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Ammunition Evaluation: Ethiopian 7.62x51mm NATO


Hi guys, thanks for tuning in another video on Forgotten weapons dot com I’m Ian McCollum And today we’re gonna take a look at some ammunition that’s falling over. Today we’re gonna take a look at some scientific, I think I’m justified in using that term for what we’re doing today, some scientific testing of ammunition. Specifically we have surplus Ethiopian 7.62 NATO ammo. Now, I have this because Century International Arms Has imported a bunch of it and they are starting to sell it and they approached me and asked if I would do a video On it and I thought about this and decided. Yeah, we can do something that is interesting and useful and take advantage of the fact that they’re gonna give me some free ammo to do it with so First off I should say I, well we’ll talk about the history in a moment. We’re gonna break this testing up into a couple of Categories we’re gonna take a look at the packaging. Like how does this stuff actually look on the outside? then we’re gonna go do some shooting and record muzzle velocities or bullet velocities and then we’re going to bring it back pull down some cartridges weigh the bullets and calculate average, average bullet weight, average velocity, and standard deviation for both to get some idea of How good is this ammo? What can you expect from it? So, Hopefully we’ll get some, you know If there’s anything weird going on with the shooting we will get that, we’ll experience that when we’re doing the chronographing And I should say we’re not doing accuracy testing because there are way too many factors that go into accuracy testing, you know the gun contributes a whole lot of factors If I’m gonna be doing this on a bunch of different gun, a different- different cartridges, different calibers I would in theory need to have a bunch of really good benchrest quality guns in all sorts of weird surplus Calibers and that’s not going to happen. So instead we’re gonna use the velocity and the bullet weight as stand-ins for Mathematically repeatable numbers that we can use to compare ammunition quality. So that’s why there will be no accuracy testing In fact beyond just the gun also the shooter There hopefully is a bunch of ammunition out there that shoot better than I can shoot so we’re not going to get into trying to actually calculate groups size For this. That’s not scientific or repeatable in this context. So Let’s go ahead and start by taking a look at the packaging Alright, this stuff is packaged in .30 caliber ammo cans. They are conveniently labeled in English on one side 280 cartridges, ball, 7.62 NATO, Etc., Etc., Etc. Lot number 1. Ok, cool Manufactured ’77 through ’85. Now, If we flip this ammo can over we have a marking in a rather distinctive Ethiopian script. This is not Arabic This is definitely not English or any of the Latin languages. This is Ethiopian script and the data here translates to kind of the same thing- 280 rounds, 7.62 by 51 millimeter, 20 rounds per box, “Return this box to M.E.D.” which presumably is some sort of acronym for Ethiopian logistical Supply centers. So yeah, don’t throw the ammo can away out in the field. Bring it back Inside there we have ammunition packaged in blank 20 round cardboard boxes a little bit of tape at the top Slice that open There you go, there are your 20 rounds head stamp on these we have a 2 digit date code. These look like they’re mostly ’79s.The- the other cartridges I’ve opened and used have been ’78 But of course, as the can tells us, these were made from ’77 through ’85 So there may be a bit more of a mixture in this packaging. And then there is a three character, wel, code here. Those three characters basically stand for Halie Selassie I When Century first told me they had Ethiopian Ammunition I assumed it was, you know some sort of European manufacturer Sold to Ethiopia and then surplused by Ethiopia. But, digging into a little bit, it turns out, no, there actually was an ammunition factory built in Addis Ababa in the late 1940s with Czechoslovakian technical assistance. it was named the Emperor Haile Selassie Ammunition Factory that’s where that three-letter code on the head stamp comes from. It’s- Given a little bit of weirdness in Ethiopian script apparently, each- each character kind of stands for both a consonant and vowel sound Anyway, you put that together. It means Halie Selassie Ammunition Factory. By the way, the Ethiopian military at this time was using a couple of different 7.62 caliber rifles- in particular Beretta BM59s and M14s, so that’s what they actually made this stuff for. If we take a look at the cartridges, they look good There’s nothing really- they’re a little bit dull, you know, they’ve obviously been in storage for a while But nothing here that would make me really suspicious Nothing that would raise concerns to me We have some red primer sealant in there which, in theory, should help- help them last a little bit longer There is some evidence of a sealant inside the case neck as well But we’ll see that a little bit later on when we pulled this ammo apart All right. Now we can go out and do some shooting, and the shooting I am doing here is with a- an Israeli K98k Mauser rechambered to 7.62 NATO This has a 23.6 inch barrel length For those of you who are going to be messing with the numbers for velocities that we’re going to get And I picked this because it is bolt-action It’s a K98k, it’s very safe rifle if this ammunition is like heavily overcharged