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The AK-47 vs AR-15: Which Rifle is Better?

AK-47 versus AR-15
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Yes, I am going there. One of the most hotly debated questions in prepper/survival/firearm enthusiast circles is around the best survival rifle. For all intents and purposes, there are only two in competition in the US and those are the AK-47 and the AR-15. I will add that there are variants of both and I am lumping all of those into these two categories. This question of what is the best survival rifle is one that I asked myself when I was considering my first rifle purchase so I wanted to take some time on the Prepper Journal blog today to hash out what I see are the differences and to give you my opinion as to which rifle is better when it comes to the AK-47 vs AR-15.

House cleaning

I know that this subject is insanely controversial, even though it shouldn’t be. It’s the same as getting upset over Ford versus Chevy. If this post makes it to some of the firearms forums out there I know I will have some people who will disparagingly call me an “Internet Expert” implying that I have no idea what I am talking about. So be it. I am not an expert, but I don’t think anyone else is an expert either in this subject. I don’t think anyone out there is more qualified to determine what rifle is best in my opinion, for me, than me. I don’t really care if you are active duty police, 20 year military veteran, or mercenary for hire. This is my opinion based upon my belief and requirements, you are entitled to yours, but that doesn’t mean mine is invalid. It also doesn’t mean you are smarter than anyone else that disagrees with you. It simply means we have different opinions.

Additionally, I will throw out some facts that should be pretty easy to agree on and some opinions based upon my personal experience which may not be. Just because your experience is different, that doesn’t make it a law of science or anything. If you have a different experience, by all means, please comment down below but I would ask you to keep the debate civil as that is what I am going to try to do. If you would like to make your case for the opposite of what I recommend, please do so in the comments and we can all judge whether what you are saying makes sense.

History

Very briefly, the The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated rifle that fires 7.62×39mm ammunition. The AK-47 was developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year of World War II (1945).  In 1949, the AK-47 was officially accepted by the Soviet Armed Forces and used by the majority of the member states of the Warsaw Pact. It is still widely used today.

If you are going to count on a rifle, you should know how to take care of it.


The AR-15 is a lightweight, magazine-fed, air cooled rifle with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation or long/short stroke piston operation that fires 5.56 mm/.223-caliber ammunition.

The AR-15 was first built by ArmaLite as a small arms rifle for the United States armed forces.Because of financial problems, ArmaLite sold the AR-15 design to Colt who made some modifications and the redesigned rifle was subsequently adopted as the M16 rifle which was the main rifle used by US Armed Forces. Colt then started selling the semi-automatic version of the M16 rifle as the Colt AR-15 for civilian sales in 1963 and the term AR-15 has been used to refer to semiautomatic-only versions of the rifle since then.

For the purpose of this comparison we are only going to be discussing semi-automatic weapons available for purchase in the US by a non FFL carrying person, not their fully automatic counterparts.

The Facts

You can quickly see some of the facts below about each rifle on this excellent info graphic from TacticalGear.com , but I will list what I see are the important differences between the two rifles.

  • The AR-15 can effectively shoot 200 yards further than the AK-47.
  • The AK-47 shoots a significantly larger bullet than the AR-15.
  • The AR-15 weighs 2 pounds less (not counting a lot of hardware we add after the fact) than the AK-47
  • The AK-47 usually costs less than an AR-15.
  • The AR-15 has a higher (30% more) accuracy than the AK-47
  • The AK-47 is more widely used globally by a long shot than the AR-15.

For more information and my opinion on which rifle is best, please read below the graphic.
AK-47 vs. AR-15

The Debate

There are really only 3 main arguments that proponents of the AK-47 use as their rationale for saying that the AK-47 is the better survival rifle so I want to list and address each below.

  • AK-47 rounds penetrate better and do more damage – This is true generally speaking, let’s move on to the next point.
  • AK-47 Costs less – This is true generally, let’s move on to the next point.
  • AK-47 will keep working no matter how dirty it gets – This is also true to an extent, but with a caveat. The point to this argument is that if the AR-15 gets too dirty, you will have firing problems. I can tell you from personal experience that I have never had a single problem with any AR-15 or it’s fully automatic cousins that I have ever shot. However, I clean my rifles usually after every time I shoot them. Sometimes, I will wait, but they never go too long without a thorough cleaning, so what is this point supposed to be saying to us? Well, what if you are in a firefight and you have to shoot 300 rounds through your AR-15 rifle; will it jam then? No, at least not in my experience. Maybe if you shot 10000 rounds through it without cleaning the rifle you could see some issues, but if you are in a firefight so bad that you have shot 10000 rounds, you have bigger problems. What if you drop it in a vat of guacamole? Not a valid point in my book.

