difference between ak 47 and ak 74
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AK 74 vs. AK 47: 8 Big Differences Between These 2 Rifles

AK 74 vs AK 47?

It’s a classic showdown between 2 of the most lethal assault rifles ever produced.

The AK-47 is a legendary assault rifle that has inspired many imitators, including the AK-74.

Today, many continue to debate which assault rifle is considered the best.

Compare and contrast the AK 74 vs AK 47, below.

AK 74 vs AK 47: 8 Big Differences

ak 47 vs ak 74
Images: AK 74 (Top) / AK 47 (Bottom)

AK 74 vs AK 47.

The two assault rifles are frequently stacked against each other in order to determine the most deadly weapon in the world.

Indeed, the Kalashnikov (or AK series), consistently ranks among the highest-selling semiautomatic assault rifles in the world.

There are many different versions of the AK series that have been produced over its incredible 75+ years of history (more details, below).

Nonetheless, the AK-74 and AK-47 are often compared against each other because they rank among the best.

The two weapons were designed by the same man, Mikhail Kalashnikov, and have generated millions in sales.

As such, many gun experts and collectors enjoy debating which assault rifle is the best: AK 74 vs AK 47.

In general, the AK-47 and AK-74 have many similarities yet a few major differences.

Thus, it’s important to learn the following about the two different assault rifles:

  1. Design
  2. History
  3. Caliber / Ammunition
  4. Performance
  5. Reliability
  6. Accessories
  7. Variants
  8. Sales / Popularity

AK 74 vs AK 47?

Discover what makes each assault rifle distinct and different from the other variants, below:

#1. AK 74 vs AK 47: Design

The AK-47 and AK-74 have many similarities.

For starters, the two assault rifles were designed by the same man, Mikhail Kalashnikov.

For this reason, the semiautomatic rifles have many of the same components and accessories.

Still, some argue that the AK-47 triumphs the AK-74 due to its longevity and tradition.

Meanwhile, others prefer some of the more advanced features of the AK-74.

Be that as it may, both assault rifles deliver in terms of performance (more information, below).

AK-47 Semiautomatic Assault Rifle

The AK-47 was the variant that started it all for the Kalashnikov (AK) series.

Previously, Mikhail Kalashnikov was a relatively unknown and undistinguished tank sergeant in the Soviet military.

However, in 1947, Kalashnikov conceived the idea for the AK-47 and the world was never the same again.

In fact, many today unknowingly refer to every AK assault rifle as an “AK-47” even though many other variants exist (more details, below).

The name “AK-47” is short for the gun series (AK) and year of release (1947).

Kalashnikov envisioned a semi-automatic or automatic rifle that was A) simple to use, B) reliable, and C) affordable.

For this reason, he developed the AK-47 and began mass-producing the weapon following the end of World War II.

Today, the AK-47 continues to maintain a great reputation for being rugged, and extremely reliable.

More importantly, the AK-47 is one of the most affordable semiautomatic assault rifles available for purchase.

Its primary specs include a gas-operated action, 7.62x39mm cartridge, 16-inch barrel, and 600 rounds per minute firing capacity.

AK-74 Assault Rifle

The AK-74 was conceived to replace the AK-47 or, at least, produce a competitive alternative.

Today, the AK-74 rivals the AK-47 in many regards including gas-operated, rotating bolt action as well as semiautomatic capabilities.

The AK-74 was developed in 1974 with a muzzle brake that contributed to far less recoil.

Furthermore, the updated stock, handguard, and gas cylinder improved traction and accuracy.

Thus, its purpose was to provide a lighter assault rifle (5.45x39mm vs. 7.62x39mm) with the same renowned performance and dependability.

As a result, the AK-74 quickly gained favor with the Soviet Union for its quick firing rate (650 rounds p/ min) and minimal ballistic arch.

It’s one of the key features that distinguishes the AK-74 from the AK-47 – the latter of which rarely has a scope attached to it.

Today, the Russians continue to prefer the AK-74 which remains the standard issue infantry rifle of the army.

Be that as it may, the trend hasn’t been the same worldwide where the AK-47 continues to outperform the AK-74 in terms of sales.

In fact, there are hundreds of millions more AK-47s sold on the planet compared to AK-74s (more details, below).

Nevertheless, the two assault rifles compete with each other in numerous other regards.

#2. History

Mikhail Kalashnikov served in the Soviet Union military yet it wasn’t until after he left service that he altered the course of warfare.

The impression that WWII left on Kalashnikov inspired him to create an assault rifle that could rival the German Sturmgewehr STG 44 rifle.

Consequently, in 1947, he developed the first weapon in the AK series.

The AK-47 immediately gained favor with the Soviet Union and was quickly adopted as its standard-issue rifle following WWII.

The massive 7.62x39mm rounds were designed for accurate, intermediate-range fire (300 meters) without the need for a scope.

As such, the Russian AKM (as it was known in those parts of the world) was supplied to other parts of Eurasia.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the AK-47 was first seen extensively during the Vietnam War.

The AK-47 served as an extremely reliable and dependable weapon for the North Vietnamese operating in wet, jungle conditions.

For this reason, the AK-47 earned the respect of American troops, some of whom considered the AK-47 better than their standard-issue M16 rifles.

The M16 fired a smaller cartridge and therefore shorter bursts of fire yet suffered from reliability issues.

Nonetheless, the lighter design of the M16 inspired the Soviets to once again conceive one of the top assault rifles in the world.

The AK-74 is modeled after the M16 yet also incorporates some of the better features of the AK-47.

Thus, it didn’t take long for the AK-74 to replace the AK-47 as the primary weapon for frontline Soviet forces.

The AK-74 was frequently witnessed during the Soviet-Afghan War along with various other conflicts in Asia and the Middle East.

Currently, the assault weapon is also being heavily utilized by both sides involved in the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

#3. AK 74 vs AK 47: Caliber

The old saying “a rifle is only as reliable as its magazines” certainly applies to the AK series of weapons.

In the past, the manufacturer has garnered a terrific reputation for producing high-quality and dependable assault rifles.

The AK series is heralded for its rough durability and extreme reliability in various weather conditions and environments.

However, one of the biggest differences between the AK-47 and AK-74 is based on the caliber of the magazines.

The heavy 7.62x39mm caliber, semi-automatic AK-47 is equipped standard with 30 rounds.

Nonetheless, there are other AK-47 magazine options such as 20-round magazines and 40 / 75-round drums.

Meanwhile, the AK-74 is a much smaller 5.45x39mm caliber semiautomatic assault rifle.

The purpose of the lighter caliber is to produce an accurate, rapid-fire version of the original AK-47.

The AK-47 produces heavy damage in close combat whereas the AK-74 offers more range and less recoil.

The two semiautomatic weapons are nearly identical in terms of reliability in combat.

AK-74 bullets exit the barrel of the rifle faster and carry with a flatter trajectory.

Some troops also prefer AK-74 rounds because they weigh less and can carry more into the battlefield.

In general, the magazines for both rifles are similar and accommodate various-size cartridges.

Traditionally, AK-47 magazines are more readily available and cheaper compared to finding AK-74 magazines online.

#4. Performance

How do the two deadly assault weapons rank in terms of performance?

In general, both rifles are acknowledged for offering tremendous durability and reliability.

The AK-47 and AK-74 have both been used in combat for decades and are present in every country in the world.

AK-47s are not only popular with U.S. civilians but also terrorist organizations and enemy forces.

Both assault weapons are renowned for their reliable feeding systems and ability to withstand abuse or adverse weather conditions.

The lengths of the barrels and other physical dimensions are comparable aside from weight.

The AK-74 is lighter yet produces more muzzle velocity (2,054 ft/s vs. 715 m/s) yet far less recoil.

Moreover, the rate of fire is comparable (600 rounds p/ minute compared to 650 rounds p/ minute with AK-74).

The AK-74 is designed to fire at longer ranges (350 – 500 meters) yet also usually requires the use of a scope.

Meanwhile, the AK-47 only reaches 300 meters yet offers different variances depending on the automatic or semi-automatic version.

The AK-47 may be older yet can teach the AK-74 many lessons in a combat situation.

First, the large 30-caliber rounds are going to devastate anything within close range.

Second, AK-47 rounds are thick enough to blast through brick, wood, and glass.

Nevertheless, it’s impossible not to appreciate some of the modern advances of the AK-74.

The AK-74 features a lighter and smaller 5.45 cartridge which still produces damage yet at further ranges.

The ability to mount a scope makes the AK-74 adaptable as both a close-combat and long-range weapon.

Additionally, most soldiers appreciate that the AK-74 produces a lighter recoil and more controllable automatic fire.

The ammunition is also lighter which allows troops to carry more into battle.

#5. Reliability

The AK-74 and AK-47 are both excellent in terms of reliability.

It makes sense considering that both assault weapons were created by the same man.

