Ammo comes up frequently when the Steyr 1895 carbines are discussed. Here's the skinny:
- Military surplus 8x56R ammo availability is spotty; few suppliers ever get it, there can be long dry spells, it's usually expensive, all of it is corrosive-primered FMJ, and some of it doesn't work very well (lots of hangfires and duds).
- Commercial ammo in this caliber is nonexistent.
- Ready-made 0.361"-caliber bullets and brass for handloading are nearly nonexistent. If you do find some brass, it will often be used; if you find bullets, they won't be from Speer or some other large supplier, they'll probably be from a shop in the back of some guy's barn, and there's no guarantee that they'll be high quality, or that you'll ever be able to get them again.
- Lee makes a 205gr bullet mold for this cartridge, but bullet casting is not everyone's cup of tea.
- This is Reason #1 that the rifles are so cheap.
Reason #2 is that they kick like a mule.
FWIW if you haven't seen one, you need to know that pictures don't make you appreciate their size, or more precisely, their lack thereof; they're tiny compared to most WWII battle rifles. Big cartridge + little gun = RECOIL.
Regarding 7.62x54R, the reasons for choosing the commercial Russian soft point ammo (which is usually what the milsurp dealers stock) is that it's better for hunting, the primers aren't corrosive, and some public ranges prohibit FMJ because it tends to overpenetrate and ricochet. Regarding corrosive primers, all
Russian military primers (no exceptions, including today's) are corrosive because they perform slightly better at extremely cold temperatures. Corrosive primers won't cause your gun to rust prematurely if you clean it promptly, but you have
to clean it promptly.