Which Rifle is the Best Survival Rifle?

I will tell you that in my opinion, the best rifle is the one you have with you when you need it. That sounds well and good, but if I was going to buy one rifle, and I lived in America, it would be the AR-15. Why? For me this comes down to 4 simple points.

Accuracy – The AR is simply more accurate at further distances than the AK-47. If I wanted to shoot a rifle up in the air when I was mad, riding in the back of a Toyota truck with 20 of my friends, or happy, or just plain stupid then I might get an AK-47. One of my goals is to be able to engage targets at up to 500 yards and the AR-15 does that better than the AK-47. The AK might use a heavier round that will go through more solid objects, but if you are able to kill the person holding the AK 200 yards before he can hit you, does that matter?

Range – Speaking of range, the AR-15 shoots further effectively, so that just adds to what I was saying above. Range is also important to me because I want to be able to take people out as far away as possible. I don’t want you getting so close that your AK-47 can hit me. I would rather you and your AK be far away and I will take care of you way out there. I don’t mind walking out there to pick up your rifle when I am finished.

Parts – The AR-15 is like the Barbie doll of the firearm world. There are so many accessories! And yes, the military version of this rifle (M16/M4) has a majority of parts that are fully compatible with the AR-15. The AR-15 is also the same weapon used by police, DHS, and NASA. If anything bad happens, there should be plenty of opportunity for spare parts to be acquired. I can’t say the same for the AK-47 unless we are invaded by Russia. So, even if your AK is able to fire with some mud in it, what if something breaks? That is why you buy spare parts you say. No, that is why you buy what everyone else is using including our government.

Ammo – Same as above, this is the ammo our police and military use as well as quite a large number of my countrymen, so I have the advantage of a very common caliber in my favor.

OK, that is my rationale and those are my reasons. The AR-15 does cost a little more on average, but you can find really good deals out there if you look and the price difference would be much lower. Does this mean I wouldn’t own an AK-47? No, not at all. I would love to have one, but I do think that for the reasons I listed above, if you can only choose one and you live in the good old US of A, the AR-15 is the better option in my opinion. I know for a fact people will disagree with me, so please let me know what you think in the comments below.

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  • Eze

    I have just a question. As you speak about AR-15 – you probably speak about last major modification (in M-16 words M-16A4) of the rifle, am I right? But of what version of “AK” are you speaking? AK-47? AKM? AK-74? AK-10x? All versions are commonly spoken of as “AK-47″… My question is based on the diagram you attached, where is a production date of “AK” 1949-59… But it is true only for the “47” version. E.g. 74 version is still being produced. I dont know the specifications, but it is probably better than “47” (I dont know which version you compared). I would just guess its accurancy/weight and range could have been improved in todays production version.

    As I am from different part of the world, I would pick the “AK”, but for the same reasons, you have picked the AR – it is more common in my area (thats why I am interested in the type of the AK you are comparing). Therefore despite the possibility the AK has improved, taking in mind the condition of your article (best rifle for you), I totaly agree with you.

    At the end of the day, I think in confict of AK armed guy and AR armed guy in a real world, the winner would be the one who would be the luckier, as even the 400 yards is a great distance just to spot your enemy (he can be hiding, camouflaged, using good angle in comparison to sun/shades/you), and more skilled as 400 yards is very far target (again he can be hiding/covering, so only minor part of him can be hit, not speaking about his efforts to kill you).

    So at the end, it really does not matter so much on your pick 🙂 But very nice article, thank you!

    • Thanks for the comments Eze and for the purposes of this article I was only referring to the AK-47 chambered in 7.62 and not the newer models and you may be right that the quality and weight are completely different. I will have to look to tell you the truth, but I think some of my points would still be the same.

      I also agree with you that the winner in a gunfight doesn’t simply have a better weapon. Luck, skill and fortune all have parts in there too.

