Best 7.62×39 Ammo For Hunting Deer & Other Big Game

While many people don’t appreciate the effectiveness of the 7.62x39mm Soviet for hunting big game, the cartridge can excel in that role. Indeed, many hunters use the 7.62×39 for hunting deer, feral hogs, and other big game with excellent results. Here are a few great brands of 7.62×39 ammo that will probably serve you very well next time you’re afield.

Originally designed back in the 1940s for the Soviet AK-47 assault rifle introduced right after World War II, the 7.62x39mm rifle cartridge remains extremely popular to this day. Not surprisingly, many companies like Federal Premium, Herter’s, Hornady, Prvi Partizan, Remington, and Winchester produce several different variants of 7.62×39 ammo for hunting deer, feral hogs, and other big game animals.

A typical 7.62x39mm load pushes a .310″ or .311″ 123-grain bullet at 2,350 feet per second (1,508 ft-lbs of energy).

Can you use the 7.62×39 for deer hunting?

Absolutely! Roughly comparable to the performance of the 30-30 Winchester round, the 7.62 x 39mm cartridge can be incredibly effective on medium game at short range. However, the cartridge has a relatively low muzzle velocity and high BC bullets are uncommon, so it’s much less effective past 200 yards.

The cartridge isn’t perfect though and those who want to take their 7.62×39 deer hunting should keep a couple of things in mind.

First, in addition to having lots of bullet drop out past 200 yards, there are only a handful of good hunting loads for the cartridge.

Don’t get me wrong: 7.62x39mm ammo is extremely common and often pretty reasonably priced. However, most of that stuff is steel cased, full metal jacket (FMJ) ammo from companies like Brown Bear, Silver Bear, Barnaul, Red Army Standard, Wolf, and Tula. There’s also a good bit of military surplus AK-47 ammo floating around out there as well.

All that stuff will work just fine at the range for target practice, but I strongly recommend against hunting with FMJ ammo. There’s nothing wrong with using 7.62 x 39mm ammo with steel cases for hunting, but you should definitely use some sort of expanding bullet specifically designed for use on big game for best results.

Fortunately, there are definitely much better choices for factory 7.62×39 hunting ammo from other manufacturers. Additionally, it’s also possible to find soft point or hollow point ammo from companies like Wolf from time to time as well. The downside is that stuff is not nearly as common as FMJ 7.62×39 ammo and ongoing sanctions against the Russian government have further restricted availability of soft point Tula and Wolf ammo in the USA.

So, regardless of whether you’re using a bolt action Ruger American Ranch, a Ruger Mini-30, a variant of the Kalashnikov, or one of the many other 7.62×39 rifles in production, there is pretty much guaranteed to be something for everyone on the list below of the best 7.62×39 ammunition for hunting.

In today’s post, I’m going to show you the best 7.62×39 ammo for hunting deer, feral hogs, and other big game and I’ll also go over the pros and cons of each individual load.

Note: some of the links below are affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you make a purchase of rifle, handgun, rimfire, or shotgun ammunition through those links. This helps support the blog and allows me to continue to create free content that’s useful to hunters like yourself. Thanks for your support.

Update April 2022: Ammo supplies finally look like they’re starting to recover. We still have a long way to go and selection is still nowhere near where it was back in 2019, but things are a lot better now than they were even 6 months ago.

Click the link below if you just want to quickly check what 7.62×39 ammo is in-stock and ready to ship so you can hit the range and get ready for hunting season.

IN-STOCK 7.62×39 AMMO

MORE IN-STOCK 7.62×39 AMMO

Hornady Black

picture of best 7.62x39 ammo hornady black

Modern sporting rifles are extremely popular hunters and shooters in the United States. For this reason, many of the big ammunition companies produce special ammunition optimized for performance in those “black” guns. Unfortunately, some of those rifles are picky about the ammo they function best with.

Well, Hornady Black ammo is designed to deliver superior performance in rifles like the AR-15 family of rifles and carbines as well as the different AK-47 variants and the SKS rifle. Hornady designed this ammunition to reliably function in a wide variety of semi-automatic rifles (including direct impingement, inertia, & gas piston).

