The AK-47 and AK-74 are both Russian-made assault rifles designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The AK in the name refers to Kalashnikov (K) automatic (A) rifles and the numbers refer to the year in which they were designed (1947 and 1974). In 1978, the Soviet Union began replacing their AK-47 and AKM rifles with a newer design, the AK-74.
The 5.45x39mm cartridge of the AK-74 makes it a more accurate and reliable rifle compared to the AK-47, which uses a 7.62x39mm cartridge.
The barrel length of the AK-47 is 415 mm (16.3 inches) and is similar for the AK-74 except for the AKS-74U model which is 210 mm (8.3 inches).
The AK-74 barrel has a chrome-lined bore and 4 right-hand grooves at a 200 mm (1:8 in) rifling twist rate. The front sight base and gas block were redesigned. The gas block contains a gas channel that is installed at a 90° angle in relation to the bore axis. The forward section of the front sight base features a threaded collar that is used to screw in a newly-designed multifunction muzzle device (performing the role of a muzzle brake, recoil compensator and flash suppressor) or a blank-firing adaptor. The distinctive muzzle brake features a large expansion chamber, two symmetrical vertical cuts at the forward end of the brake and three vent holes positioned to prevent muzzle climb and lateral shift to the right (for right-handed shooters).
Magazines for both rifles are similar except for the minor changes in dimensions to accommodate different size cartridges. AK-74 magazines are polymer, and have a raised horizontal rib on each side of the rear lug to prevent their use in a 7.62x39mm AK.
At 3.03 kg (6.7 lb), the AK-74 is lighter than the AK-47 which weighed 4.3 kg. The lightest variant of the AK-74 was the AKS-74U that weighed only 2.5 kg.
The AK-74 is cheaper to manufacture for mass production than the AK-47.
Where to buy
Accessories for these rifles, as well as the Airsoft versions, can be purchased on Amazon or other gunshot accessories retailers.
As both the AK-47 and the AK-74 were designed by the Soviet Union, they were never controlled by copyright law or patents. This enabled any country or manufacturer to produce versions of the assault rifles (some better than others). Between this fact and the nature of the assault rifles’ design—that they were easy to manufacture and use, reliable, and inexpensive to replace—the AK-47 and the AK-74 are ubiquitous in many nations around the world. It’s even roughly estimated that nearly 100 million AK-47s are in circulation.
Type Assault rifle (semi-automatic, full-auto available in US to certain federal licensees)
Weight 4.3 kg (9.5 lb) with empty magazine
Action Gas-operated, rotating bolt (Long Stroke Gas Piston)
Effective range 300 metres (330 yd) full automatic, 400 metres (440 yd) semi-automatic
Sights Adjustable iron sights, 100–800 metre adjustments, 378 mm (14.9 in) sight radius
Variants AK-47 1948–51, AK-47 1952, AKS-47, RPK, AKM (most ubiquitous variant), AKMS
Sport utility rifle (semiautomatic only; no imported fully automatic examples)
AK-74: 3.03 kg (6.7 lb), AKS-74: 2.97 kg (6.5 lb), AKS-74U: 2.5 kg (5.5 lb), AK-74M: 3.4 kg (7.5 lb)
Gas-operated, rotating bolt
600 m, 100–1,000 m sight adjustments, 350–500 m sight adjustments (AKS-74U)
Adjustable iron sights, front post and rear notch on a scaled tangent, Flip-up sight and front cylindrical post (AKS-74U)
AKS-74, AKS-74U, AKS-74UB, AK-74M, AK-101, AK-102, AK-103, AK-104, AK-105
900 m/s (2,953 ft/s) (AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M), 735 m/s (2,411.4 ft/s) (AKS-74U)
30-round or 45-round RPK-74 detachable box magazine
650 rounds/min (AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M), 650-735 rounds/min (AKS-74U)
AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M: 415 mm (16.3 in), AKS-74U: 210 mm (8.3 in)
AK-74: 943 mm (37.1 in), AKS-74 (stock extended): 943 mm (37.1 in), AKS-74 (stock folded): 690 mm (27.2 in), AKS-74U (stock extended): 735 mm (28.9 in), AKS-74U (stock folded): 490 mm (19.3 in), AK-74M (stock extended): 943 mm (37.1 in), AK-74M (stoc
Soviet-Afghan War, various other conflicts in Asia and the Middle East
Developed in the 1970’s due to Soviet fears that the American 5.56 cartridge was a breakthrough that needed to be imitated.