AK-74 vs. AK-47: Why is the AK-74 not as Popular as its Predecessor?

The AK-47 and the AK-74 are assault rifles developed by the Soviet Union. The AK-47 is the world’s most famous assault rifle, while the AK-74

Eric Sof

The world's most popular weapon - AK-47 Assault Rifle
A group of soldier standing at the shooting range firing their AK-47 assault rifles and AK-74 assault rifles (Photo: Pinterest)

The AK-47 and the AK-74 are assault rifles developed by the Soviet Union. The AK-47 is the world’s most famous assault rifle, while the AK-74 is often mistaken for it. While the AK-47 has been out of serial production for a long time, the AK-74 is still in use. However, it is not as popular as its predecessor, and in this article, we will explore the reasons for that.

AK-74 is a Modernized Version of the AK-47

The AK-74, or Avtomat Kalashnikova 74, is a modernized version of the AK-47. The Soviet army completely phased out the AKM, the modernized version of the AK-47, in the late 70s/early 80s and replaced it with the AK-74. Currently, you won’t find a single AKM issued to a Russian soldier; everyone uses either AK-74 or AK-74M.

AK-74 Design and Production

While the AK-47 is widely available and has been manufactured by various countries, the AK-74 came to the market relatively late and in much smaller numbers. Millions of AKs had already taken the market sector for cheap and reliable weapons. Therefore, it was challenging for the AK-74 to gain popularity in the market.

Why is the AK-74 not as popular as the AK-47?
Why is the AK-74 not as popular as the AK-47? (Photo: XY)

Somali Pirates and Worldwide Terrorists

Somalian pirates and Taliban terrorists cannot just buy a new gun because they like it or it is better. They use what they have in their possession, AK and 7.62×39. In addition, 7.62×39 is also used by RPD/RPK machine guns, SKS carabine, and many older Soviet weapons. They don’t have sufficient logistics to support three different calibers at once (5,45 for “newer” stuff, 7,62 for “older” stuff, and 7,62x54R for machine guns and rifles). Therefore, choosing the most widely used gun and caliber is always better, so one won’t run out of ammo for their unique gun.

AK-74 vs. AK-47: Huge Difference in Power and Caliber

The AK-47 and the derivatives fire the 7.62x39mm round. The kinetic energy of this round is around 2100 Joules at initial speeds of 730m/s upwards. With a more powerful charge, a reworking of the barrel, and a special bullet, energies of up to 3300 Joules are possible with longer barrels.

On the other hand, the AK-74 fires a 5.45x39mm round. The kinetic energy of this round is 1400 Joules tops, with initial speeds of up to 890m/s. This results in bullets flying off trajectory in high grass, woods, bushes, glass, and other obstacles quite common in most battlefields.

AK-74 vs. AK-47: What's the difference?
AK-74 vs. AK-47: AK-47 Assault Rifle (Photo: XY)

The penetration also depends on distance, impact surface, and movement, so there are many more than simple numbers. The 7.62x39mm has shown to be an excellent caliber/round for both field use and urban areas. It is much more powerful than the 5.45x39mm (50% higher power), and there is more practical use in real combat. Hence experienced fighters prefer the AK-47, providing more bang for the buck.

Ergonomics and Accessories

Another significant difference between the AK-74 and AK-47 is the ergonomics and accessories. The AK-74 has a unique compensator that reduces recoil, making it easier to control. The compensator has several holes on the top and sides, which divert gases upward and to the sides, reducing the recoil felt by the shooter. The compensator is also detachable, so it can be replaced with a suppressor or a different muzzle device if required.

The AK-74 has a new stock that is longer and more comfortable than the AK-47. The length of the pull is longer, which provides a better fit for larger individuals, and the rubber buttpad absorbs some of the recoil.

The AK-74 also has a different handguard, which is longer and more ergonomic than the AK-47’s. The handguard’s ribbed design provides a better grip and is heat-resistant so that it won’t get hot during extended firing sessions. The handguard also has rails on the sides, which allow the attachment of accessories such as flashlights, lasers, and optics.

all variants of 5.45x39 mm cartridges
All variants of 5.45×39 mm cartridges (Photo: XY)

The AK-74 also has a different magazine than the AK-47. The AK-74 uses a 30-round curved magazine made of plastic and lighter than the AK-47’s metal magazine. The plastic magazine is also more durable and less prone to rusting than the metal magazine.

Future of the AK-74

Despite the AK-74’s advantages over the AK-47, it has not gained as much popularity as its predecessor. However, that does not mean that the AK-74 is an inferior weapon. The AK-74 is a modernized version of the AK-47, with several improvements that make it a better weapon than the AK-47.

In recent years, the AK-74 has gained some popularity in the United States, primarily among gun enthusiasts who appreciate its unique features and reliability. Several manufacturers in the US produce AK-74 rifles, and they are becoming more widely available in gun stores across the country.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the AK-74 is a modernized version of the AK-47 developed in the late 1970s by the Soviet Union. It uses a smaller, lighter round and has several improvements in ergonomics and accessories that make it a better weapon than the AK-47. However, due to the widespread availability of the AK-47 and the familiarity that many people have with it, the AK-74 has not gained as much popularity as its predecessor.

While the AK-74 may not be as well-known as the AK-47, it is still an excellent weapon that is used by militaries and police forces around the world. Its smaller, lighter round makes it easier to control, and its improved ergonomics make it more comfortable to shoot. As the AK-74 becomes more widely available, it will likely gain popularity among gun enthusiasts who appreciate its unique features and reliability.

Eric Sof

Eric Sof holds a master's degree in Political Science, specializing in International Peacekeeping Studies. He has over a decade of experience as a former member of an elite counterterrorism unit. Additionally, he is a firearms instructor and currently serves as a member of the SWAT unit.

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3 thoughts on “AK-74 vs. AK-47: Why is the AK-74 not as Popular as its Predecessor?”

  1. What country you are living in? AK 74 are 10 times more rare and your first statement at beginning ruined the whole thing. I would run across hundreds of 47’s before one 74.

  2. “Just to put this into perspective, this is the level of energy a 7.62x51mm NATO bullet makes.”

    No, it isn’t. 7.62 NATO fires a 20% more massive projectile, with a better ballistic coefficient, 10-15% faster.

  3. 5.45 bullets are disrupted by grass, brush, etc while the 7.62 continues on true? This myth needs to be buried once and for all.

    Energy levels? 5.45 is about the same as 5.56. You think ARs don’t kill people pretty reliably? Read newspapers?

    Bullets sprayed onto asphalt? Really?

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