This isn’t gonna blow up. If it does blow up, It’s going to do so in as safe a manner as possible and won’t hurt me. So, That’s what we’re going to use. Let’s go see how it shoots 2,641 2,629 2,629 2,646 2,606 And a couple of those were hang fires I noticed just a brief delay between pulling the trigger and the round going off and that’s not a good thing Let me load five more All right, number six. A little bit of a hang fire there too. 2,663 Another little brief hang fire. 2,616 2,679 Ooh, that was a definite hang fire – 2,546 Little bit of a hang fire again – 2,637 Little bit of a hang fire 2,689 Definite hang fire – 2,651 2,630 Hang fire 2,646 Definite hang fire. 2,649 All right, so the results of our shooting are- I have some cheater notes here- Let’s see, we had an average velocity of 2,637 feet per second We had an extreme spread of a 143 feet per second, which gave us a standard deviation of 33.29 We had- lowest end was 2,546 and the highest velocity was 2,689 So in terms of velocity, that’s a fair amount of extreme spread I’m no expert in- in really good handloading but my understanding is, good handloading will get you in the 10 to 15 range for standard deviation of velocity and Decently, you know, acceptably good factory ammo is 15 to 20 So this is substantially above and beyond that, and I suspect that’s due to the age of the ammo This is 50 years old. This is all head stamped 1978. So, “Eh?” now a bigger concern to me, perhaps than the You know the consistency of the velocity was actually the hangfires that we got. So we got a lot of hangfires in this. Close to, if my memory serves, and you can Back me- Check me up on the video there- between a third and half of the cartridges exhibited some some range of hangfire so a hang fire is when There is a delay, more than a normal delay, between when the striker hits the primer and when the primer actually detonates The powder charge in the cartridge. Now, when they’re really bad, these can be several seconds long and can be quite dangerous a bad hang fire, if you, You know, if you have a hang fire, that’s a couple seconds long And as soon as it goes click you open the bolt and eject the round You have a very real potential of that round detonating while it’s flying through the air after being ejected Because that primer is slowly sizzling away and still working on igniting the powder charge None of these were anywhere near that bad. You know, we’re looking at fractions of a second here. What we had was You know, click-bang sort of hang fires. That’s not really a safety issue, but it is a marksmanship issue That is a good way to have problems shooting good groups and it’s not a sign of well-stored or high-quality ammunition so That concerned me. That’s overall, from what we’re going to see here, that was my biggest qualm with this ammunition So let’s go ahead now and we’ll take a look at the components and what our bullet weights were Pulling the bullets what we see here is we have a boat tail Open base bullet. This is lead core. It’s a a steel and gilding metal jacket, so this does drag a magnet if you have ranges that are concerned about that. The scratches there, by the way, are from Me using a pair of pliers to pull them out because I couldn’t find my kinetic bullet puller. Anyway, so ignore that. When it comes to numbers I pulled ten of these and weighed them all out on a nice little calibrated electronic scale We have an average weight of 143.4 grains with an extreme spread of 1.7 So our lightest bullet was 142.7 our heaviest bullet was 144.4 and the standard deviation came out to 0.52 and that is really pretty darn good That’s- that’s a well-made bullet. Now, I don’t have any way to Assess the quality of the manufacture inside- whether there are any voids or how consistent the thickness of the jacket is. I- That I just don’t have a way to- to scientifically determine, so we’ll have to go with just weight For the purposes of this video. Lastly, you can see some of that black marks there. That’s What used to be some sealant between the bullet and the case mouth The powder used in this is a stick type powder. So I’ve got a picture there. You can take a look at Alright, so there’s your overview of Ethiopian 1970s production 7.62 NATO as currently being sold by Century Because century is a huge import company I’m sure they will have a whole bunch of intermediate wholesalers and retailers. So you may find this all over the market I don’t know how long it will take to really get out there And I don’t know how much of it Century has actually brought into the country. So Unfortunately, I suspect Century is not going to be too thrilled with the the results of this testing But I’m not here to make them happy. I’m here to convey to you guys Exactly the information that I found. So hopefully you find this valuable We will continue with- I think if people like this, if you like this let me know in the comments because I think this has the potential to be an interesting longer series to put together a More thorough encyclopedia of some of the various surplus ammunition that comes in and out of the country So people can really get an idea for- “what is the good stuff? And what is maybe the less-good stuff?” Anyway, thanks for watching. I’ll see you tomorrow

100 thoughts on “Ammunition Evaluation: Ethiopian 7.62x51mm NATO

  1. Great video! I wasn't sure at first but that turned out to be fun to watch and informative like all I'll seen from you. Just don't start doing gauntlet tests like "other" gun channels. Lol.

