At a recent Military rifle match, amongst the shooters was a young lady standing about five foot nothing and weighing in slightly more than my left leg. She carried a Model 38 Mosin type rifle to the line....
Now, for those who are not conversant in the language of Mosin Nagant, the Model 38 is a shortened carbine version of the 91/30 Mosin Nagant rifle, which in turn is a shortened and updated version of the 1891 Mosin Nagant rifle. They all shoot the 7.62x54mm Russian cartridge, and they all have a 'healthy' recoil. The shorter carbine versions can be brutal.
This petite young lady was going to shoot a 58 round match with a Model 38 carbine. "OUCH" says I to myself. Far be it from me to say anything... she was an adult of legal age and fully competent to make her own decisions.
Watching as the sight-in stage proceeded, from her firing position I could hear the expected KaBLAMM of a 7.62x54, and see the patented Huge Fireball of the Mosin carbines.... but what I did not see was her suffering under the heavy recoil. Wandering over to speak with her companions, I was shown the ammunition she was shooting. Czech military training ammunition with 48 grain hollow bullets. All the BOOM, all the FLASH, accurate at 100 yards, but recoil more like a 5.56 in an AR than a 7.62mm BoomNsplat special in a lightweight rifle with a steel butt plate.
The kind folks shared the information on where they acquired the neat stuff, and I was on their web site almost before my own rifle cooled after the match. There I found the aforementioned Czech goodies, of which a sample was placed in the checkout cart at once. Then, I began to explore their site.
In short order I found another offering I had to try; A German 7.62x51mm training round featuring a plastic case and plastic bullet. The fact that it came in Smurf blue was a little amusing too. I doubt the Smurfs even existed when the Bundeswehr cooked this stuff up, so they get a pass on all the jokes coming to mind.
As you might guess, a few hundred samples of the Smurf Special.... um.... Fine German Training Ammunition was also placed in the shopping cart, and checkout proceeded at a rapid pace. (I'd link it, but their supplies are low and I expect the link would be dead a few days after posting this article.)
The ORM-d box appeared on my porch one fine Friday afternoon, to be found when I arrived home from a long day warping young minds... you can bet your coffee mug I was in the backyard minutes later lining up some cans of 'adult beverage' to experiment on.
The very first round fired announced to the neighbors that fun-ness was happening, and I had company almost before I could walk to the backstop. Naturally, the 10 grain (!) plastic bullet from the 7.62 had literally exploded the can of watery beer, but what I saw rather shocked me. The bullet had not penetrated the can! It appears to have hit, given up it's energy in a huge hydraulic dump, mushroomed to all get out, and then fallen flat to the ground next to the destroyed beverage can.
The next few cans also exploded under fire, spraying liquid ten feet in the air, but those plastic bullets simply vanished. One fired into the end grain of a log also vanished, leaving a mark behind.
I didn't break out the chronograph, but considering the plastic-fantastic ammo is carrying a full load of powder behind a ten grain slick plastic bullet, I can guess these projectiles are approaching 4000fps. At speeds anything like that, bullet disintegration is more than possible.
As fun as these cartridges are, how well do they hold up when examined for fit, function, and accuracy? That's the real question, once we are all over the 'Exploding Beer Cans' thing.
As mention, a handful of folks were shooting a match using the Czech ammunition, and aside from the significant low recoil there was no noticeable difference in performance that I could see. The gentleman of the group did mention that his Mosins displayed preferences, with some shooting the hollow bullets well, and others not so well. That in mind, I retired to the range one afternoon with the two types or training ammunition, and the appropriate rifles to test them. In my case, a Soviet 91/30 Ex-Sniper in 7.62x54mm, and an Ishapore Enfield 2a in 7.62x51mm.
As for fit, both rounds filled both magazine and chamber as intended with no issues. Getting from magazine to chamber, on the other hand, showed a few very minor flaws. The Czech 7.62x54mm, with it's stubby bullet, sometimes required a light hand on the bolt to function well. Cycling too quick did not give the blunt bullet time to line up with the chamber, where the sharply pointed and slightly longer full strength military round chambers as fast as I can work the bolt. The German 7.62x51mm round also displayed a slight irritation with being pushed into place, sometimes having the bolt override and needing a gentle second go.
I would expect neither round to cycle an automatic, having not the bullet weight nor pressure to function the action. Given their application though, I don't see this as a major drawback.
Now... to accuracy. As mentioned, people were using the Czech hollow core in a match... and the thought occurred that 'Ol Carteach would like to play that game too sometimes. Towards that end, targets were placed at fifty yards and the rifles were benched to check grouping. In both cases.... there is some disappointment for the fat man.
Both rifles, with the right ammunition, are capable of placing their bullets into quarter sized groups at fifty yards, even with Carteach's elderly eyes behind the sights. Using the Czech 46 grain hollow core ammunition, the Ex-Sniper produced palm sized groups. The 7.62mm Enfield placed three Chinese bullets into a dime sized group last week, but the plastic bullets could only do four inches at best. This may be explained by the very inconsistent report and muzzle blast, which points to huge variations in powder burn rates. I suspect a tighter rifle bore might help with that, even though the 2a has a pristine bore. The Plastic bullets were sometimes propelled by a spectacular blast, flash, and kerpow..... and sometimes by a quite subdued 'Poof'.
My thoughts and considerations; I won't be shooting the match with these, but neither will I be throwing them away. Both will serve their intended purpose, training new shooters. In that role, they will serve superbly. I'll order enough that I have it on hand when I wish over the coming years, and it will give Carteach the ability to let new shooters enjoy some old military history, without getting bruised shoulders.
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