The AK-47 and AK-74 are both Russian-made assault rifles designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The AK in the name refers to Kalashnikov (K) automatic (A) rifles and the numbers refer to the year in which they were designed (1947 and 1974). In 1978, the Soviet Union began replacing their AK-47 and AKM rifles with a newer design, the AK-74.
|Type||Assault rifle (semi-automatic, full-auto available in US to certain federal licensees)||Sport utility rifle (semiautomatic only; no imported fully automatic examples)|
|Weight||4.3 kg (9.5 lb) with empty magazine||AK-74: 3.03 kg (6.7 lb), AKS-74: 2.97 kg (6.5 lb), AKS-74U: 2.5 kg (5.5 lb), AK-74M: 3.4 kg (7.5 lb)|
|Action||Gas-operated, rotating bolt (Long Stroke Gas Piston)||Gas-operated, rotating bolt|
|Sights||Adjustable iron sights, 100–800 metre adjustments, 378 mm (14.9 in) sight radius||Adjustable iron sights, front post and rear notch on a scaled tangent, Flip-up sight and front cylindrical post (AKS-74U)|
|Variants||AK-47 1948–51, AK-47 1952, AKS-47, RPK, AKM (most ubiquitous variant), AKMS||AKS-74, AKS-74U, AKS-74UB, AK-74M, AK-101, AK-102, AK-103, AK-104, AK-105|
|Place of origin||Soviet Union||Soviet Union|
|Effective range||300 metres (330 yd) full automatic, 400 metres (440 yd) semi-automatic||600 m, 100–1,000 m sight adjustments, 350–500 m sight adjustments (AKS-74U)|
|Muzzle velocity||715 m/s (2,346 ft/s)||900 m/s (2,953 ft/s) (AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M), 735 m/s (2,411.4 ft/s) (AKS-74U)|
|Designer||Mikhail Kalashnikov||Mikhail Kalashnikov|
|Designed||1947 (Originally designed in '44-46, but it gets its name from the new 1947 model)||1974|
|Barrel Length||415 mm (16.3 in)||AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M: 415 mm (16.3 in), AKS-74U: 210 mm (8.3 in)|
|Rate of Fire||600 rounds/min cyclic||650 rounds/min (AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M), 650-735 rounds/min (AKS-74U)|
|Feed system||20 or 30-round detachable box magazine, also compatible with 40-round box or 75-round drum magazines from the RPK||30-round or 45-round RPK-74 detachable box magazine|
|Length||870 mm (34.3 in) fixed wooden stock, 875 mm (34.4 in) folding stock extended, 645 mm (25.4 in) stock folded||AK-74: 943 mm (37.1 in), AKS-74 (stock extended): 943 mm (37.1 in), AKS-74 (stock folded): 690 mm (27.2 in), AKS-74U (stock extended): 735 mm (28.9 in), AKS-74U (stock folded): 490 mm (19.3 in), AK-74M (stock extended): 943 mm (37.1 in), AK-74M (stoc|
|Manufacturer||Manufacturer Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash)||Izhevsk Mechanical Works|
|Wars||Vietnam War-present||Soviet-Afghan War, various other conflicts in Asia and the Middle East|
|Number built||approximately 75 million AK-47, 100 million AK-type rifles||5 million+|
|General Purpose||Many applications||Many applications|
|About||AK-47 stands for Kalashnikov automatic rifle model of 1947. It is a selective fire, gas operated 7.62x39mm assault rifle. Most 47's are actually the 1959 AKM.||AK-74 is a 1974 update of the AKM.|
|Restrictions||No federal restrictions on semi-auto variant ownership in the US. Full-auto restricted in the US.||No federal restrictions on semiautomatic variants. No transferable fully automatic examples exist.|
|Accuracy (16" barrel)||2-6 MOA||1-4 MOA|
|History||Developed in the USSR by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the late 1940s.||Developed in the 1970's due to Soviet fears that the American 5.56 cartridge was a breakthrough that needed to be imitated.|
|Dependability||Functions well under any conditions||Same extreme reliability|
|Recoil Type||Mild, but easily managed in semiautomatic||Barely noticeable; lighter than 5.56 recoil.|
The AK-74 featured a new stock, handguard and gas cylinder. The stock has a different, rubber shoulder pad that is serrated for increased traction. There are weight-reducing lightening cuts on each side of the buttstock.
The AK-74 gas tube has a spring washer attached to its rear end designed to retain the gas tube more securely. The lower handguard is fitted with a leaf spring that reduces play in the rifle's lateral axis by keeping the wood tensioned between the receiver and the handguard retainer. All external metal surfaces are coated with a glossy black enamel.
The 5.45x39mm cartridge of the AK-74 makes it a more accurate and reliable rifle compared to the AK-47, which uses a 7.62x39mm cartridge.
The barrel length of the AK-47 is 415 mm (16.3 inches) and is similar for the AK-74 except for the AKS-74U model which is 210 mm (8.3 inches).
The AK-74 barrel has a chrome-lined bore and 4 right-hand grooves at a 200 mm (1:8 in) rifling twist rate. The front sight base and gas block were redesigned. The gas block contains a gas channel that is installed at a 90° angle in relation to the bore axis. The forward section of the front sight base features a threaded collar that is used to screw in a newly-designed multifunction muzzle device (performing the role of a muzzle brake, recoil compensator and flash suppressor) or a blank-firing adaptor. The distinctive muzzle brake features a large expansion chamber, two symmetrical vertical cuts at the forward end of the brake and three vent holes positioned to prevent muzzle climb and lateral shift to the right (for right-handed shooters).
Magazines for both rifles are similar except for the minor changes in dimensions to accommodate different size cartridges. AK-74 magazines are polymer, and have a raised horizontal rib on each side of the rear lug to prevent their use in a 7.62x39mm AK.
At 3.03 kg (6.7 lb), the AK-74 is lighter than the AK-47 which weighed 4.3 kg. The lightest variant of the AK-74 was the AKS-74U that weighed only 2.5 kg.
The AK-74 is cheaper to manufacture for mass production than the AK-47.
Where to buy
As both the AK-47 and the AK-74 were designed by the Soviet Union, they were never controlled by copyright law or patents. This enabled any country or manufacturer to produce versions of the assault rifles (some better than others). Between this fact and the nature of the assault rifles' design—that they were easy to manufacture and use, reliable, and inexpensive to replace—the AK-47 and the AK-74 are ubiquitous in many nations around the world. It's even roughly estimated that nearly 100 million AK-47s are in circulation.