I’m in the market for a carbine. Don’t need it. I’ve got a perfectly serviceable Remington 870 Wingmaster shotgun in .12 gauge that handles the home defense chores just fine, thank you. I’m the proud owner of a 1911 semi-auto .45 ACP that shoots just dandy. I’ve got access to my dad’s .38 special wheel-gun, should the mood strike me. And yet I’d like to own a carbine. Maybe do some plinking. Target practice. Whatever. When I set my sights on something, I do my homework. I want to know the pros and cons of a given model. In my initial research, two weapons have jumped to the fore: the AR-15 and the AK-47. Once I narrowed my choice down to these two models, my research veered sharply into the realm of the kind of religious zealotry normally reserved for discussing Macs versus PCs. Or Jesus vs. Allah.

For [both of] the uninitiated, Don Gammill Jr.’s series on the AR-15 is coming down the pike. Suffice it to say, the AR-15 is the civilian version of the military’s M-16. Most commonly chambered in .223, the AR-15’s available in a variety of calibers, all the way down to the .22 LR. The AR-15 is to rifles what the Jeep is to SUVs, the 1911 is to handguns: a jack of all trades you can customize any way you like.

The AK-47 was originally designed by Mikhail Kalishnikov back in ’47 (Automatik Kalishnikov 1947) and quickly became the workhorse of the Soviet military, and all their satellite states. Since replaced with first the AKM and then the AK-74, the AK-47, chambered in 7.62mm, is something akin to the Creative Commons licensed version of a rifle. It’s used all of the world, because it’s cheap to manufacture and requires very basic maintenance. There are millions and millions of them in active service around the globe.

The AR was designed to emphasize versatility. Originally created as a replacement for the the AR-10, both of which were originally designed by Eugene Stoner for ArmaLite (the “A” in AR-15). Early AR-15s/M-16s (the fully-auto version of the AR-15) had a bad rap in Vietnam, where they were first deployed. Early units acquired a reputation for jamming, fouling and malfunctioning at the most inopportune of times (i.e. “when your life depended on it.”)

Design modifications fixed those problems. But the design is still perceived to be more likely to foul and less likely to run under adverse conditions than the AK-47. On the other hand, a clean and fully-functional AR-15 is a highly accurate weapon. And fans report that it’s as reliable as any other rifle.

By contrast, the AK-47 was designed to be dragged through the muck and mire and still retain it’s ability to shoot. By reducing their design tolerances—a polite way of saying choosing cheap and fast over good)— Kalishnikov was able to render a weapon that was more reliable under adverse conditions. Accuracy was sacrificed—the principle rap against the AK.

As far as the battle for the customizing market, the AR wins, hands down. You can purchase laser sights, ring sights, lights, foregrips, folding stocks, uppers in a variety of calibers—everything but a coffeemaker for the AR-15. (And I’m not convinced that some enterprising aftermarket manufacturer hasn’t begun work on one.) While you can get a variety of add-ons for the AK, the choice of AR mods makes Mustangs look like Bugattis.

The AR-15 features a receiver made from machined aluminum. The AK is made from pressed metal. Most AKs you can buy are used or NOS (new, old stock – i.e.: surplus). Most AR-15s are new. You’ll pay a little more (on average) for the typical AR-15 than you will for most AK-47s, by maybe $400 to $500. Both are currently in fairly robust supply, following a shortage of ARs after the last Presidential election.

I’m leaning toward the AR-15, but I’m not ready to make that leap. A little range time should sort that right out. Of course, any help from TTAG’s armed intelligentsia would be most appreciated.

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105 Responses to Which Gun Should I Buy: AR-15 or AK-47?

  1. Don't buy it, build it. You can build an AR and save a few bucks (read: About $150) over buying one off the shelf. You can also save quite a bit on tax if you mail order. You can also build exactly what you want. More than a few web sites on the internet will point you in the right direction.

    AKs used to have the market cornered on "cheap ammo" which was a point in their favor – but then two things happened: The AR market exploded, and the Russians (and others) got smart and started cranking out 5.56×45 (a/k/a .223 Remington) by the boatload and shipping it over here.

      • I have to take exception to the accuracy comment!!!!!! I have a Romanian AK-47 and it is the most accurate firing weapon I have ever owned……it is accurate out to 100 yds with no problem…and been advised that I will see the same results at 200 yds when I get to range that long………..I have run over 2000 rounds thru it and never had a single mishap……I have cleaned after every trip to the range….then got lazy and didnt clean it for 5 trips to range….and it fired every time, when completely dirty just as good as when it was spotlessly clean!!!!!! hands down, I will take a AK anyday over an AR!!! especially since I still have a bad taste in my mouth from Viet Nam days and the failures of the M-16.

    • If you’re looking for something reliable and fun to shoot i highly recommend the century arms c308. In the past they’ve not been that great but I purchased one and it is a great gun for the price. As long as you buy brass shells you will really enjoy it. Endless upgrades as well.

  2. Hi Brad,

    After going through your exact same motions, I would up purchasing both. Why? Why not? There are amazing deals to be had on an AK. Moreover, the AR platform can be fully customized to be a beautiful tack driver. My suggestion is an inexpensive AK (WASR10) and a fully-tricked out AR. That is the route I chose. Then you can have more fun at the range playing with two different platforms and learning their ideosyncracies.

    Start off slow with the AR and definitely go with Martin's suggestion of building it yourself and saving some money. What you will learn will be priceless.

    • Brett, good answer! Have a frankenstein AR carbine( bcm upper with govt profile chromed barrel) on delton lower tricked out with PSA lpk and Magpul furniture! To me , my AR is my prima donna. My knock around is my saiga IZ132-it took me an hour to “convert” it to truer AK comfiguration and its 922r correct.

      Both are fun to shoot, and both are tough. My build was just $150 cheaper than the colt 6920 at the local gun shop, and it’ll easily run around a colt thanks to the bcm upper, and h2 buffer. My saiga has benched 3in groups on iron sights,so it’ll do as expected. Both are great pride of ownership guns to me!