  2. I really enjoyed the sound of that bolt being cycled. My M48 does not seem to be that smooth. Do bolts need to be "broken in" or is that just a myth? I've only put about 300 rounds through it. Your repititions of "hangfire" sounded like poetry.
    Praise be to Gun Jesus.

  3. As a left handed shooter, watching you work the action on this rifle makes me realize just how awkward it can appear.

  4. What a surprise Century wants to continue to sell garbage. Other than the Canik and NPAP, I cant think of anything else century makes or imports that is of good decent Quality

  5. I would certainly like you to add "forgotten ammo" like this to the rotation!

    A nit I must pick: Could you not use the words "detonate" and "detonated" where words such as explode, ignited or burn are more correct? I blow things up and set stuff on fire for a living, so I'm a bit stuffy about how people describe events related to energetic materials- "Detonate" is an engineering term with an exact meaning, rounds of fixed ammuniton, and most certainty the propellants commonly used in it don't detonate under any normal circumstances- You certainly CAN put a blasting cap in a pile of Bullseye and get an actual detonation, but it isn't detonating when you are burning it in your pistol, not on a good day, anyhow.

    Please, unless you KNOW the reaction is moving faster than the speed of sound in a solid, liquid or gas? Just use words such as "explode" "ignite" or "burn" to describe it. Primer compositions explode but don't detonate while functioning for the most part, even if they have high explosive or primary explosive ingredients. An out of battery round whose primer is struck by a malfunctioning firearm or a round ejected after a primer is struck and undergoing propellant ignition outside the chamber due to a hang fire CAN be properly said to explode- They aren't detonating.

    Sorry, I get this way sometimes.

  6. Great info and I'd love to see an expanded series on surplus (and even non-surplus) ammo. Great work as always.

  7. Good ammo for teaching to not anticipate the shot. (i.e. anti-flinching) I really like the review. I will buy a can or two if the price point is right.

  8. This actually was really neat. I, for one, would definitely enjoy seeing you add in videos of ammo reviews on a somewhat regular basis.

  9. Glad I didn't buy any of this when it came available.. I figured that a very very third world country selling ammo would mean it's likely no longer reliable.. people there don't let things go to waste unless it's useless which seems like this ammo is with the hang fires.

  10. Nice review Ian. You could have measured powder weight. a larger sample size would have been called for. Maybe 50 rounds. The hangfire info is valuable. Please keep doing these surplus ammo videos – although, if you keep finding low quality, the supply of "free" may stop. 🙂

  11. The ammo you have was made by the Derg regime, a communist government that murdered Haile Selassie and killed millions in a famine that spawned the joke "Ever had Ethiopian food? Neither did the Ethiopians." Ironic that the ammo came from a factory named after Haile Selassie.

  12. Its 50 year old ammunition that still fires safely albeit inaccurately. That says something at least for Ethiopian manufacturing.

  13. my opinion is that surplus is not a bargain, no advantage over new ammo price vs quality, most of the time, but, or only a nostalgic feel good/fun rush.
    Buy new good ammo and get on with it. Lets see vids that test old ammo, show me the packaging.

  14. I would be more interested if you knew or researched any of the history. I'm not so interested in the numbers themselves, as I don't shoot any guns myself.

  15. Are they Brendan primed? Other than not shooting a semi auto(and I understand your concerns) for reliable cycling. Great job! I love your channel!
    👍

  16. Rather than an overview on various Surplus rounds (that may or may not ever reach these parts and are of temporal value even if they do – once the supply runs dry or if the production lots have a lot of variance between them) I would love to see a big Special on manual loading of ammuntion and maybe on industrial ammo production if you feel like it.

  17. Ian, I love all the videos you do. Please do more ammo testing, as well as all the other really cool videos you do. Thank you.

  18. Definitely like this kind of information. Would have liked the weight of the powder charges, and whether the cases were boxer or need an primed.

