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The Best 7.62×39 Ammo for Deer Hunting | What You Should Use

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Many modern hunters are finding the 7.62×39 a high-performing round for taking down trophy deer. However, since there are a wide range of options available, it can be difficult to know which one to go with.

The best 7.62×39 ammo for deer hunting is the Winchester Super-X 123 grain soft point ammo. This ammo is a popular choice for deer hunting because it’s reasonably priced and reliable. Moreover, the soft point makes it effective for large game. 

In this article, I’ll discuss if 7.62×39 is good for deer hunting, what grain bullet is best. I’ll also tell you the two best 7.62×39 ammo types for deer.

Is the 7.62×39 Good for Deer Hunting?

762 Spelled Out In Rounds With Deer and Red Crosshairs

7.62×39 is good ammo for deer hunting because it’s powerful enough for large game without creating too much recoil. So, 7.62×39 allows for a powerful shot without recoil that could cause you to miss and scare the deer away.

The most important thing to know about 7.62×39 ammo is that it’s powerful. It may not be as flashy as other calibers that claim to tear through just about any obstacle, but this ammo will certainly get the job done when it comes to hunting deer. 

The balance of power in this ammo makes it effective for many different things. From home defense to large game, 7.62×39 ammo will get the job done. Because it’s not too intensely powerful, this ammo allows for a much more reasonable recoil. So, you can be sure you’re getting the best possible accuracy with this ammo. 

Accuracy is vital for deer hunting, no matter what caliber you’re using. Being precise ensures you shoot the deer exactly where you’re aiming. Without sufficient accuracy, you may hit the deer in a part of its body that doesn’t kill it but instead only makes it needlessly suffer. The biggest rule of hunting is to remain ethical, and accuracy can help you stay that way. 

The amount of recoil can vary based on the weight of the bullet, and you can get 7.62×39 ammo in a variety of grains. The lighter you go, the less recoil you’ll have. However, since the bullets are already pretty light, you’ll have relatively decent accuracy with any grain. 

So, 7.62×39 ammo is good for deer hunting because it has enough power to kill a deer without too much recoil. Overall, it’s a good choice, especially if you don’t want to cause too much damage.

What Grain Bullet Is Best for 7.62×39?

The best grain bullet for 7.62×39 ammo is 123 grain. It’s the most popular choice for hunting and for a good reason. This grain provides good firepower and performs well no matter the brand you choose. 

Choosing a grain for your ammo can be a challenge. A lot factors into choosing the right weight for your ammo. So, let’s talk about some of those factors and why 123-grain ammo will meet your hunting needs with 7.62×39 caliber ammo. 

123-grain bullets are pretty standard for 7.62×39 cartridges. This grain allows for comfort when firing as it isn’t very heavy and can keep an appropriate twist rate with almost any gun you fire it from. The twist rate is vital for the accuracy of any rifle. It’s the amount of spin that you get from a bullet while it’s still inside the barrel of a gun when fired. 

You always want to ensure that your bullet can reach one full twist or as close as possible when firing the gun. This will help you get the most possible twist coming out of the barrel. 123-grain ammo will usually have a twist rate of about 1:10. This means that it’ll get a full twist with a 10” (25.4 cm) barrel.

A good twist when firing your bullet ensures that it will fly straight and remain on course for the duration of its flight. A good twist will also help the bullet power through other obstacles like the wind. As a bullet’s weight changes, the twist rate will also change. So, we highly recommend 123-grain ammo as the twist rate is not too short or too long. 

Another reason why 123-grain ammo is the best choice is the lack of recoil. At the same velocity, heavier bullets generate more recoil when fired. So, going with a heavy bullet may sound more effective, but it can throw off your accuracy because of the recoil. 123-grain ammo gives you the right balance of weight, power, and stability because it’s not too heavy. 

Best 3 7.62×39 Hunting Ammo Choices

White-Tailed Deer Buck in a Field Looking Toward Camera

The 3 best 7.62×39 hunting ammo choices are the Winchester Super-X 123 grain soft point ammo, Federal Power-Shok 7.62×39 123 grain soft point ammo, and the Underwood 7.62×39 Grain Controlled Chaos solid monolithic ammo. All 3 ammo choices are perfect for deer hunting.

While the Winchester Super-X 123 grain soft point ammo is our first choice for hunting ammo, there are other options out there that also get the job done. Each of these choices is 123-grain ammo to allow fair comparisons. So, let’s break down some of the runners-up. 

Federal Power-Shok 7.62×39 123 Grain Soft Point Ammo

This ammo is our choice for the first runner-up as it has many similarities to the Winchester Super-X ammo. With the same grain and soft point, this ammo would work well in a pinch if you couldn’t find the Winchester ammo. 

This ammo is our second choice because it’s a little more expensive than Winchester without bringing more to the table. However, Federal Power-Shok is often easier to find and less likely to be sold out because of the higher price. So, if you want a solid choice that can replace your Winchester ammo and don’t mind paying a little more, Federal is a great option. 

Like the Winchester ammo, deer hunters highly recommend Federal Power-Shok because of its weight, soft point, and overall power. Let’s get into some specifications of this ammo compared to our favorite.

