Ak47 vs AR15: Which One Is The Superior Among Them?

One of the most debated questions in the survival and firearm community revolves around the best survival firearm. There are only two firearms competing for that crown i.e. the AK47 and AR15.

The two guns look incredibly similar to the untrained eye but they couldn’t be further apart. So which is superior?

This post strips down both guns to their basic functionality to get to the truth of the matter.

History

The AK47 is the most popular rifle in the world and is a gas-operated firearm that uses 7.62 x 39 mm ammunition. It was developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the Soviet Union.

The design work began in 1945 and AK47 was officially accepted by Soviet Armed Forces in 1949. It was a popular weapon among member states of the Warsaw Pact and to this date, remains widely used.

The AR15 is a magazine-fed, air cooled firearm that uses 5.56mm/.223 caliber ammunition. The rifle is actuated by long/short stroke piston operation or direct impingement gas operation.

It was designed and built for the United States Armed Forces by Armalite. The design was later sold to Colt due to financial problems. Colt made some modifications to the A15 and ultimately adapted it as the M16 rifle, also used by the US Armed Forces.

Colt started selling semi-automatic version of the weapon as the Colt AR-15 to civilians in 1963 and since then, the term AR15 has been used to refer to semi-automatic versions of the firearm.

Action Type

The AR15 is an air-cooled, magazine-fed and direct impingement rifle that features a rotating bolt and straight-line recoil design. It is a semi-automatic weapon that’s considered an assault rifle by gun control. The gun can fire up to 45-60 rounds per minute.

The AK47 is a long-stroke piston, gas-operated and magazine-fed rifle that uses a rotating bolt. It is a direct impingement rifle.

Recoil

With proper training and practice, anyone armed with the AR15 and AK47 can be very deadly. The straight-line recoil system of the AR15 offers less recoil than the AK47, hence easier to control.

The Stoner System used in the AR15 gives the firearm a symmetric design that makes straight line movement of operating components possible.  By using high pressure gas to drive the system, the weight of moving parts and rifle as a whole is reduced.

In the straight-line recoil design, the recoil spring is in the stock. It doubles as a recoil buffer and operating spring. Because the stock is in line with the bore, muzzle rise is reduced significantly. This is turn reduces user fatigue and allows for faster after-shots.

The flash suppressors in M16 further reduce recoil.

The AK47 uses a long-stroke piston gas system where the piston is attached to bolt group mechanically. The piston moves through the entire operating cycle. The downside of this system is that the changing center of mass during the action cycle causes abrupt stops at the start and end of bolt carrier travel.

Fortunately, the slower rate of fire and heavier weight of the AK47 help mitigate any disadvantage that could result to the abrupt stops. The AK-47 uses a compensator or muzzle brake to reduce recoil. Its vertical foregrips do a good job of countering the effects of recoil.

Range and accuracy

The AR15 has high velocity, light recoil and flat trajectory allows the user to take head shots at up to 300 meters. The newer models that use the M855 cartridge can shoot up to 600 meters.

The accuracy of the AK47 is “good enough” when compared to that of the AR15. It is capable of shooting 3-5 inch and 4-6 inch groups at 100 yards. Shooting ten consecutive rounds with the AK-47 at 300 yards and at bench rest positions is a little difficult.

However, some of the best shooters can hit human-sized targets at 800 meters. This is particularly true if one shooting ten shots standing or five shots in a supported position. On average, the AK47 has an effective range of 400 meters.

Magazines

Because the semi-automatic AR15 was designed to be lightweight, its magazine is made from stamped or pressed aluminum. This makes the feed lips weaker and the weapon as a whole less durable than the AK47.

The AK47 uses a magazine with a pronounced curve that makes it easier to feed ammunition into the chamber smoothly. The heavy steel construction and feed lips make this firearm resistant to damage.

Ergonomics

The safety of an AR15 can be manipulated without losing the sight picture. Being smaller than that of the AK47, it is easy to see why using it under stress can be difficult. This firearm isn’t recommended for left-handed users in terms of shell ejection and controls.

On the other hand, the AK47 safety is designed to be hit easily with the index finger. The middle finger remains on the trigger and a simple rocking motion allows you to insert and remove ammunition. It is a great option for left-handed users in terms of shell injection and controls.

Modularity

One of the factors that makes the AR15 popular is the ability to alter it to suit the user’s needs. It has four main components i.e. stock barrel, upper receiver and lower receiver, all of which can mixed and matched to meet specific needs and missions.

The AK47 has relative non-modularity when compared to the AR15. It doesn’t offer as much flexibility as the AR15.

Which One Takes The Crown?

A customer staring at the AR15 and AK47 still has to make a decision. Do you spend more cash on the AR15 and get an accurate, modular firearm or do you opt for the cheaper AK47? Whatever your choice ultimately depends on the intended use and what features you are willing to forego or not forego.

The AK47 is what I’d recommend for someone who wants optimal reliability and close-range support. If you want a modular weapon that offers excellent ballistics and long-range accuracy, the AR15 is a good investment.

As for me, I’d spend the extra bucks and get one of each. That way, I get the best of both worlds.

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