Since the 7.62x39mm Soviet was originally designed for the AK-47 rifle, it only makes sense that Hornady offers this cartridge with brass cases in their Black line of ammo as well.

Don’t worry, this stuff will also work great in single shot, pump, and bolt action rifles with different barrel lengths, with or without a muzzle brake, and with or without a suppressor.

Loaded with a 123 grain Super Shock Tip (SST) bullet with a plastic tip, this ammunition is a great choice for those who want to use their 7.62×39 for deer hunting, especially if the hunter wants to use an AK platform or other semi-auto 7.62×39 rifle. Those SST bullets are great on thin-skinned game and this is my #1 recommended 7.62×39 ammo for hunting using a semi-automatic rifle.

This is also great ammunition for those who want to take their 7.62×39 hog hunting.

It will definitely work on really large game if you don’t have anything better, but I do not recommend using Hornady Black 7.62×39 ammo for hunting elk, moose, black bear or other really big and/or tough species of game unless that’s all you have.

I think the cartridge is on the light side for that work. However, there are a couple of other loads I recommend later in this article are a better choice if you absolutely insist on using the 7.62×39 for bear or elk hunting.

All things considered, this is great ammo on deer sized game and you can’t go wrong with Hornady Black 7.62×39 ammo for deer hunting, especially with a modern sporting rifle. This stuff will also work well as defensive ammo.

  • Bullet Type: Hornady SST
  • Bullet Weight: 123 grains 
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .295
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,350 feet per second (1,508 foot-pounds of energy)

GET HORNADY BLACK 7.62×39 AMMO HERE

Also Available at: Brownell’s, Lucky Gunner, Optics Planet, and Palmetto State Armory

Winchester Deer Season XP

picture of best 7.62x39 ammo deer season

Winchester’s Deer Season XP line of ammunition also contains some of the best 7.62×39 ammo for deer hunting. The Extreme Point bullet this rifle ammo uses is similar to Winchester’s Power Point bullet, but the Extreme Point has a large diameter polymer tip that’s specifically designed to produce a gigantic wound channel along with massive impact trauma.

This normally results in a very short tracking job and a very easy to follow blood trail. Even so, it’s designed specifically to compete with popular whitetail deer hunting ammo like the Federal Power-Shok, Hornady American Whitetail, Remington Core-Lokt, and Winchester Super-X in terms of accuracy and reliability.

The Winchester Deer Season XP line is also competitively priced and has one of the lowest costs per round out of all the 7.62×39 ammo on this list.

So, not only is this some very reasonably priced 7.62×39 ammo, but it also has a very good reputation for producing a giant wound channel and minimizing the distance deer run after being hit. In fact, this Winchester ammo is one of my top recommended brands of 7.62×39 ammo for whitetail deer hunting. The same goes for blacktail and mule deer hunting.

High BC 7.62x39mm ammo options are limited, but this 123 grain Extreme Point is one of the more aerodynamic 7.62 x 39mm rounds as well. So, while it’s far from a good long range ammo choice, this stuff does have a slightly longer effective range than some other 7.62×39 ammo loads.

While this might be the best 7.62×39 round for deer, I do NOT recommend using it for bigger game like black bear, elk, or moose though.

  • Bullet Type: Extreme Point
  • Bullet Weight: 123 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .304
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,380 feet per second (1,547 foot-pounds of energy)

GET DEER SEASON XP 7.62×39 AMMO HERE

Also Available At: Lucky Gunner, Optics Planet, and Palmetto State Armory

Federal Fusion

picture of best 7.62x39 ammo fusion

It’s not new or fancy, but Federal Fusion ammunition with a 123gr bullet is also really good 7.62×39 ammo for deer hunting.

Fusion bullets have a bonded lead core to help with weight retention. Combined with a skived tip to help initiate expansion, Federal Fusion 7.62 x 39mm ammunition delivers a good balance of controlled expansion, high weight retention, and deep penetration.

While I think Fusion 7.62×39 ammo is arguably the best choice for deer or feral hog hunting, I think this is acceptable 7.62×39 ammo for elk hunting. Remember: I don’t recommend using the cartridge for elk at all, but this ammo is a better option than a lot of the other stuff available and you should definitely consider using it if you insist on using the 7.62×39 on bigger game.

