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Old October 14, 2016, 02:57 PM   #1
jackstrawIII
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Hornady SST 7.62x39 for Whitetail Deer

Need some input here.

I was in the market for a new short-range (100 yards and less) deer rifle. After doing a bunch of reading and thinking, I bought a CZ 527 chambered in 7.62x39. It's a great little gun and shoots very well with 125 grain Hornady SST ammo.

With that said, now that hunting season is approaching, I'm having second thoughts. A few friends have questioned my choice, and now I'm wondering if I'm a bit under-gunned.

According to Chuck Hawks (a writer that I respect, and often agree with), here are minimum requirements for a deer rifle:

Caliber: .243
Sectional Density: .200
Impact Velocity: 1500 fps
Kinetic Energy at Impact: 800 ft lbs.

The Hornady SST round checks most of those boxes:
Caliber: 308
Sectional Density: .183 (a bit low)
Impact Velocity: 2040 fps at 100 yards
Kinetic Energy: 1138 ft lbs at 100 yards

I could look at numbers on a screen all day, but I'm still unsure. So... here's my question: has anyone actually killed deer with this round? If so, what was your experience as far as quick/clean kills?

Thanks in advance.
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Old October 14, 2016, 03:10 PM   #2
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The x39 with proper ammo will easily take down a deer out to 200-250 yards.
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Old October 14, 2016, 05:24 PM   #3
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Deer are not hard to kill.
Put that bullet where it should be and you will get fine results.
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Old October 14, 2016, 06:02 PM   #4
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I am also looking at using this round for my x39 AR for hunting. Should be close to a 30-30 ballistic wise. I also currently like the Winchester Power Point ammo, shoots good and consistent out of my AR.
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Old October 14, 2016, 07:15 PM   #5
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Chuck Hawks is not my idea of a knowledgeable writer. I rarely find anything to agree with him about.

The 7.62 is just fine for deer at well over 100 yards.

A 243 was the minimum for deer 50-60 years ago, but with today's better bullets and loads is near perfect out to 300-400 yards and has been used much farther and on game much larger than deer. A 223 is acceptable on deer out to 100ish.


Chuck Hawks is still living in the 1960's. All cartridges are more alike than different. Pick one, hit the right spot and have a sharp knife.
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Old October 14, 2016, 08:01 PM   #6
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With carefully selected shots 7.62x39 is more than adequate
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Old October 14, 2016, 09:38 PM   #7
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I remember my father telling me that during the depression, when he was a kid, grandpa used a .22 LR to head shoot deer up to 30 or so yards. Guess the ammo was cheaper than the .30-30, his Model 94 used.
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Old October 15, 2016, 12:21 AM   #8
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Instead of a 123 gr bullet, look at a 150 gr or similar bullet. The 123 gr start out faster, but by 100ish yds the 150 gr takes the lead and carries the energy farther. I have a 1893 Mauser I rebarreled for 7.62X39, and I shoot the 154 gr Tulas into an inch or so at 100 yds, and can hit well out to 300 yds. The 123s start dropping a lot beyond 250 yds. Just my experience.
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Old October 15, 2016, 06:26 AM   #9
jackstrawIII
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Scorch,

I had a very similar thought regarding using heavier bullets and bought some 154 grain Tulas. However, now I'm wondering if sticking to an American made "premium" bullet is more reliable? Also, since this is a 100 yard gun, the initial speed/energy benefit of the lighter bullet might help?

Do you think the 154 grain Tulas can be counted on to expand reliably?
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Old October 15, 2016, 07:04 AM   #10
Jack O'Conner
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One of my USAF buddies hunts deer near Manassas, Virginia with same rifle as yours. Abundant doe tags for this area provide much venison for his freezer. He hunts with Winchester Power Point ammo and knocks 'em dead every time. This Russian cartridge will kill deer sized animals without any problems at typical woods distances.

Good hunting to you.
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Old October 15, 2016, 07:35 AM   #11
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I have killed two deer with that round out of a Norinco SKS both under 100 yards (typical distance around here) with regular Remington 125gr. PSP ammo. Both deer took very few steps and the round performed great. The round is every bit as effective as my 30-30. I would not hesitate to use it. Some people think you need the latest and greatest super duper ultra magnum to take deer at normal distances. It's B.S.

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Old October 15, 2016, 07:59 AM   #12
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I have to agree with Scorch and the other 150 grain crowd. I still have a 7.62x39 bolt gun I worked up years ago. I have been using Remington round nose Corlokt .308 in it for years. @ 100 yards it is deadly accurate and they open up just fine. I don't know if they are in production right now, last year everybody was out of stock. I stay away from "Premium" bullets. In my experience, they are usually worse in either accuracy or expansion. Kind of like gunwriters. They work better on paper.
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Old October 15, 2016, 04:39 PM   #13
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I've been hunting with a 6.5 grendel for the last 3 years. for the last 3 years, including this morning I have gotten deer with 125gr and less ammo, most were with 123gr ssts which are travelling at nearly the same velocity as a 123 from a 7.62x39mm. all were 150 yards and less. I even took a 200 pound elk calf with it, you'll do just fine with a x39. I've taken deer with far less, even a 9mm once upon a time.

oh, and since I've now met my quota for meat in the freezer, I am now planning on spending the rest of hunting season with a SKS loaded with 123gr SSTs so go figure.
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Old October 16, 2016, 09:06 AM   #14
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I and my wife have killed 4 deer and 4 antelope with Russian factory 7.62X39 soft points and hollow points. The 123 gr soft points worked very well, the 122 gr hollow points broke up badly and penetration was poor. The 154 gr soft points penetrated well, but expansion was poor. These are the same bullets loaded into the 7.62X54R and I am sure they were made to expand at the higher velocities of the larger round.

