Developed in 1943 by the Russian Army the 7.62×39 mm cartridge has been the mainstay of Russia and various other non NATO aligned countries right up to present day.
Along with the cartridge by way of a very long and successful history has come a series of firearms that fit the profile of a get the job done ordnance system without question.
If there is any issue regarding the 7.62×39 Russian Short it is that it is so good that the US Military almost refuses to acknowledge it at all.
The cartridge due to the AK 47 primarily is the most used round in the world today. When the US started to develop rounds like the Blackout and other short cartridges they would just have well stayed with the Russian cartridge and saved themselves all the trouble. Why didn’t it all go that way? Because the NATO world of ammunition just could not admit that the 7.62×39 was just that good.
Without question, it was the Ak-47 and to a lesser degree the AK rifles that drove the fame of the catridge. But in terms of locating the best rifles built for the task of using the cartridge, the AK- 47 comes up as a second fiddle to several others.
American production regarding rifles chambered in the 7.62×39 have always been in somewhat short supply. Many are offered for a few years by manufactures, only to see production being shut down, then re-emerge later on.
- Best 7.62×39 Rifles On The Market
- Autoloading Rifles
Best 7.62×39 Rifles On The Market
1. Ruger M-77
In my mind, the best rifle built today in this cartridge is offered by Ruger, but always in limited numbers, if at all currently. The rifle is a sold very well built Walnut stocked bolt action Mauser with a long extractor, a good barrel and set up for Ruger rings and bases.
I got hold of one of these rifles five years ago just before Ruger pulled them once again from production. I was lucky, as today buyers will have to search Guns International by example, and better major gun outlets for a used rifle to show up, or one being released by a collector. Even so, the rifle stands out as the best case offering, and being they are available to the smart shopper, I consider it the first offering in my list of best rifles.
Pricing on this rifle varies from $600.00 to whatever the market will bear. My last rifle that is still here in my shop sold for $630.00 about three years ago.
2. CZ 527
As a second example of a great rifle chambered in the Russian cartridge. I offer up the CZ 527. I shoot this rifle in the Remington .221 Fireball, and the .223 Remington rounds.
These are sweet rifles that are mini Mauser designs out of CZ American and are offered as European imported rifles, being the folks that know Mauser’s very well.
The rifles make use of very short and correct bolt actions designed for the Russian Short, carry very well manufactured receivers that are a deep royal style blue and use cut rifled barrels that shoot straight.
The rifles are drilled and tapped for scope blocks, have sling studs installed, and make use of a quality grade of European walnut. The best part of the CZ 527 is that it is in continuous production worldwide, and a rifle that you can count on to be available from a major gun dealer.
In the event you want something special, CZ America offer’s a complete custom shop right here in the USA. I have had a rifle re-barreled to a special cartridge for me through these folks and the workmanship is nothing less than outstanding.
Price regarding the CZ Mauser at current market value is about $733.00 MSRP
3. Zastava Mark X Mauser
As a third offering in again a bolt action rifle we turn to a rifle that I know like the back of my hand. The 7.62 X 39 Zastava Mark X Mauser, as offered through Century International, and other importers as well.
These rifles are very good mini Mauser action rifles that carry Walnut stocks, long extractor systems, and are offered in both sporter styles, and the Europium style full length stock, with roll over cheek pieces as well.
As a dealer, I imported these rifles and sold them through a gun shop outlet in Australia for several years. I hunted commercially down under in those days, and always used this rifle for everything from deer to kangaroo and pig hunts.
I found that the 7.62X39 was a very sold round with ballistics close to the American 30-30 Winchester downrange. Pig shooting could be extended to 300 yards with ease and stone dead warm targets were the norm when shooting the Russian Short cartridge in the turn bolt rifles.
These rifles are drilled and tapped for scope blocks, and here I had some issues finding the correct blocks. When I did bring the whole rifle together I shot it for about 10 years, and then re-barreled it to a .224 Valkyrie using a cut rifled barrel and reworked by my gunsmith Stewart Satterlee, at Satterlee Arms, Dead Wood South Dakota ( One of the best in the world the guarding Mauser action builds). Satterlee indicated that these actions were just that good as it paid to put a $1000.00 dollar rebuild into the rifle.
The Mark X Mauser’s can be bought for about $400.00 through $600.00 depending on the importer being used.
4. Russian Ak 47
I guess you could say that the real heart and soul of the 7.62X39 Russian Short is found in the autoloading rifle market.
The first rifles offered in this cartridge were the Russian Ak 47 and light machine guns in the Russian RPD and RPK models. Russian builds were not very concerned about dead on accuracy as much as dependability in harsh field conditions. The bottom line is that the Ak-47 and other variants don’t ever quit in combat operations. In more than one firefight the American GI dropped his M-16 in favor of the AK 47 when trying to save his own life.
However, in this area I have some major expertise in that I have reworked a number of AK’s. In terms of arriving at a conclusion regarding these autoloaders however the fully machined receiver models make for the most accurate rifles. However, the basic under-folder Romanian builds come in a close second in terms of real Russian pattern AK 47 of European manufactured designs. I own under-folders that shoot to 700 yards with MOA accuracy. Why? Because of better sights, correct solid mounting of those sights and some light reworking off feed ramps, etc…
The AK when correctly handled and reworked is so impressive that I have invested in the ultimate AK based rifle with that being the Romanian PSL-54 chambered in 7/62 X 54R ( Dragunov). This is the Russian 30-06, using the Kalashnikov design ( Ak 47 ). I have good friends that went up against this rifle in the sandbox fighting of the Middle East and told me that was about the only thing save for an RPG that they feared at all. It was just that good and powered by the AK 47 receiver/gas system design.
