With the Biden administration blocking off all imports of Russian manufactured ammunition, the cost of these calibers will not only go up because of its rarity but certain calibers may not be available at all in the near future. The calibers in question are 7.62mmX39mm, 7.62x54R and 5.45x39mm. 7.62x39mm and 7.62x54R along with pistol caliber such as 9×18 Makarov and 7.65×25 Tokarav. However, most calibers are available from a few Eastern European manufacturer who are subject to the embargo – all except one caliber: 5.45x39mm. What is the solution? Reloading of course. Here is how you can reload the 5.45x39mm also known as the AK-74 Round.
According to a user from the popular website ar15.com, you can load 5.45×39 by using 223 Remington or 5.56 NATO brass and swaging down 55 grain .224 bullets. Here is the breakdown of the steps.
1. Prep .223 Rem or 5.56x45mm brass by cutting of at the neck. This would just be enough so that after forming the new neck, there would be minimal trimming. The Harbor Freight Mini Bench Top Cut Off Saw is the perfect tool for the price for the job. (https://www.harborfreight.com/2-in-mini-bench-top-cut-off-saw-62136.html)
2. Run the brass through the sizing and decapping die. Currently I would recommend Hornady Dies because of availability. (https://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item/00005546199/5point45x39-custom-grade-new-dimension-2-die-set) Trim to size.
3. Resize .224 bullets (because that is what goes into .223) to .221. The preferred method is to swage using Lee’s swaging tool. (https://leeprecision.com/bullet-szr-punch-.221.html)
4. Use .222 Remington load data to load the round to SAAMI spec but to 5.45×39 OAL. Use the 55gr load data since the bullets were formed from 55gr .224 bullets.
5. Test fire the round and check for velocity and cycling. If the bolt in you AK is not able to extract the round properly, you may consider a 5.56x45mm Bolt Carrier. (https://armsofamerica.com/ak-5-56-complete-bolt-assembly-original-beryl-archer-fb-radom-poland/) This is due to the 5.45×39 rim diameter having a size of exactly 10mm whereas 5.56×45 is 9.6 mm.
The 5.45x39mm round is not a tough round to reload and can be done economically. After this rework of cheaper .223 Rem Brass, you should be able to get approximately 7 reloads before the case will be prone to splitting if the cases are properly annealed. Also, converted brass are now boxer primed versus some other that are still Berdan primed. These reasons makes the .223 Remington and 5.56x45mm cartridge a very versatile one.
What other calibers do you think will need a conversion from another caliber? Please sound off in the comments.
Disclaimer: Please note that reloading is dangerous and the instructions are here for research and discussion purposes only. Reload and fire at your own risk.