Originally Posted by ccase39
Can you tell me a little bit about the AK 74
The AK-74 variant of the AKM design was designed in response to what Russian observers reported from Viet Nam regarding the effectiveness of the M-16 rifle.
The military strategists and tacticians came to understand the value of giving individual soldiers a lighter, faster, less powerful cartridge to use. The Americans were always enamored with the rifle and the ideals of having trained riflemen, but the Russians were a little more practical.
The high velocity and resultant flatter trajectory, light weight weapon, and light weight magazines and ammunition were ideal for a close range combat weapon.
Lots of firefights in Viet Nam ended because the VC or NVA ran out of ammunition because they could not carry a loadout equivalent to what the American soldiers were carrying. The 7.62MMx39MM ammunition and steel AK magazines are significantly heavier than the 5.56MMx45MM ammunition and aluminum AR magazines. For a given weight, you can carry more 5.56MM or 5.45MM ammunition and magazines.
Let's be real about one thing, in any firefight there's going to be a lot of missing. It could be because you can't see the target and you're just firing in the general direction of the target in hopes of keeping him from moving or shooting back at you, you might have to shoot from a less than ideal position that isn't stable, or you're a poor marksman. Irrespective of what the reason is, misses happen in real gunfights involving highly trained marksmen.
So, the question becomes; How expensive in terms of weight and capability do you want each of those misses to be? With a lighter weapon, lighter ammunition, and lighter magazines, you can afford more misses because you can and will carry more magazines and ammunition. The ammunition is less expensive in terms of manufacturing and shipment costs and you can resupply your soldiers with more of other things that they need.
The 5.45MMx39MM cartridges that the AK-74 uses are ever so slightly less powerful than the SS109 cartridges that the M-16 and M-4 carbines currently use. The terminal ballistics of the cartridges is nearly identical.
The weight of a loaded PMAG AR-15 magazine and a loaded Bulgarian steel reinforced polymer AK-74 magazine, both containing 30 cartridges, is about equal and you're looking at about 1 pound of weight either way.
How much better armed would you be with a AK-47 or AKM vs a AK-74?
Mikhail Kalashnikov would say that the AK-74's cartridge was a mistake but he obviously isn't very well versed on modern infantry tactics, either. Soldiers miss, there are reasons to fire your weapon that won't directly cause casualties to the enemy such as suppressive fire, and there's a limit to what a man of a given size can carry and use.
Having a battle rifle to shoot at someone less than 100 yards away is kinda a waste of power. If you hit someone in the center of the chest at 100 yards with a 5.56MM or 5.45MM cartridge they'll be just as dead as they would be if you shot them with 7.62MMx51MM or 7.62MMx54R.
As a civilian, I believe it to be highly unlikely that I'll ever shoot someone at 50 yards let alone several hundred yards where using heavier caliber ammunition makes more sense. I prefer the lighter caliber ammunition because it's cheaper, smaller, and not as heavy. You can easily stick a spare magazine in your pocket if you think you'll need it, and the weapons that chamber those cartridges are also lighter.