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Brown Bear Ammo Review: Poking the Russian Cheap Ammo Bear

Brown Bear Ammo Review

I remember the first time I took my brand new (to me) Mosin Nagant rifle out to the range with a couple of boxes of Brown Bear ammo in my range bag. There’s something special about slapping the bolt home on an 80+ year old rifle that could have served on the front lines of Stalingrad or stormed the bunker at the end of WWII.

Brown Bear Ammunition is good stuff if you love shooting a lot and don’t mind firing cheap ammo through your rifle or handgun. Although it’s Russian steel-cased ammo, it’s non-corrosive and the low price point makes for more shooting at a lower overall cost to you.

Here at Ammo.com, we believe that more time at the range is always preferrable to less, so keeping your ammo stockpiles flush without breaking the bank is our #1 priority. Brown Bear ammo simply checks all the boxes for us when we are considering bulk ammo: it’s inexpensive, reliable, and accurate enough for any SHTF situation.

However, the main issue with Brown Bear ammo is finding it in stock. Thanks to the 2021 Russian ammo ban by the Biden administration, the importation of Brown Bear has all but ground to a halt. However, you can still find some Brown Bear ammo out in the wild if you’re lucky. But the question is, should you buy it?

In this Brown Bear ammo review, we will take a detailed look at Brown Bear ammunition and explain why it makes a great choice for loading into your SKS, AK-47, Mosin Nagant, and even AR-15 if you can get your hands on it.

Is Brown Bear Ammo Good?

Brown Bear ammo is great for target practice and stockpiling for a disaster scenario as it is extremely reliable. However, the bimetal bullet and steel cases can be hard on soft-extracting rifles like the AR-15. If you are looking to stock up on bulk 7.62x39 to keep your costs down, we have excellent options in stock and ready to ship to your doorstep.

Pros and Cons?

The best thing about Brown Bear is that it’s cheap ammo that goes bang every time you pull the trigger. It is accurate enough for target practice, but you aren’t going to get sub-MOA groups out of it. Brown Bear uses lacquer or polymer coated steel cases that can jam in light extracting rifles like the AR-15 or Ruger Mini-14. Brown Bear ammo is also Berdan primed, meaning it is not easily reloadable.

Brown Bear Ammo History and Important Information

Brown Bear is part of the Bear family of ammo (Silver Bear and Golden Bear being the other two) manufactured at the Barnaul Ammunition Plat in Russia. Each round from the Bear Ammo family has its own distinguishing case, with Silver Bear being zinc plated, Golden Bear being brass plated, and Brown Bear has a lacquer coating to give it a brown color.

All Brown Bear ammo is steel cased, this makes for incredibly cheap ammo but can cause excess wear and tear on your firearm. Rifles like the SKS, Mosin Nagant, and AK-47 are built to fire steel cased ammo, so this isn’t an issue for them. However, modern semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 were designed to fire brass cased ammo and sometimes jams can occur.

The jamming issue is due to the fact that steel casings lack surface lubricity and require a coating to ensure reliable feeding and extraction. Typically, a lacquer or polymer coating is added to the steel cases to ensure proper function. All the major Russian ammo manufacturers like Brown Bear, Silver Bear, Wolf Ammo, Golden Tiger, and Tula will utilize such coatings.

Looking for different Russian Steel-cased ammo reviews? Check out these articles:

Brown Bear ammo can be found loaded with bimetal full metal jackets (FMJ), jacketed hollow point (JHP), and soft point (SP) bullets. The soft point ammo is the only ammo Brown Bear produces that is appropriate for hunting large game.

To avoid misfires, Brown Bear ammo is Berdan primed. Although Berdan primers are exceptionally reliable, they are extremely difficult to reload. This means Brown Bear ammo is excellent for plinking, but not good for handloaders.

The Barnaul Cartridge Plant, where Brown Bear is manufactured, was established in the 19th century In St. Petersburg. During the Russian Civil War in 1918, the ammo plant had to be moved to Podolsk.

Again in 1941, the plant needed to be relocated during the German invasion during Operation Barbarossa in World War II. The plant found its final resting place in Barnaul, Russia after this final move.

During this time Barnaul has been one of the plants that provides ammunition to the Russian Army as well as importing Russian steel cased ammo to North America. Sadly, Brown Bear ammo has become extremely difficult to find in stock thanks to the Biden Russian ammo ban.

However, if you can find it, you should definitely pick it up as shooters like you love cheap ammo and getting out to the range.

Where is Brown Bear ammo made?

Brown Bear ammo is manufactured in the Barnaul Ammunition Plant in Barnaul, Altai Krai, Russia.

Which Calibers are Available?

Brown Bear offers a small selection of centerfire rifle and handgun ammo in different chamberings, here are some of their most popular factory loads:


Where is Brown Bear Ammunition’s headquarters?

The Brown Bear Ammunition company’s headquarters is located in Barnaul, Altai Krai, Russia.

Is Brown Bear ammo accurate?

Brown Bear ammunition is best for plinking and general target practice. It is not match-grade but accurate enough for general range work.

What is the downside to steel-cased ammo?

Steel cased ammo is often rough on light extracting rifles like the AR-15 or Ruger Mini-14 or Mini-30. Sometimes these light extracting rifles can experience failure to eject (FTE) malfunctions or jams, while more aggressive extracting rifles like the AK-47 have no issues firing steel-cased ammo.

What are bimetal bullets?

Bimetal bullets are projectiles comprised of a soft lead core surrounded by a steel jacket that is then enclosed in a 100% copper jacket coating. Bimetal bullets are banned from some indoor ranges due to their ability to penetrate deeper than traditional full metal jacket bullets used by the United States and NATO.

Is Brown Bear ammo good for hunting?

The only Brown Bear ammo that is suitable for hunting was their ammo loaded with soft point (SP) bullets. However, the majority of Brown Bear ammo was loaded with full metal jacket bullets, which are not appropriate for hunting big game.

Is Brown Bear ammo corrosive?

No, Brown Bear ammo is loaded with extremely reliable non-corrosive Berdan primers to reduce the chance for misfires.

Does the U.S. Military use Brown Bear ammunition?

The U.S. military does not use Brown Bear ammo, however the Russian military does source some of it’s ammo from the Barnaul Ammunition plant.

What primers does Brown Bear Ammunition use?

Brown Bear ammo uses non-corrosive Berdan primers in all their ammo to reduce the chance of misfires.

Are Brown Bear cases good for reloading?

No, Brown Bear ammo uses steel cases that can damage reloading dies and should not be used for reloading. Furthermore, Brown Bear uses Berdan primers, which are difficult to remove. If you reload, you should use brass cases that are Boxer primed.

Which Brown Bear 9mm Luger ammo works best in a Glock 17?

My favorite Brown Bear load for my Glock 17 is their 115 grain full metal jacket ammo with a muzzle velocity of 1,180 fps. This ammo is good for plinking, target practice, and goes bang every time I pull the trigger. It’s good stuff!

Chris Dwulet
Written by
Chris Dwulet