The 12.7×108mm cartridge is a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and anti-materiel rifle cartridge used by the former Soviet Union, the former Warsaw Pact, modern Russia, China and other countries. It was invented in 1934 to create a cartridge like the German 13.2mm TuF anti-tank rifle round and the American .50 Browning Machine Gun round (12.7×99mm NATO).

A 12.7×108mm cartridge
TypeHeavy machine gun
Anti-materiel rifle
Place of originUSSR
Service history
In service1935–present
Used bySoviet Union and successor states
WarsWinter War
World War II
Korean War
Portuguese Colonial War
Vietnam War
Cambodian Civil War
Cambodian–Vietnamese War
Six-Day War
War of Attrition
Yom Kippur War
Soviet–Afghan War
Iran–Iraq War
Gulf War
Chechen War
Iraq War
War in Afghanistan
Libyan Civil War
Syrian Civil War
Bullet diameter12.98 mm (0.511 in)
Neck diameter13.95 mm (0.549 in)
Shoulder diameter18.90 mm (0.744 in)
Base diameter21.75 mm (0.856 in)
Rim diameter21.70 mm (0.854 in)
Rim thickness1.90 mm (0.075 in)
Case length108 mm (4.3 in)
Overall length147.50 mm (5.807 in)
Case capacity22.72 cm3 (350.6 gr H2O)
Maximum pressure360 MPa (52,000 psi)
Ballistic performance
Bullet mass/type Velocity Energy
48.3 g (745 gr) API B32 57-BZ-542 820–860 m/s (2,700–2,800 ft/s) 16,240–17,861 J (11,978–13,174 ft⋅lbf)
55.4 g (855 gr) API-HC BS 820 m/s (2,700 ft/s) 18,625 J (13,737 ft⋅lbf)
56.6 g (873 gr) API-HC BS 7-BZ-1 820–825 m/s (2,690–2,710 ft/s) 19,029–19,621 J (14,035–14,472 ft⋅lbf)
59.2 g (914 gr) Sniper SN 7N34 770–785 m/s (2,530–2,580 ft/s) 17,549–18,240 J (12,943–13,453 ft⋅lbf)
44.1 g (681 gr) Tulammo 680gr hunting cartridge 916–923 m/s (3,010–3,030 ft/s) 18,501–18,785 J (13,646–13,855 ft⋅lbf)
Test barrel length: 1000 mm

It is used in the same roles as the NATO .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO) cartridge. The two differ in bullet shape and weight, and the casing of the 12.7×108mm is slightly longer, and its larger case capacity allow it to hold slightly more of a different type of powder. The 12.7×108mm can be used to engage a wide variety of targets on the battlefield, and will destroy unarmored vehicles, penetrate lightly armored vehicles and damage external ancillary equipment (i.e.: searchlights, radar, transmitters, vision blocks, engine compartment covers) on heavily armored vehicles such as tanks.[1] It will also ignite gasoline and—since 2019—diesel fuel.[2] Armor-piercing ammunition will penetrate around 25 mm of armor. Normal full metal jacket ammunition will only dimple tank armor, causing no damage.

Cartridge dimensionsEdit

The 12.7×108mm has 22.72 ml (350 grains) H2O cartridge case capacity.


12.7×108 maximum cartridge dimensions.[citation needed] All sizes in millimetres (mm).

Americans would define the shoulder angle at alpha/2 ≈ 18.16 degrees.

According to guidelines the 12.7×108mm case can handle up to 360 MPa (52,213 psi) piezo pressure. In C.I.P. regulated countries every rifle cartridge combo has to be proofed at 125% of this maximum CIP pressure to certify for sale to consumers.

Incorrect interchangeability claimsEdit

It is often claimed[by whom?] that the US .50 BMG (12.7×99mm NATO) cartridge can be fired in Soviet/Russian 12.7×108mm machine guns. The 12.7×108mm was even called a ".51 caliber". This often claimed interchangeability is an assumption made from[dubious ] the 12.7×108mm being listed as ".511 caliber" in US intelligence publications during the Vietnam War. The bullets used for both cartridges are ~.51 inches in diameter. .50 caliber, 1/2 of an inch, is the diameter of the hole bored down the barrel of the gun first. Then rifling is cut all around the bored hole to a depth of .005". Thus, .500 + .005 + .005 = .510." Upon firing, the bullet engages the rifling, and .005" grooves are pressed into the surface of the bullet to impart spin to stabilize the bullet. Despite the similar bullet diameters, the dimensional differences between the two cartridges prevent either being correctly chambered in a firearm designed for the other.

Use by other nationsEdit

Anti-tank and anti-materiel riflesEdit

Heavy machine gunsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Technical Intelligence Bulletins May - June 2003 Archived August 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "ЦАМТО / Новости / В России создали новые зажигательные патроны калибра 12,7 мм". armstrade.org. Retrieved 2021-05-07.

Further readingEdit

  • Борцов А.Ю. "Пятилинейный", Мастер-ружье issue 110, May 2006, pp. 56–62

External linksEdit