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Barnaul Ammo Review: Russia's WWII Battle Buddy

Barnaul Ammo Review

Barnaul ammunition is one of Russia’s greatest contributions to shooters around the world. Perhaps you’ve never heard of Barnaul ammo because it isn’t something we see in the U.S. often. But it’s likely you’ve heard of Brown Bear, Golden Bear, and Silver Bear. All of these are made in the Barnaul ammo plant in Altai Krai, Russia. 

The company is known for producing reliable and affordable small-arms ammunition. However, here in the U.S., we’d ideally only use Barnaul ammo for stockpiling and target practice. You won’t see any polymer tip ammo or specially designed self-defense cartridges coming from Barnaul. 

Unfortunately, similar to most Russian ammo these days, Barnaul is a bit challenging to track down. However, you can check what’s in stock HERE. If you’d like to know more about Barnaul ammo, keep reading!

Is Barnaul Ammo Any Good?

If your burning question about Barnaul is, “Is the ammo any good?” we can give you the facts. If you're looking for match-grade accuracy, then you'll want to look at something like Hornady or Federal, as Barnaul isn't known for giving you tiny, sub-MOA groups.

But if you're looking for relatively low-cost steel cased FMJ ammo available in multiple calibers that works well with most semi-auto firearms, then Barnaul ammo is worth a solid look. The company specializes in FMJ rounds, which are typically used for target practice, and a lot of folks stockpile them because they’re inexpensive.

Since modern shooters want non-corrosive ammunition that they can buy in 500-round cases (or more) to save money, Barnaul has picked up that banner and ran with it.

All of Barnaul’s ammo is lacquer coated steel cases with sealed Berdan primers. This ammo is designed to withstand harsh elements and is ideal for purchasing in large quantities for any disaster or SHTF situation. 

Furthermore, the company makes rifle, handgun, and .410 gauge shotgun ammunition, which appeals to many different shooting activities. They carry some of the most popular calibers that we use in the States today. So, if you want to keep a growing stock of FMJBTs (Full Metal Jacket Boat Tail) ammo on hand, Barnaul is a good route. 

30-06 ammo

Pros & Cons

Good handgun and rifle ammo are hard to come by these days. So, before you invest in a 1,000-round case of something to keep in the gun safe or use for target practice regularly, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of Barnaul ammo:


  • Wide variety of calibers
  • Lacquer coating
  • Reliable


  • Berdan primers aren’t practical for reloading
  • Limited availability
  • Some firearms don't like steel cases

Anytime we invest in large quantities of ammo, we like having the option to reload it. While it is possible to reload Barnaul ammo, it isn’t easy or practical for everyone. 

Which Calibers Are Available?

Before you start searching for Barnaul ammo, it’s a good idea to ensure the company produces ammo in the calibers that you need. Which is why we did the legwork for you. Here are the most popular calibers that Barnaul makes:




Barnaul Ammo History & Important Facts

Barnaul’s first ammunition plant was opened in Saint Petersburg Russia back in the 1800s. Arsenal P (the first plant) provided ammunition for the Russian army during WWI. When civil war broke out in 1918, the original plant was evacuated and moved to Podolsk.

However, the plant moved again during WWII. Barnaul continues to supply mil-spec ammo to military personnel around the globe. But also, it’s available for consumers too. With more than 200 years of manufacturing experience, the company continues to grow and release new products. 

Where is Barnaul Ammo Made?

Barnaul ammunition and a few other high-quality Russian brands are manufactured at the Barnaul ammo plant in Altai Krai, Russia. This plant also produces the Brown Bear, Silver Bear, and Golden Bear ammo brands. 


Is Barnaul ammo corrosive?

7.62x54r ammo

No, Barnaul ammunition uses non-corrosive Berdan primers in all of their cartridges. You can shoot Barnaul ammo without worry of corrosion damage to your firearm.

Can I use Barnaul’s 9mm for self-defense?

If you’re a Glock fanboy (or girl), we wouldn’t recommend using Barnaul’s 9mm for your EDC or personal defense cartridge. Barnaul only makes FMJ ammunition which won’t expand on impact. Check out this ammo instead.

What are the specs for Barnaul’s .223 Rem ammo?

Barnaul’s .223 Remington has a bullet weight of 55-gr FMJ ammo. It has a ballistic coefficient of 0.225, a muzzle velocity of 3,261 fps, and muzzle energy coming in at 1,299 ft-lbs.

Is the Barnaul .45 ACP good for self-defense?

Barnaul’s .45 ACP 228-grain FMJ cartridges are fat and slow just like any other .45 ACP cartridge. However, we wouldn’t recommend them for personal defense because they don’t fire soft point or hollow point projectiles for expansion.

Is Barnaul ammo reliable?

For the most part, yes. Barnaul produces high-quality FMJ ammo with a lacquer coating and steel case. So, most handguns and rifles won’t have any problems with jamming. There also aren’t enough notable FTFs to cause concern. 

Is Tula ammo made at the Barnaul plant in Russia?

No, Tula ammo isn’t manufactured at the Barnaul plant. Tula Cartridge Works has its own plant in Tula, Russia.

Does Barnaul make rimfire cartridges?

No. Barnaul only produces centerfire cartridges.

Are Barnaul’s new 9mm SUBSONIC rounds any good?

Speaking strictly on ballistics, Barnaul’s new 9mm ammo line performs quite well. It has a ballistic coefficient of 0.215 and a muzzle velocity of 850 fps. This ammo will work well for target practice and use with a suppressor.

Is Barnaul Ammo banned in the U.S.?

300 Blackout ammo

No, but the U.S. is no longer allowing imports of Russian ammunition from companies like Barnaul, Tulammo, and Wolf. Although the ammunition isn’t banned, we just aren’t getting new shipments at the time of writing.

Are 9mm Makarov and 9mm Luger the same ammo?

No, 9mm Makarov and 9mm Luger aren’t interchangeable. There are many differences in the ammo, but more importantly, the 9mm Luger has a higher case capacity than the 9mm Makarov. 

Whereas the 9mm NATO (9mm Luger) is a 9x19mm cartridge, the Makarov is 9x18mm. The latter also doesn’t perform as well in ballistics as the 9mm Luger.

Does Barnaul make SKS ammo?

Yes. That’s the 7.62x39mm cartridge. If you have an SKS, you can get FMJs from Barnaul, or you can pick up a wider variety of ammunition from various manufacturers, HERE.

Parting Shots

Aside from the fact that Barnaul ammo was a victim of the recent sanctions on Russia, it may not be the biggest loss we’ve seen in ammunition. You can get a lot of high-quality and reliable FMJ rounds with a low price tag here in the U.S.

The steel-cased ammo with Berdan primers isn’t a selling point for many reloaders, and it isn’t ammo you should use for self-defense or hunting. However, we do love some cheap FMJs for stockpiling and target practice. If that’s what’s on your mind, and you happen to come across a case of Barnaul, there’s no reason not to pick it up.

Cassandra McBride
Written by
Cassandra McBride