Both versions of the AK family are available in a milled or stamped receiver and feature the same controls.

Moreover, the barrel lengths are nearly identical and present the same long-stroke gas operation system.

The minimal moving parts of the AK-47 and AK-74 make them both functional in a variety of conditions.

Additionally, it even contributes to the affordable price and cheap reputation of the AK-47.

Even more noteworthy, both weapons can withstand a fair amount of misuse without sacrificing reliability.

Thus, it’s not shocking that the AK-47 has been featured in every major conflict since Vietnam and the AK-74 since the original Afghanistan War in the 1980s.

#6. Accessories

Those seeking to buy AK-74 and AK-47 accessories online will have no problem finding a large assortment of products.

In general, most AK gun accessories and gear are interchangeable.

For this reason, any accessory that functions on an AK-74 will offer the same features on the AK-47.

However, some accessories, like a mounted scope are not nearly as common on AK-47s.

It’s because the smaller round and ballistic arch of the AK-47 makes the assault weapon less effective in long-range situations.

AK-74 and AK-47 accessories include customizable features like hand grips, stocks, mag releases, lights, and tactical rails.

Today, there is no shortage of ways to customize an AK-47 or AK-74.

We recommend that you purchase AK 74, or AK 47, on the official Palmetto State Armory website here: www.PalmettoStateArmory.com

#7. AK (Assault Rifle) Variants

The AK-47 and AK-74 have inspired many other variants, including:

  • AKS-47
  • AKS-74
  • AK-74M
  • AKM Rifle
  • AKSN Assault Rifle
  • AKMS Under-Folding Version

Both rifles have undergone several upgrades through more than a half-century of development.

The folding stock versions (AK-74U) are popular among consumers.

Additionally, the AK-74M is another popular variant that offers many advanced features including a modified muzzle brake and side-folding buttstock.

Moreover, the receiver-mounted side rail is provided for mounting optics.

Currently, AK-47s are more easy to find and buy online compared to AK-74s.

It’s because no federal restrictions exist on semi-automatic versions of the AK-47 and automatic variants are found across the globe.

The same is true of purchasing AK-47 magazines which are far easier to find online compared to AK-74 ammunition.

#8. AK 74 vs AK 47: Popularity

Which assault weapon is more popular the AK-74 or AK-47?

Today, both rifles are highly valued for their ease of use and reliability.

AK-47s are some of the most inexpensive yet dependable assault rifles on the market.

Moreover, AK-74s have also developed a great reputation for being tough and sturdy.

Be that as it may, AK-47s consistently outrank AK-74s in terms of worldwide sales.

In fact, the numbers are not even close as AK-47 sales are reported to exceed 75 – 100 million.

Whereas, AK-74s sales have only resulted in 5 – 10 million AK-74s being produced worldwide.

There are many who attribute this to the fact that AK-47s and ammunition are much easier to purchase here in the United States (as well as online).

Since the AK-47 and AK-74 were designed by the Soviet Union the inventions were never controlled by any patents or copyright laws.

As both the AK-47 and the AK-74 were designed by the Soviet Union, they were never controlled by copyright law or patents.

Consequently, many other cheaper versions and AK-47 knockoffs have been produced over the years.

Today, dozens of developing countries and numerous other terrorist organizations prefer AK-47s due to their affordability and availability.

Notwithstanding, with a price tag between $350 – $700, it’s easy to understand why AK-47s have become so popular.

Which Assault Rifle Is The Best?

Who wins the showdown: AK 74 vs AK 47?

It’s very difficult to pick a winner considering the quality performance and reputation of both assault rifles.

The AK-47 and AK-74 completely changed history and have been involved in every major conflict since the Vietnam War.

Today, the AK-47 continues to rank as the top-selling assault rifle while the AK-74 is not too far behind.

The two assault rifles offer different advantages and disadvantages, along with many similarities.

In general, the primary determination is whether you want an assault weapon with a lighter caliber that is more far-reaching (AK-74) or one that inflicts tremendous damage from close range (AK-47).


How the AK-47 became the ‘weapon of the century’

AK-74 – Wikipedia

See Also

8 Best AK Pistols

M16 Vs AR15: 8 Biggest Differences

10 Special Forces Weapons: Rifles, Pistols, Shotguns, & More

Rob V.
Latest posts by Rob V. (see all)
AK74 vs AK47

AK74 vs AK47

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Learn more about the differences between the AK-47 vs. AK-74, including their history, caliber, and more.

Originally posted on 09/07/23

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