The 7.62x54mmR is widely available both as military surplus and new production, but less so for match-grade rounds. Most surplus ammunition is steel-cased and uses Berdan primers, which effectively hinders for its use in handloading. However, with the increased popularity of surplus Mosin-Nagant rifles in the United States, Boxer primed ammunition and unfired cases are increasingly available; these cases take large rifle primers.
The attainable muzzle velocities and muzzle energies of the 7.62x54mmR are comparable with the .308 Winchester. The spitzer bullets used in the military variants have a particularly elongated shape which results in favorable ballistic coefficient, contributing to an adequate long range performance and energy retention.
For hunting, the 7.62x54mmR is capable of taking out medium to large sized game. In Russia the cartridge is commonly used for hunting. The cartridge is also used for protection against dangerous game like brown bears and polar bears.
Surplus 7.62x54mmR ammo is cheaper than newly made ones, but is made with steel cases and corrosive Berdan primers. Corrosive primers require you to clean the rifle with ammonia-based cleaner promptly after shooting. This shouldn't take too long, but failure to do it even once can ruin the rifle bore. If you're using steel core ammo, keep in mind that steel core bullets don't expand, making good shot placement more important. Some 7.62x54mmR cartridges feature a mild-steel bullet core; these bullets can punch holes in almost anything.