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The AK-47 VS The AK-74

AK-47 VS AK-74. What is the difference?

The most significant difference between these two guns is simply the caliber. The old AK-47 is chambered in the venerable and near universal 7.62 x 39mm. The AK-74, meanwhile, is chambered in the 5.45 x 39mm. The name difference is an unintentional palindrome, as these numbers represent the year the gun was more or less adopted. Clearly, the 1974 designed AK-74 is a little newer than the post-WW2 AK-47

The Chinese Arsenal Type 56 AK-47

That’s the biggest difference, and if we go by Soviet designs, there are some other differences worth noting. The 74 uses a much more modern muzzle brake that reduces recoil and muzzle rise. The old AK-47, meanwhile, uses a slant cut muzzle device that helps prevent muzzle rise.The AK-47’s magazine has a much more prominent curve, while the AK-74’s smaller 5.45 caliber gives the magazine a slightly straighter magazine profile. . 

The caliber and slight external difference do not tell the whole story though. The difference in caliber also leads to the weapons handling entirely differently, and gives the weapons different capabilities.

The AK-74 has a much milder recoil impulse. It’s extremely comfortable and easy to control, which is very noticeable when you start rapidly firing the weapon. The 74’s milder recoil impulse makes it better suited for new shooters, or smaller framed shooters. 

The AK-47’s recoil is still mild, as it is an intermediate rifle caliber. While the recoil is a bit more significant than the 74’s, it’s not overly harsh or in any way painful.  


The 74’s lighter 5.45 round does give the AK-74 a higher velocity and allows for a longer effective range. After 300 yards, the 7.62 x 39mm starts dropping rapidly. The AK-74’s 5.45 x 39mm round has half the bullet drop at 500 yards. 

The AK-47’s bigger, heavier 7.62 round punches through cover much easier than the smaller 5.45 round. It will smash through cinder blocks, bricks, and more. 

Wolf Performance 7.62x39 122gr FMJ Ammunition


When it comes to purchasing guns, one big consideration is the logistics of the weapons. Logistics are critical, and to be fair, logistics win wars. Now that’s a bit heavy of a comparison for just buying a rifle, but it could still mean the difference between success and failure. 

The AK-47 has been popular in the United States for a very long time. It’s also made by more countries than the 74. Logistically you have a lot more options for the AK 47 series of rifles than the AK-74. Higher quality, commercial brass cased ammo, and even defensive and hunting ammunition is made for the 47 series. Magazines are also cheaper, more common, and made by a ton of different companies. 

The AK-74 series does have limited ammo options when compared to the 47, but the ammo is priced about the same. While soft point 5.45 ammo exists, it’s nowhere near as common as the 7.62 x 39mm. Magazines are available, but not at the same level of production as the AK-47. You’ll find magazines, but you won’t find the massive variety that you will with the AK-47 series. 

Barnaul 5.45x39 55gr HPBT Ammunition

Which is Better? 

Saying one is better than the other is somewhat silly. In some respects, the 74 is better; in other situations, the 47 is better. It really depends on what you want the gun to do. Both have their advantages, and both are overall excellent weapons. Whichever you choose, just know Classic Firearms has you covered. 

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