Which Is the Better Practical Firearm Platform: AK-47 or AR-15?

AK-47 vs AR-15
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Which Is the Better Practical Firearm Platform: AK-47 or AR-15?

There are countless gun debates, all of which have enlivened conversations at shooting ranges, in gun stores, and between opinionated friends for decades now, with no sign of being resolved.

They include revolver vs. semi-automatic, 9mm vs. .40S&W, 9mm vs. .45 ACP, and rifle vs. shotgun vs. handgun for home defense. There’s one debate, however, that was for a long time (though less nowadays) almost certainly the most ardent, impassioned, and personal of them all.
*It was also a debate that was being literally fought out on battlefields all over the world.


That debate is, of course: Which is better, the AK-47 and 7.62 ammo, or the (M16) AR-15 and .223 ammo?

However, now that the debate is less about the flagship assault rifle platforms of the Evil Empire vs. the Land of the Free, it can be more about the respective assets and imperfections of the two.

More specifically, about their practical assets and imperfections as they’re relevant to 99% of the people who own them.


The AK-47: Practical Benefits and Drawbacks

There’s a reason that the “practical” feature of this article is being stressed here. In many of the articles discussing this debate, the pros and cons break down based on battlefield tropes.

Instead of whether .223 ammo for sale is more or less expensive than 7.62 ammo (usually it’s slightly more expensive), the chief “pro” of the AK-47 inevitably cited is that it’s designed to fire after being frozen, saturated with mud, or left underwater.

While being an extremely tough, sturdy gun that takes a beating and keeps on feeding is a good thing, it’s also because AK-47s are historically made with steel and hard wood, rather than the lighter-weight aluminum alloys and synthetic composites of an AR-15.

That means a much heavier rifle. So unless you plan to be slogging through jungle mud puddles with your AK-47, the weight is likely the relevant issue.

Another often-cited benefit of the AK-47 is its greater muzzle velocity and stopping power.


The AR-15: Practical Benefits and Drawbacks

The AK-47’s benefits are its toughness, better stopping power (at shorter range, at least), and that both AK-47 guns and ammo tend to be less expensive than the AR-15 .223 Remington combo.

The AR-15, however, is virtually universally recognized for being lighter, considerably more accurate, far more modular (with an impressive array of uppers, assemblies, grips, and gear that can be cycled in or out), and Picatinny rails built on more easily accommodate accessories.

There’s a tendency to close out this sort of article with a clear winner and loser, such as: “While the AK-47 is a good gun, the AR-15 is the clear winner.”

That can seem superficially more satisfying a conclusion, but it doesn’t really seem to accurately represent the reality of gun ownership.

The fact is, there’s no clear winner or loser here. Whether you should go with an AR-15 or an AK-47 depends entirely on your preference and planned use.

If you’re looking for something a touch sturdier in the elements with better short-range stopping power, go for the AK-47. If you like the idea of a light, modular, more accurate platform, the AR-15 is for you. Either way, you’re going to have a lot of fun.