    • Brett – Yours is the best answer hands down. A friend once told me that you should have a rifle of choice and one that will fire the ammunition your enemy leaves behind (or you find when you examine the body). I purchased the AR-15 first, but as soon as the bank account allowed it, the AK joined the ranks.

    • you can’t go wrong with either rifle. I think the inaccuracy of the AK is way overblown as is the unreliability of the AR. I’m an AK guy, but I also own an AR. The caliber change feature of the AR doesn’t do anything for me personally, I just choose a caliber I like and stick with it. The 7.62 x 39 is my fav round, because it does everything for me as a civilian shooter and it’s cheap..

  3. I will offer myself up as the poster child for building your own AR. Honestly, I have zero mechanical skills so if I can do it, any primate with opposable thumbs can do it.

  4. By the way, I don't know whether to be cheered up or disappointed by the fact that you didn't take this post as another opportunity to post the Hello Kitty AR-15.

  5. I'm saving the Hello Kitty pics for a post on that very topic. 'Cause we don't have nearly enough articles on that gun.

  6. Everyone harps on the AK for being "inaccurate". All the ones I've shot I can hit a 4×4 steel plate at 100 yards with the iron sights just fine. They are surprisingly accurate.

    • The AR fanboys need something to harp on the AK for. The only real differences you'll see in accuracy are further out in the 200 yard+ range.

      • Rob-its not about being a fanboy! Had my saiga rifle( the closest in my opinion to a civilian owned REAL kalashnikov) for years before my AR build.

        At 100 to 200 yrds, the accuracy issue is moot( neither is a sniper system) but the AR is lighter, less recoil( important when accuracy and follow up shots are required), and I have yet to hear about and AK platform( 7. 62 or 5.45) winning a 3 gun competition.

        Also, had a neighbor deployed in fallujah as a marine. He admired the combat versions of the akm and ak 74s he said his platoon would “collect” after a fight, but he would NEVER replace his M16A4 or an M4!

    • As a retired service connected combat veteran I fully agree with you. The AK is far more accurate than the rumors say. I was a Special Forces Weapons man and sniper among many other skills. I am an AK MAN ALL THE WAY.

      • Whenever AK is mentioned, it’s Always about the AK-47. Why is that? The 47 was replaced with the 74 a long time ago, and remedies the “problems” some claim for the 47; i.e., accuracy & recoil.
        Having both, as well as an AR, I can tell you that the 74 takes the cake, hands down. It has far less recoil than even the AR(about 1/2), is just as accurate without spending hundreds on “hop-ups,” and retains the legendary reliability & simplicity of the AK platform. Too much fuss is made about the gun. You know(or Should know) that the gun is only a delivery system. It’s the Bullet that carries the “message.” Given the proper ammo, the AK-74 will outperform the AK-47 in terms of wounding potential. The 47 will always out-penetrate both, the 74 and 15, given equivalent ammo.

        So, what should you go with? Depends on what your game is. Want a gun to play with, and load-up with all manner of crap that you mostly don’t need(which will balloon the weight Way beyond an AK), just to have the guys at the range gawk over it? Go AR-15. Want a gun for competition? Go AR-15(after spending 5x+ the cash over an AK). Want a gun that Requires short-interval maintenance for reliability & performance? Go AR-15. Etc, etc.
        Now, do you want a simple, no-nonsense gun that’s been combat-proven around the world in every environment over many years? Go AK. Do you want a gun that has “to-hell-and-back” reliability? Go AK. Do you want a gun that has lengthy maintenance intervals, and is far easier to strip & clean? Go AK. Do you want a gun that has much cheaper ammo, so that you can shoot more and stockpile more? Go AK.
        The choice is yours.

        • I own both and can say i have had more problems with the AR which is more expensive. And uses costlier.ammo.
          It depends on what you are looking for. The American built AKs are so tricked out and modified ed they have little of the original AK attributes.
          So do not buy an american version if you are looking for an AK The best original AK 47 s are still the yugoslavian ones .

        • Perfectly stated. I have an AK-47 that I have rapid fired over 2000 rds thru, including 75 rd drums, never taken apart and cleaned, and have never had a single malfunction.

    • Tyler:

      I’ve yet to see an any AK-pattern rifle shoot Rifleman at an Appleseed event. In fact, most need a pretty good shooter to keep their shots in a 4″ x 4″ group with open sights.

      And that’s at 25 yards…


  7. I like the AK myself. It throws a .30 caliber slug that will defeat most intermediate barriers better than 5.56/.223. I started out an AR fan but after a couple of tours in Afganistan I saw just how the AK got it's reputation! And for most civilian encounters or just plinking, the AK will do nicely.
    Also 7.62×39 is STILL cheaper than 5.56/.223! Just my 2cents.

  8. AK 47 is designed to take a life on 100 yards. The caliber 7.62 is able to penetrate a concrete block, and steel core round can go through 0.5 inch steel plate. A full jacket round can go through 1/8 inch steel plate. This is not the case for caliber 5.45. The round stuck inside a concrete block and smashed in front of 1/8 inch steel plate. This caliber is deadly against people dressed in pajamas, but 7.62×39 hollow point makes a lot of damage, same as 5.45 caliber.
    I bought a Yugoslavian AK 47 with parts of Military Zastava, and receiver produced by Century and assembled in USA. Under folded stock is a must. The slant muzzle brake is for amateurs, and worsens the accuracy. I replaced it with a Bulgarian with 4 side windows; the flash can’t obscure the sight. Added a recoil buffer, and replaced the steel wire, with a steel plate at the trigger system. With open sight, front sight at 1, distance 100 yards, I group 20 rounds at 4 inches. You have to know how to support the stock, on your shoulder, how to handle your body by bones, not by muscles and more. A have 26 years experience in army with AK 47 and now, I can use the Yugo one, with the same accuracy. No mater, that is only semi auto, the strength of recoil system is for auto, and if you are fast, can fire up to 8 rounds in a second. Tula or Wolf rounds are cheap, but one in 100 rounds misfire. It is a good idea to load the magazine’s, 3 first rounds to fire, with Winchester 7.62×39. AK 47 is not for haunting. AK 47 is a self-defense weapon, to take a life on 3 to 100 yards in self-defense. I hope never to use it, but I prefer to die with my AK 47 in my hands.

