One of the fiercest, and longest running, debates within the firearms community is this: which is the better “battle rifle:” the AR or the AK. The topic has been done to death, so I thought I’d feature the two rifles in a different setting: working together. The video embedded above features an AR-15 and an AK-74.
The featured AR, like many rifles of its type, is a custom build. Some of the key components included are a DI Daniel Defense DDM4V7LW upper, a LMT Defender lower receiver, and Troy flip up battle sights. On the other end of the spectrum, the AK74 I’m wielding above is a standard milsurp rifle. This Romanian SAR-2 is in the same condition now as when I first cleaned off the cosmoline, except, well, dirtier.
Some argue that the AK-74’s 5.45×39 cartridge is the Eastern European answer to the AR-15’s 5.56×45 NATO round. On the range, I’ve found the perceived recoil to be similar, but let’s look at some measurable data. The AR’s 5.56×45 has a standard muzzle velocity of about 3,100 fps, compared to the AK-47’s 7.62×39’s average muzzle velocity of about 2,300 fps. The AK-74’s 5.45×39 round flies between the two at about 2,900 fps.
What is my preference? Both. I think the AR-15 and AK-74 each have their merits and demerits. I enjoy the remarkable volume of options for customizing AR style rifles. Between uppers, lowers, barrels, triggers, grips, stocks, hand guards, muzzle devices and more, there are countless options for completely unique AR builds. Although, these kinds of rifle builds have a way of running off with your wallet. Military surplus firearms, like my AK-74, are often acquired for considerably less coin. The AK-74 in this video cost about one third the overall price of the AR-15 firing next to it. It also bears mentioning how reliably my AKs have performed on the range, as compared to my AR style rifles. Over the years, AKs have established a reputation of being nigh impossible to impede their ability to fire. Thousands of rounds of carbon fouling? Mud? Sand? Ham sandwich? No problem. The AK-74, like its big brother AK-47, will take all kinds of abuse and keep on kicking.
When it comes down to it, the “better” rifle is really a matter of personal preference. Which is your favorite?