I have long heard comparisons, taste-tests, caliber debates and everything else associated with the American battle rifle of the last 50 years, the M16 (AR15 variants) vs. the Ruskie AK47 (and variants). Which one is better, and why (why not), the politics behind who used one or the other and of course import bans, stigmatization and the like
Only one way to properly evaluate and form an educated opinion on this topic that I know of: own and extensively shoot both. By no means does shooting one example of each provide a comprehensive view of the merits of one versus the other. We are certainly not talking about battlefield experience here either, we are basing this on shooting at the range (various positions), take down, maintenance and reliability. Here is how we went about this.
Smith & Wesson M&P15 Optics ready
. 16" 5.56 NATO barrel, chrome-lined. Iron flip-up sights are made by Troy, optic is a Vortex Strikefire. Using iron sights only, we shoot 2-2 1/2 inc groups at 50 yards. With red dot, group size is half of that. Avoiding apples to oranges comparison with AR red dot and no optic on AK, so eval is discussed with iron sights only
Zastava AK47 N-PAP
7.62 x 39mm with Tapco T6 adapter, original iron sights, we shoot 2 1/2- 3 inch groups at 50 yards
SHOOTING THE RIFLES
I have put 3500+ rounds thru each of these guns and my first comment is: BOTH are very reliable. I clean after every range visit and I'd expect this. Both rifles have stock triggers, not 3 lb pulls like my hunting rifles, more like 6-8.
Recoil on the AR is of course non-existent. This provides an advantage in that you are not tempted to anticipate recoil. The AK action absorbs a great deal of the 7.62 round's recoil, but the muzzle rise on rapid fire is a relative disadvantage IMO. Once you learn to account/compensate for this, it can become a non-issue
Simply put, it is easier to shoot the AR15 accurately than is the AK. If one knows how to shoot both
, the differences are negligible inside 100 yards in terms of hitting center mass on human sized targets. (overall, and in general, I prefer the AR with an optic, the AK without)
we could chat this one up on the cattle drive all day long. I'll simply say this: in an urban environment, taking shots of 100 yards or less, with car doors and front doors to penetrate - as well as body amour - I'll take the 7.62 in a street fight any day. I'm a big guy, I can carry a little extra ammo weight
OK here I need to rely on research as I am not interested in throwing either of these fine rifles into a mud puddle. Or drop sand into the receiver. Or drag behind my truck.
Let's just say the AK's reputation for durability speaks for itself, which is important to me for this simple reason: who knows, given any situation that requires a rifle to survive - how often you would actually get to maintain your rifle? Or how it would work if it DID get dropped in a mud puddle (something I would surely do sooner or later)
There is a lot more variability (people taking liberty with) AK designs than there are with ARs. It takes more precision to build an AR than it does an AK, and for that reason alone I believe your typical AR is better quality workmanship than a typical AK. Tolerances are tighter, etc, and in the case of th AK, the lose tolerances are a part of it's genius.
The AK wins this race and it's not even close. Not even close.
I am very glad to be living in a country where one can own both of these rifles, at least the 'dumbed-down' versions. I doubt if I ever will have to chose one versus the other,
but if I did,
I'd grab my Yugo,
and never look back......