  9. The AR-15 was designed to “reach out” (300yds+) and wound the enemy, causing them to use/risk more soldiers in the retrieval of their wounded comrades. The AK-47 is designed to operate in adverse conditions and put d**ks in the dirt. Fast. Which it does.
    Both guns also come in pistol variants that are perfect for the home or vehicle. Neither is better since both do exactly what they’re designed to do. Go with the AR platform if you’re looking to trick it out, shoot in competition, or put a strangle hold on an foreign government. If you want to win a competition of “You vs Them”, get an AK.

    AR-15 = H3
    AK-47= Humvee

  10. Does anyone know anything about the American made AK company I.O. inc. Out of Florida? I want to know how they compare to eastern block AK’s.

    • Don’t buy an IO …. Stick with a Century Arms. If you buy an IO, it will start to fall apart after 200 rounds. Check it out on you-tube. Sooner or later one of those are going to blow up and hurt someone.

  11. Having built one of each over the past 6 months or so I suggest, build at least one of each! A man can never have too many guns. As for AK accuracy, I can consistently shoot 2″/3 shot groups at 100 yds with my AK’s open sights. Considering what it was designed to do that is impressive or at least it impressed me. If you are going to build only one I’d make it an AR. They’re easier to build (if you have a mill available), more versatile, have more options for customization and .223 is now available at the same cost as 7.62X39. Plus of course you can shoot multiple calibers on the same lower if you choose.

  12. Good insight and well-written. Thanks for your info, helps a lot.

    But………………for fuck’s sake. For an informed author, I’ve rarely seen a worse comparison than “Jesus v. Allah?”
    1. The more accurate comparison would be “Jesus v Mohammad” (though, Jesus was/is God, Yahweh and knew He was)
    2. Any studied person would concur that is like comparing Mother Teresa to Hitler.

    Finally, just a tidbit…this ISIS stuff we see – beheadings of children, etc – IS Islam. True Islamic scholars, ex-Muslims, even ex-terrorists have attested to this fact. Only our government and the radical Islam sympathizer Obama (ole Barry, student of Communism and dissent) and the main stream media (in their pockets) would say otherwise.
    I’ll leave you with a quote of my own that has been passed around the internet of the informed. Spread it.
    “A peaceful Muslim is as a back-slidden Christian.”

    Molon Labe.

    • Christianity is responsible for the Trans Atlantic slave trade and mass lynchings in the U.S.
      Islam, like Christianity, comes from the Greeks, after they stole the concepts from the Egyptians.

      Jesus wasn’t GOD, Jesus prayed to God.

      • Blaming Christianity for the non-Biblical acts that a misguided untrue Christian does is like blaming a karate teacher for a student who misuses that knowledge on a weekend drinking binge.
        Yes, Jesus prayed to God. Don’ you talk to yourself?
        Learning about Christianity from a non believer or from the watercooler crowd makes as much sense as going to a podiatrist for heart surgery.

      • A little confused by your reply. A true Christian does’t do anything to Islam. We just treat them the same as all other non-beleivers. No difference whatsoever. We hate their sin but love the sinner. This is what we are commanded to do and is the example of Jesus as he hung on the cross paying for all of humanity’s sins. He asked for their forgiveness for they truly did not understand what they were doing. To understand this requires that a person humbles himself and realize that he is not his own god but that there truly is a living God. He gave us the gift of life and a perfect world and free will. we used that gift of free will to disobey and caused all of the corruption that the world suffers under. But because he loves his creation he sacrificed himself to pay for our sin debt. Just believe in what he did. When we reject God, we place ourselves under the influence of the evil one and perform all of the evil you see. Grasp the concept of eternity and realize that our time here is but a brief moment. God has no desire to see any wicked man to perish, but to receive salvation. That is why the evil continue to live. This is God’s mercy. He is waiting for them to humble themselves and turn to him. Sadly, most never do. Free will. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
        There are lots of people who call themselves Christians but are not. Wolves in sheeps clothing. You are judging God and true Christians by the wolves actions. People who are ugly inside try to cover it with a beautiful mantle….it works when you believe that they are what they are not. A true Christian reveals himself by his fruit….bad fruit, not a Christian.

        As for the issue of guns, there is no perfect gun for every situation. That would be impossible. Over time try to obtain several different platforms to be as prepared as possible. Always include a handgun.

        • Oh the conceit of some people! So YOU know what God wants? How cool. B.S. to that.
          There is NO God. There is NO Allah. There is no “living in eternity” there is only eternity. That belongs to NATURE.
          Nature does not give a tinkers damn whether you live or not, whether there is life of not whether anything at all exists or not. NATURAL forces exist in TIME as a continuum. No beginning and No end. There is no spirit anywhere in our Universe or beyond that can do any hokus pokus and create anything!

        • TO coohibah007 :
          You bet! I know what God wants. He tells me through his Word: it’s all in the Bible. Please don’t try to say it’s been mistranslated by man. That argument is illogical: assuming there is a God who created the universe then he would logically be capable of insuring that the men who wrote the books within the Bible were under his control.
          Since you want to be your own god, well that is your free will.
          I may disagree with you but will not put you down for your beliefs. I will only continue to love the lost sinners. That is the beauty of God’s gift of the Holy Spirit. We who are saved can have joy within the chaos of this world. I will always do my best to not return evil for evil.
          As Jesus said “Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

  13. I am uncomfortable with a weapon that has killed so many of our troops, Personally I would never own the AK for that reason, I lost 2 good friends and a cousin to people using an AK, I think its un-American to own one but that is my opinion. I own 2 Ar’s a 223 and a 308 In my opinion both are superior to the AK, My 308 is piston driven and flawless with 1/4″ moa the 223 I do clean and take care of and it shoots clover leafs at 100yds all day if I do my part. But I am not a spray and pray shooter I demand accuracy I also would not use FMJ in a battle as our troops are forced to do. A 223 ballistic tip is a lot different than FMJ

    • There’s no polite way to put this so I’m just going to say it, you’re an idiot.