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SKS is a better platform than the AK-47or the AR-15
It’s a poor comparison, AR-15 is miles ahead. Even the Russians and Chinese dumped the 47. Now the 74 with its 5.45 is fun, but in North America 5.56 and parts for your AR are more plentiful. Having that said, no harm in owning/having all three. I’m getting a Romanian 74 this weekend.
Hugh A. Keller
Thank you for a very unbiased article and keeping it simple. Appears that most articles are rather picky and definitely opinionated.
David Riley
Good article for a relative newby, however I cringe when somebody that knows better uses the stupid liberal media/politician term "assault rifle". I will take the AR platform for it's weight and it's ammo weight. Shot placement is key
C Griffin
The AK is a strong and and reliable rifle. How ever, by a careful fitting of upper receivers my single legal lower has two uppers. We are by no means limited to only two, because once fitted to a single lower you can change calibers quickly and optics stay with it's upper. As hunters most of us know there is not any gun for all jobs. But having a single platforms that can handle many calibers is nice and comfortable.
Herb Nusbaum
The solution, one (or more) of each!
William Bardoff
Sorry you left out AR platform is also 5.56 which is much more effective than .223 or 7.62. 7.62 accuracy is to unstable due to weight and consistent drop. I can go on with more but, no room.
AK-47 ammo does not have higher muzzle velocity than AR-15 ammo. 7.62 x 39 mm has a muzzle velocity of around 2350 fps with a 124 grain bullet. 5.56 x 45mm ammo has a muzzle velocity of over 3000 fps. "Stopping power" is a different can of worms. The original 55 grain 5.56 round was designed to tumble on impact. 7.62 Russian is obviously larger caliber and makes a larger hole in the target. I've read arguments touting each round as superior. Bullet placement, as always, is likely the more important consideration. Your mileage may vary.
Matthew Beiter
Bull crap AR15 jam and cant get dirty.they also are picky on ammo. Clear winner is AK 47
I have several of each and outside of the fact that I do like the 7.62x39 round because of its ability to penetrate deeper I would take the AR15 over it any day. Its lighter, easier to carry more ammo, breaks down easier, charging handle is conveniently placed for right handed shooter, with AK you have to reach under and the ones I have don't have light weight springs and it is difficult to charge it unless you switch hands. So the Ar15 is far better for me because I am 74 and small so I don't have the same amount of strength or reach as a bigger guy. Both rifles are accurate for the type of short range shooting I do. For someone like myself who is basically a self defense and target shooter each of those firearms serves a useful purpose depending on my needs at the time. I think the best thing yet is an AR15 pistol that shoots the 7.62x39 out of an Ar15 style magazine not an AK47 style mag, using either cproduct defense or ASC mags. Outstanding combination with a Radical AR15 pistol.
David E. Laxton
I agree that the AR is lighter and has more apparatuses that may be added. And I agree with what you said about the AK. Durability. However, I believe your wrong about the accuracy of the AK. I watched a National Champion rifleman, unbiased, shoot both. He had a miss with each and shot up to 500 yards or meters. In his option, they are equal. I am not a champion, and I am only worriy about shots up to 100 yards. I shoot both equally. I believe it’s all in the shooter, or maybe how it feels in your hands. Try not to be bias.
Dennis E Weiler
Greater muzzle velocity with 7.62 x 39 ammo? Check again. As for "stopping power" at the intended range (under 200 yards) it's either a tossup, or a win for the higher-velocity 5.56 NATO round-- depending on how you interpret what you read. I'm disappointed with this writeup.
Wayne Ogilvy
You said "Another often-cited benefit of the AK-47 is its greater muzzle velocity and stopping power" While you may be correct on the stopping power, The velocity of the 7.62x39 is far less that the 5.56 !
Did you ever do a horizontal butt stroke with an AR 15 and have the butt break on you ? Don't get sand in the action. An AK will still fire . My vote is for the AK
More of the Ford vs. Chevy argument.;..They both work as intended, but 7.62 is legal for deer hunting everywhere, and.223 is better for varmints. Buy what ya like! As for me, get at least one of both!
I like both but in simiauto Ak is better in the swamps 6.5 Grendel is better at longer ranges ,223 is extremely underpowered for hunting even deer.
AR for the range and AK for the war.....what an ignorant slogan. One thing some people fail to understand is that it will ultimately come down to user preference. Another item people forget is that the 5.56mm round was not designed for thru and thru. It was designed to tumble, hit the body and continue tumbling inside the body creating further damage. The 5.56 out ranges the 7.62x39 all day long. Muzzle velocity of the M platform is much higher than the AK series. But, if it comes to close quarters battle I would choose the AK due to round size and immediate stopping power. But then again, those of us who have been to combat rarely pull the trigger for a single shot. And stop comparing the 5.56 as a big game hunting rifle against actual big game rifles...It's not even in the same class.