      Pat

      • Adrian

        One thing I know because I’ve used both my ak and panther mk 12 on two week hikes in the big horns is that yes the ak is a beast of abuse and burden, but I still attempt to keep both said rifles from damage/dysfunction. The problem I’ve had is that my ar has jammed with cheap ammo, tul, wolf, etc. here’s the kicker, I’m an FFL, gunsmith, and former marine. These aren’t user errors. After scrubbing the Chamber function resumes as normal. I’m not getting into combat scenarios, but this one would leave you with your sidearm. Since America does have this interesting conflict of which rifle is better, as stated “the one available”. But if you’re keeping the ammo and mags at the ready, then the best thing I could tell anyone to do is take one of both, get out with it, discover your and it’s limits. Don’t clean it’s internals after every use, and know what problems arise and how to fix them. In a true bug out, these are the things that’ll help. As far as my opinion goes on which one to favor, my scenarios have always favored the one that always goes bang. If I’ve ever had an ak issue… It was the magazine not the rifle. So I only buy mags that are factory stated “garanteed to feed” but parts break, that’s the nature of machinery. I love my mk-12, it’s a long straight shooting platform, but it has so many more parts that have a potential to fail… It’s always in the back of my mind. And no such problem going around a corner with the ak. These two rifles have been arguing sisters in my arsenal for the last 25 years, one is a cheerleader that has to shower all the time, is beautiful, and gets perfect grades. The other, is more of a tomboy, likes to scrap, and misses the mark from time to time but hits like a sledge when she makes it. I love’em both.

        • I love that analogy of the two arguing sisters!! Too funny. Thanks for the comments Adrian.

          Pat

        • Kudu GS

          BULL! Wolf and Tul are not qualify ammo, it’s just keep ammo. DPMS isn’t a quality AR by any mean either. Blackhills, Hornady or at least Federal is quality ammo. Larue, Daniel Defense or Spikes are quality ARm’s. I have 20 years of combat arms experience and have NEVER had a properly maintained AR variant fail in any way during peacetime or while in combat. To say otherwise shows your level of inexperience and bias.

          • Adrian

            Oh man, did ya see where I put Cheap before Tul, Wolf, etc.? And Did I say anywhere that that Panther was all quality? Your making arguing points on what I didn’t put in the text, and not reading what was in there to begin with. Forget firearms experience, let’s just start with reading something before we comment on it.

            • Kudu GS

              Never said you did? I clearly stated that your experience of crap ammo and mid grade weaponry doesn’t count as valid testimony of a weapon. Use quality ammo and weaponry that is properly maintained and you won’t have a single issue. Period. Can guns fail? Sure, but if you are properly maintaining them they will never fail. You couldn’t see my point because you were focused on a sentiment that I somehow was implying something entirely different. Again you are showing your level of inexperience and bias.

              • Adrian

                I’ll be perfectly clear. The M16 I served with was more accurate, modular, and sharper than the AK. For the purpose I’m seeing here in the survival weapon standpoint. My Aerp precision piston AR is grand at marksmanship, however, I have an AK with an AKARS and scope. Though not as accurate, I took an Elk cow last year with it. I can hunt game no larger than a deer with .223, with 7.62×39 black bear, ram, and elk. So, if I wanted a survival rifle I’m not limiting myself with the smaller caliber for one. Two, I never only consider my rifles use for man vs. man, but the arguments tend to quickly shift to that. My first choice if I had to take one weapon is my M1A, but for the nature of this column, going into my backcountry I’ll take an AK.

              • Kudu GS

                What? I’ve taken Elk, Mule, Whitetail and Black bear with an AR in .5.56. So don’t give me that line of BS. Good hunter don’t need a large caliber. Hell I’ve taken all but the Mule with Bow inside of 30 yards. Hunting regardless of weapon is a skill that must be mastered. Can’t take anything other than deer???

              • Adrian

                Game larger than a dear is illegal here with .223. Where are you exactly that allows it? Elk with a .223, clean through heart and lungs? Now I know I’ve been wasting my time with you. Good day…gone camping.

