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AK-47 or AK-74 ?

Updated on October 26, 2012
This is the AK-74, usually identified by the muzzle brake, and a very good design too. Other than that the visual obviousness dimnishes unless you notice the magazine differences or field strip them.
This is the AK-74, usually identified by the muzzle brake, and a very good design too. Other than that the visual obviousness dimnishes unless you notice the magazine differences or field strip them.
This is the AK-47 and it too can identified by it's unique slant style muzzle brake. Another difference is the magazine profile, as the 47 's mag has more of a curve and the 74 is more like an AR mag.
This is the AK-47 and it too can identified by it's unique slant style muzzle brake. Another difference is the magazine profile, as the 47 's mag has more of a curve and the 74 is more like an AR mag.

Which rifle should you buy?

This is actually a subject of discussion for people in my world, well, the outer fringes anyway. I hear questions from squabbling friends seeking me to referee their argument about firearms. So one day I asked a friend of mine "Why am I asked to settle gun arguments"? The reply was "You usually have a reasonable answer"! Flattered, I began to embrace this new found influence and status with my inner circle.

Recently, I was asked "If I could pick only one, which rifle would I choose"? Wow, didn't see that coming, at least not from them. That is until I figured out that I was being tested, huh! So I thought about it for awhile and decided I was at an impasse on the AK-47 vs the AK-74.

1. Both operate on the same action (Kalashnikov).

2. They look identical to each other, almost (muzzle break on AK-74 is a major improvement)

3. Both are reliable as hell.

4. Both are rugged and easy to work on.

I really could not decide, to tell you the truth. Being as partial as I am to my AR and recognizing the inescapable truths about the AK rifles, I was in a real pickle.

In 1974, the Soviets adopted the AK-74 which fires a smaller cartridge (5.45x39mm slightly) than the AR (5.56x45). One reason they did so was the 5.56 used by NATO troops were carrying less ammunition and more weight than NATO troops were. They also saw the advantages of the 5.56 design like wound cavitation, tumbling, fragmentation upon impact, range and our troops could carry more ammo for the same amount of weight as theirs.

The 5.56 does not penetrate or put clean holes into a person, and the Soviets soon learned that the 5.56would wounded one soldier and take 3 enemy out of the fight. Whereas their bullet would just take out one. Let me explain: when a soldier is wounded by a bullet it requires manpower to remove him, usually 2 more soldiers, and that takes guns out of the fight. The 7.62x39 tends to punch big holes through people leaving little reason to remove them from further harm. As a soldier who has served in combat I can tell you this to be true since I have witnessed it. Both the 5.56 and the 5.45 have almost identical terminal and wound ballistics, however, the 5.45x39 round does not fragment like the 5.56x45 does. This means less collateral wounding by one round, but that is about it. The muzzle velocity of the 5.45 is around 3,000 fps, the 7.62x39 is around 2,100, these muzzle velocities depend on varying factors like grain weight of the bullet, barrel length, consistency in ammunition manufacturing, etc... .

Next I decided that, since I am a prepper/survivalist, I asked my self a similar question "Which one would be more practical"? I quickly found myself in a bit of a quandary since there are many reasons to choose either of them, but I decided on the AK-47, here's why:

1. With either weapon I will get the rugged reliability of the battle tested and time proven Kalashnikov design.

2. The AK-47 ammunition is very plentiful and can be found almost everywhere and it's cheaper.

3. There are more AK-47's out there (about 75 million made) than AK-74's (about 5 million made). The Soviets flooded the world market with the AK-47 AND they were widely copied by dozens of nations (this is one reason the AN-94, a superior weapon and Russian made, is virtually un-sellable). With this many AK-47's out there, surplus means affordable.

4. AK-74 ammunition is not considered a common round unless you live in one of the 24 nations using them, mostly in Asia and Europe. You can find it in bulk and if you do BUY IT ALL. And it is reported to have some minor feeding issues, although I have never seen this happen.

5. If I am defending my family, resources or property, my goal is to put attackers down, not wound them. BTW, I'm not worried about engaging targets passed 300m so the AK-74 doesn't fit for me.

6. When I shop for an AK-47, I look for the stamped receiver. Two reasons: First, stamped steel is lighter (soldier math is; ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain), and the Milled receivers hold the heat from just one expended magazine very well, I don't care for that.

So, in that context, I would pick the AK-47 and use my AR for longer engagements if needed.You cannot go wrong with either of these rifles but I have expressed my reasons for my selection. There is a ton of info on the Internet about these two rifles and the differences between them, so I encourage anyone reading this to expand your knowledge base and do lots of research. I could have covered more, but, I write to help those seeking information, not to overwhelm with data.

In my next article I will cover prepping and BOB, or bug out bags. What you should keep in them and why.

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