An interesting take from Mason on the never-ending topic of the AK vs AR. Definitely worth the time to read.
This is not going be an AK vs AR argument, this is simply a statement of facts and my own opinions regarding the uses and designs of the AK and its famous bullet.
To understand the AK one must understand the 7.62 x 39 round itself, which was designed before the AK-47 was even designed. In 1943 the Russian government was looking to design an intermediate cartridge to match the German 7.92 x 33 Kerz.
The end result was to be a new round specifically designed to be very effective within 200 meters (219 yards) and that feeds into rifles very reliably, the end result was the 7.62 x 39. It’s important to note that the tapering at the nose of the cartridge is actually one of the reasons that the AK-47 is so reliable as it helps to ensure reliable feeding into the chamber.
Despite a reputation for inaccuracy, inside 300 meters (328 yards) the 7.62 x 39 cartridge averages 3-inch circles. The conventional military issued ammunition has a muzzle velocity of 2,356 ft/s and a mild steel core projectile.
The AK-47 was designed by a pheasant farmer named Kalashnikov who was conscripted into the Red Army in 1938 and served as a tanker until injured fighting the Nazis during WWII. He came up with the idea for the AK while in the hospital and developed it after being released, it was officially adopted in 1947. He went on to become a Lieutenant-General in the Red Army. The gun itself is simple and not particularly ergonomic. This rifle has a stereotype for reliability and that reputation is fairly well earned, but what makes it reliable?
As I mentioned before, the tapering of the 7.62 x 39 cartridge is a huge factor in the reliable feeding of the rifle while the gas piston system is another big factor. The AK also has some of the loosest tolerances in any firearm which allows it to suck up more carbon and dirt than most other weapons. If you pick up a mil-spec AK and shake it chances are you’ll hear some rattling, this is intentional. Another design feature of the AK that is often overlooked is its simplicity to manufacture. This was done so that every 3rdworld country that would proclaim itself Communist could manufacture them cheaply and in great numbers. And boy did they!
By no means is the AK the best modern “fighting” rifle out there but it does still keep pace with other newer platforms.
Now the opinion part, AK’s are some of my favorite weapons because anyone can be taught to use and maintain them fairly quickly and inside of 200 meters the round it shoots is very effective against soft tissue. Should you rush out and buy one? If you’ve got an extra $500 to $800 dollars laying around then sure, if you are looking for something you can hunt with or shoot some competition with for fun then yes, the AK is good for that. If you are trying to be the next Jerry Miculek then this really isn’t the best firearm out there for you. Just keep in mind that whatever your opinion is about the AK, you can’t deny that good and bad guys have been effectively employing them since their inception.