Ammo Evaluation: Malaysian L2A2 7.62x51mm

The Malaysian factory SMOE (Syarikat Malaysia Explosives Ltd) is the only ammunition producer in Malaysia, and produces a variety of calibers for small arms and light weapons. The factory was established in 1969 with the partnership of Oerlikon and Dynamit Nobel, and became wholly owned by the Malaysian government in 1974. Today we are examining their L2A2 designated 7.62x51mm ammo. This was imported into the US packaged in both .50 caliber cans (540 rounds per) and .30 caliber cans (300 rounds per). Within the cans the ammo is packaged in both 20-round and 40-round brown cardboard boxes. Observed dates for this ammunition include the late 1970s through mid 1980s.


I tested velocity using a 7.62x51mm converted Israeli K98k Mauser rifle (barrel length 23.4 inches). Measurements were taken at 10 feet from the muzzle, with a sample size of 15 rounds fired. I found an average velocity of 2702 fps, extreme spread of 60 fps (max 2727, min 2667), and standard deviation of 19.37 fps. None of the rounds exhibited any unusual behavior when fired. Note that while this velocity is below the US specification for M80 ball (2750 +/- 30 fps) it is squarely on the British specification for L2A2 (2700 +/- 30 fps).


I tested the weight of 10 bullets using a calibrated Lyman electronic scale. I found an average weight of 146.2 grains, extreme spread of 1.5 grains (max 145.2 gr, min 146.7 gr), and standard deviation of 0.41 grains. Bullet construction is boattail with an open base, lead core, and bimetal jacket (these bullets do attract a magnet).

Primers are non-corrosive Berdan.

Raw data:

Velocities (fps): 2707, 2712, 2677, 2698, 2711, 2702, 2704, 2726, 2674, 2702, 2667, 2678, 2718, 2721, 2727

Bullet weights (grains): 146.0, 145.2, 146.5, 146.1, 146.5, 146.3, 146.1, 146.7, 146.1, 146.1


  1. Ian,
    Thank you for testing various ammunition. PLEASE show pictures of some of the primers after firing. Many viewers would glean a lot of information about the ammo from this.
    Jim Kelly

  2. Note that while this velocity is below the US specification for M80 ball (2750 +/- 30 fps) it is squarely on the British specification for L2A2 (2700 +/- 30 fps).

    This is hardly surprising. While the present standard Malaysian armed forces service rifle is the Colt AR-15/M-4 series in various models, the previous standard was the L1A1 FN in 7.62 x 51mm. IIRC, the Rifle No. 4 in 7.62 x 51mm was also used by reserve formations.

    Neither one reacts well to U.S. specification 7.62 x 51mm.



    According to
    Russian Army starts tests of РПК-16 machine gun [or squad automatic weapon if you like], its barrel can be switched between short and long variant, cartridge is 5,45-mm, fed is from 96-round drum magazine /which could be also used with other 5,45-mm Kalashnikov weapons/.
    Technical description in English:

    I am wondering if we will see wider come back of drum magazines?

    • If you can buy the .217″ primers, (RWS, Vihtavouri), etc, it most certainly is. I have been reloading Berdan cases since I was about twelve years old.

      Not as “convenient” as the Boxer system, but, with the right basic tools, perfectly feasible.

      .303, .30-06, 7.62 x 39, 7.62 x 51. 6.5 x 55, 7.92 x 57, 7.62 x 54R. Its a regular thing around here and will be for as long as I can pick up free brass and exotic primers.

  4. I have some personal experience with this ammunition. We got a .30 cal size box and while the metal can showed some rust the seal was tight and the cardboard boxes and cartridges were in excellent condition. We were using a Savage Model 11 and had no failures but had difficulty obtaining consistent groups. Since the same rifle got much better groups with Federal premium match ammunition, either the Malaysian ammunition is inconsistent or the Savage shoots better with 168 grain bullets.

    In addition to chronograph and weight figures,it would useful to see some sample groups compared with quality new ammunition.

  5. There is ALWAYS a reason ammo is dispatched to the “surplus” market.

    It may simply have become obsolete and been languishing in a warehouse OR, as seems the case over the last decade or so, the ammo has been “batch-tested” by the tech types and found to be below par accuracy wise or unreliable in ignition, etc. You absolutely DO NOT WANT less than “perfect” ammo (or machine-guns and tripods) for training troops under overhead fire.

    If a “random sample” of a “lot” fails the examination of the ordnance techs, it is withdrawn from service and either destroyed or “surplussed”; caveat emptor, and all that jazz.

    If you are buying sub-par ammo ate the “right price”, the best theing to do is strip it for components. I’ve done some big batches of old Mk7 .303 that had erratic ignition and the cases were starting to crack whilst still in the original wrapper. At the time, that stuff was cheap enough to buy for the Mk7 bullets alone. Those .312″ 174 gn bullets are also handy for 7.7 Jap and 7.63 Argentine reloading.

    Another couple of classics are 6.5 and 7.35 Italian. A lot of it was woefully unreliable by the 1970s, BUT, where else are you going to find bullets of the correct diameter and weight for your old spaghetti stirrers? (The 6.5 takes a .268″ bullet and the 7.35 uses a .300″ job).

  6. I picked up a 540 round can of this a while back, had 2 rounds fail to fire, but no issues otherwise through a DSA FAL and a PTR91

  7. I have one emty ammo box for malaysia royal army the metal box say 820 round 5.56mm ball m193 carton lot13 sme 5-12 can you axplane what it mean..tq

  8. malasian surplus for my m14 {forged rifle from current forging} no longer available to my knowledge. found repeatable 1.25 groups. a few rounds found to have swollen cases which locked up in chamber when fired. I pre chambered rounds after first failures and continued to shoot with 1.25 groups. good enough, good enough for me. Bill

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