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AK-47 vs AK-74

Hey everybody, Clint here with Classic Firearms, out here today at Take Aim, Training and Range, and it is a good day for an AK or an AKM or a AK 74 or whatever type of AK you want it to be, just know you should own one because they're freaking awesome. But anyway, what we're here to talk about today, guys, are AK-47's versus the 74, and why the 74 came about with its 5.45 cartridge.


Now, first thing I want to hit on is neither one of these are original Kalashnikov rifles or anything like that or full auto. Most of them are the AKM variant, which is modernized. And this one specifically is actually my older Zastava N-PAP when they were still with Century, and this was actually my first AK purchase about like eight or nine years ago now, maybe even longer than that, but I've had this guy for a while and it still serves me great, and I love shooting it. All right. And so this is more of a Yugo style, different style handguard things like that. However, Midwest Industry still makes an M lock rail for it, and it is super sweet and tight and holds zero greatly.

Anyway, the AK 47 we all know, Kalashnikovs' baby, right. Made in the late forties and is, well not probably, it is most definitely the most popular rifle ever made for sure. Okay. And then we've got something that was designed a little bit later, also by a Kalashnikov, though from my understanding he actually protested this, the AK 74. Now, what's different really is pretty much the same mechanisms, right, but it's just chambered in a different caliber. It's chambered in 5.45x39 versus 7.62x39, 7.62x39, which most AK's shoot, and then we've got the 5.45x39. Very similar, not really.

So other than coloration of the steel case on these guys, there's not much more similarities here. It's kind of like, well, if we want to look at it as far as the capitalist side of the world, some 62 NATO versus a 556. So there they are. 5.45, 7.62x39. What's the difference? This guy right here is 124 grains, so obviously a little bit heavier guy than the 60 grain projectile that we have on here. Because this guy's a little bit fatter, it's also a little bit slower. It's moving at about just under or just over 2,300 feet per second muzzle velocity. And then you've got this guy, that little guy is moving right around 2,900 feet per second. That's when you start getting into some body armor penetration capabilities with this fast mover right here. Of course, barrel length, things like that, even weight of the bullet. All of that will actually factor into muzzle velocity and trajectory and all that type of fun stuff.

Century Arms VSKA T.R.P AK-47

Why The Change?

Why did Russia start to move from the 7.62x39 to the 5.45? Well, the United States figured out that shot placement, accuracy and capacity mean a lot. Capacity also means rounds carried. We found that out in the Vietnam War. We went from the M14, which you guys can go ahead and type up the comments there. I know there's nobody that really is okay with the M 14. They either hate it or they absolutely love it, and let me know down in the comments where you're at. I know we're not even talking about AKA's now, but you know, whatever. So the M14 was shooting the 7.62 NATO cartridge. Obviously, a much bigger bullet than the 5.56 that the M 16 shoots, but we went from the M14 to the M 16 shooting the 5.56 Why? Because, well, capacity was the big thing. We could carry more rounds on us. It was lighter, and that's what made sense, especially since we were on the move all the time.

Same idea from going 7.62x39 to 545x39. And what else? Shooting. Shooting it, well, they're both fun. So let's go ahead and let's load up my 7.62x39 chambered N-PAP here. Let's take a couple of shots with it. I've got my target set up down range and let's just have some fun with this guy.

Target didn't last long, but anyway, you guys can probably see the recoil, things like that on this guy. Let's take a couple more shots.

Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's got a little bit of a thump to it, right? But it's nothing that you can't manage, right? It's an easy gun to shoot. They're simple to make. Well, if you're building one yourself, not as simple, but when you think about the components of the AK, you can see why it's so freaking popular.

Now, let's move to the AK-74 here. Got a couple of rounds loaded up of the 545. So let's take a couple of shots with this guy, see how it feels in comparison. Now, one thing you're going to notice right off the bat, muzzle device. The AK 74, one of the telling signs that it's a 74 is the not as curved magazine. Notice the two magazines here, 7.62x39 versus 545. The 7.62x39 has more of that banana shape. This one still has a slight curve, just not as drastic, and also this muzzle device, which you typically find on 74's. Let's see how it shoots and let's talk about the recoil. Let's just find something out there.