First, let’s talk about muzzle velocity. Muzzle velocity is simply the speed at which the bullet is traveling at the exact moment that it leaves the barrel of your gun. Muzzle velocity starts when the bullet leaves the barrel because that’s the fastest the bullet will travel. So, you’re measuring the top speed of your bullet with muzzle velocity. 

A higher muzzle velocity means that a bullet will be traveling faster. This means that the bullet will travel further and impact the target harder when it reaches its destination. So, let’s compare Winchester Super-X and Federal Power-Shok regarding muzzle velocity. 

The muzzle velocity of our top pick Winchester Super-X is recorded at 2,365 feet (720.85 meters) per second, while the muzzle velocity of Federal Power-Shok is 2,300 feet (701.04 meters) per second. Now, 65 feet (19.81 meters) per second may not seem like a lot when talking about such speed, but it affects the distance your bullet can travel and how hard it hits your target. 

The muzzle velocity and the price are the main differences between these two ammo types. So, Federal Power-Shok is a great alternative.

Underwood 7.62×39 123 Grain Controlled Chaos Solid Monolithic Ammo

This ammo has a higher muzzle velocity than both of our previous options at 2,450 feet (746.76 meters) per second. So, why isn’t this our top pick as it’s faster? Let’s discuss. 

Although this ammo is a decent choice for hunting, there are some drawbacks that make the other two options better. First, these bullets are monolithic, meaning they’re entirely made of metal. This is very different from Federal and Winchester, which are both lead-based with steel casings. Let’s talk about the differences.

Monolithic ammo is a lot more likely to hold its shape, while lead ammo can form itself to the barrel of the gun. While this doesn’t offer too much change in short distances, you’ll notice the difference immediately with long-distance shots. Lead bullets like Federal and Winchester are more accurate over long distances than monolithic ammo simply because of the material. 

While the price range is comparable between Underwood and the other options, it’s a little more expensive than both. So, it can serve you well at shorter distances if you don’t mind the slight price increase. However, it’ll struggle at longer distances, making it hard to justify the higher cost.

As far as hunting, all three bullets will do plenty of damage when they come into contact with a deer and other large game, as long as you can get the shot there accurately. Nevertheless, Underwood Controlled Chaos Solid Monolithic ammo does have some of its own perks. 

There are some health concerns with using lead ammo for hunting. The problem with using lead ammo for hunting is that lead particles can easily get into the meat of a deer, and you and your family can even consume it along with the deer meat. In fact, Wesleyan University did a study recently that discovered about 48% of deer shot with lead shotgun ammo contained meat contaminated with lead. 

Now, this doesn’t mean that we should stop hunting with lead ammo altogether, but it’s worth considering when feeding yourself and your family. Lead is very toxic to humans and animals. It can cause damage to the brain, spine, kidneys, and other organs. So, it’s best to be careful using lead ammo for hunting and ensure you clean the meat thoroughly before consuming it. 

Monolithic ammo, Underwood included, is not lead-based. So, it’s safer to use when hunting deer because there’s no chance of lead contamination. If this type of contamination is a concern for you, Underwood Controlled Chaos Solid Monolithic ammo is a safer option at a comparable cost to lead-based ammo.

Wolf 762x39 Ammo Box
Wolf Poly is another popular option.

What Is the Best 7.62×39 Rifle for Hunting?

The best 7.62×39 rifle for hunting is the Ruger American Ranch. It’s reasonably priced, accurate, and dependable, making it a favorite among both professional and recreational hunters.

Here are a few reasons why the Ruger American Ranch is one of the best deer hunting rifles out there.

Dependability

Dependability is one of the most sought-after features of any hunting rifle. We all need a rifle that’ll work when it needs to work, no matter how long it’s been since you last fired it, and that’s the Ruger American Ranch. This is one of the most dependable options out there, which is quite a feat considering the reasonable price.

Price

More reasonably priced than most other rifles, the Ruger American Ranch is the best possible deal for the quality you’re getting. There are other options out there for a similar price, but the dependability, accuracy, and overall performance are unbeatable. If you get it used, it’ll be even cheaper.

Accuracy

The Ruger American Ranch has a 1:10 twist rate, making the Winchester Super-X 123 grain ammo a perfect fit. You’ll get a good amount of twist, which, as we discussed above, makes for a straighter and more accurate shot. 

The pull weight of the trigger is adjustable, letting you choose from 3 to 5 pounds (1.36 – 2.26 kg), depending on your comfort level. So, this rifle ensures you get the most accurate and comfortable shot possible. It also features a rubber buttpad to help reduce recoil, giving you even more accuracy. 

This rifle also has a free-floating barrel. Free-floating barrels are exactly what they sound like, and the barrel is not touching other parts of the gun. Anything that a barrel comes in contact with will affect the gun’s accuracy. So, Ruger American Ranch has a barrel with space around it to prevent accuracy loss.

Final Thoughts

The Soviet Union created 7.62×39 ammo toward the end of World War II when they wanted to create a new cartridge for various different rifles. The ammo that originally started as a 7.62×41 and later got shortened to 7.62×39 quickly became a popular choice for deer hunting. But what 7.62×39 ammo should you use?

There are many reasonable options for 7.62×39 ammo, but the Winchester Super-X 123 Grain Soft Point ammo truly stands out above the rest. It leads the pack in price, accuracy, and overall effectiveness for deer hunters.

For more, check out What Can Deer Smell? (How To Avoid Detection).

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