Know Your AK Rifles: AK-47 vs. AK-74 vs. AK-12


It can be an extremely difficult choice when you have to pick between an AK-47 and an AK-74. Though similar both in name and design, the Automatic Kalashnikov rifles do have very important differences between them. Many believe that the rifles are just the same since they do have a common reputation based on the infinite success this weapon has had both in war and civilian hands.

Sadly there is that darker side to the rifle, since it has been used by drug dealers and ruffians of all kinds as well. It is simply so powerful and rugged that everyone wants to own one. Still in this article we’ll discuss in detail the general differences of the AK-47 and the AK-74. First of all:

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The date of release

One of the most important differences between the AK-47 and the AK-74 is that the first was released in 1947 and the second in 1974. This large difference between the dates means with certainty that the 1974 AK-74 is superior and more modern in design. The older AK-47 fires large cartridges and is considerably heavier.

The size of the Cartridge

The size of the cartridge itself is one of the main reasons why the AK-47 is that much heavier than the AK-74. A weapon that fires such larger rounds needs to be sturdier and bigger. It might be more powerful, but the heavier parts make it much harder to control. This means that your accuracy and aim will be poor unless you are particularly strong and familiar with your AK-47.

The reason the AK-74 was designed goes back to the Vietnam War. The newly released M-16 rifle was so much lighter and easier to control that the Soviets simply had to come up with an answer. This is why Kalashnikov designed the AK-74. Even though the designer believed that the 7.26×39 cartridge was superior due to its power, Kalashnikov did use the much smaller 5.45×39 cartridge for the AK-74. This allowed for a much lighter design, which was easier to control.

The recoil was that much lesser, that when one uses a muzzle brake the recoil becomes almost nonexistent. The 5.45×39 rounds weren’t just smaller, but also quicker to fire. Add to that the superior aim and accuracy and the AK-74 makes up in precision everything it lacks in power compared to the AK-47.

The flatter trajectory of the lighter cartridges made it also possible to mount scopes onto the AK-74, while almost nobody would think to do the same with an AK-47. People do compare the AK-74 with more modern sporting rifles and often the US crowd seems unimpressed. This is why in the US the AK-47 is much more loved. This does not mean that owning a good AK-74 isn’t worth your time and money. On the contrary it is an extremely entertaining weapon to use.

The modern answer to the dilemma

And now we come to the future of the Kalashnikov line: the AK-12. This is the newest of the Kalashnikov rifles and it certainly is worth all the popularity it has. The designers thought to pick all the parts that actually made the Kalashnikov the great weapon it is. Then they decided to improve on the parts that weren’t up to par with modern technology anymore.

This way the Kalashnikov rifle AK-12 kept its amazing long-stroke piston, but gained new control features as well.

The new selector switch is located behind the receiver so that you can easily handle it with your thumb. There are three different setting to choose from: single fire, three-round burst and full automatic. The switch can be used with both hands equally well.

Also, the charging handle has been made to ambidextrous as well. This means that left handed operators have the same ease using it now as right handed operators do.

The AK-12 is highly customizable, thanks to an integrated top rail and Picatinny rails for lower and side gadget additions. The AK-12 can take the old and powerful 7.26×39 cartridge, the quick 5.45×39 or even the NATO classic 5.56×45 cartridges. This means that all old AK-47 ammunition should work just fine on the AK-12. The initial testing of the AK-12 showed some minor defects which the manufacturer said would address quickly.

In the end it is still a very hard decision to pick the best among these rifles. If you can you should probably own one of each, since each has its benefits and all are great weapons. If you care about how cheap your ammunition will be then the AK-74 is probably the rifle you should own first.

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