• The 5.45mm PP ammo received a substantial armor penetration buff
  • Most early-game 5.56mm ammunition types have terrible armor piercing capabilities
  • NATO weapons generally fire faster than their AK counterparts

The 5.56mm and 5.45mm calibers are two of the most commonly used rounds in the early-mid wipe stage in “Escape from Tarkov.” Both are fairly accessible, and they can be used on relatively cheap guns with high moddability.

Though most of the meta choices between these two calibers are roughly the same in terms of effectiveness, there are some small nuances that players should keep in mind when picking a loadout, especially since the 12.12.30 patch introduced some noticeable changes to some 5.45mm ammo types.

Here’s a quick comparison between the two and a few suggestions on which one players should choose in “Escape from Tarkov” version 12.12.30.

Baseline Stats and Performance

The latest patch buffed the armor penetration value of 5.45x39mm PP gs rounds while slightly reducing their actual damage. They are now almost on par with the meta BT rounds, except they’re cheaper on the flea market and generally more accessible thanks to crafting.

With 44 damage and 36 penetration, PP rounds will have no problem punching through Class 4 armor, and they aren’t too bad against Class 5 either. This makes these bullets a good baseline for 5.45mm AKs, meaning that players should be using these if they don’t have access to BT, BP or BS.

A modified 5.45x39 AK74 assault rifle from Escape From Tarkov
A modified 5.45x39 AK74 assault rifle from Escape From Tarkov Escape From Tarkov

Meanwhile, 5.56mm weapons are limited to M855 rounds early on. Their armor penetration value of 28 makes them struggle against even Class 3 protection, but the rate of fire on common weapons like the M4A1 tends to make up for this.

Once players climb up the ammo spectrum, the M855A1 and M995 5.56mm rounds will easily beat even the BS and BP rounds. However, since they’re locked behind higher trader levels and rarer crafting materials, don’t expect to see much players using them in the wild.

It’s also worth noting that most 5.56mm rounds tend to deal more flesh damage due to their higher fragmentation chances.

Weapon Recommendations

The AK-74 and AK-74u are both great early wipe weapons for delivering 5.45mm rounds. They are highly moddable and reliable in almost any situation. However, they will get outgunned by faster-firing M4s and HK416s in close quarters.

The 5.45mm AK platforms will be more reliable mid-wipe thanks to the PP gs buff, but players who can get a solid supply of M855A1 ammo may want to gravitate toward NATO rifles instead.