The 5.45 cartrige was the result of the Soviet observations in Vietnam showing that the 5.56x45mm round used in the American M16s. The 5.56x45mm round was small and light weight allowing soldiers to carry more ammunition.
In response the Soviet Union created the 5.45x39mm M74 cartrige and adopted a new rifle for the cartrige the AK-74. The M74 replaced the M47 7.62x39mm cartridge as the standard Rifle cartridge in the Russian Military.
The ballistics of the M74 round can cause tromendous wounds. First, the instability of the bullet in flight causes a tumbling effect. Then the penetrator is ejected on impact, causing a secondary wound track. This creates a temporary cavity twice inside the target.
The M74 round is deadly and acurate. In the invasion of Afghanistan Soviet troops used the new round to great effect. The Mujahdeen called it the "poison bullet". Often when hit the victems wouldn't die from the initial wound but would die later from internal wounds caused by the bullet.
- 5N7 first variant introduced in 1974. Semi-Armor-Piercing Full-Metal-Jacketed (SAP-FMJ) bullet with a mild steel penetrator. There is an air-space between the inside of the metal jacket's tip and the lead core wrapped around the penetrator, making it technically a Jacketed Hollow Point round.
- 7N6 high penetration round introduced in 1987. Can penetrate 6mm of steel plating at 300m. Can be identified by the ring of red lacquer sealing the case mouth.
- 7N10 improved penetration round introduced in 1992 as the standard service round. Can penetrate 16mm of steel plating at 300m. Can be identified by the ring of violet/purple lacquer sealing the case mouth.
- 7N22 Armour-Piercing round. Can be identified by ring of red lacquer sealing the case mouth and a black tip.
- 7N24 super armour piercing ammunition. Has a penetrator made of tungsten carbide.
- 7T3 Tracer ammunition burns out to 800m
- 7T3M Tracer ammunition burns out to 850m
- 7H3 Training Blank cartridge with a frangible bullet made of hollow white plastic. Requires blank adapter to fire safely.
- 7H3M Training Blank cartridge with a frangible bullet made of hollow white plastic. Requires blank adapter to fire safely.
- 7Sch3 “High Pressure” Proofing Cartridge. A high-pressure cartridge with a yellow-painted bullet used to proof gun barrels.
- 7Sch4 “Increased Pressure” Proofing Cartridge. A high-pressure cartridge with a black-painted bullet used to proof gun actions.
- 7Kh4 Training Dummy. Fixed bullet, no primer in the pocket, contains no propellant, and has a fluted and pierced cartridge case.
- 7U1 US Subsonic ammunition.
Bullets are packed loose in 30-round paper packets. There are 36 packets per sealed sheet-metal ammo can (1080 rounds). There are two ammo cans and a large metal can opener per crate (2160 rounds).
The Russian experiences in Afghanistan revealed that soldiers often had trouble opening ammo cans quickly while in combat. The answer was to replace the cans with quick and versatile sealed packages of ammunition that could be handed out quickly. Each Battle Pack was made from waterproof cardboard and contained four 30-round packets (120 rounds). There were 18 Battle Packs per crate (2160 rounds).