      Here’s the breakdown. 5.56 is the most popular infantry cartridge in the world among governments, and not just NATO countries. That means you need a 5.56 that preferably uses a stanag mag. Number 2 most popular is 7.62×39 using an AK mag, so you need one of those as well. Number 3 is a 7.62×51 NATO, with no clear favorite mag choice. 9mm is the most popular handgun round with governments and civilians worldwide, again with no clear mag choice. So buy one of each in order.

      Why am I saying all of this? Because the best gun is the one you can still get ammo for. Period, The End.

      If you have to get on line next to government troops to defend against invasion, you can use government ammo. If you are defending against government, you can still use government ammo.

        • If you, paul harris, don’t know, then you need to go stick you head back up your forth point of contact and crawl back up under your bridge. Our nation (the US) as well as Canada and all of Europe is already being invaded and has been for many years thanks to the illegal government corporation of the US, who is supported by ignorant brainless indoctrinated sheeple like you! If you haven’t noticed corruption (especially political) and anarchy through rioting/looting excused as “protesting” have become common place and seemingly “ACCEPTED”. We are not very far from a total collapse, an when it happens, intelligent guys like lowell and I will be prepared while guys like you are sniveling and crying for the government to come to your aid.

      • Lowell — Apologies in advance for getting a bit preachy here…

        While I respect your right to say that you think someone is an idiot, I think you probably know that there are plenty of polite ways to communicate your alternative perspective. In fact, the rest of your comment did just that.

        There’s no polite way of calling someone an idiot because the polite thing to do is think it but not say it. The polite thing to do is simply to say something like, “I think your logic is flawed and here’s why…”, followed by your otherwise excellent presentation of your analysis / point of view.

        Name-calling, while unquestionably very satisfying, does nothing to forward your argument; it only serves to undermine it.

      • Lowell — Apologies in advance for getting a bit preachy here…

        While I respect your right to say that you think someone is an idiot, I think you probably know that there are plenty of polite ways to communicate your alternative perspective. In fact, the rest of your comment did just that.

        There’s no polite way of calling someone an idiot because the polite thing to do is think it but not say it. The polite thing to do is simply to say something like, “I think your logic is flawed and here’s why…”, followed by your otherwise excellent presentation of your analysis / point of view.

        Name-calling, while unquestionably very satisfying, does nothing to forward your argument; it only serves to undermine it.

    • I’ll reiterate that YOU, jon, are an idiot. First of all, a weapon is a tool, it doesn’t discriminate between American or any other nationality. Second, there are many countries who use American made weapons like the AR to kill our soldiers, and civilian citizens, as well as foreigners. Anyone who makes a decision on the type of weapon they will own based on who has been killed with it is an ignorant fool at best!

    • Seriously, That’s your reason for not owning an AK? Totally ridiculous! Makes as much sense as saying you won’t own a foreign-made car because American drivers are killed in them.

  14. I’m a little late in this discussion, but here’s your solution. Get an AR and convert it to piston system. You’ll keep the AR’s accuracy with better reliability. No AR will ever be quite as reliable as the AK, but it will be close enough that you can have faith in its regular operation. It’s not like you’re going to be burying it in sand or anything anyway…are you?? Also easier to clean since carbon won’ build up on the bolt assembly. It’s a little pricey, but if you want the best of both worlds, this is the way to go.

    • No direct experience with the piston-operated AR’s, but read some reports that said there were problems with them. The authors recommended staying with the DI guns and putting-up with the maintenance chores.

  15. I am an AR 15 fan, I have a colt LE6920 and it is perfect. But I am also building an AK 47 right now and it is almost as badass looking as my AR 15… Just own both and it will settle the issue… Stay safe and always practice and buy lots ammos…. remember in the end, never run out of ammos 🙂 you can have 20 guns but if you don’t have ammos then they are all useless 🙂

  16. Seems like various videos indicate that the reliability of the AR is greatly underrated while the reliability of the AK is greatly overrated. As for accuracy the AR seems to live up to its reputation for accuracy. Buy what you want but I feel the better rifle is the AR. Maybe once I’m rich I will buy both and test the crap out of them for reliability and accuracy although I already have an idea how such tests would go.

  17. If you live in the United States, you should own a AR15/M4.
    No matter what, a person will always be able to get ahold of 5.56 ammo and parts.
    AR15/M4s are very dependable rifles, just keep them as clean as you can and keep them well lubed.
    When i say clean, i dont mean spotless, just a quick wipe down will do. Then some lube.
    Right now ARs cost wise are at a historical low. One can buy a Ruger or S&W M4 for as little as $600.
    If you have been on the fence about getting one, its really time you ‘pull the trigger’ as prices have been creeping upwards.
    I highly suggest a person get a quality optic for the AR/M4. Even though these rifles are accurate, a quality red dot for example will make the rifle that much better.

    If you can, i also suggest a person owns a AK. But buyer beware and chose wisely.
    Thanks to trade restrictions, most AKs modern day are imported as demilled parts kit guns that are reassembled here Stateside.
    To make them legal, they are reassembled using com-block parts and made in USA parts.
    Another problem with modern day AKs here in the States is canted sites. Make sure when buying a AK that the sights are straight.
    Now there are some AK rifles that get imported almost complete. They need to be made 922R legal by adding some US made parts.
    The WASR and Yugo N-PAP are two such rifles. Both rifles as of 1-1-2016 can be had for about $600.
    I suggest the WASR as there are more aftermarket parts out there for it.
    Before buying a AK , do youre research!!!
    Because AKs are not the most accurate platform, quality optics are a must.
    AKs are not the infallible rifles that some people think they are.
    They are also prone to jamming and such.

    When it comes to AK vs AR and which is better, the answer is neither.
    Get to know both platforms and their strengths and weaknesses.