              • Kudu GS

                No, head shot. In New Mexico. Everyone thinks 5.56 and .223 isn’t capable for big game. Though not the preferred or recommend round for big game they are still very capable of bringing down big game. Case in point back in 2013 in Alaska on the Russian River a man killed a Grizzly with a AK-74. Pierced the bears skull and killed it. Much larger rounds have been known to bouncy off bears skulls. So don’t dismiss the 5.56 as incapable or unworthy of big game. In the right hands it can and does deliver, though at not the stand off range as it’s bigger brothers . I am externally comfortable taking a 200 yard shot on any North American game with a 5.56.

              • G-Dog

                Interesting comment. I don’t have combat experience. But I do have experience with common sense. I own a Norinco MAK 90 (7.62×39) & Sig M400 (5.56). Both are excellent (in my opinion) rifles. The MAK will eat anything without constant care. She’s like this girl I use to know. Ready to go without notice and forget low, no maintenance. The Sig is a bit more paticular even with scrubbing after each use but, as expected a tad more accurate. In my opinion, any combat rifle that must use top quality ammo to be dependable isn’t the ideal combat rifle since combat situations don’t often lend themselves the best quality ammo or conditions. For competitive shooting or just fun, I’m opting for the AR platform. For life saving, life taking combat, I need a “hard hitting back alley brawler” that doesn’t need laboratory conditions to be reliable. I’m grabbing my AK platform every time, if I can reach it.

  • Northern Raider

    I definitely choose the AK 47 or the more modern 74 and its derivatives as used by places like Sweden and South Africa.

    The AK family was designed to do the job, cost was not a consideration, The AR being American was built to a price. I used both on various attachments over the years when I was in the British army along with other notables like the Galil, H& K G 36, Steyr Aug etc.

    The AK would work flawlessly even the most appalling of conditions and regardless of how well it was cleaned (or not). The wonderful chaps from the US forces I had the honour and pleasure of interacting with in Germany LOVED their M16 / M4 systems but they willingly admitted their long arms required more cleaning and TLC than the AKs.

    Also the days of the long range battle rifles facing each other over the greater German inner border are long since gone and most modern conflicts are now done at under 300 yards, with the Afghan exception being dealt with by tarted up M14s and battle rifles in 7.62 or 300 Lapua. At these short ranges both the AK and AR15 are pretty much the same and both can be enhanced with fancy optics but Eugene Stoner could only dream about his gun being as reliable in the mud, blood and guts of the battlefield as Mikhail Kalishnikovs creation. And the post Cold Water modern AKs are truly damn good soldiers rifles.

    I vote Avtomat Kalashnikov first, but TBH the best battle rifle in the world is still the 7.62 FN SLR a true riflemanns rifle.

    As for rifles role for preppers I would probably go for an AK74 for heavy applications and a nice Ruger Mini 14 for EDC duty.

  • Northern Raider

    Eze makes a very valid point, todays AK family of weapons are fine quality beasts that still have all the good points of the original with improved specification and quality controls as well.

    In a survival situation for an ordinary dude not part of the SF, just a guy with a family trying to survive, who may not have the time or skills to religiously maintain his rifle, a guy who NEEDS it to work in appalling conditions and with reduced maintenance the AK wins hands down. The AK is the Hummer of the rifle family the AR15 is the Jeep.

    • Kudu GS

      1. All AK’s are horrible marksmanship weapons and in a survival situation marksmanship is paramount. 2. AR maintenance is quite simple really. 3. Summers are horrible vehicles compared to Jeeps. Jeeps are reliable, easy to find parts and repair and can go where a hummer can’t.

      • G-Dog

        That “horrible marksmanship” myth is a bit overstated for the AK. It’s not as accurate overall as the AR. But, it’s far from “horrible”. I consistently get 1 1/2″ groups at 150.

  • Northern Raider

    By the way your info graphic is comparing the old 7.62 x 39 AK with the modern AR15, that’s not very fair or responsible. you should compare the AR15 with the 5.56 AK 74 so its fairer and more balanced.

    • Wag

      The AK 74 is 5.45

      • Northern Raider

        Wag your right of course, I was having a senior moment, especially as I have an empty steel cased 5.45 shell on my desk Doh !!!

        • robert

          REAL COMBAT GOING BE CONCRETS, DRYWALL WOOD RAIN WINDSTORM AND PROBABLY MOTOR OIL TO LUB WITH, I TAKE AK AS MOST SHOOTING GOING BE 50 YARDS.

