooting a long distance.

The 5,56 Cartridges Have A Flatter Trajectory
The 5,56 Cartridges Have A Flatter Trajectory

Accuracy

Due to the lower recoil and flatter trajectory, it’s pretty obvious that the 5,56 cartridge gives higher accuracy, especially when shooting at long distances. Higher recoil power means that the firing gets more inconsistent.

Therefore, it’s harder to fire and control the 7,62×39 cartridge, which can definitely affect your shooting accuracy. In addition, its higher weight and more curved trajectory are other inconveniences for the shooters.

Therefore if you want a more stable and precise bullet for long-range shooting, the 5,56 ammo is the ideal option. It travels faster and is easier to handle compared to the 7,62×39.

Ballistic Coefficient

The ballistic coefficient indicates the ability of bullets to resist environmental impacts like air or wind resistance. A bullet with a higher ballistic coefficient will have a better trajectory in windy conditions.

Commonly, heavier bullets feature a greater ballistic coefficient. For this reason, the 7,62×39 should perform better in windy conditions due to its higher weight. However, the difference is not so significant.

The 5,56 cartridge design features a shorter overall diameter, which helps it travel faster in windy weather.

Surprisingly, it performs even better than the 7,62×39 in real-life shooting, with the BC measured at 0,29, while the figure for 7,62×39 is 0,27.

Sectional Density

Sectional density is a term used for measuring the penetration power of bullets.

For the shooting competitions, it’s not significant since the accuracy and travel time are prioritized. However, it’s a different story for hunting.

When hunting with guns, you need high penetration power so that the bullet can penetrate through the skin and bone of animals, thus increasing the chance of taking down the target.

Regarding the sectional density, you may think that the 5,56 is less efficient since it features a lighter weight and smaller size. However, the sectional density measured of these two cartridges is nearly the same.

You Need High-penetration Bullets For Hunting
You Need High-penetration Bullets For Hunting

Self Defense

Both cartridges are an excellent option for home or self-defense.

In general, the 7,62×39 gives greater penetration as it can penetrate the wall and barrels more effectively.

So, the farmers prefer the 7,62×39 to defend their crops against wild animals.

Meanwhile, the 5,56 cartridge is the better solution to deal with thieves and home intruders since it brings less damage and overpenetration.

Availability And Price

The average price of the 5,56 recorded ranges between 0,55 to 0,6 pounds if you buy in a large amount.

Meanwhile, the average price of the 7,62×39 ranges around $0,38, which is nearly two times cheaper than the 5,56.

Though the bullet’s price varies from time to time, the 7,62×39 is always a more affordable option.

If you need to know how these two cartridges perform side-by-side in real-life shooting, watch this video to find out!

Final Verdict: Which One Should You Choose Between 7.62×39 Vs. 5.56 

Deciding between these two cartridges is simpler than you thought. If your priorities are accuracy and stability, 5,56 is the suitable option to go for. It features a flatter trajectory, higher velocity, and less recoil.

Therefore you can handle the 5,56 cartridge easier and get a higher shooting performance, especially at long distances. Meanwhile, the 7,62×39 gives slightly higher penetration power. Thus it’s more suitable for hunting. 

I hope that the in-depth comparisons provided in this post can help you make the wisest purchase decision. Thank you for reading!

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