In February’s issue of the newsletter, I mentioned some of the “Great Debates” that are ongoing within the firearms and tactical industries. These topics of discussion never cease to provide heated discussions with valid points from both ends of the spectrum. In February we discussed the debate topic “9MM vs 45ACP”, a topic that has been discussed for decades. This month we are about to dive into another heated topic that revolves around the topic of the AK-47 and the AR-15. Which rifle is the best? Is there a true champion? Once again, I will talk about the pros and cons on each side and then give my opinion on the matter. So, let’s get this debate started!
The AK-47 has been around since 1949 where it became the official rifle for the Soviet Armed Forces and was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. This rifle is a gas-operated, long-stroke gas piston and chambered 7.62x39mm and has numerous claims to fame. It is said to be able to operate under the harshest conditions. It can be covered in mud, sand, dirt, or snow and then picked up and is still be able to function just fine. The AK-47 is also extremely easy to operate. It is said that “It is so easy to field strip and operate a child can do it” which, in a sense, is very true considering how war-torn countries have adopted the AK-47 for these two reasons. Its reliability and ease of use. Now travel further down the rabbit hole and discuss the Pros and Cons of the AK-47 rifle.
- The AK-47 is EXTREMELY reliable and can function properly in the harshest of environments and after heavy abuse. The rifle can function with minimal cleaning and maintenance.
- It is very easy to field strip and operate.
- The AK-47 shoots a 7.62x39mm caliber that penetrates and damages its intended target greater than the caliber shot from an AR-15. With this larger caliber, the AK-47 has greater “stopping power” than the 5.56/.223 round of the AR-15.
- AK-47s are generally inexpensive, even though there are some modern day high end AK-47s on the market, the rifle is usually cheap (pricewise).
- The AK-47 is more widely used globally over the AR-15 especially in Europe and Asia.
- The round that the AK-47 fires (7.62x39mm) has greater energy than the round fired by an AR-15.
- The effective range for the AK-47 is between 300-400 yards, which is a couple hundred yards less than the effective range of an AR-15. It is also said that the AK-47 is less accurate than the AR-15, but I will give my opinion on that matter later on.
- The standard AK-47 weighs about 2 pounds more than your standard AR-15, which may not sound like much, but can mean a lot if you have to carry around the rifle, its ammunition, and the other equipment.
- Since the AK-47 fires a larger round than the standard AR-15, there is a bit more recoil, but it can be easily managed.
- The AK-47 rifle has a slower cyclic rate than an AR-15, which can be important to people.
Classic AK-47 rifle
The AK-47 is a great rifle in my opinion. It is a historic platform that any firearm enthusiast has to love. It’s one of the most durable and rugged rifles ever to be produced that can function under the harshest conditions. It can be dropped in thick mud, submerged in water, buried in sand or dirt, operate in subzero temperatures, and fire without any issues. The operation of this rifle is night and day compared to the AR-15, but one can easily adapt to its use with proper and frequent training. The accuracy of this rifle, in my opinion, is debatable. Most people say the AK-47 is not an accurate rifle, but I beg to differ. If you give this rifle to a capable marksman, they can most definitely push this rifle to its very limits of accuracy. The same goes for a person who just takes the time to train with the AK-47. Accuracy, to a point, depends on the skill of the person using the firearm. Modern day AK-47s can be modified in numerous ways that give the user more of an edge.
Now let’s talk about the AR-15. The AR-15/M16 have been locking horns in battle and in debates ever since their conception. Eugene Stoner designed the AR-15 in the 1950s and it was put into service in 1959. This rifle is gas operated, direct impingement and chambered in either .223 Remington or 5.56. The M16 version of the AR-15 is different only due to the fact it can go from semi auto fire to fully auto fire with the flip of the selector switch. The AR-15 can only be fired in semi auto. It’s first debut was during the Vietnam War. During this brutal and grueling war this rifle was pushed to its limits. After some time in the field, reports came back that this rifle was prone to jamming caused by mud, dirt, and other debris which compromised the moving parts. This created many malfunctions, especially the “failure to extract” malfunction. Even though this rifle had a rough start to its service career, there have been many advancements to the AR-15/M16 rifle that have made it a very reliable and accurate rifle that is still in service today with our nation’s military. Now that you have a brief background on the AR-15/M16, lets dive into its pros and cons.
- The AR-15 is a very accurate rifle with an effective range of 600 yards, which is 200 more yards than the AK-47. Rifle accuracy is measured in “Minute of Angle (MOA)” and the AR-15 is 30% more accurate than the AK-47.
- The AR-15 is a couple pounds lighter than the AK-47, which can mean a lot if you are carrying it along with it’s ammunition and other gear.
- The ergonomics of the AR-15 is much more user friendly providing a good solid cheek weld and a safety selector that can be easily manipulated without losing a good sight picture.
- Since the AR-15 fires a smaller bullet, the recoil is very easy controlled, even under rapid fire.
- The cyclic rate of this rifle is much faster and can fire 200 more rounds per minute than the AK-47.
- The AR-15 shoots a smaller round than the AK-47 and, when talking to troops in the field, it is observed that it lacks good “knock down or stopping power” compared to the 7.62×39 round fired by the AK-47.
- AR-15s are more expensive than the standard AK-47.
- I am hesitant to put this observation in the “cons” category since modern day AR-15s are very reliable and perform in harsh environments, but since their predecessors were far from reliable, there is a valid argument to putting it in the “cons” category. Some of the first AR-15s/M16s that were discussed before were nothing but trouble to the troops that fought during the Vietnam War.
- The round fired by an AR-15 lacks the muzzle energy that the AK-47 can deliver with its 7.62×39 round.
Classic AR-15 rifle
Even though the AR-15 started out with some major issues, the modern-day version has addressed and resolved the issues this type of rifle had during its early days. As a result, this rifle is still in service today. This rifle is extremely accurate and, when placed in the hands of a skilled shooter, can be pushed to its very limits by shooting accurately past its effective range and stopping a threat. It is very ergonomic due to its design and the minimal recoil. This makes it very easy to control even when you fire it rapidly. Now that I have talked about both the pros and cons of both rifles, I am going to give you my opinion on them and which one I prefer.
To put it plain and simple, I am an AR-15 man. I’m not saying I don’t love the AK-47 rifle and appreciate everything about it, I just prefer the AR-15, the reason being that I have trained on that platform and fell in love with it right from the beginning. The accuracy of the AR-15 is awesome and, combined with its ergonomics, makes it feel very natural to manipulate during various training exercises. Also, I am a firm believer that the AR-15 is a very reliable rifle. All the ARs I have owned or built have withstood abuse from training and have never let me down. I can confidently engage targets from a long distance with accuracy. If given the opportunity to train frequently with a quality AK-47, I feel as though I would be able to appreciate it as much as I do my AR-15s. But for now, in my opinion, the AR-15 is the winner in this debate.