          • robert

            I GT SEVERAL AK47 AND I JUST RUN JUNK AMMO ALWAYS THRU THEM NEVER JAM, TOSS EM MUD. AK MADE TO THROW LEAD

      • B

        There are 5.56×45 AK’s. Bought a pistol one just to round out the collection without having to stock a new ammo caliber. Its neat, but I really prefer the AR-15 ergo’s since I’m so used to it.

        • Nathan Simcox

          If you’re gonna compare all the “modern” aks then let’s also bring in the ar10 and the 300 a ac etc. This was a basic comparison of just those two models. I have owned both rifles. I have since condensed to just ar15s because all parts fit all brands unlike the different aks.

    • Thank you for your comments Northern Raider. The graphic isn’t mine, it was created by tacticalgear.com, but maybe I will have a chance to compare the other AK version you mention. I knew the post would draw some criticism, but I really appreciate you taking time to write your thoughts.

      You may be right in that most conflicts are closer engagements where distance doesn’t matter. I still stick to my (AR)guns though and respect you for your choices/opinions too.

      Pat

  • Mark Devillier

    Either, or … I’m just glad Americans have them in large #’s!
    This is the only thing that keeps foreign invasion at bay. Our own Government is slowly rotting from the inside …. but there is little one can do when a cancer is misdiagnosed for a long period of time.
    Dont tread on me.

    • Thanks Mark,

      Foreign and domestic invasions too…

      Pat

  • Don Roberts

    Just a biased opinion on my part as I own both the AK47 and AK74.

    The AK47 with a 30 round magazine is a load to carry and shoot. On the other hand the AK74 with a 30 round magazine weights a lot less and is a great little battle rifle. It takes very little knowledge to maintain and shoot either the AK47 or AK74.

    I’m not certain that the AR is an easy weapon to just pick up and shoot.

    Also the cost and availability of AK ammo (either 7.62×39 or 5.45×39) is better than for the AR.

    • Thank you Don, I’ll have to get my hands on an AK74 and try it out!

      Pat

    • B

      If you buy steel case prices per round are nearly identical, especially since the Ukraine got invaded and basically doubled the price of 5.45×39. Operation wise AK and AR are fairly similar with 1 big difference in last round bolt lockback. The AK is not as ergonomic. Big sharp selector, reciprocating charging handle, and rocking mag loading. Almost everything on the AR can be done 1 handed. Selector, bolt, and mag release are right there and can be operated with the grip hand.

      • Great points about the ergonomics B! Thanks for commenting.

        Pat

        • Tabasco

          That was an excellent post Don. I love the AK74 but those are all valid drawbacks of the AK. Let your thumb stick up on the bolt side of an AK once and you’ll never do it again.

          • robert

            10-4 . I PREFER AK FOR SURVIVAL

  • Northern Raider

    The more I think about this subject and if the choice was between a MODERN AK versus the Modern AR 15 I think that if I was a cop, city dweller, federal agents, Coast guard or member of some other professional organisation that had full workshop and armoury support I would probably go for an accessorised AR15.
    BUT if I was (am) a prepper, hunter, rural dweller, forester, off gridder, loner, survivalist, etc the choice would have to be the rugged durability of the MODERN AK such as the AK74 carbine in 5.56 x 39. Without afull armourer as back up, or living in remote locations with limited resources I would choose the gun built to do the job, rather than the gun built to meet the lowest bid for the government contract.
    Note I’m note biased I HATE the British L85A2 SA80 that my own military is saddled with, the old SLR was superior in every way.

    • I hear you Northern Raider. It sure would be great to have your own armorer in the basement ready to work on anything you had. I am curious to hear from some soldiers who have deployed with the M4 which has seen its own fair share of muck and dirt for their experiences.

      Pat

      • WG

        I have not deployed but have combat deployments with the m16a2, m16a4, and m4, being shot at by AK versions and still pick the AR

        • WG

          I have not only deployed but have combat deployments is what I meant to say.

      • Matthew Mann

        I know I’m late to this conversation, but I’ve gotta say that the AR-15 is extremely simple to work on yourself with only an AR armorer’s wrench (about $20), a set of punches, a mallet and maybe a screwdriver. I replaced my AR’s stock fire control group with a Geissele two-stage fire control group with nothing more than my bare hands and a 5.56 cartridge. You can easily build your own entire AR-15 from individual parts ordered on the internet in an hour or two. AKs are usually welded and riveted together from a mixture of domestic and foreign surplus parts, so good luck fixing one of those yourself if it breaks.

