Before the price gouging of weapons while I was stationed at Ft. Benning GA, I purchased an AK-47 (Romanian) at a local dealership for $174.00.  I wanted an AK-47 after a few deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, everyone in those areas of operations had one and it seemed to serve its purpose for them just fine.  I’m sure we’ve all heard the rumors about how reliable and accurate they are, but just how true are they?  I must say, I’ve seen a plethora of AK’s pulled off of targets and personnel that were in really bad condition, some appeared as if they hadn’t been cleaned in at least 10 years and they shot just fine.  As far as their reliability, I’m not sure, after all the guys we were fighting didn’t necessarily aim them.  I wanted to see just how accurate these rifles truly were and exactly what they can withstand and why.

Accuracy

As we know, the AK-47 is not the most accurate weapon when compared to other assault rifles, such as the M4/AR-15, why is that and exactly how accurate is the AK.  I’ve been shooting my AK-47 for around 7 years now and put over 35,000 rounds through it.  The accuracy of the AK when I first took it out of the box was a steady 4.73 MOA rifle. Though over time, I’ve seen changes in its accuracy as I am now only capable of holding a 5.8 inch group at 100 yards.  This is more than likely due to poor maintenance which I did intentionally to test reliability.  When compared to the accuracy of the M4, this may seem bad to some, especially when a standard M4 can easily hold a 3 inch group at 100 yards.

I’d have to credit the AK’s lack of accuracy to its “functioning” and the projectiles ballistic coefficient.  The AK-47 is made up of only a few “moving” parts.  Though there are fewer parts, these parts are made up of large chunks of metal.  Take the bolt for example once fired.  The hunk of metal that unlocks and flies back once fired is pretty heavy when compared to the M4.  As it rides the railing and slams to the back, the weapons harmonics are disturbed significantly, take a look at a few videos of the AK-47 fired in slow motion and note the amount of barrel whip.  You may also find a decrease in accuracy due to the fact that the rifles hand guard is made up of wood.  Wood has a notorious tendency to bend, tighten, and loosen under temperature changes.  For example, in the summer time, the doors within your home may become harder to open and close because wood expands and shrinks when hot.  This shrinking and expansion of the wood hand guard, though minuet, changes the harmonics of the barrel.

Another reason I believe the weapon lacks in accuracy is due to the projectiles harmonics.  The 5.56 has a G7 ballistic coefficient of ≈0.304 while the 7.62×39 (123 gr) has a coefficient of ≈0.275.  It’s lack of its ability to overcome air resistance in flight is also another reason why the rifle is “less accurate”.

Reliability

With my personal AK-47, I’ve put it through a variety of test since I purchased it.  With all of the rounds fired, the environments that its been exposed to, I have only cleaned it 5 times.  It has seen the desert, mud, cold, extreme heat (109+ degrees Fahrenheit), rain, snow, etc.  With all of that being said, I have only seen only 6, I emphasize 6 malfunctions, which were all failures to feed.  Why is that?

I believe this is completely due to the weapons design and function.  The fact that there are fewer parts needed to operate the weapon, there are fewer parts to get obscured by any foreign objects such as dirt, mud, etc.  The debris simply falls out of the rifle, or they are disturbed so much that they simply maneuver away from the critical mechanisms needed to fire the weapon.  This is a “crude” weapon, its suppose to be, there is a reason why our enemies continue to use this weapon system.  The next time you have a chance, disassemble your AK and compare it to an M4, note the open spaces in the trigger mechanism and the designs of the bolt, just picture how debris would and can maneuver in each platform.

Red Team: The AK family of weapons

Read Next: Red Team: The AK family of weapons

Specifications

Specifications:
Action: Gas-operated, rotating bolt
Rate of fire: Cyclic rate of fire is 600 rounds/min
Semi Auto : 40 rounds/ min
Muzzle velocity: 715 m/s (2,350 ft/s)
Effective range: 350 meters (380 yd)….. I’d beg to differ and push it out to 480 on a silhouette target.
Feed system: Standard magazine capacity is 30 rounds. There are also 10, 20, 40, 75, and 100
round detachable box and drum style magazines.

(Featured image courtesy of wikipedia.org)

This article was originally published on the Loadout Room and written by Nick Irving