Q&A: 7.62x51mm in a .308 Win. Lever-Action

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posted on July 16, 2020
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From the vault: A reader-submitted question about 7.62x51mm ammunition extraction problems in a .308 Win. lever-action rifle. As published in the October 2001 issue of Shooting Sports USA.

Q. I had extraction problems while shooting surplus military TZ 80 7.62x51mm NATO ammunition in a Model 99 Savage. The first shot from a clean rifle resulted in a case stuck in the chamber that extracted with difficulty. Another TZ 80 round stuck in the chamber so tightly that the extractor slipped off the rim and the case had to be tapped out. The rest of the TZ 80 ammunition was used in a bolt-action rifle and functioned perfectly; bolt lift was not sticky, primers were not flattened and the fired brass measures within tolerances. The temperature that day was between 20 and 30 degrees. I seem to remember reading that some 9mm Parabellum ammunition was loaded for use in submachine guns and was not appropriate for use in pistols, which leads me to wonder if some 7.62 NATO ammunition might have been loaded to higher pressures for specific uses? Could the TZ arsenal be in some foreign country that loads to higher pressures than the U.S.?

A. The difficulty you are having with the Israeli NATO ammunition in your Savage Model 99 is caused by two separate problems. Cartridges made to NATO standards are a little different than commercial sporting .308 Win. ammunition. There are very minor differences in the shoulder and neck of the cases, and small differences in the chambering between military rifles and sporting rifles. These differences don't mean much in bolt-action rifles because they have a stronger extraction process than the lever-action Savage. The lever-action extracts using a straight, rearward motion, while the bolt-action not only pulls to the rear but also twists the fired case, making the extraction much more positive. We don't know of any pressure problems in NATO standard ammunition, so we don't think you have any problem with the Israeli cartridges from that standpoint.

Submit your questions to [email protected].

Photo: Federal Ammunition 7.62x51mm NATO 149-grain XM80 FMJ cartridge.


See more: .30-Caliber Twist Rates

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