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.
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.
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.