The official Mike Bellm's

Bellm TCs

TC Contender, G2, Encore/ProHunter Performance Center


Regarding ammo shortages, here are some points to consider.

Do some searches for 7.62x54R ammo. You will find:

1) Surplus military ammo at this writing is as low as about $0.25 per shot, though the uncoated steel cased ammo I have shot requires a bit more effort to extract than is prudent for the Encore extractor, and from what I read, the lacquer and polymer coated steel cases are likely to also be hard to extract..... which I have yet to verify in the Encore.

2) Most 7.62x54R ammo is imported from European manufacturers, from the "lower price end" of the spectrum all the way up through the highly regarded Lapua ammo.

3) There is a lot of brass cased ammo available that extracts flawlessly in the Encore, much of which is reloadable with standard Boxer primers.

4) Due to the nature of the round's use primarily in the ancient, less desirable for sporting purposes Mosin-Nagant and Draganov rifles, there is not the overwhelming consumer demand for 7.62x54R ammo as there is for the rounds more in demand here in the US.

5) Interestingly, you will find that Hornaday even offers 7.62x54R loaded with their soft point bullets in reloadable brass cases, and last I checked Winchester at least offers full metal jacket ammo, also reloadable and reasonably priced.

6) Soft point hunting ammo hovers around the acceptable $20 per box price point on up with some as low as $14 per box at this writing.

7) And, lastly, I think you will be as amazed as I was at the abundance of types of current commercial loadings! There is a LOT to choose from!
...... available and in stock even!

A few samples of soft point hunting ammo available. Soft point loads range from common hunting 150 gr. and 180 gr. weights through 200 gr.
Hornady 150 gr. SST bullet

Regarding surplus ammo........
1) I have tested only one lot of steel cased surplus ammo, but find that it takes a bit more force to extract than is prudent for the Encore's extractor.

Thus, at this point, unless you want to nudge each fired steel cased round out of the chamber with a solid rod from the muzzle do NOT expect to use the steel cased ammo, at least not in the Encore. Likely the same will hold true for H&R and CVA .308 Win. barrels rechambered to 7.62x54R.

I have used several different brands of brass cased ammo. Extraction and all pressure indications are fine and dandy with brass cases. Everything normal.

2) Note that much of the surplus ammo has corrosive primers! So don't shoot surplus ammo then put the barrel away without cleaning it. Cleaning MUST include water to remove the corrosive salts from the bore. A common practice is to squirt Windex down the bore, but I suggest also brushing the bore and following up with plain water since some glass cleaners like Windex also have ammonia in their makeup, also corrosive.

What I am reading is that water alone is not sufficient. It must have some kind of surfactant.... ie, soap, detergent, etc.

Let the bore dry after flushing with plain water, then oil it like you normally do.... or should do if you don't.

Corrosive primers may create a change in your normal cleaning regimen, but is not to be feared. Even up through World War II our military ammo was primed mostly with corrosive primers, and some "match" ammo I understand still uses corrosive primers to this day.

3) The military primers tend to have thicker/harder cups, so DO use our heavier hammer springs. I recommend the 51# hammer spring. With the TC factory hammer spring, the surplus ammo shows a lighter firing pin indent, and I have had several complete misfires using a stock frame with the factory hammer spring..... but none so far with commercial ammo.

Heavy Duty Encore (and G2) Hammer Springs, Click Here.

If you reload you will find most of the die manufacturers pricing the 7.62x54R dies in the same price category as for common rounds like .223 Rem., .308 Win, .30/06, .270 Win., etc.
Note that you will likely need to swap out the expander ball for a smaller one for .308" bullets since the 7.62x54R dies will be set up for .310" and larger bullets.

I've also been somewhat surprised to find how popular cast lead bullet shooting has been in the 7.62x54R Mosin-Nagant surplus Russian rifles. So if you like pouring your own bullets, you should be right at home with an Encore barrel in 7.62x54R.

Norma is also a source for top quality brass for handloading:
Click here for the Norma website
Then click on Porducts, brass

Functionally speaking.......
I always recommend using a rimmed cartridge in the break open guns for the simple reason that the rim gives a solid support of the case against the impact of the firing pin for the best ignition.

Case shoulders of ALL long, sloping shouldered cases DO collapse some under the impact of the firing pin.

1) in a millisecond increases headspace,
2) contributes to case stretching and case separation potentials, and
3) acts as a cushion to the firing pin's impact, thus softening the impact on the primer.

With headspace set minimum with the case rim the forward stopping point, you will get the most consistent, fullest ignition of primers.

It so happens that the chamber for the 7.62x54R completely cleans up a .308 Win. chamber. Thus, any .308 Win. barrel can be rechambered to 7.62x54R. Since the 7.62x54R case is approximately 3mm longer overall, you WILL find a short step down in neck diameter from the original .308 Win. chamber that typically has a somewhat larger chamber neck diameter than is standard for the 7.62x54R.