  18. A huge factor for me in choosing the AR over the AK is that excellent .22lr conversion kits are readily and affordably available to quickly (and PROPERLY) convert your piece into a fun little .22lr plinker. Not so with the .30 caliber AK. When I shoot my AR carbine with the conversion kit installed I don’t feel like I’m shooting a converted gun at all; I feel like I’m shooting the best-built, coolest .22 in the world. It works perfectly and is dead accurate. Also, the light weight and compact nature of the AR (especially in carbine form) make for a perfectly believable .22lr gun).

  19. Most modern AR’s are more reliable than people think, and most modern AK’s are more accurate than people think.

    My centurion 39 AK47 shoots 3 inch goups at 100 yards with iron sights and junk ammo. It’s also made in the USA.

    My two cents would be if you want an ultra customized bench gun that looks cool, buy an AR. If you want a gun to fuck shit up, buy an AK. It’s the end all bad guy gun, and when it comes to killing it’s as reliable as the sun.

  20. Brad has a social duty to help defend the republic and minorities as an armed member of the unorganized militia, and in so doing help deter tyranny and crimes against humanity. Such people should own the same type of rifle commonly used by the soldiers in their nation. In the US this would mean a civilian legal version of the M4 that is the standard issue rife of the US Army. You can find out more about the militia via the MIS website (www.militia.info).

    This is not to say that the AK is not a better gun in some ways, but that is irrelevant. A truck bomb will cause more damage to a fortified structure than an M4, but that does not mean you should not own an M4. You could also buy an AK, but do you want to have two different weapon systems with different ammunition, magazines and parts? If things go pear shaped will you be able to get ammo, mags and spare parts for an AK from military and police arsenals?

    It should be a quality rifle, not something second-rate rifle like the Ruger AR-556 that does not have a chrome lined chamber (which aids extraction reliability in adverse conditions). The only low cost M4 type rifle I’d recommend is the Smith & Wesson M&P 15 which is about half the price of the most expensive M4 clones (though I’d prefer a Colt or BCM). Some shorten the 16” barrels they use to 14.5” and permanently fit an A2X flash hider to make it a bit shorter.

    Add a BCM Tri Rail Mount so you can fit a tactical light or laser, get a red dot sight like the Aimpoint PRO, and buy Magpul magazines. As for a pistol, it must be chambered for the 9mm round, but the M9 and M11 are too big and heavy. The Gen3 Glock 19 was recently adopted by the US Navy SEALs as it is simple, compact, light, reliable and durable. It is big enough to be used as a service pistol but small and light enough to be used for CCW. The perfect 9mm.

    • Only a fool assumes as you do that it will be “OUR” military that we will have to contend with. Our nation is being infiltrated with mexican’ts, muslimes, and UN personnel, many of which are armed with AKs (that are illegally imported by muslimes) not ARs.

  21. I go by looks, and the AK is the best lookin one hands down. I had couple ARs but cheap plastic turned me off I sold em. I like the wood on an AK plus push comes to shove I’d be using it within 100 yards anyway so AK it is for me!

  22. I thought the word would be out all over by now. Buying an AK action in .223 is the best of both worlds.
    After years of debate about which is the problem, the AK itself or the ammo, this question has now been definitively answered. Hitting silhouettes at 500 yds with my AK action in .223.
    It doesnt get any better than this folks.

  23. As a battle rifle the AK wins hands down. Customizing firearms is a craze much like hanging coon tails on old cars back when my father was a boy. It was even silly and stupid then.

  24. Can you say/type, “Kal-ASH-nikov”, not “Kal-ISH-nikov”?

    A small sign of someone who really knows guns vs. an Internet wannabe.

      • Pardon granted, but if you notice, that’s pretty much what I said. The author said “Kal-ISH-nikov. That’s the point. If you’re objecting to where I broke the phonetic words, then, OK, suit yourself. You’d be hard pressed to find a real difference. I know how Russians pronounce it, and it isn’t “Kalishnikov”.

  25. Funny thing, when me a my buddies get together at the shooting range, I bring my Ruger Mini 14, they bring their tricked out AR’s. After shooting awhile, I’ll go back to the truck and bring out my Century Arms AK47. Let the party begin. They all want to shoot my AK, I figure it’s just something different to shoot. The two things my friends coment on, how powerful the damn thing is and the accurate they thought it wouldn’t be. You get what you pay for. There are plenty of $350 AK’s out there. My favorite “go to” gun store quit selling those cheap ass AK’s because customers were bring them back,like I said you get what you pay for. My buddies,have sunk thousands of $ in their AR’s. Me, just a out of the box, ass kicker.

  26. If I read correctly the original post was for a rifle that would be an occasional shooter, that being said I have an ever growing arsenal but the one I go back to as my favorite shooter is an AR15 but I did my research on it as well and built one to my liking, a Rock River Arms with a 20 inch heavy barrel, a chrome bolt and light trigger, it is more precise than nearly anything and it makes shooting a blast! You can order nearly the same gun from them (Rock River calls it Adavanced Tactical Hunter) Accurate at nearly 500 yards it impresses most AR other owners. I do intend to build a AK eventually I just haven’t found one that I like

  27. The issue is do you want reliability or high level of accuracy. The jam issue with the military you can blame on the democrats as McNamara’s whiz kids didn’t want to “gold plate” a military system and cut-out chroming the chamber and barrel which caused the jamming. The AK will fire and only malfunction firing (had one in my military arms room never cleaned it and would put a couple of thousand rounds thru it at the range without fail); Could hit targets at 200-250m easily. Old Eastern Bloc ammo is easy to get and super cheap.

    AR15 you do need to keep clean especially the chamber (extremely important w/ that type of bolt) the round is precisely accurate (X ring level) and good out to 350-500m, but bleeds a lot of energy at those ranges. Solid iron core bullets are the best since you’ll never have to worry about a thru and thru (they always tumble). Do build your own it can be cheaper, but for me it was very expensive because I hate shooting anything that isn’t match grade. Ammo is more expensive but you can find quantity sales.