5. Rock River Arms
As the first rifle in the Autoloading ( semi-auto ) I turn to an American rifle offered by Rock River Arms.
This rifle is a pattern AR-15 upper paired to an AK 47 lower, including the banana magazine, and chambering the 7.62 X 39 round.
This rifle is very unique and I shoot it on coyotes when mounting a high grade varmint scope on the same. The rifle uses the Weaver-style rail for mounting the scope sight with tactical six screw rings and bases. This is the guts of the deal along with the very well machined receivers built by Rock River Arms.
Shooting Red Army Standard ammunition in the military 123 grain FMJ bullet, the rifle shoots inside a single MOA all day long at 100 yards. The rifle exceeds $ 1000.00.
6. Ruger Mini 14
As a second offering in the AR family of rifles, I will turn to the Ruger Mini 14.
This rifle is called the Mini 30 at times but that is not correct at all. This rifle has been around for years and is in current production at Ruger. It is a pattern M1 Garand receiver style and design that shoots the 7.62X39 Russian Short. Again I have tested shot these rifles with good results over the years.
Today the rifle is classed in a bracket of over $1000.00 MSRP but it represents a real American hold over as applied to the Russian cartridge.
These rifles are popular in prison guard tower situations and I know of one live fire situation whereas the guard, being a friend of mine stopped a large dump truck with a plow on it as it tried to crash the main gates of the prison.
7. Century Arms VSKA
The next offering I will make fits my own Century International milled receiver AK that I will list in this section at this time.
My rifle is again milled and retains a special install using a reinforced weaver rail so as to lock down the scope over the soft loose metal dust cover used on these rifles. No side plate here just straight over hard anchored rail. Mounting rail is not offered with the rifle from Century.
This is a key to the rifle’s accuracy in that nothing is shifting upon recoil at all. However, it shows what the AK 47 is clearly capable of when American built to tighter tolerances and using a milled steel receiver.
This rifle has a good trigger unlike many other AK’s, and the stock is tactical designed with great protection for the rifle’s receiver and barrel. The flash hider is threaded, and this allows the use of a suppressor as well
$1000.00 plus. Be advised, watch Century Arms International for additional rifles because they import all the time and at times get short runs of Russian rifles that are current military production as well.
8. Century Arms AES 10B Semi-Automatic Rifle
Rifle number eight is also a Century International rifle in that it is an AES 10 Hi-Cap. This rifle is like a mini PSL-54 Drag but in a shorter rifle shooting the 7.62X39 Russian short.
The rifle comes with a wood stock much like that of the Dragunov/Tiger sniper rifle.
The rife retains a set of bipods attached, 30 round magazine double stack AK style, sniper style wood buttstock (combat rated ) and 23.2-inch barrel for extended accuracy at longer ranges. In terms of sights, the rifle retains iron sights and side mount ( Russian style) scope mount.
Most locations $1,000 plus. However, have seen marked as low as $400.00.
9. Arsenal Inc SLR 107Cr
We will turn to the Arsenal Inc SLR 107Cr 7.62 X 39. Here we have a nice well made stamped receiver AK 47 of current Russian Army styling that is built mounting the polymer stock setup, standard leaf AK sights, scope rail for upper mounting, stainless steel heat shield, and cleaning rod attached under the barrel. These are clean well made rifles and are also offered in 5.56mm NATO.
10. Romanian UnderFolder Straight Assault Model AK 47
Rifle number ten this overall autoloading review is nothing less than the basic and for most work best choice Romanian Under-Folder straight assault model AK 47.
I have mine at the ready at all times living here in the mountains and being my own law for the most part. I also often carry it in my truck when crossing wide open country for several days driving.
This rifle is fast at hand. The under folding stock makes it quick to point and when exiting a vehicle very well balanced and also carries great speed when in-gauging targets.
Using 30 through 40 round or drum mags the rifle has staying power in a hot zone gunfight. These rifles are stamped, carry combat sights, woods stocks forward and steel wire rear.
Also, they retain a cleaning rod under the barrel. These rifles are Romanian built and genuine military styled and equipped
$450.00 Century International.
11. HS Precision
As a final category, I will turn to the full custom rifles as offered by HS Precision out of Rapid City South Dakota, and again Satterlee Arms Dead Wood South Dakota.
Why here in South Dakota? Because this state is the hotbed of firearms development and building in America, and these two companies can build you very high performance bolt action rifles chambered in the 7.62 X 39.
These outfits build with cut rifled barrels, and when required pure titanium receiver cut by CNC and had finished to the last letter. Stock construction is world class in wood or composite materials, and every part on the rifle including the trigger is the very top of the line.
I have been writing firearms and outdoor material of over 50 years to date. I have hunted across the world including Russia and a great deal of time professional hunting in Australia. I currently live in the American west and hunt all across the Black Hills of South Dakota, and the Big Horn mountains. I have specialized much of my work as a load developer in shotguns and rifles. I have run a small company that builds suppressor barrels of my design, and load tests for writing purposes and consulting. My commercial names include Ballistics Research & Development / Metro Gun Systems.TM.