Riley Defense AK-74

All right. Feels good. So as far as recoil goes, you can definitely tell a difference. This one here is hitting a little bit harder. It's a little bit thumpier versus this guy being, I don't know, you don't notice as much muzzle ride, partly due to the caliber. 545 isn't going to hit as hard or have that much recoil as 7.62x39 will. Again, 60 grain bullet. Power isn't having to work as hard to push that projectile out versus a 124 grain bullet over twice the size, twice the weight. So pretty interesting.

Now, there's a lot out of nations that were former Soviet, things like that, that adopted the 5.45 and the AK-74 and are still using it today. Actually, Russia is still using the AK-74 today. It does have a purpose that's still being fit and used in. And if you think about it, it's got a flatter shooting trajectory. It's a faster moving bullet and you can carry more of it. Well, lighter, right? There's still both 30 round mags, things like that, but I could probably carry about six or seven of these mags and feel like I'm carrying four or five of those type of things. Maybe, but ultimately the 5.45 cartridge is a fun one to shoot. And like I said, it's a fast moving caliber and it's still in use today as is the 7.62x39.

Which Caliber is Better?

Now, if this was a versus video, it would really come down to the mission. If I was doing something a little bit more CQB-ish, I think 7.62x39 would be great. I wouldn't have to worry about the recoil and having to do follow up shots. I wouldn't have to worry about precision as much. If I was going to be shooting in a more of an open environment at greater distances, I think the 5.45 would be a little bit more home there. So again, it just all depends on what your environment is and what your overall objective would be.

Now for most of us today, I really wish the 5.45 was actually a little bit more common. You will see that over different generations of the AK, you'll see that they actually made an RPK chambered in 5.45. If you're not familiar with that, it's pretty much the light machine gun version of the AK. All right. They made it in 7.62x39 and also 5.45. The medium version, the PKM was chambered in 7.62x54R, that's a sweet cartridge. So there's all sorts of different variations of the rifle, of the cartridges, and I think there's just a lot of fun.

So like I said, it's not really much of a versus if you ask me, because I think that's two different, I don't know, two different styles, two different uses for the calibers. Which one would you prefer? That would be a good question to know. Me personally, I'm always going to go 762x39. Why? That's because I have the most of it right now. If I had more 5.45, I'd shoot more 5.45. That makes sense. Doesn't it?

So, anyway, I want to hear from you guys though, down in the comments section. What do you think? 5.45 versus 7.62x39. And what applies more so to you? If you're out more in an open area like this? Sure. 7.62x39 could work fine, but 5.45 might be a little bit better for you if you needed to engage at a further distance. I don't know. You guys tell me. I already talked too much about this and what I feel. So there you go. 5.45 is a fun cartridge, that again, Kalashnikov himself actually developed. But from my understanding, he didn't seem to agree with that entire process. Let me know down in the comments there if you've actually got more information on that because this is just from my understanding. Okay.

Zastava Arms ZPAP M70 AK-47 762x39 Semi-Auto Rifle

Now that since we're talking about all these different cartridges, what about 6.5 Creedmoor? Is that the future? Is 6.5 Creedmoor going to replace 7.62 NATO in the United States military? After shooting the SCAR 20S, this FDE one right here that it's chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor, it might be likely guys. You are looking at a cartridge that actually has better ballistics. It's a little bit lighter. It's faster moving, might be even a little bit more accurate than 7.62 NATO, and that hurts me to say, because I love 7.62. All right.


But anyway, why am I talking about this rifle when we've been talking about AK's this whole time? It's because we are currently giving this gun away. This is the FN SCAR 20S and it's coming with the Leupold VX-6HD. Oh yeah, talk about a beautiful setup. I could have gone with a little bit taller scope rings because the scope's barely clearing the rail, but it's actually pretty comfortable to shoot from where it is. If you want to change it, hey, you can do that. You can order yourself some new rings if you're the winner. If you're not the winner, then you just need to keep trying, because we give away about a gun a week. So don't miss out. All right.

Head on over to to get your entries and check out all of our different types of AK's that we might have available right now. We did a video on the TRP rifle. Go check that out. There's all sorts of fun things out there, so don't miss out. Again, to get your entries, hit that top banner and it'll show you all of the different ways to get said entries. God bless you guys. I'll see you in the comments and we'll see you next time at

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