    If I’m going to be out, in the dirt/mud etc the AK; Building/room clearing they’re equal but you can easily load an AR15 down with a lot of high tech stuff; extreme accuracy the AR15…

  28. I have used both guns in dangerous type situations. I prefer the AR mainly because it is lighter and much more compact. My AR builds in .223 (easier to reload than 5.56 due to crimped primer issues), 300 blk (ballistically equivalent to 7.62 by 39) and 458 Socom. I could easily build one in 7.62×39 if I wanted to shoot heavy corrosive crappy steel case ammo. But alas I don’t. In my opinion converting to piston operation adds weight and eliminateds the great AR advantage of easily interchangeable parts. Lets face it guys, even in combat you spend a lot more time lugging a rifle around than you do shooting it. Light compact gun + light ammo is good! If, God forbid, I ever had to have only one gun, it would be a AR-15 SBR with 10.5″ barrel and collapsing stock.

  29. jeez all you guys need a life.lifetime gun owner but you guys are over the top. good luck with all the demons out there.
    range shooting ang shooting at a target that shoots back= completely oppsite

  30. Not sure why the article said there was a $400-500 dollar difference between an AR and an AK. I sell both and they both sell for about the same price. There are upper end ARs and AKs that sell for more, but a basic AK and a basic AR are both similar in price. In fact, it is hard to get a cheap AK, like the WASR-10 for less than $600, however I can sell several models of AR for under $600.

  31. The choice, based on actual utility, comes down to the ultimate intended use. For fun shooting, the AR is accurate, low-recoil, and an occasional jam is not a problem. For defending your life, the AK throws a fatter, heavier bullet (.223 never was adequate for the purpose of killing people — quickly) and is more likely to function when it has to — any difference in recoil, or accuracy is negligible at reasonable range, and under stress. Personally, I prefer a Ruger Mini 14, or Mini 30 — they are as reliable as an AK, but more accurate, though less accurate than a top-shelf AR.

  32. I purchased a AR-10 last year. I mounted a scope on it and used it for hunting Elk last year. For the first time in 50 plus years I saw my first Elk standing 500 yds away. figured to only get one shot off as it was just on the edge of the woods, actually 20 feet into the trees. I fired and did not see it so I figured I wounded it, so I went to where it was to look for blood. When I got there To my surprise The Elk was lying right where it was when I fired. Do not know if the AK could do that, but the AR-10 DID.

    • Congrats on a great shot, Gary. Now let’s get a grip and compare combat weapons to like kind, shall we?

  33. I have both. I am a ‘Nam era Veteran Aviation Machinist’s Mate, Jet. USN. (Stateside service only). Daddy was Navy Rifle Team/Underwater Demolition Team. I learned from the best at the age of six (1962). The MAK 91 (Norinco’s National Match) is my AK. The Ruger 5.56 is my AR.

    My go-to PD “intermediate” weapon is my M1 Carbine. It gives up very little to the AR. With Soft Point ammunition, it’s a true man-stopper. It’s lighter than both of the “newer” battle units. I shoot the .30 Carbine for it’s intended purpose. For house clearing, it’s a real gem and as accurate as necessary for it’s intended use/purpose (ask the late Audie Murphy).

    Back to the other rifles:

    I like both the AK and AR but lean toward my National Match because of the heavier bullet. The AK works darned well for “problems” as far as my .30 Carbine will reach. It isn’t likely that I’ll be taking on troops at 200 yards. At reasonable ranges, both will work. I refuse to be a blowhard and toot out my exhaust pipe about either one of these fine “bullet launching” machines. I will admit my preference for wood and steel, but what works on the battlefield generally works in CQB situations.

    There isn’t a “red-headed stepchild” between the three.

  34. I currently have a Daniel Defense M4 V11 with MBUS Pro backup sights and an AimPoint Pro red dot. I have 10 30 round mags and I am building my 5.56 ammo supply.
    The M4V11 about wiped out my firearm budget but now I find myself drawn to the AK47. I have been looking a lot but I keep going back to Rifle Dynamics and the RD702. The big downside is the cost ($2,200.00) but it looks like a really nice rifle.
    I will have to save for awhile before I can swing this AK.
    Any thoughts about Rifle Dynamics?

  35. well guys, to all the pros and cons of AK vs AR. I purchased the entire line of the original Sagia from Russia before the Obama embargo. Re-customizes all of them from factory stock to bad ass looking assault weapons complete with scopes and green lasers, and white lite for search. All will nicely do a bead at 200 yds in a 3×3 pattern. I chose the AK for one simple reason, the AR requires constant cleaning to remain functional (usually 2+hours).. the Ak is simple and can clean in under 15min if in a hurry. Second, when under hostel conditions, basically in CQC, you do a pray and spray. When you need long rang accuracy, pull that bolt action off the back with a 6-24×60 scope on a slant rail to zero at 200yds and then reach out and touch someone from 200-1000yds. After that go to a .338lapua or 50bmg.

    now for the history buffs. The original AR’s in Nam jammed because when selling the gun the manufacturer was using ammo that was clean burning and ball designed. Military stuff was cylinder shaped, burned slower and produced more carbon causing the rifle to jam. Once identified, the cleaning kits where issued and more frequent cleaning fixed the problem.

    Now, the 5.56/.223 came about because the military wanted a lighter round so the troops could carry more ammo into battle. Period. And then the AR15 was born.
    And military barrels are different from civilian barrels. And all the ballistics also.

    And now added to my collection is the Vepr 7.62x54R, for a .7.62 on steroids.
    Reload your own, put a steel core or LAP on it, and now have something to go thru a chunk of steel, concrete blocks, low density poured concrete, and probably thru a ceramic plate on a vest.

    Bottom line:
    “KISS” ———-keep it simple stupid,
    and under Murphy’s law,
    the more moving parts that are used in anything
    the more prone for failure to happen

    So guys go rant and rave,
    I’m going out to check on the mash,
    besides being a good shooter,
    making alcohol for the truck to get away in
    when out numbered comes in handy also.


