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Published on July 16th, 2012 | by Jack Murphy


How to Read Russian Ammo Cans

Great information!  When I was an 18B I used to teach this information to my ODA.  There are third world soldiers walking around with magazines full of bad ammo because they loaded a bad lot number.  You don’t want that to happen to you so it’s important to be able to decipher the markings on foreign ammunition boxes and cans.  I’ll root through my reference material in the meantime and see if I can find the translations for Chinese and Arabic as well.  Thanks the pointer Soldier Systems.


Thanks for the translation. But, your translation leaves me with another question. That stuff looks like common bulk ammo. Now I am no sniper, but I have done some long range shooting out to 600yds. My experience is that it doesn't mater much out to about 100yds, but after that I had to use too shelf factory ammo or load it my self to know where the bullet was going. I know the average sniper could probably out shoot me on my best day but I can't be that far off track. I know I would want good ammo, so I know the first shot his. I do know that once you engage the enemy you are no longer a sniper, your a target. Maybe one of you snipers can answer this for me?


The Russian word is "sniper" written under 7.62.


Which would narrow it down to 7.62x54 - is the round used in Soviet rifles - The Dragunov sniper rifle (Снайперская винтовка Драгунова (SVD)


I have a USSF buddy that is fluent in Russian...I know my Cyrillic is rusty to - any Chinese - post it and reply to me. I have a Chinese connection as's all about networking...


Thanks for the great info. Can you tell me what the words translate to in English? Just kidding. This info is definitely useful when clearing outhouses in the Stan. The Chinese would be awesome to know. The more you know about your enemies gear the better.


I believe at the 10:35 mark when listing the AMMO Year (1975) and the powder YR (1974) - the IV and the III is divided in quarters (3 months of production) - Like first quarter - being JAN-MAR - 2nd quarter being APR-JUN - it narrows it down per month period and year for those lots being produced. I could be wrong...

markmiller 4 Like

In Afghanistan, we recovered hundreds of thounds of these cans. We would find them piled up in caves and mud huts with one corner pried open so they could peek in.  We could see the 14.5 or the 12.7 clearly on the can. It seems that most Afghans are not only illiterate, they are innumerate. They could not read the caliber. I can imagine them looking for AK ammo, opening each can...shit....shit.....shit....Yea!

Ullr 2 Like

 @markmiller  Found that even the rare, literate Afghans had troble.  Pashto numerals look different than the Indo-Arabic numerals that we're used to seeing.  Or they didn't know numbers represented caliber size. 


Hindsight being 20/20, maybe it would've been easier if they had drawn farm animals w/ penises on the ammo boxes.   Donkey dick = 14.5mm ammo, sheep peckers = 7.62mm, etc., etc.


 @markmiller I hope that every round they find blows up in the chamber. I pray for it every day...


When my wife and I visited a privately owned and operated Polish Army museum in Swidnica, we saw a ton of ammo cans in various slavic dialects in the gentleman's arms collection. Most of it Russian and Polish, I could read the Polish but knew that the Cyrllic was going to throw me off. Now I can back through the pictures and actually glean some info off of those cans (Yeah I'm the guy who even takes pictures of ammo can and boxes). Very cool... very, very cool thanks Jack!

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