Is 7.62×54 the Same as .308 or 7.62×51?

Is a 7.62×54 the same as a .308 or its own kind 7.62×51? First things first, let’s clear up the confusion. Nope, the 7.62×54 is not the same as the .308 or 7.62×51. The 7.62x54R is a rimmed Russian cartridge that marches to the beat of rifles like the Mosin-Nagant. On the other side, the .308, a rimless round akin to its military buddy, the 7.62×51 NATO.

Let’s clear the air about the 7.62×54 and its comparison to the .308, drawing insights from every possible and logical perspective.

The .308 and 7.62×51 NATO Relationship

Similar but Not Identical

Many gun lovers emphasize the similarity and occasional interchangeability between the .308 Winchester and 7.62×51 NATO.

While these rounds share characteristics such as energy levels of around 3500 Joules, they differ in length, shape, and bullet specifics.

Performance and Application

Both rounds have historical significance. They both serve in service rifles and continue to find roles in DMR and sniper applications. However, the .308 tends to enjoy better-quality ammo options in the U.S. than the 7.62x54R.

The Key Differences of 7.62x54R and .308/7.62×51

Rimmed and Russian

The 7.62x54R is a rimmed cartridge (denoted by the “R”) that is used notably in rifles like the Mosin-Nagant.

  • Unlike the .308 and its military counterpart, the 7.62×51 (which are rimless rounds), the 7.62x54R exhibits a pronounced rim on the cartridge.

Diameter Differences

The 7.62x54R departs from the .308/.308Win/7.62×51 NATO family for using a bullet of .311 diameter, whereas the latter adopts a slightly smaller .308 diameter.

  • Power-wise, the 7.62x54R aligns more closely with the .30/06 than the 7.62×51/.308Win.

Are 7.62×54 and .308 Bullets Interchangeable?

No, you should not do this. I’m giving two main reasons behind this.

Different Animals

The interchange of 7.62x54r and .308 can have serious consequences as the rounds differ significantly in length, shape, and bullet specifications.

Thus firing a 7.62x54R in a .308 chamber or vice versa is a risky endeavor. This can have outcomes ranging from gun damage to catastrophic failure.

Pressure Matters

The .308 has a higher pressure rating than any kind of 7.62 bullets or cartridges. Though .308 can safely fire in a 7.62 NATO chamber, the reverse is not a better deal.

Can You Use 7.62x54r in .308?

No, you shouldn’t do this. Firstly, 7.62x54R and .308 (or 7.62×51 NATO) are distinct cartridges.

  • The 7.62x54R is a rimmed cartridge designed for bolt-action rifles like the Mosin–Nagant.
  • On the contrary, .308 is a rimless cartridge commonly used in various semi-autos like the M-14.

Headspacing and Gas Leakage

Another significant factor is head spacing.

The 7.62x54R headspaces off the cartridge rim, which differs from the headspacing method of the .308. Thus if anyone attempts to use 7.62x54R in a .308 rifle. It may result in issues with extraction due to the rim variation.

Moreover, the rim on the 7.62x54R serves to prevent gas leakage around the bolt, because a function is not present in the .308 design.

You will get the other reasons why you should not use 7.62x54r in .308 in the following sections.

Reasons: Is 7.62×54  the Same as .308 or 7.62×51 NATO?

Now you know 7.62×54 is not the same as a .308 Winchester or 7.62 NATO bullet, but all rounds shine in hunting. You might even find a good deal on bolt action Mosin-Nagants in 7.62x54R.

You can consider that .308 is simply the commercial name for 7.62X51 NATO (the same way 5.56 and .223 are essentially the same).

Here are the specifics.

Rimmed and Rimless

  • The 7.62x54R proudly sports a pronounced rim on its cartridge and dances with a bullet of .311 diameter.
  • Meanwhile, the .308 and the 7.62×51 have a different beat—a rimless design and a slightly smaller .308 bullet diameter.

Power Play

When it comes to power, think of the 7.62x54R as the “30.06 lite” and the .308/7.62×51 NATO as the hotter sibling.

The Compatibility

Now, let’s tackle the big question. Are they interchangeable? The resounding answer is no.

It’s not just about the length and shape; it’s about preventing your gun from doing a dramatic fireworks show or getting seriously damaged. Therefore, trying to swap a 7.62x54R with a .308 or vice versa is a recipe for trouble.

Performance and Application

Sure, they’re not interchangeable, but they’re like distant cousins—similar in terms of energy and application.

  • Both have around 3500 Joules of energy, a history in service rifles, and roles in DMR and sniper applications.
  • However, the .308 tends to enjoy better-quality ammo options in the U.S.

7.62x54R vs .308 Winchester: A Comprehensive Breakdown

7.62x54R and .308 Winchester, both cartridges have their strengths in their special field of action. You must understand their differences to make an informed decision based on your specific needs.

  • The 7.62x54R, with its origins dating back to 1891, boasts a rich history and military service.
  • On the other hand, the .308 Winchester, introduced in 1952, quickly gained popularity in both civilian and military applications.


While both cartridges share a .30 caliber designation, they differ in bullet diameter.

  • The 7.62x54R uses a .311-inch bullet and the .308 Winchester employs a .308-inch bullet.
  • Despite this variance, their ballistic performances are remarkably close.

Ballistic Comparison

Comparing 180-grain loads from Sellier & Bellot-

  • both cartridges exhibit similar velocities and energy levels.

At 500 yards, the .308 drops only 7 inches more than the 7.62x54R.

  • This incident highlights their comparable long-range performance.



7.62x54R is deeply rooted in military service with a lineage.

  • This cartridge is utilized in bolt-action, semi-auto, and full-auto weapons.
  • It offers various loadings like sniper rounds and armor-piercing options.
  • It remains a popular choice for hunting.
  • It offers an economical advantage with surplus ammo.

.308 Winchester:

.308 Winchester is renowned for its versatility as it is a go-to for civilian hunters and target shooters alike.

  • It is appreciated for fitting into short-action rifles and nearly matching the ballistics of the longer .30-06.
  • The .308 gained popularity both for hunting and military use.

7.62x54R vs. .308 Caliber: Which Is Better?

Choosing between the two boils down to personal preference. If you own a rifle-

  • The .308 tends to offer a broader range of options, but the 7.62x54R remains a reliable and cost-effective choice.


Although slightly less versatile than the .308, this cartridge holds its own, especially in surplus military rifles. It’s a solid choice for hunting and target shooting.

.308 Winchester:

The .308 is considered more versatile than the 7.62x54r with a broader selection of loadings and firearms. Its popularity ensures a wide availability of ammunition.

Final Verdict

The 7.62x54R is distinctly Russian and not interchangeable with the .308 family.

  • The 7.62x54R is specifically designed for rifles like the Mosin Nagant, and the .308 is intended for rifles chambered in that caliber.
  • .308 is used interchangeably with 7.62×51 NATO, and they are indeed very similar. In most cases, when someone refers to a .308 rifle, it’s likely a 7.62×51 NATO firearm.

Just remember, 7.62x54R and .308/7.62×51 are not the same, so no experiments, please! Safety first, and happy shooting!