What’s better than shooting your AK-47? Shooting your AK-47 with tracers! That’s what I’m going to cover in this post. If you haven’t already done so, you’ll want to get caught up with things by reading and watching the following resources I’ve published recently:
Now it’s time to put all of these learnings together, and to try something different: Loading 7.62x39mm ammunition with .308 pull down tracer bullets! It turns out it’s not so easy, but read on (and watch the video) to find out how it can be done!
There are a few things that made this load difficult to optimize and develop:
- The bullets used are .308″ in diamater as opposed to .310″ which is typical for 7.62x39mm. This turned out to be pretty much a non-issue. All you really need to do is ensure you’re using the proper expander ball (most 7.62x39mm die sets will come with a .308″ and a .310″ expander ball).
- The cannelure on these tracer bullets is *way* too low to provide a crimp groove. I simply took out the crimp die, and had great results.
- There isn’t enough case capacity for a full-power load. This required careful testing of reduced-power loads. (see picture below)
You can see here exactly how the tracer load compares with the 123 grain Hornady spire point load I developed for the last article:
From left above we see:
- A factory Fiocchi 124 grain FMJ cartridge (reloadable)
- Steel case with Hornady 123 grain spire point bullet (steel case shown for comparison, brass case used for reloads)
- 143 grain .308 tracer in 7.62x39mm brass case cutaway (note reduced case capacity)
- Loaded 143 grain 7.62x39mm tracer cartridge
And here’s the setup I used on the Hornady Lock-N-Load AP 5-station progressive reloading press:
For these tracer loads, we have the following setup:
- Station 1: LEE Sizer/De-Primer (with .310″ expander installed)
- Station 2: Empty
- Station 3: Hornady Lock-N-Load powder measure
- Station 4: LEE Dead-Length seater
- Station 5: Empty
This setup works really good, the only issue I had was occasional slight hang-ups on ejection (into the completed cartridge bin). This is typically due to a scratched case rim, and requires only a slight nudge to kick out the cartridge. Another reason to have a “reasonable pace” when reloading- to take care of these kinds of issues as they arise.
Here’s the load data I used for these tracers: (lower than published load data for conventional bullets in this weight range, USE AT YOUR OWN RISK)
- 7.62x39mm Once-Fired brass from Capital Cartridge
- 143 grain .308″ military tracer pulled bullets
- CCI BR-2 Large Rifle Primer
- 20.8 grains Hodgdon CFE-BLK Powder
- 2.180″ COL
Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader is not responsible for errors in load data on this website. Always cross-reference load data with manufacturer’s published data.
*Special Note: Tracers are a lot of fun, but they have also started wildfires. Be extra cautious when and where you decide to shoot tracers. Know the law, and obey the law- that way you won’t have to worry.
So, how could this experience be even *more* fun? The only thing I can think of is to go full-auto with AK tracers. Some day perhaps!
Anyone else out there load 7.62x39mm tracers? Anyone find .310″ tracer bullets? I would love to hear about your experiences!