    • Hat’s off to you Lynn. You are the first to state the REAL problem the early ARs had. You did fail to mention that Stoner purposely designed the twist rate of the barrel so it would NOT stabilize the bullet so it would tumble thus making it “think” it was a larger caliber. Stoner did a pretty good job designing a battle rifle that would replace the M1A/M14.
      Now to Captain “O”: I agree the M1 Carbine is fun to shoot, low recoil, etc., but as a one shot killer at anything further than 50 meters, I would have to disagree. I had a good friend some years back that served in 5 major campaigns in Europe during WW2 . He told me of a situation thier squad ran into one day: Seems a German sniper was taking pot shots at them, well a second looey spotted the guy as he took off running about 75 yds away and fired. My friend said he could hear the rounds hitting the German but he didn’t go down. My friend pulled up his Garand & rolled the sniper with one round. I know, comparing apples to oranges kinda takes the low-powered 300 meters or less weapons out of the equation. The AK47 was heavily copied after the German STG44. The Germans realized that most engagements were at 300 meters or less and thus didn’t need a large high-powered cartridge. The Russians saw this as an idea worth copying.

  36. I was issued the 1st. group of M-16’s in vietnam. POS. After that I carried an AK-47. .30 cal vs. a .22…..not a tough decision. An AR15 is more accurate, but an AK doesn’t need 3 shots to drop something. It still hits the target with a .30 cal slug and should be cleaned every year not 3x’s per day like in Iraq. The 7.62×39 cartridge is similar to the .30-.30 specs which has killed more deer in this country than any other cartridge. Go deer hunting with a .223 LOL-LOL-LOL.

  37. I’ve built several AR’s and finally also purchased a base model AK because of it’s reputation for reliability even though I’ve never had any problems with the reliability of my AR’s. I’ve only taken the AK to the range once so far and it had failure to feed problems…like every 3 to 5 rounds. Now it sits in the back of my safe as I’ve lost interest. I also think the safety and sights are horrible. I much prefer my AR’s.

    • FTF problems? What AK do you have, and what ammo are you shooting? Something is wrong there.
      Yes the safety is pretty bad and the sights rudimentary. Don’t forget, the AK sights were designed to withstand the rigors in the field, not the “tough” conditions at the range. Also, production cost is a big factor.
      Want better? There is aftermarket stuff to upgrade your AK. Just don’t get too carried away, like some of the AR guys do.

  38. If ever in a fighting situation, I want to stop the other person shooting at me. Not wound them. AK is the tool for that job.

  39. I have a Match Grade Ar-15A2, which I use for service rifle (High Power) matches. Paid a premium for it. It shoots as well as I can shoot it. For a SHTF situation, I assembled a Hungarian AMD65 AK variant. I firmly believe that if one is a have decent marksman, then he/she can fire either weapon effectively. Battles are not won on the target range; sure, accurate fire is necessary, but just how accurate must it be? And if the man holding the rifle couldn;t hit the broad side of a bard while standing up against it, then the most accurate rifle in the world is useless. I find that I can fire My AMD65 effectively out to 200 yards. By effectively, I mean at hit will be in the torso of a person. Does that hit need to be 1 1/2″ at 200 yards? WOuld we expect to engage an enemy at that distance or greater? Does it matter if the person is gut shot or chest shot at that distance? Yes, we all want an accurate rifle. Most Ak’s are accurate for what we really need them to do and, which I do find important, they have proven reliability in the field with little to no maintenance. It is still a difficult choice as both are very good rifles.

  40. 1969-1970 I lived , every day, with a M16A1 ( mfg by General Motors !).
    It was accurate beyond 100 meters.
    The rounds are too small for close in.

    Nowadays , to keep the wolf away from the door, I rely on a Romarm/Romanian AK47, 20 rnd mag with lead heads.

    The AR is a typical govt weapon, designed by smart people. The AK is a weapon of the people, it just deals in lead.

  41. V-tach I’d give you $100 bucks for your AK ! lol I have owned several AK 47s &74s over the years and have only experienced one stoppage or FTF with them and that was due to an inferior aftermarket magazine.

  42. Apples and oranges !
    I have both,and love both for different reasons.
    My AK is a milled receiver ,and has been gun smithed to make it better than originally designed.
    Charging handels on both sides. The safety can be used while still gripping the hand grip. Metal folder. Bolt can be locked open.ETC…….
    She is bad ass,and would carry her to the gates of hell !
    My AR ,has nine different uppers . And can preform almost any role which is required.
    Both will kill you dead! I train with mine often. And not just shooting at paper while standing at 50 yards every time.
    Get the one that will fill your specific needs. And then TRAIN with it.
    Don’t care which one you carry? If you can’t use it in a real life or death situation…..it isn’t going to matter any way.
    Apples and oranges

  43. This is kinda comical to read ! Both guns are good . In a combat situation 100 yards is far your combat zone is 5 yards -100 yards yes it could be further but you’ll get to them eventually. I won’t discuss military grade weapons as we’re not discussing them were discussing civilian weapons (big difference)I personally have shot both at and ak platform for combat there both good guns they both have jamed on me and I’ve broken internal parts in both that’s what a side arms for! I love the ak it’s a work horse and close range combat it’s second to none it can get dirty and still working but it’s heavy and if you’ve ever been in a real combat situation heavy is bad. The ar is light weight anyone can pick one up and shoot it with great results if it’s got bolt ons my wife shoots ar’s and as long as you can keep the little red light on your target you’ll be fine so if your not a trained shooter go ar (kinda like an automatic in a car where the ak is the manual transmission) as for killing and not killing you guys are crazy both rounds will kill ,both rounds will injure depends on where you shoot ! If shit hit the fan tomorrow and there was a war out side I would honestly grab my ar15, yes I know what I said but they both get the job done with the proper shooter behind them(I’ve never seen anyone get up after I got done with them shooing 5.56. And in a bad situation I could hand my weapon off to someone if needed and they would be useful .if I were to hand my wife an ak and said cover me I’d be fucked!
    So be honest with yourself if your not a trained shooter get an ar yes it’s a little more work keeping it clean but if you fire good ammo it’s not that bad I’ve shot well over 600 rds threw a stock bushmaster with no problems I did stop to clean it between 600-1000 don’t remember exactly so I went with the low number it wasn’t very dirty . That was shooting pcm ammo so don’t think omg if I shoot alittle it will jam not true . The old ones yes pure junk god help us all we will need it!