With the cost of the 7.62x54R ammo being generally lower than for most other rounds, if you do much shooting at all, the cost of having a barrel rechambered is soon paid for by savings on ammo costs.

Fired case necks will show a step down from the larger diameter .308 Win. chamber neck where the smaller diameter 7.62x54R neck continues forward unless the neck is opened up that last little bit at the front.

OK, dig out your reloading manuals and start comparing the ballistics of that odd looking, ancient round, and you will find that it is faster than the .308 Win., but short of the .30/06's potentials.

.30/06 factory ammo pressure levels are kept a bit on the low side due to the weaker "low number" 1903 Springfield rifles and the M95 Winchester lever action rifles in existence.

So if you are a factory ammo only kind of shooter, you are not giving up much to the .30/06.

Bottom line:
Whatever the .308 Win. does, the 7.62x54R does it better.

Earliest reports from shooters who had me rechamber .308 Win. barrels to 7.62x54R are 100 yard groups in the 3/4 to 1" range even with cheap, imported ammo.

How is this for accuracy?
Message from the customer:
This is a four shot group at 100 yards with the barrel you made for me. The load was 150gr Hornady Interbond with 52.0grs of BL-C(2) and should have a velocity of 2878fps. I hope to chronograph it the next time out to verify it for sure.
Thanks for a great shooter...

This was from a .308 Win. Bergara barrel I rechambered to 7.62x53R, throated only for .308" diameter bullets.

That is not a typo error above. Do some web searches for 7.62x53R.
Short story is the Finns rebarrelled a number of the Mosin-Nagant Russian rifles with .308" groove diameter barrels and marked them ".....53R" to distinguish them from the standard Russian specs for 7.62x54R which uses typically .310" diameter bullets.... and sometimes larger still.

The .308" groove diameter v. .310" bullet diameter question........
If you get to slugging American made barrels for various calibers, you will find a good many with groove diameters smaller than standard bullet diameters for that caliber.

It is common as dirt, and I can cite a number of examples including barrels made by Thompson Center where the groove diameter is substantially smaller than the bullet diameter for that caliber.

It is not the groove diameter that effect the pressures generated nearly as much as it is the THROAT diameter. If the throat diameter is appropriate for the bullet diameter, there is very little difference in pressure in the undersize groove diameter barrels..... if any at all.

Added to that, standard pressure for 7.62x54R is 46,000 psi (the older c.u.p. pressure measurement standard), just a tad higher than for .300 Savage and below that for .30/06. Thus, if there is any increase in pressure due to the groove diameter being smaller than bullet diameter, there is an ample margin for pressure increases.

I throat all 7.62x54R barrels to accommodate bullet diameters up through .312", but also extend the throats with a minimum diameter .308" throat reamer.

No ammo I have test fired with, including mil-surp ammo with STEEL JACKETED bullets, shows the slightest sign of excess pressure.

Thus you have:
1) the option of shooting ammo with bullets as large as .312", but
2) you also have a section of throat at minimum diameter for .308" bullets for excellent accuracy in the event the premium bullet or bullet of choice you want to use is only available in .308" diameter.

Gotcha covered!
Both ways.

That said, "Greg" wanted his barrel set up strictly for .308" bullets and thus the barrel was stamped "7.62x53 ONLY" in the event someone dropped a 7.62x54R round in it with the .310" or larger bullet diameter.

I accidentally missed stamping "R" after "53", but in hindsight, it is probably Providence looking over my shoulder making a bit more distinction between how the barrel is throated and the ammo with .310" bullets.
I swear God looks out for fools and gunsmiths and does not seem to make much distinction between the two..... even though I do not consider myself to be a "gunsmith" per se, but rather more of a barrel specialist.

After due consideration of the safety issues involved, I have decided NOT to set up any more barrels for the 7.62x53R only.

All future barrels will be throated for bullets up to .312".

So how do you best take advantage of the 7.62x54R?
Have me rechamber ANY .308 Win. TC Encore barrel and any custom .30 cal. Encore barrel with a chamber smaller than that of the .308 Win.

I will also rechamber H&R Handi-Rifle or CVA .308 Win. barrels to 7.62x54R.

While the crusty old odd looking 7.62x54R cartridge won't give you much for bragging rights in the hunting camp or on the range, your buddies may be hard pressed to find their high priced ammo for their higher tech darling wonder guns they can hardly shoot. You, on the other hand, have access to plenty of ammo at reasonable prices and can practice with it to your heart's content.

So who will I put my money on when it comes time to fill tags? I'll put my money on the guy who is able to get in plenty of practice with the 7.62x54R.

Barrel Work page, Click here for rechambering info


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