I loaded some Hornady 123 gr soft points for a friend and he has killed 2 antelope and 3 deer with his AK. All his kills were perfect with good expansion and good penetration. Only 1 bullet was recovered. It retained 89 grains of weight.
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Old October 16, 2016, 12:46 PM   #15
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Wyosmith, do you know the range your friend was shooting at? Also would you be interested in sharing your load info for this round? I hope to get to the bench this winter to get some rounds developed.
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Old October 16, 2016, 01:00 PM   #16
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"Instead of a 123 gr bullet, look at a 150 gr or similar bullet. The 123 gr start out faster, but by 100ish yds the 150 gr takes the lead and carries the energy farther."

I don't follow this "theory" at all. At the ranges for which a 7.62x39 is suitable, the diff between 123 and 150 is inconsequential. In fact, the 123 bullet may be more effective at slightly longer range IF it's constructed to expand at the lower velocity.
Regarding the Hornady SST, I recommend it w/o reservation. I've seen the PPU 123 RNSP suggested on some forums but compared SxS (as close as field conditions will allow), the PPU is considerably below the performance of the SST(plus the SST will run through a semi-auto).
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Old October 16, 2016, 01:20 PM   #17
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Smee, my friend shot deer and antelope at various ranges but he said he didn't pay much attention to them all except for the fact that the longest shot he made was about 175 yards. So it's safe to say all shots were at 175 and less.

The load I put together for him was WW brass and primer, 25 Gr of 1680 and the Hornady 123 gr bullet seated to the canalure and lightly crimped.
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Old October 16, 2016, 01:22 PM   #18
jackstrawIII
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Wyosmith, do you have any idea what speed that load was moving at? Wondering how it stacks up against the SST.

Also, thanks everyone for the great comments. I really appreciate people sharing their experiences, it's helping me feel a lot more confident that this load will do what I need it to.
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Old October 16, 2016, 08:29 PM   #19
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Sorry jackstraw, but I have none of those notes now. I did chronograph it, but I gave the load and the notes to my friend who got the ammo.
I do remember it was on the fast side, so I would have to guess about 2300 FPS, but that's just my guess. He and I were both shooting form 16" barrels.
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Old October 18, 2016, 09:45 AM   #20
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I'd think of it as a 30-30 using pointed bullets, but add 50 yards. Those SSTs will be excellent.
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Old October 21, 2016, 12:04 AM   #21
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hey Jack!!!!!!!!

I've hunted a x39mm RUGER bolt rifle,and a Mini30 for about 20 years now. I bought the bolt rifle as a starter for bamaboy, and he killed a couple with it, bang flops. He moved on to bigger rifles, and I hunt the x39 bolt rifle some myself now. It's stainless/synthetic, and ideal for bad weather and woods distances.

G-Tide (roll) comments regards 30-30 is apt. The x39mm lags a bit behind the the old timer, but not so much as to be noticeable in the field on deer sized critters. The two biggest whitetails I've killed, were both taken at under 50 yds, with the x39 bolt rifle. One fell at the shot, the other ran the typical death sprint, not realizing it no longer had a heart. Both those were in the 175 lb range. I've shot others as well w/ the cartridge, with the same results.

My load for a long time used the 135 gr Sierra single shot pistol bullet. That slug is no longer in production. A pal had a quantity of .310 SST's (125gr) and I loaded them up.....they do shoot well in the bolt rifle. I have no doubt placed correctly, that they will do the job. I've experimented with 150's RN (30-30) slugs in the Mini, but have never killed a deer with them. Velocities from the shorter barreled Mini w/ the 150's lag well behind the lighter bullet from the longer barreled bolt rifle. There's a lot of exposed lead on the RN's, I'd expect they'd expand despite the velocity difference.

Don't ask too much of the x39, keep ranges reasonable (it's not a bean field rifle) and critter size appropriate (deer, hogs) and you'll be satisfied.
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Old October 21, 2016, 04:02 PM   #22
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The .30-30 has been dropping all manner of North American game for over 100 years. The 7.62x39, while unable to throw as heavy bullets, is for all intents and purposes a ballistic twin of the .30-30, the occupy the same niche of cartridges anyway. Treat it like a .30-30 (don't try messing around with quarter mile shooting) and it ought to behave like a .30-30. That sst should do lots of damage but at 762x39 velocity the risk of bullet blow up is minimal. Another way to look at it: my brother in law took a nice cow moose today with a .308 shooting 180 power points. Nobody thinks that is unusual. If you compare the ratio of cartridge power to game size I think you'll find the 7.62x39 is at least as big for deer as a .308 is big for moose. Happy hunting!
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Old October 24, 2016, 01:12 AM   #23
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Just don't shoot a deer in the butt with it and expect the bullet to come out the chest and you will do fine with that.
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Old October 24, 2016, 01:48 AM   #24
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don't

Don't shoot a deer in the butt with anything.
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Old October 24, 2016, 11:40 AM   #25
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The one thing I agree with Chuck about is his warning to never shoot an animal in the butt.
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