View Full Version : Lethality of the Soviet 5.45 mm Round
Does anybody know how the Soviet 5.45 compared with the U.S. 5.56 round as far as effective range and terminal ballistics?
Other than the Afghans referring to it as the "poison bullet" because of its wound track, was it an effective one-shot-one-kill round?
I'm going to get a little involved here so bear with me.
When international conventions outlawed expanding bullets at the end of the 19th century, the Brits looked for a way to get the wounding potential of a softpoint bullet in a full metal jacket bullet. They succeeded in doing this by making a two piece core. The back of the core under the jacket was lead but the last quarter or so of the core at the tip was aluminum or some sort of fiber. This made the bullet yaw violently on contact with a soft target creating devastating wounds while not affecting its penetration on hard targets. It also lengthened the projectile increasing ballistic coefficient. The resulting round, the British .303 Mk VII SA Ball cartridge was one of the most lethal combat rounds ever developed. The Soviets liked the idea and incorporated it into their own ammunition and almost all Russian and former com bloc ammo eventually incorporated this principle only instead of using a two piece core which the commies thought unnecessarily expensive, they just left a hollow space under the jacket at the tip. Due to its higher velocity the 5.45 round is supposed to have an even more exagerrated roll on impact than the 7.62x39 round.
Interestingly the original 5.56mm Nato round had a similar characteristic due to its slow rifeling twist. The original 55 grain bullets lost all their stability on impact and tumbled violently causing devastating wounds in human flesh. In its early incarnation the 5.56mm Nato round was referred to by its users as "the meat axe." The round no longer has this characteristic due to the very tight rifeling used to stabilize the heavier bullets now used to get better penetration and accuracy.
So the short answer is yes, the 5.45x39 round has a very good reputation for lethality in combat.
One other thing; the bullet construction I mentioned applies only to Com Bloc ball. Any western manufactured ammunition dosen't have the designed in instability I mentioned. For defensive ammo not from a Com Bloc country I would use a good soft point or hollow point bullet.
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