  • Bullet Type: Fusion Soft Point
  • Bullet Weight: 123 grains 
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .297
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,350 feet per second (1,508 foot-pounds of energy)

GET FEDERAL FUSION 7.62×39 AMMO HERE

Also Available at: Palmetto State Armory

Winchester Super X

picture of best 7.62x39 ammo super x

It’s not flashy or trendy, but this Winchester Super X loading with a 123-grain bullet is also great 7.62×39 ammo for deer hunting. Not only is it very effective, but this ammunition is also normally available at competitive prices.

Winchester Power Points are pretty soft and tend to expand very well at ranges inside 200 yards. Translation: terminal performance is devastating in soft tissue at close range. This is one of the reasons why that ammo is so popular with deer hunters. Be careful with your shooting angles (broadside or slightly quartering shots are best), but you should have outstanding results if you use this ammo for medium game like feral hogs and white tail deer.

Place your shot where it needs to go and no deer will run very far afterwards.

  • Bullet Type: Power Point
  • Bullet Weight: 123 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .244
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,365 feet per second (1,527 foot-pounds of energy)

GET WINCHESTER 7.62×39 AMMO HERE

Also Available at: Brownell’s, Lucky Gunner, and Optics Planet

Nosler E-Tip

Nosler produces 7.62×39 ammo as part of their Expansion Tip line. Similar in general concept to the Barnes VOR-TX line and TTSX bullets, Nosler E-Tip ammo is designed for rapid expansion, high weight retention, and deep penetration.

Available using 123 grain E-Tip bullets, this is excellent ammunition for hunting just about any species of game you’d reasonably pursue with the 7.62x39mm cartridge. Specifically, this is an excellent choice of 7.62×39 ammo for deer, pronghorn, feral hogs, and even potentially bigger game like elk and black bear hunting.

I still don’t recommend using the cartridge for elk in general, but I think this is definitely the best 7.62×39 ammo for elk hunting.

This 123 grain E-Tip is another one of the more aerodynamic 7.62×39 bullet options along with the 123gr Extreme Point. So, this is another 7.62×39 ammo option with a slightly longer effective range.

This ammunition is also lead free, which makes it the best ammo in 7.62×39 for use in states like California that that don’t permit the use of lead bullets.

I’m a big fan of the Nosler E-Tip line in general and cannot recommend this stuff highly enough. It is available at a higher price than ammo using lead core bullets, but I think it’s worth it and this would be my first choice if I wanted a single 7.62x39mm hunting ammunition load for hunting the widest possible variety of game.

  • Bullet Type: Expansion Tip (E Tip)
  • Bullet Weight: 123 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .316
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,350 feet per second (1,508 foot-pounds of energy)

GET NOSLER E-TIP 7.62×39 AMMO HERE

Also Available at: Optics Planet & Palmetto State Armory

Remington Core Lokt

picture of best 7.62x39 ammo core lokt

If you’re a “meat and potatoes” kind of hunter who wants some dependable 7.62x39mm ammo for hunting deer, feral hogs, and pronghorn, then the Remington’s 125 grain Core Lokt soft point will probably work really well for you.

It’s not the latest and greatest stuff by any means though it uses good quality brass casings and consistent powder charges. However, the Core Lokt has been around for a long time and countless hunters have successfully used this ammo to take just about every species of big game in North America.

One of those round nose bullets through the vitals of a deer, hog, or pronghorn will make for a very short tracking job. This is good ammo and they don’t call it the “deadliest mushroom in the woods” for nothing.

  • Bullet Type: Core-Lokt Pointed Soft Point (PSP)
  • Bullet Weight: 125 grains
  • Ballistic Coefficient (G1): .267
  • Muzzle Velocity: 2,365 feet per second (1,552 foot-pounds of energy)

GET CORE-LOKT 7.62×39 AMMO HERE

Also Available at: Brownell’s, & Optics Planet

NEXT: BEST 6.5 CREEDMOOR AMMO FOR HUNTING ELK, DEER, & OTHER BIG GAME

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