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A part of the BEAR series of specialty hunting ammunition, Silver Bear cartridges have a zinc coating on the steel case – along with lead-cored FMJ, soft point, or hollow point bullets, Berdan primers, and non-corrosive propellant. Learn More

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History of Silver Bear Ammo

Silver Bear ammo is manufactured by Barnaul Cartridge Plant in Russia, which dates back to Emperor Alexander II. One of the first cartridge plants founded in St. Petersburg in the 19th century, it provided the Russian Imperial Army with its products during World War I until it was evacuated during the Russian Civil War. The company has a small air of mystique about it because there’s no “” to get information.

The parent company of the factory is known simply as Barnaul Machine Tool Building Plant. A number of products are manufactured here, including the entire BEAR Series, as well as CENTAUR, BARNAUL and MONARCH (Academy Sports).

Silver Bear Ammunition: No Stranger to War

The place where Silver Bear ammunition is manufactured was opened in St. Petersburg during the 19th Century and was originally known as “Arsenal P.” The factory was evacuated during the Russian Civil War between the Communists and those who opposed them, known as “the Whites.” Production resumed in 1920, with the facility renamed “Factory P,” and then renamed again as “Factory 17” in 1928.

During the Second World War in 1941, the factory was evacuated to Barnaul to prevent it from becoming captured by the invading Imperial German forces. In former Soviet nations, the Second World War is known as the Great Patriotic War. The only exception to this is Ukraine, where in April 2015, the Ukrainian parliament voted to change the name of the war in all official sources as part of the ongoing de-Sovietization process. The ammunition industry in Russia is closely tied to the history of the Soviet Union and the Second World War.

The Great Patriotic War saw the plant produce 7.62mm, 12.7mm, and 14.5mm with armor-piercing bullets. After receiving the Soviet Union’s highest decoration for outstanding services rendered to the State, the Order of Lenin, Barnaul began producing a wide variety of hunting and sporting cartridges – and they continue to specialize in sport, hunting and military ammo to this day.

Silver Bear and the Siege of Leningrad

The Siege of Leningrad is one of the longest sieges in human history and perhaps the most destructive ever, lasting 872 days. This is where the Siege gets its Russian name – “the 900-day siege.” Indeed, at the time, the Siege of Leningrad was considered far more destructive and significant than the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It’s estimated that 642,000 died during the siege, with another 400,000 perishing during the evacuation. The city of Leningrad was a sort of spiritual capital of the Russian Revolution, thus a crown jewel for both sides of the war, and the stakes were high.

The struggle of the Soviets in Leningrad were a matter of survival. While it is sometimes said Hitler planned to rename the city Adolfsburg, this is likely Soviet propaganda. Several internal German documents state clearly the intention of Hitler wasn’t to occupy and rebuild the city, but to annihilate its population, raze it and hand the surrounding area over to Finnish allies. "St. Petersburg must be erased from the face of the Earth,” Hitler wrote in a communication to his military forces, as well as "We have no interest in saving lives of the civilian population."

Finland was nominally neutral, but the politics of being ripe for Soviet conquest made Finland’s loyalties shift from the Allies, toward the Axis, and back to the Allies throughout the course of the war. This is the only country of which this is true.

The German military wasn’t just instructed to conquer and occupy Leningrad. They were to refuse all offers of surrender, as Germany had no interest in dealing with the massive population of the second-largest Soviet city. Hitler was personally so confident of German victory over the city that he had invitations printed for a victory party at the city’s Hotel Astoria.

Germany planned to use starvation as their main weapon against the Soviet forces. The plan was to surround the city, blockade it and let everyone inside starve to death over a period of several weeks. However, this did not go according to plan, leading to a 900-day siege that ultimately failed to take the city.

Hitler’s orders were "Leningrad first, Donetsk Basin second, Moscow third.” The German army severed lines of communication as it passed through the northernmost regions of the Soviet Union.

Operation Barbarossa and the Role of Finland

Leningrad was one of three main targets of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union. The plan was to take the city, raze it and keep moving, meeting up with Finnish forces north of the city.

Finland’s role in World War II is a curious one. Allied with Nazi Germany, it sought to regain lands lost in Karelia during the Winter War. Indeed, Finland’s (which remained a democracy throughout the entire war) conflict during World War II was only with the Soviet Union. They were never a member of the Axis powers, nor did they sign any treaties with Axis powers. Many historians have said the role of Finland during the invasion of the Soviet Union was largely defensive.

However, Finland was indispensable to the German war effort. Finnish intelligence made headway into German codes, allowing for easy translation of low-level Soviet communications. German documents from the time stressed that the Germans didn’t care if the Finns took the city first, because occupation was simply not a priority.

Ultimately, Finland lost 10 percent of its territory and its second largest city to the Soviet Union.

Effects on the City of Leningrad

1.4 million people were evacuated from the city, mostly women and children, and many of whom died. The city was subjected to extreme food rationing, with just 300 grams of bread daily for most civilians. All of the food warehouses were destroyed during shelling in the late summer and early fall of 1941. Zoo animals and pets were consumed. Many homes stripped the wallpaper to make soup out of the potato starch, with old leather likewise being boiled and eaten. The winter of 1941 to 1942 saw the first reports of cannibalism. Ground meat made of human flesh was sold in markets, leading the Soviet authorities to ban the sale of any ground meat. By 1942, most of the city had been converted to vegetable gardens, alleviating a bit of the pressure.

The entire service industry and public education system shut down for the duration of the siege. Casualties piled up when the water supply was routinely taken out by winter bombardment, as people searched outside in the cold Arctic winter for water in the form of snow and ice. Electricity shortages meant factories closed, as did public transportation.

Three million people were trapped inside the city due to the destruction of public transportation systems. Barnaul Cartridge Plant was one of 86 strategic industries evacuated, alongside the 1.4 million people also evacuated.

To this day, Russian citizens of St. Petersburg are deeply proud of the resistance of Leningrad to the siege. "Troy fell, Rome fell, Leningrad did not fall” is a common phrase in the city.

Silver Bear Ammo Review

So the history of Silver Bear ammunition and the Second World War is fascinating, but is Silver Bear ammo any good? Absolutely. The company specializes in rifle and shotgun rounds for hunting, which is why Silver Bear .223 ammo is such a popular bulk ammunition purchase.

The entire BEAR series (Brown Bear, Silver Bear, and Golden Bear) is a line of hunting ammunition, each with its own specialized characteristics and different protective coating used on the cartridges. Silver Bear cartridges have a zinc coating on the steel case.

Sam Jacobs
Written by
Sam Jacobs

Customer Reviews

  • Aurkasis said:

    Good. Very good

  • ski said:

    Great job and even better prices keep up the good work

  • ShooterJoe said:

    I shot 100 rounds of this ammo without any problems. Actually pretty clean too. I will buy this again even tho its Russian made.

  • Steamyjoe said:

    See above

  • M60Gunnr said:

    I've never been satisfied with the accuracy of my SKS. I know it's limitations, yet I thought we could do better. We just did. The Silver Bear ammo consistently grouped tighter and closer to my point of aim than the Tula or Wolf ammo. It's not as easy to find as the other Russian ammo, and usually costs a buck or two more per box. Take the time and spend the extra money. IMHO, the only step up is the expensive "match rounds" (i.e. Winchester). That'll get you a marginal increase in accuracy for double the cost. The Bear line, made in the Barnaul plant, is simply the best choice.

  • F4UCORSEAIR said: