Being retired, and not having much to do, I often wonder about things.

A lot of us shoot the Mosin 91/30 and enjoy the rifle. But not many reload for them, as surplus military ammo is cheap and available. It shoots the great 7.62 X 54R cartridge. The "R" means that it is rimmed. It has ballistics almost as good as the .30-06, but not quite as good.

But what if someone wanted to use them to hunt game? What if I wanted to shoot a feral hog and wanted a better bullet than the normal military ball loaded in this surplus ammo?

I pulled a couple of bullets and found them to be different in the way the base was manufactured. I do not know where they were made, but believe it or not, both weighed exactly 150 grains. They sure don't "look" like they would weigh the same.

Notice that one has a very unusual cone-shaped cavity in the base. The other is a regular lead core with copper jacket.

The bullets were about .3095 in diameter.

I wondered if I could use better powder and bullets and maybe improve the accuracy of this old round, and maybe improve the terminal performance over military ball bullets?

There is only one way to find out.

I started by pulling some bullets. To do this, I needed a set of 7.62 X 54R dies, but I didn't have a set. I called a couple of buddies that reload but they didn't have any either. So, I improvised. You know, "Improvise, Adapt, Overcome."

I found that a base shell holder for a .45-70 was a pretty close fit. So, I used that to pull the bullets on my Rock Chucker reloading press. I just raised the bullets through the press and grabbed the bullet with a set of vise grip pliers.

Then I pulled the case downwards, and the bullet was pulled.

The powder was poured out, as I wasn't going to re-use it. I was surprised to see it was a rod-type powder. I have seen the Russians use a flake powder in some of these loads.

I was also surprised to see that the Rooskies did not use any type of asphalt sealant or sealant of any type. I guess snow doesn't leak in as badly as water does.

I decided to substitute a more modern powder and choose Varget, as it is a great powder with a reputation for accuracy. I looked on Hodgdon's site and found a suggested load for this cartridge and Varget. It was 49.0 grains for a 150 grain, .308 caliber bullet.

When I measured the pulled bullets and they were from .310 to .309 caliber. I wondered if I could substituted a better .308 bullet and get satisfactory accuracy?

I will shoot 3 groups of 5 shots today.

The first will be a "standard" using the original 7.62 X 54R surplus ammo, as a baseline.

For the second load, I loaded some cartridges with 49.0 grains of Varget and the original pulled bullets. The only difference in this load is the powder.

For the third load, I used Varget and some good hunting loads, some 150 grain Speer Grand Slam bullets. Here's the bullets.

Well, time to see what we have.

I will be shooting one of my restored Mosin 91/30 rifles. It shoots pretty well, but as is very common, the bore is "rough", as Ivan didn't clean the corrosive residue out of the bore when he was fighting the Nazis.

I chose one of the types of military ball I have, one that isn't particularly accurate, so I can see if I can improve the accuracy.

I shot the three groups and laid the targets in my trunk as I cleaned up to go home. But a big Texas rain storm came through and it rained like a fire hose and my targets got a little wet before I could shut the trunk. So, you will just have to ignore the ink that ran, because the bullet holes didn't move.

As you can see, the first "baseline" group was about 2 ½ inches at 50 yards.

The next group with the same bullets but with Varget powder measured 2 3/8 inches.

The third group with the Varget powder and the Speer Grand Slam bullets measured at 2 inches.


1. First, we do not really have "conclusions" as I didn't shoot enough test rounds to draw any firm conclusions. What I have are some "indications". That's all.

2. I see an indication that we could possibly improve the accuracy by substituting better .308 hunting bullets for the .3095 military ball bullets. The .308 bullets seemed to shoot just fine in that rough bore.

3. Just changing the powder didn't seem to make a lot of difference.

4. The terminal ballistics would definitely be much better with the Speer bullets than with the military ball.

5. It's fun to shoot stuff