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.

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AK-47

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AK-47

AK-74

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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)
Cartridge 7.62x39mm 5.45x39mm
Designer Mikhail Kalashnikov Mikhail Kalashnikov
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)
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)
Manufacturer Manufacturer Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash) Izhevsk Mechanical Works
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)
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
Designed 1947 (Originally designed in '44-46, but it gets its name from the new 1947 model) 1974
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
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)
In service 1949–present 1974–present
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.
Price $350-$700 $400-$800
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
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.
Number built approximately 75 million AK-47, 100 million AK-type rifles 5 million+
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.
Wars It's easier to name the wars this hasn't been in. Soviet-Afghan War, various other conflicts in Asia and the Middle East
Dependability Functions well under any conditions Same extreme reliability
Recoil Type Mild, but easily managed in semiautomatic Barely noticeable; lighter than 5.56 recoil.
Produced 1947-present 1974–present
An AK-74 assault rifle
An AK-74 assault rifle
An AK-47 assault rifle
An AK-47 assault rifle

edit Design comparison

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.

edit Cartridge

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.

edit Barrel

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).

edit Magazines

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.

edit Weight

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.

edit Cost

The AK-74 is cheaper to manufacture for mass production than the AK-47.

edit Where to buy

Accessories for these rifles, as well as the Airsoft versions, can be purchased on Amazon or other gunshot accessories retailers.

edit Popularity

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.

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