  • Wg

    I have had the pleasure of putting thousands of rounds through both guns. I will try not to be too tactical of a mindset but give some food for thought. I LOVE the AR!

    Ammo- if I’m in close quarters I am giving a hammered pair or failure drill. That being said I can carry more 5.56 ammo than 7.62. Also a lighter recoil with the 5.56 which will allow me to get back on target faster and help with follow up shots. The ammo price comparison really is not a big difference and I have had no problem ever finding 5.56.

    Accessories- There are far more out options there for the AR. I have a light and optic on each of my ARs but have not seen many options for this when it comes to the AK. I would also include any upgraded parts here, again much more easier to find for the AR. I will also throw gear in this area because again the options for mags, mag pouches, slings, etc are more available for the AR.

    Personalize- I not talking color, I am talking about what kind of accessories I can put on, again options are near endless for AR. I can also get different lengths of barrels if I wanted a 16.5″ or 20″ and other lengths of barrels depending my needs. LENGTH OF PULL, while I am a decent sized guy and usually my stock is all the way out my wife is petite and hers is usually all they way in which allows the shooter to have a better fitting gun. This helps drastically for shooting. Stocks can also be addressed here, finding the size and shape of stock the shooter feels more comfortable with is again more available in the AR platform.

    While I had a combat arms MOS and my wife was not she still has a military background which allows me not to “have” to do a lot of retraining on a different platform with her.

    I could probably go on and talk tactics but not really a need. Tried to keep it short and not bore the reader so I am sure I missed many other points. I LOVE my ARs and buying an AK is not in the picture for the near future for me.

    • Thank you very much WG! I think we are in the minority so far, but I expect that to change.

      Pat

      • Northern Raider

        Can I remember folks that in both Iraq and Afhanistan the terrible shortcomings of the 5.56 round showed itself up, that’s why US and UK plus others suddenly went mad on a shopping spree for 7.62 rifles new and refurbished. 5.56 simply did not cut the mustard especially in the mud enclosures the locals live in in Stan. It took quickly obtained tuned M14s to begin with to do the job. Now both forces are looking VERY closely again at 7.62 / .308.

    • maksim

      I think comparing ak47 in run of the mill configuration is not fair comparison. At current state, there lot of accessories available for ak47/74, not as much ask ar15 though. I own both platforms. I have Vepr 7.62×39 / 54R, Vepr 5.45 x 39 and HK 556/ 7.62 (own both). I love both systems, I do prefer piston over DI. My X39 is heavily modified and have very little recoil and very accurate. It really about person and what mod were done to the rifle.
      But if I had to pick one rifle, I would pick my X39, because of reliability, ammo is cheap and mine is modified where it very accurate for distance that most likely be used

  • Parker

    Just saying, In the graph above it says the AR-15 in used in Australia, and I know for a fact, we Aussies use an AUG variant.

  • Ezekyl

    (yes, the first post is mine, I just happened to misstype the nick 🙂

    I believe in this discussion, it is very important in which region each of us is. Because as I wrote in my first post (yes, it is me, I just happened to misstype the nick :-), North America region is probably going for the AR. Not only because of the availability of the weapon/accesories/ammo in that region, but also because they are very familiar with the gun. They are used to its weight, behaviour, recoil… That makes it an ultimate rifle for them. For those in Afrika/Asia/Central and East Europe it is the AK for the same reason. Australia, South Amerika and West Europe and others can have their own “local” weapon.

    I personaly would pick neither AR nor AK… My pick would be SA vz. 58, in its country of origin they call it “Scythe”… It may look like AK, its totaly different mechanism, but same ammo (unfortunately not same magazines). It is a rumour, when it was recently subsituted in Czech Army, soldiers complained they can no longer shoot through brick walls (it has guaranteed target shooting range 600m, effective range with killing power is 2800m!!).

    But as the article was “AK or AR”, I would say, pick the one, you are more familiar with – this makes it best gun for you, despite statistics.

    And by the way, there is ton of equipment for modern AK’s (although it may not be available in NA)

  • f4klift

    As a “newbie” to prepping, and a tight budget, the best rifle IMO is the one you can get your hands on. Weight, accessories, ammo size, etc. are meaningless if you can’t get one in hand.

