One for the Ages: AR-15 vs. AK

Meta: One of the longest-lasting debates in the firearms world is the argument about the effectiveness of the AR-15 against the AK and its variants. Read on for more.


When it comes to assault rifles, there are two that stand out above all others: the AR-15 and the AK and its variants. While the AK-47 is the most famous name that’s linked to Kalashnikov’s rifles, the AKM is, in fact, the most popular variant, and the one that we’ll be using in today’s comparison.

We’re going to examine the AKM and the AR-15 to give each of them a fair comparison and cut through some of the myths surrounding them. We’ll compare each of these weapons in military use, but we’ll also take the time to discuss how potential owners can expect them to work if they get their hands on them.


The AR-15 is the civilian name for the M16 rifle, which was developed for the United States Army during the early 1960s. The M16 has something of a poor reputation for reliability due to its initial models being unable to withstand the harsh jungle environment of Vietnam, where they were first deployed.

While these issues were ironed out rather quickly, this reputation stuck with the rifle, somewhat unfairly. In torture tests with the revised version of the M16, it proved to be nearly as effective as the AKM. This is mainly due to the tighter manufacturing tolerances of the M16, which make it harder for dirt to get inside of the receiver.

If you want to get your hands on an AR-15, you’ll be able to benefit from plentiful parts kits and ammunition, as it’s one of the most popular rifles in the United States. These guns are also surprisingly affordable, though it makes sense when you consider how long the basic design has been around.


The AKM is the modernized variant of the AK-47, featuring a simplified build that made it easier to mass-produce. This assault rifle was also first proven during the Vietnam War, where it was seen as superior to early-model M16s due to its ruggedness, though it wasn’t as reliable as it is often credited for.

While the looser construction of the AKM means that it’s easier for dirt to get inside of the firing mechanism, it also means that it won’t wreak as much havoc if it does. This is proven by many stories about AKs firing well past the point that other guns would have failed at, though as we mentioned, they should be taken with a grain of salt.

If you want to get your hands on an affordable rifle with plentiful ammo, you’d often be better off with an AR-15, but if you like the look and feel of an AK, then there are plenty of clones available. Contrary to what you may expect, many AK clones are more expensive than comparable AR-15s.


As you can see, the myths about the AK being an invincible gun and the M16 being unreliable have been blown way out of proportion. While there is some truth to them, civilian buyers should stick to the kind of rifle that they like most to ensure that they will be satisfied with their purchase.

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