  19. i would watch 'surplus ammo encyclopedia' series. i hope you can source some surplus from 2-3 decades ago as well, maybe with help of subscriber and patreons.

  20. 1:32 "We are not doing accuracy testing." –
    Forgotten Weapons
    Nobody expects you to do perfect accuracy tests, but a few groups from a bench or machine rest would certainly be more interesting than avoiding it altogether.

  21. 7:29 "Oooh, that was a definite hang fire." – Forgotten Weapons

    Especially clear when setting the video speed to .25!

  22. Another great video, thx Ian, and thx for not ever selling out to anyone. You will always be our guy as long as you keep doing what you do. I for one would be interested in continuing your ammo series and reviews of your findings. Although I have spent a lifetime of doing just that for myself, with all manner of surplus 7.62x51mm, it is always good to have a fresh set of eyes and ears to give another opinion.

  23. …and one quick note or opinion. I think the hang fires will definitely be a safety issue, especially when used in gas guns like the M14 or BM59 rifles.

  24. I like this! Please continue doing tests like this.
    I personally would really like to see a test of late 70's early to mid 80's Norinco 7.62×51 nato surplus.
    Reason is mearly out of curiosity, but also I have read so many different stories about how they perform etc.
    Since they are usually copper washed casings with good seals they don't tend to "rot" that much which makes them seem good for testing.
    It would be very interesting to see what you come up with during testing of some of those, and if I am not wrong, they are pretty available still.

  25. Reminds me of the Bulgarian 8mm mauser I had, bought 500 rounds of the stuff and almost every shot was a hangfire. After 2 especially long hangfires I ended up putting all the ammo in an ammo box and stowed it the garage. Hell even the turkish 8mm was better… somehow.

  26. Very interesting. I wonder if it was meant as machine gun ammunition. Cheap ammo designed to be fired in bulk to saturate an area and keep the enemies head down rather than for precision marksmanship.

  27. This stuff can be dangerous
    I bought a can of this stuff back in 2004 for plinking with my Cetme and had no less than 20 case head separations and double that of blown primers.

    I mean… It's ammo and works but it's sketchy

  28. Great review! From the looks of the ammunition, and the ammo can, as cool as it is, that 7.62x51mm WAS improperly stored over it's life time. As we all know this has the most destructive effect on ammunition bar any thing else. Probably in an above ground facility, cooking and freezing since the late '70s.
    A 15 or 20 round test was enough for the entire lot. I'm surprised that you didn't have more issues with it. Thanks again for your honesty and blunt test. (Century should step right up and just have you test a lot more, it's great P.R.!–LOL!)
    Thanks again Ian!

  29. Really interesting vid man, would it be cost effective to strip and reload this ammunition? I know time wise it is debatable but thought I would throw it out there.

  30. Yes, I liked this review…especially how you show how to properly handle a hang-fire. Some of these Goofs out here lack common sense, maybe you saved a couple of them.

  31. Bought and ran 24 rounds through my M1 Garand. the enamel paint on the clips are causing problems. the clips are trying to push out and jamming the slide.

  32. Call me crazy but going over the video, each hangfire seemed like it was the striker was sticky or some thing like that, Ian would pull the trigger, a delay then the striker would drop. Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me, idk.

  33. One of the reasons I watch your videos is you call em as you see em. There are too many out there hawking someone's junk just to get a buck. Not every product can be the best thing since sliced bread. Thank you for being honest!

  34. Love this series. Always find it fun to look through surplus ammo for my own rifles and trace their history. It’s an extension of the history of the guns themselves.

  35. If I thought there was interest from fellow viewers, I'd send you some of my 1940s Turk 8mm. But I'm sure that there's still plenty of it floating around and would make for a boring review.

  36. Aren't some of those characters Hebrew? I don't speak or read Hebrew, but that lower case "m" with the downward tail at the end looks very familiar. Interesting that they apparently also still use the Egyptian "Anch" as a character in their alphabet.

  37. Not "great" shooting as advertised. Just alright, for 40 year old ammo. It goes bang everytime even if there is a very slight delay with some. Just watch how bad just about all milsurp .303 shoots (a full second or two from trigger pull) and this 7.62 stuff looks lightning fast by comparison. Still I would shoot Pakistani (case stamp POF) 7.62 long before I would shoot this stuff. The Pakistani is at least non-corrosive and has better primers.

  38. Ian, thanks for the review. I was going to try a can of this for plinking, but those hang fires were enough to stop me. I appreciate what you do. Happy Labor Day Weekend.

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