  44. I am not going to set myself forth as any kind of expert, on anything. To Doc Holliday ; you might want to look at the vz 58, for something different in the 7.62 X 39 platform. Not that many aftermarket parts available, but, it has a lot of features that a lot of people modify their AK to get. I like mine; haven’t heard a lot of complaints , yet. Just Saying.

  45. The AK and AR are great for wasting ammo in a short time, and it’s ammo that’s worse to reload than 30-30. The best plinker, hunter, reliable rifle is the good ol’ lever action. Or get one in 357 or 44 magnum. These Marlin or Winchester guns (not the Henry) have a very distinct advantage that you can reload the magazine on the fly. I don’t need to stop shooting my Marlin 336 to change/reload magazines. I don’t need to open the breech to feed a single round. I don’t need to struggle with the charging rod/bolt or worry about reciprocating pieces of hardware when it’s fired.

    The lever rifle CAN shoot spitzers with Hornady’s LEVERevolution in 308. Ammo is available off the shelf everywhere and is also easy to reload. The lever gun doesn’t spit brass all over, why you can even control the gun to put the brass right on the bench, or in your pocket. I can work the lever only a little slower than the action of the semi auto and the Marlin 336 30-30 has more impact power than a Russian round or the 223.

    And the lever gun is completely tolerant of any cartridge load. It will never fail to eject or fail to feed for any reasonably functional ammo. Even a dud is quickly cleared. The one time that I had a fail to feed was when I was lying on my back and the rifle was inverted. I have never tried that with an auto loader so no comparison. I DID install a wild west trigger to get the trigger pull comparable to the AK/AR.

    Okay, so it won’t easily shoot armor piercing rounds but so what? You’re more likely to want to use the hollow point loads to avoid over-penetration. The reliability and accuracy are better than the auto loaders. I have never had an issue with 30-30 recoil, but then I’m 240 lb. In lesser calibers the recoil becomes truly insignificant.

  46. simple truth is that the ak is every bit as accurate as needed in combat situaions , number two , they are now available in a multitude of calibers , and number three , anything you can buy for an ar ,you can also get for the ak ! differences , ar is slightly more accurate , ak is much more reliable . nowdays price difference does`nt even play into it . both cost way more than they should !

  47. 1) most self defense is with handguns. Overwhelmingly so.
    2) AR kills deer just fine. I have shot many with my AR. No problem. Some states allow it for hunting some don’t.
    3) IMI 77 grain 5.56 in a decent AR is as deadly as any AK round and much more accurate. Watch some youtube videos on ISIS. They fire all willy nilly holding their AK weapons over their heads. Accuracy is not much of a factor in suppressive fire or executing civilians at close range.They use 7.62×54 bolt guns for accuracy.
    4) buy a good handgun and learn to fire it well. Liklihood of ever using an AR or AK in self defense is very small. So, for self defense, get a good pistol and a light, easy to carry, easy to store, easy to conceal, inexpensive, cheap to shoot AR “beater”. For acting out fantasies get whatever makes you happy.

  48. The Article title is; Which Gun Should I Buy: AR-15 or AK-47?
    I have read every post here and I have only one question…
    So, Which Gun Should I Buy: AR-15 or AK-47?
    and I already own a good AR, many pistols, Combat shotguns, etc. I was just wanting to see if a consensus could be reached— didn’t see one. I just feel it necessary to have a caliber of your enemy as someone said so an AK seems appropriate to have. To Jim’s comment about handing an AR to your wife for cover fire… I did that, my wife is 5′ Asian, never fired a gun in her life, my daughter is 22, 4’11” same, never held a gun before, both shocked me with their ability to paper ALL shots at 25yds–the first time!. and while my wife cant shoot a 9mm glock and hit the barn (but the AR she is fine) the 22 y.o. now has a 9mm glock of her own. Point? In a survival situation putting weapons in hands of non-shooters will happen more than you would like… give them something anyone could shoot, in my non-scientific test the AR and 9mm glock proved their worth. I guess I’ll get an AK so I can use the ammo of the one’s they put down. “A Family that shoots together—“lives” together”

  49. A straight consensus, without explanation……Buy the Ak. And for using captured enemy ammo and ease of use for non or limited knowledge shooters…maybe get an SKS or two. As you probably know…SKS is semi-auto as well and since it’s magazine is internal, mags cannot get lost; ammo loads via strippers or individually.

  50. I put a windage-adjustable rear sight from an RPK on my WASR AK. From a solid rest, with help from a spotter with optics, I can dial it in quickly. Then I can hit a steel humanoid silhouette at 500 yards at least 25% of the time, up to 50% on a good day. A friend scoped his AK, and found that 90%+ hits was doable at the same distance. A plus for the AK: it will continue to function even with large debris inside the action (found this out by accident. A minus: 7.62mm x 39 isn’t a standard NATO or law enforcement caliber, could limit availability in time of emergency.

  51. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this AR vs. AK debate. I’ve built both, and enjoy each of them for different reasons.
    …but as Dallas J said earlier, when I’m at the range and everyone has opined on the relative merits of both my AK and AR (actually an HK MR556A1), I bring out my all-time hands down favorite. In this case it’s my Steyr AUG, and within a few minutes it usually becomes their favorite also.
    If you haven’t tried one you really should, it’s that good. Its only failure is that it’s not an ambidextrous shooter. It can be set up for either left or right handed usage, but not both.
    I’m interested to hear anyone else’s experiences with the AUG.

  52. All good comments, both great battle rifles but I like the AR because I could carry twenty six loaded magazines (18 rounds per mag to ease the strain on the mag springs) in the bad old days in ‘Nam, and there were many days of bad wx when resupply birds were wishful thinking…also, scoop up some 20 round mags at gunshows–they’re a lot better when shooting from the prone position….if you’re worried about penetration, do not shoot the 62 grain green tips at your expensive steel targets…they chop 3/8″ steel to pieces, even at 200 yards….

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