There is a reason we used AK-74s during over the beach operations in the SEAL Teams. The damn thing just keeps on firing through saltwater and sand. The more abuse it takes the happier the gun seems, almost laughing at you and saying, “Is that all you got?!”

In comparison, the M4 would jam every time sand looked its way. We had to use special waterproof bags to provide a
“VIP escort” for the gun to get it through the surf zone and onto the shore.

I have flown Russian and American airplanes and the gun design philosophy of the AK-74 is similar to that of eastern European airplane design: Rugged reliability and loose mechanical tolerances designed to work in punishing environments.

My Yak 52 was an incredible machine, a flying AK-74 of sorts.

Navy SEAL Brandon Webb and his best friend Kamal Ravikant buzzing the California coast in the Russian Yak 52. (Courtesy of autjor)

A Brief History of the AK-74

The AK-74 was designed under the design supervision of Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is an adaptation of the famous AK-47 rifle, but features several important design improvements. Compared with the AK-47, the AK-74 has a better effective range, firing accuracy, and reliability. The two weapons share about 50 percent of their parts.

Why the Department of Defense (DoD) didn’t develop an effective rifle to replace the incredible workhorse that was the M-14 escapes me. I can only guess that government bureaucracy, careerism, and the slow grinding DoD contracting machinery is to blame. They churned out something that seemed to do the unthinkable: take a few steps backward on gun evolution and deliver us the “only-made-cool-from-Spec-Ops-video-games” M4.

Author and former Navy SEAL sniper Brandon Webb holding another piece of Eastern Bloc weapons tech. Any guesses? (Photo courtesy of author)

The AK-74 isn’t going to win sniper competitions but it has my trust as a “go-to” end-of-the-free-world gun within 200 meters or less. It passes the Apocalypse test for me.

I’d encourage you to ask yourself this question before you go full retard (FYI… never go full retard), “Which of these guns I would choose if I had to rely on it for 10-20 years, M4 or AK-74?”