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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