Does a discharged bullet from an AK 47 tumble?

Question by Russ: Is it true that a discharged bullet from an AK 47 tumbles?
How is this possible?

Are the AK 47 barrels rifled or not?

Quick answer:

Answer by Tobias W
unless it’s a shotgun it is rifled.
no the bullet will not tumble. not unless it’s the cheapest peice of garbage you can scrape up. and if so then it’s cuz of dezign/manufacturing flaws in the bullet that cause it to not fly right.

Read all the answers in the comments.

What do you think?


  1. [email protected] says

    * No *

  2. HawaiianHippie says

    From a stock AK in decent shape, the bullet won’t tumble until it gets past its effective range.

    However, unlike what other are saying, bullets can and do tumble during flight. I’ve seen a guy with an AR-15, modified to a 16″ barrel and in a bullpup stock, shooting paper targets at 25 feet. The holes in the paper were perfect sideways .223 silhouettes. That barrel was too short to stabilize the round, so it did tumble immediately.

    Now, a full metal jacket projectile will tumble inside a body. As it penetrates, it gets knocked off its center axis. Then simple inertia takes over, and the heavy end swings forward, until the bullet is traveling backwards. Makes pretty nasty wound channels.

  3. METROPOLIS1 says

    This is an old soldiers tale from the Vietnam era that wont seem to die….

    When a bullet fired from an AK47 leaves the barrel – It Spins!…. Juts like a Professional football player that throws the ball — Its spins! – Not tumble….

    The only time a bullet may tumble is when it penetrates the surface of an object… But not in flight…..

    AK47 barrels are rifles barrels……

    Look here for more clarity…..

  4. Jack A says

    no the ak-47 round doesn’t tumble when it is discharged

    although the very early M-16 rifle did have that problem

  5. hopstarr says

    There are military loadings for the Russian 5.45 that are specifically designed to upset and tumble on impact. It has nothing to do with rifling, but rather with the bullet design and construction.

  6. Phillip J says

    When they say that they don’t mean that it tumbles out of the barrel. They mean that when it hits something solid like wood or bone, the deflection of the bullet will cause it to have a tumbling action. Which could be a good thing or a bad thing. One of my Marine buddies was shot in the stomach in Iraq while on patrol, but instead of the bullet tumbling inward to cause more damage it deflected out his side just causing a lot of time in the hospital and trip home. Oh and he lost half his intestines and has a titanium plate in his arm.

  7. John de Witt says

    Of course they’re rifled.
    I think you may have gotten crossed up by one or more conversations half-heard.
    In external ballistics (what happens between the end of the muzzle and the target) the AK-47 stabilizes its bullets well. On the other hand, when the M-16 moved from the original bullet to the heavier one, the twist rate had to be made faster to stabilize the longer, heavier bullet. Those that aren’t stabilized do tend to tumble in flight and can “keyhole” when they hit the target.
    And that gets us to terminal ballistics, or what happens after the bullet gets to the target. When the M-16 first was used in battle, it didn’t take long for it to get a reputation for being unstable in terminal performance, often tumbling inside the person hit. The Soviets noted this, and they paid particular attention when they designed the AK-74 and its bullet. It may be that you (or whoever gave you the idea) accidentally transposed the numbers of the 74 and the 47.

  8. stupidnameshaveallbeentaken says

    All bullets tumble given enough time. Once the velocity drops and the bullets spin slows there’s not enough force to stabilize the bullet. For a high powered rifle that’s generally after several hundred yards.

    A .25 auto fired out of a small pistol will tumble after 12 yards or so and you’ll be able to see the keyhole signature in the target. Easiest short range example I can think of.

    A .223 over 55grains with a twist slower than 1 in 9 will tumble by 100 yards. Sub 55 grains will stabilize just fine in a 1 in 12 twist barrel.

    The ak tumbling right out of the barrel is just a myth.

  9. Fatefinger says

    Bullets can tumble when they hit flesh. There is slight deviation from the spin it is supposed to have but it is negligible and does not normally affect performance unless the firearm is VERY poor. Some tumble better than others in flesh and 7.62×39 is not one of them. Now that, what you just said could be based off the old Romanian SAR models as they did not have rifling in the barrel. Although their accuracy suffered (I know it’s an AK) I have never heard reports of the round tumbling in midair. My friend had a SAR-3 (.223) which was later stolen and he used to hunt coyote with it. All current rifles and all AK variants with the exception of the SAR models have rifling. Although I have heard some models only have rifling part way through or don’t have any at the last inch or two of the barrel.

    The only gun I have ever seen where rounds tumble in midair was the Jenkins p-22 (I think that’s what it’s called)

  10. Judicator says

    ALL bullets tumble when they leave the barrel of a rifle. It’s a very slight yaw movement that’s mostly controlled by the spin imparted to the bullet by the rifling.

    Some bullets tumble more than others after they hit soft tissue, such as human muscle/skin, and some bullets tumble more in flight because of a disparity between bullet weight and the rate of twist in the rifling.

    If the rifling rate/bullet type ratio is too far off, the bullet can actually hit the target sideways, which is called “keyholing.”

    Hope this helps.

  11. Ian M says

    AK-47 barrels are rifled.

    Tumbling is not possible under normal circumstances. The only way a bullet can tumble is after a ricochet from a solid object.

    Ian M

  12. Ted says

    AK-47 barrels are rifled with a lower twist rate than AR-15’s. I am not sure what the AK twist rate is.

    No bullet tumbles unless it hits something (anything) in flight and/or on impact as it travels through it’s target. Popular opinion says the .223 can tumble as it goes into flesh as it is a lighter bullet than the .762 X .39.