I love the price of 5.45x39mm ammunition. I love my S&W 5.45x39mm upper because it lets me shoot cheap ammunition that has recoil and blast characteristics similar to that of 5.56x45mm ammunition.
I’m glad to see that many people have caught on to this same idea. However, I’m a little puzzled by the folks who are put off by the fact that surplus 5.45 is mildly corrosive.
Hey, these aren’t match uppers. They’re meant for plinking and training. S&W was smart and made theirs with chrome lined barrels, which helps extend barrel life, but also helps prevent corrosion. Still, you won’t consistently shoot 10 shot groups under 2-3 MOA with the weapon, unless you handload your own ammo, which doesn’t make much financial sense.
After 4000 rounds downrange and absolutely no cleaning, the bolt was showing signs of pitting. Had I bothered to wipe everything down with Windex hot soapy water after shooting, I wouldn’t have had this “problem.” I went ahead and nickel plated the internals of my 5.45x39mm AR, mainly because I could. I haven’t had any corrosion problems since (and I still haven’t cleaned it).
What I’m saying is that if you want a 5.45x39mm rifle, you’re most likely buying it because the ammunition is cheap. Buying new production Silver Bear or Wolf – which is essentially as expensive as steel case 5.56 – makes the 5.45 factor pointless. Beyond that, the surplus ammunition is very high quality. Some lots of Silver Bear 5.45 have had improperly sized cases, and Wolf is chronically underpowered. The surplus ammunition was made to be used by a military in wartime – it’s hot and it’ll cycle the action when the others won’t.
Use the money you save by buying eeevil corrosive ammo to pick up a bottle of Windex hot soapy water and give everything a quick wipe down when you’re done shooting.