Wolf Brand and some Imported Russian Small Arms Ammunition

In the late 1990's, good quality plinking ammunition imported from Russia was plentiful and cheap. Wolf Brand 7.62 x 39mm could be purchased in bulk for as little as 90 dollars per 1000 rounds. The Wolf cartridges used berdan primed noncorrosive primers with steel cases, which were coated in a dark green/olive lacquer. The bullets had copper plated steel jackets with lead cores.

This source of inexpensive plinking fodder for the American market quickly dried up after the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 when the U.S. Government contracted with Russian Ammunition manufacturers to provide a 15 year supply of arms and ammunition to the fledgling Afghan Government. In the past decade we have seen a number of shortages of ammunition and reloading components. In addition, prices of many of the commodities used in their manufacture have more than doubled.

Lore of Guns
Explore this site
Surplus Mil Ammo

In the past year or two, these ammunition shortages in the U.S. have started to abate but I have observed a few possible quality control issues with some of the recently imported cartridges.

Wolf 5.56 x 45 mm and 7.62 x 39 mm

Sunday January 31, 2011

On January 31st, two shooters had problems with Wolf brand Ammunition at the range where I shoot. Both had recently purchased ammunition at a local gun show.

The first was firing Wolf brand 5.56 x 45 mm ammunition from a AR15 style rifle. This was boxer primed full metal jacket ammunition using steel cases was coated with a silvery gray laquer characteristic of Sellier and Bellot rather than the olive green laquer most commonly seen on Russian Manufactured Wolf ammunition. 3 out of 40 rounds failed to fire. In all three failures the primer detonated with enough force to blow out part of primer cup but the powder did not ignite and the bullet did not budge from the case.

I pried out the primer and observed that the flash hole was unobstructed.

I was able to shake out some of propellent from two of the misfires through the primer hole onto a paper towel.

It was unlike any other smokeless propellent that I have encountered. The granules were in the form of fairly large and irregularly cut silvery metallic rods. Off the range, I lit the paper towel and I could count almost 4 seconds from the time the powder ignited to when it burned to completion.

This was the slowest burning smokeless powder that I have ever seen. Slower burning than either Hodgdon H870 or Accurate Arms 8700 both of which I has used in the past and have on occasion had to dispose of small quantities of spilled powder by burning in the in the open air.

My conclusion is that the manufacturer used a very slow burning single base propellant, which was designed for a much larger cartridge than 223 Remington for this lot of ammunition. The small rifle primer used had just barely enough brisance to ignite the propellent 37 out of 40 times.

The second shooter was using WOLF 7.62 x 39mm ammunition in a Ruger Mini 30. Again these were full metal jacket cartridges using steel cases coated with a silvery gray laquer. This ammunition however was berdan primed. Five rounds out of 40 failed to go off.

The cause would appear to be the deeply seated primers. The primers were so deeply seated below the head of the cartridge that I wondered if perhaps pistol primers were accidently or purposefully subsituted for rifle primers in this lot of ammunition.

LVE 9mm Luger

February 26, 2011

On February 26th, a shooter using a pistol was firing LVE brand 9mm luger cartridges that he recently had aquired at a gun show. Out of a box of 50 rounds he had two cartridge failures.

One cartridge primer failed to fire, there was a heavy primer indention and a second primer strike yielded no result. In the second misfire, the primer detonated and blew out of the cartridge case. Disassembly of the round revealed that the berdan primed cartridge case did not have flash holes drilled.

An interesting thing to note is that although this ammmunition is labeled as coming from Russia, the cartridge cases looked suspiciously like those manufactured by Norinco before the importation ban of ammunition manufactured in the Peoples Republic of China.