An AK-47 has long been a favorite among recreational shooters and outdoorsmen alike. However, many haven’t even considered using it for hunting. The popular 7.62 round outputs ballistics similar to that of the .30-30 Winchester, a round that’s been proven effective for hunting for more than a century.
A 7.62×39 on an AK-47 has muzzle velocity of approximately 2,400 fps, and hits with about 1,600 ft.lbs of energy with a standard 123 grain bullet. The .30-30 has muzzle velocity of about 2,300 fps, and 1,800 ft.lbs of energy with a standard 150 grain. As you can see the .30-30 does have the upper hand, but not by much.
One of the perks with using the 7.62 round over the .30-30 is the affordability and accessibility of the ammunition. Being able to get lots of rounds down range months before your hunt can mean the difference between a kill shot and tracking a wounded animal for miles.
One of the biggest mistakes a hunter can make is not being comfortable and confident with their rifle and caliber before using it for hunting. I suggest buying a few hundred cheap surplus 7.62×39 rounds, and several boxes of high-end hunting rounds, and taking it to the range. You might want to buy heavier (130-154 grain) soft point or hollow point ammunition for the hunt.
Keep in mind, full metal jacket ammo is illegal for hunting almost everywhere, and definitely is not ethical. There are several options out there between the foreign rounds and US made. Shoot some cheap rounds down range, then after you’ve gotten comfortable with the recoil and overall feel of the gun, transition to the hunting rounds and sight in your gun.
Another advantage is the variety of rifles to choose from chambered in 7.62×39. The classic AK-47 can be used for hunting, however there are also other, more practical options. An old SKS rifle will suffice, and can be customized to take a scope, synthetic stock and other accessories if desired. These rifles are very inexpensive and readily available.
If you’re like me and prefer to buy American, then here’s a couple options. First off, many AR enthusiasts love to adapt and customize their AR-15’s to a myriad of calibers, including 7.62×39. My personal favorite rifle is the Ruger Mini 30. The Mini 30 is a semi-auto rifle made in the USA and will take more money out of your pocket than an SKS, but for the quality and reliability of the gun, it’s worth it to some.
Once you’ve found your gun of choice, put some rounds down range, and sighted in your scope (or iron sights), you’re ready to hunt! The 7.62 round will have no problem taking down a whitetail or mule deer. The AK bullet can also take down wild boar with good shot placement and high-end ammunition. I would suggest using soft point, as they spread and transfer the energy of the bullet into the animal very effectively. While it’s not recommended by all hunters to use 7.62×39 on hogs, I’ve heard countless testimonies of wild pigs dropping within 200 yards.
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