AR Versus AK: What Can You Get for 8.7 Pounds?

Which is “better”, the AR-15 or the AK-47? Every blog carts out this dead horse and beats on it sooner or later. I guess it is my turn. However, I hope this post will represent a bit of a different perspective.

Accuracy, Reliability, and Then What?

Most AR versus AK discussions center around reliability and accuracy, or more specifically; the AR’s perceived lack of reliability and the AK’s perceived lack of accuracy. Most of you will know that both sides of this argument tend to deeply embellish their talking points with heavy doses of gun counter misinformation, speculation, exaggeration, and good old fashioned BS. It is very rare that anyone can point to real data to back up their claims of which rifle rules the roost. I actually happened across some real data that doesn’t even come close to putting an end to the the argument but it might just offer some perspective.

Weight has become a very important factor for me in determining what works for me. In my shooting logs that I somewhat faithfully keep for many of my rifles, I track how they weigh in their current configurations to use a baseline for determining the value of potential configuration changes. Having to think about accessories that are added to my rifles not only in terms of functionality added but also in terms of weight added has been a very enlightening process for me. I recently recorded the weight for a new(ish) rifle and was surprised by the numbers that sat in front of me.

Bulgarian Circle 10 magazine is shown. A lighter weight US PALM AK30 used in the article. This is fairly light and fast handling AK.

The Scale Doesn’t Lie

The recently recorded rifle weight was 8.724 pounds (with a loaded US PALM AK30). The rifle in question is a fairly basic AK. That weight wasn’t all that surprising in and of itself until I noticed that I have an AR that weighs nearly the exact same weight. That rifle is an AR-15 that weighs 8.732 pounds (with a loaded 30 round PMAG) or just .oo8 pounds more. However, what is most interesting about these two particular rifles is not necessarily just their weights but also their configurations. You might be surprised at just what 8.7 pounds gets you with an AR and AK.

The AK in question is a Romanian “G” rifle built by ARS with Warsaw length laminate wood stocks installed which are fairly light weight (they actually weigh less than a polymer KVAR Warsaw length stock set that I own). It also has a US PALM AKBG, PWS FSC47, Echo93 Sling Plate, and Echo93 DMS (sling). There is no light or optic on this rifle – just iron sights.

The AR in question starts with a BCM 14.5″ lightweight barrel profile, mid-length gas system upper with Magpul MOE handguards. Like the AK, it also has a grip (Magpul MIAD), muzzle device (A2X), sling mounts, a sling (VTAC with IWC 2 To 1 Point Triglide), and iron sights. However, it also has a Surefire M600 Scout Light on an IWC SMC MOUNT-N-SLOT, an IWC Weapon Control MOUNT-N-SLOT, a Battle Arms Development BAD-ASS and an Aimpoint T-1 with LaRue Tactical mount.

Shown with TAREINCO VTP sling. The weight listed in the article is with a VTAC sling.

Breaking it Down

Those last two paragraphs may cause a bit of information overload so let me break it down. An AR-15 with a light, hand stop, an ambidextrous selector, and red dot optic can weigh just .008 pounds more than a bare bones AK. The AR gives me more functionality for the same amount of weight. Granted, this AR was built to be somewhat light weight but that is part of the point – you can do that with an AR without sacrificing function. ARs with the same functionality can be built even lighter in weight than this one.

Does this single data point mean that the AR is better than the AK? No, certainly not. There are far more factors at play here. However, weight is an important piece of the puzzle that shooters of both the AR and AK must piece together for themselves. If pounds were dollars, the AR would be a much better deal.

13 Responses to AR Versus AK: What Can You Get for 8.7 Pounds?

  1. Scott Lavers April 18, 2012 at 10:16 #

    Nice article mate, I’m an AK owner, I’ve used many AR’S and have nothing bad to say about them. Firearms are tools, it’s just personal preference,I don’t get all these heated debates AK vs AR, they are both great tools, I’ll take either over none at all lol

  2. Matt April 18, 2012 at 11:34 #

    Just as many people have stated before…its like comparing a hatchet and a scalpel. Both are cutting tools but you can’t easily chop a tree down with a scalpel and you can’t easily perform open heart surgery with a hatchet. To give the AK a fair shake though, some weight could be shaved by using composite furniture like the AR is wearing. US Palm and Midwest Industries have teamed up and made an awesome hand guard as well.
    All in all, they’re both fine rifles.

    • Matt April 18, 2012 at 11:50 #

      The “composite” furrnature that I have and mentioned in the post is actually heavier than the wood.

      I am in no way saying that the AK is not a viable rifle. This is simply one data point among many. I am not so prideful to think that I can settle this age old debate.

  3. Matt April 18, 2012 at 15:49 #

    I missed that statement that you have K-VAR’s Warsaw stock. I’m sorry about that.

    Also, sorry if sounded as I was arguing. I surely didn’t mean for it to come across as such. I love both rifles equally.

    This debate will last as long as the two rifles exist in the same space. Like the Mossberg 500/590 vs Remington 870 debate. Personally I feel Ithica’s M87 is a good choice, too.

    Thanks for the great write up!

    • Matt April 18, 2012 at 15:58 #

      Matt, I didn’t think you were arguing at all. The comments were directed more generally. You wouldn’t believe some of the emails that I have received over this post!

  4. Patrick April 18, 2012 at 18:10 #

    Actually the AK vs -16 debate has been studied on the battlefield and it’s been found that Ak’s belong IN A GARBAGE CAN!

  5. Mark April 18, 2012 at 18:17 #

    I have several AK’s and several AR’s, I shoot the AR15’s more than the AK’s. I just do not like the ergonomics of the AK. I will always prefer the AR15 line over the AK. But wouldn’t feel under gunned with an AK.

  6. Neil April 18, 2012 at 18:49 #

    From an aesthetic point of view, I see the AR symbolizing the good guys and the AK…the bad guys. Just my wacky opinion.

  7. Larry Chapman April 19, 2012 at 12:24 #

    Of course ARs are lighter, they are mostly made of aluminum, while AKs are mostly steel. Considering the AK has a much harder hitting and harder recoiling round, this makes perfect sense. I own both a Yugo underfolder AK, and an Olympic Plinker Plus AR-15. I like em both, but when it comes to a gunfight, I’d rather have the AK, it just hits harder and punches bigger holes in things.

  8. SteveG April 19, 2012 at 15:51 #

    My preference is an AR, but I wouldn’t turn my nose up at an AK. So if someone asks me if I think they should get an AR or an AK I say “Yes”

  9. Owen April 20, 2012 at 20:51 #


  10. allan April 22, 2012 at 00:44 #

    Nice write-up and you bring up a good point with bang per lb. That’s also the exact same barrel I’m eyeing for my AR 🙂

  11. Andy April 29, 2012 at 21:58 #

    I think everyone has missed the point entirely. Putting accessories on the commie rifle makes the baby Jesus cry.
    However, Jesus and baby Jesus both love the new Costa OBR.

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