Originally Posted by ccase39
It sounds to me from my limited knowledge that the AK is more durable, easier to maintain, packs more of a punch than an AR. I know the AR is a bit more accurate arguably. Why did the US not try to make a similar issue weapon for the Army instead of the AR. An AR to me is considerably harder to break down and clean that my SKS or an AK as you describe. Yea I can get the bolt and charger handle out easily but the trigger and gas rod and all are a different story.
The accuracy standard for a Bulgarian or Russian AK carbine is 4 MOA at 100 meters.
The accuracy standard for a Colt M4 carbine is 4 MOA at 100 yards.
Yes, AR's are typically more accurate than AK's. That has more to do with triggers, ergonomics, and sighting mechanism. The primary difference is the sighting mechanism. If you put an Aimpoint on either weapon and use decent ammunition, accuracy differences are negligible.
For most people, the post and peep or ghost ring are easier to achieve a given level of accuracy with than a post and notch.
US Army ordnance, or more specifically the head of the review board, didn't want the AR. Like any new weapon, the rifle had some teething troubles and the General in charge of the board, Maxwell Taylor I think but can't recall now, was a traditionalist and just didn't like it. An early model AR barrel failed in testing and the bullet exited the barrel. Not a good thing for any rifle. An Air Force General named Curtis LeMay wanted the rifle for Air Force Security after some informal testing. Incidentally, SECDEF McNamara ordered that the AR-15, AK-47, and M-14 rifles all be tested by the Army.
McNamara ordered the US Army to field the rifle based on "scientific" analysis by the Wiz Kids and rejected the results of US Army testing that found the AR-15 and AK-47 unsuitable for service. McNamara was a bean counter. He noted that the cost of fielding the M14 did not seem to provide a good trade-off, given the number of cartridges fired to achieve a "kill".
Even though the AR-15 turned out to be a good idea, McNamara also rejected some of the changes that the Army wanted, on grounds of cost. Not chrome lining the bore and chamber turned out to be a bad idea. McNamara eventually lost that decision and M-16 barrels and chambers are chrome lined.
After the AR-15 (M-16) was fielded and the dumb weapon and ammunition cost cutting measures were nixed that caused problems with the rifle, it was well-liked by the military and it's been around ever since.
Many tens of millions of dollars have been wasted to replace the AR-15 and the military has rejected every attempt to do so. An order hasn't been issued to field a new rifle or carbine, so it's still the primary individual weapon in all services even though newer/faster/better/more reliable weapons have also been fielded. The newer/faster/better/more reliable weapons have also been proprietary design/more expensive/heavier without a great deal of demonstrable improvement in any area except reliability.
Are there more reliable weapons than the AR? Sure, but it's mostly a question of operator training and maintenance. If you maintain the weapon, use working magazines, and use quality ammunition it is very reliable. If you don't, expect problems. Damaged or poor quality magazines, springs, and ammo can screw up any weapon and are a major factor in weapon reliability.
Our weapons were designed to be used by trained riflemen who take care of their equipment. Our enemies' weapons were designed to be used by conscripts who can read or write their own names in their own language.
Western individual weapon design philosophy has always centered around accuracy, ergonomics, and reduced cost. The most accurate and least costly rifle probably won't be the most reliable.
Eastern individual weapon design philosophy has always centered around reliability and durability, although Eastern individual weapons are plenty accurate for the intended use. The most reliable and most durable rifle probably won't be the most accurate or ergonomic.
The AK can run without lubrication. The AR requires lubrication or it won't run. If you lubricate it properly, it will continue to function reliably until parts start breaking.
The cheap stainless steel springs that military weapons and magazines have in them cause problems. The chrome silicon springs that you can purchase on the aftermarket will continue to function long after you have to replace the barrel several times. Apart from properly lubricating the weapon, the chrome silicon springs are the greatest reliability upgrade that you can make on an AR.
BTW, I've never seen anyone but an armorer start tearing a rifle down in the Navy. I can't say what the Army or Marine Corps would find acceptable for an infantry soldier to do to his rifle, but playing with the trigger mechanism is probably not permitted. For that matter, I'd bet any comparable activity in a Communist army would be the preserve of a unit armorer.
If your rifle is messed up, you turn it in and get issued a new one. If an armorer can fix it, it will be re-issued. If not, the military buys a new rifle.