Mikhail Kalashnikov, a simple tank sergeant, changed the world when he created the AK-47. The AK-47 has become the most prolific infantry assault rifle on the planet. I’m not telling you anything new because everyone knows what an AK-47 is. Housewives, teenagers, and vegan hippies all know the gun. What many may not realize is the AK-47 had a sequel of sorts in the form of the AK-74. Most gun nuts know all about the AK-74, but they might not know the differences between the two AKs. Today we are going to dig deep into the differences and do a little AK-47 vs AK-74 showdown.

Breaking Down the AK-47 vs AK-74 History

The AK-47 came to be in, you guessed it, 1947 and entered production in 1949. It quickly became the standard-issue rifle for Soviet forces and was known more appropriately as the AKM. Mikhail Kalashnikov and the Soviet military designed the firearm based on the world’s first assault rifle, the STG 44. It met the Russian’s view of modern war in which most infantry engagements occurred within 300 meters. As such, the AK-47 and the 7.62x39mm rounds were designed for that 300-meter range.

The AKM served its country well and supplied filthy communists around the world. From Eastern Europe and Asia to the Middle East and South America, the AK-47 leaked into every crevice possible. It still serves today in the hands of military and police forces, as well as in the hands of criminals and terrorists. If a nation has a conflict, it has AK-47s.

The AK-74 came to be in 1974 and quickly replaced the AK-47 as the mainline rifle with Soviet forces. The AK-74 was designed by А. D. Kryakushin’s design group under the direct supervision of Mikhail Kalashnikov. It should be noted that the AK-74 utilizes the core system of the AK=47. These rifles are brothers, which makes the AK-47 vs AK-74 battle much more tragic.

The AK-74 saw a baptism by fire in the Soviet-Afghan war. And is where Americans first saw the gun through a Soldier of Fortune issue. The AK-74 took cues from the M16 rifle and reduced the caliber to the more intermediate 5.45x39mm round. The days of 7.62 rifles ruling the battlefield were over, and the Russians recognized the potential behind a smaller, more intermediate caliber.

Advantages of the AK-47

Big brother AK-47 can teach the younger 74 some lessons in this AK-47 vs AK-74 brawl. First and foremost, its bigger 30 caliber round absolutely devastates barriers. It punches through brick, wood, glass, and more while hardly slowing down. The 7.62×39 hits hard and pokes holes through things really well.

AK-47 vs AK-74: The Battle of the Russian Rifles
An Iraqi army trainees braces from the recoil of his AK-47 rifle during familiarization fire at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, Feb. 10. The period of instruction includes so-called “down range feedback,” where the trainees can see where their rounds land on the target, allowing them to correct their technique to fire more efficiently and accurately. (Photo by Master Sgt. Mike Lavigne/U.S. Army)

Also, when it comes to rifles, bigger projectiles often do better in shorter barrels. Modern shooters have found that the 7.62×39 works well from short barrels without as much velocity or potency lost as previously imagined. The round still hits hard and delivers excellent penetration from barrels as short as 10 inches.

From a civilian-ownership perspective, we need to look at commonality and logistics in our AK-47 vs AK-74 deathmatch. If you are in the United States and want a Kalashnikov rifle, the AK-47 makes a lot of sense. Ammo is cheaper and more common, as are magazines, and AK 47 variants.

Advantages of the AK-74

While the old man still packs plenty of power, the whippersnapper we call the AK-74 can take the 47 to school on a few subjects. When we talk about intermediate rifles, it’s important to remember that size isn’t everything. In this AK-47 vs AK-74 shoot-out, we also have to take ballistics into account. The lighter and smaller 5.45 cartridge tends to yaw and fragment when it hits the body, whereas the 7.62 variant punches straight holes.

AK-47 vs AK-74: The Battle of the Russian Rifles

Beyond that, the AK-74 increases the effective range of a soldier to 500 meters. The lighter cartridge also means lighter recoil. Lighter recoil means the weapon is easier to handle, especially in close quarters. Not to mention from a military perspective, the AK-74 allows for more controllable automatic fire for suppression efforts.

Ammunition is lighter thus allowing soldiers to carry more. The AK-74 platform is becoming more popular in the states but still can’t match the popularity of the vintage ’47.

So Who Wins?

It’s time to declare a winner in the AK-47 vs AK-74 grudge match. So who will it be? The classic 47 or the young and bold 74? Well, it’s not a simple answer.

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If I were going to war and were offered either rifle, I’d likely choose the AK-74. I’d like the extra range, increased controllability, and lighter ammunition. If I was an American firearm enthusiast, then the AK-47 would be my go-to because I like drums, cheap ammo, and easy-to-find replacement parts.

AK-47 vs AK-74: The Battle of the Russian Rifles

As Mikhail Kalashnikov’s children, they both offer users an outstanding rifle. Let’s turn it to the audience. Which would you carry, and why? Let us know in the comments below!

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