The Ak-74: The Evolution Of the Russian AK Rifle

May 31, 2019






By Marc Kelley 

Syndicated by: Montana News

The AK-47 is the most wide spread weapon in the world, with an estimated 200 million rifles in use today. While no one really knows exactly how many AK-47's are in the US, estimates range are between 20 and 30 million AK variants, are presently in the hands of private US citizens. It is unfortunate, the AK-47 has become the quintessential image of evil. It is often seen as the weapon of choice for terrorists, criminals and oppressive military regimes; rather than, the weapons intended use, for self defense. 





The concept of the AK-47 began in 1941. After being wounded in combat and while still recovering in the hospital, Mikhail Kalashnikov, a self described "tinkerer", sketched a design for a new type of rifle. in 1946, Kalashnikov submitted his design to the Red Army Weapons Testing Division for consideration. Not long after, Kalashnikovs' design was selected as the winner of a Soviet weapons design contest and production of the AK-47 became a reality. The AK-47 was cheap to produce and highly reliable, in almost any environmental condition, from the desert to the jungle. It was easy to clean, easy to operate and easy to use.






Despite the popularity and the incredible production numbers of the AK-47, Kalashnikov never realized any money from his design. As a Soviet soldier, he was paid wages; however, his design was considered to belong to the Soviet People and not Kalashnikov as an individual. When you combine the fact Kalashnikov always believed in his heart, his beloved AK-47, was a weapon to be used for defense and not for offensive or aggressive tactics, a clear picture begins to be formed of just how far the perversion of this firearm has gone.





As with any weapons system, changes and improvements in the design, are always works in progress. In 1974, Mikhail Kalashnikov, introduced his latest design and upgrade, to the iconic AK-47. Kalashnikov's newest design would be designated the AKM-74, and would be chambered, not in the intermediate, 7.62x39 cartridge; but rather, the high velocity 5.45x39 cartridge. Improvements over the AK-47 would include, increasing the range, accuracy and ballistic performance of the rifle. When compared to the AK-47, the AK-74 is flatter shooting, more accurate and develops greater kinetic energy. Kalashnikov's design genius, allowed him to develop the AK-47 with only eight moving parts, making it one of the most simple and reliable, firearms ever created. The newly designed AK-74 would retain

approximately 50% of the internal parts from his original 1947 design and continued the concept that "anything simple is useful and anything useful, must be simple."





The new AK-74 design, was packaged with the newly designed, 5.45x39 cartridge and was initially designated as 7N6. Like all military surplus ammunition, 7N6 ammo was readily available in the US at a fraction of the cost of US production. Because the 7N6 round was designed as a military round, it contains a mild steel core, covered by a copper jacket. Muzzle velocity for the 7N6 round, utilizing a 53 gr. projectile, is approximately 2900 ft/sec. This ballistic geometry, allowed the round to penetrate some body armor. Under the Obama Administration, the ATF, issued a ruling classifying 7N6 ammunition as "armor piercing", and on April 7, 2014, importation of the ammunition into the US was banned.





In much the same way previous attempts to regulate firearms and ammunition, the governments action did not suddenly remove 7N6 ammunition from the US, it only served to create a stronger market and increase the purchase price of the ammo. Today, a private citizen can purchase a 1080 round "spam can" of surplus, Russian 7N6 ammo, for about $ 250.00. This fact serves to underscore the futility of banning ammunition; in which, 100's of millions of rounds already exist in the US. If you enjoy shooting as much as I do, you may want to consider using commercial, 5.45x39 ammo, which has not been banned from importation into the US. Current production ammunition is readily available from Wolf, Tula, Hornady and Red Army Standard; albeit, these rounds utilize a lead core, not steel.  





Those of us who build AR style firearms will tell you, just about anyone can assemble the parts and make their own AR. While this statement is true on its face, getting a AR to run reliably, requires a somewhat greater skill-set, than the ability to download a Youtube video. On the other hand, building an AK, not only requires a different skill set, it requires different tools. Where the AR platform utilizes a forged or milled receiver, with threaded parts, detents and pins holding it together, the AK platform utilize a stamped receiver, a pressed and pinned barrel and rivets to hold the components together. The AR builder, will talk to you in terms of "mil-spec" parts, i.e. all of the AR components fall within certain specifications and are essentially, interchangeable. The AK builder, will tell you, the Communists have never heard of the concept of mil-spec and the components from one firearm will rarely, drop directly into another firearm. Fitting, machining and gunsmithing will always be required to assemble an AK.






The next issue to be overcome for anyone wanting to own a foreign made AK, comes from our favorite California Senator, Dianne Feinstein. As part of the 1994, Assault Weapons Ban, 922r compliance was written into law. 922r compliance states no foreign made firearm, may be assembled in the US, using more than 10 of the original, foreign made components. As a result of Senators Feinstein's legislation, US builders of AK's, are required, to substitute American made components into their builds. While this law is considered by many as foolish and irrelevant, it none the less, remains the law of the land. Rather than complaining about the law or simply ignoring it, responsible gun owners everywhere, should make their voices heard and get the law changed.






If you want to buy an American made AK, there are several reputable manufactures, each producing their own version of the venerable AK. For the purist, the collector or the history buff, a true AK, military rifle, not only looks different, they feel different, they sound different and they will forever hold a special place in the hearts of their owners. After considering the pitfalls and requirements for owning a foreign made AK, I can honestly tell you….they are unquestionably, worth the effort. 







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