    • Hillbilly

      I started with a sks uses the same ammo as the ak And you can pick one up for around $200 it is best to keep your options open so I now have an ar and ak as well would not mind using any of them in a pinch

      • robert

        MY AK I PURPOSELY RUN DIFFERENT AMMO IN SAME CLIPS MAKE SURE KEEP EATING IT, I TWEEK ALL MINE MYSELF AND I KEEP EM SIMPLE AS POSSIBLE I DONR LIKE BUNCH STUFF ON MY GUNS

        • robert

          TOSS SOME WEEDS IN CHAMBER AND THEY KEEP ROCKING, AK WORK FINE FOR ME

  • Northern Raider

    I guess as Pat live in the US the focus must be on what is best for that domestic environment and that would naturally be the AR15 family.

    Though I still think for preppers and ordinary folks with limited facilities I would go for a Ruger Mini 14.

  • John

    Informative article. The AR-15 is on my shopping list.

  • Mark Duplessis

    I understand your reasoning for the AR and I agree that the best rifle is the one that suits you.

    Personally I chose the AK and for some of the reasons you’ve listed. The main one being penetration and cleaning. I live in south Louisiana where everything is extremely humid and, once out of the city, is mostly marsh and swamp.

    In a survival situation I don’t plan on stopping to clean my rifle. If while on the move the I had to drop to the ground, the odds of being on dry ground are very slim. I don’t want to have to worry about the conditions down here fouling up my rifle.

    Second is the penetration. While the AR has a longer range and is more accurate, I don’t believe that it’s needed as much where I am. In the city there is rarely an area that is 500-600 yards of open sight. The most open area you would have could be covered by an AK. While you would rather be able to take someone from a distance I would rather be able to rely on the penetration as having the distance isn’t as practical here.

  • A. Prepper

    I understand the premise of your comparison, but, here’s a simple solution that should work for many family-type preppers. Get at least one of each. The AK variant for the husband (father) and the AR variant (in 5.56 NATO for sure, not .223) for the wife and kids. AK’s are somewhat heavy and clumsy, best handled by an experienced male shooter. Females/kids would find the AR variant much easier to operate and carry.
    For example, with safety considerations in mind, it is MUCH easier to flick the safety on/off between shots on my wife’s SIG M400 (AR) than on my AKM style WASR10 underfolder. AR mags are easy to load by hand, just pressing the shells down, whereas I use a loader for my AK mags. Full mags are much lighter for AR’s. Sights are terrible on stock AK’s, again best used by experienced types who can compensate. Better to have an optic (like a reflex sight) on an AR for the wife and kids.
    Just put the little red dot on the target and squeeze. Simple.

    The TAPCO style adjustable stock is also a better choice for the smaller family members. I like “accuracy” as much as anyone, but I’m a bit suspicious of those who think they’ll be engaging in long-distance gun battles. How do you identify friend/foe at 500 yards in a grid-down scenario? I’d guess most survival shooting will happen at a few yards once intent is clearly established. Finally, more important than the choice of AK/AR is absolute familiarity with the weapon chosen. It’s useless if it doesn’t fire. Occasional range-style paper-punching isn’t good enough. The fumbling around with loading/firing I’ve seen on ranges is disgusting.

    If people would become as capable with their rifle of choice as they are with their ever-present cell phones I’d have more faith in their survival chances. Given the difference in felt recoil, if you expect your wife/kids to pump multiple accurate shots down-range while you change mags, better hand them an AR and make sure they understand how to use it under pressure.

  • Sideliner

    Really great article, and follow-up comments. Thank you all very much.

    OK, so let’s say I decided I want to acquire either/both. At today’s prices, about how much should I budget for the weapon/s, optics, lights, magazines? and once I get comfortable with either/both of these weapons, how much ammo – at minimum – will I need to keep on hand? Tough to say, I know, but I’d appreciate someone’s best guess. TIA.

    • Hillbilly

      It’s like buying a car depends on the options but if you want to go cheep it can be done you can get a carbon ar for around $800 a ak on the low end around $350 you will not want to carry more than 2500 rounds for either very far and there is a big difference in ammo prices as well the 5.56 will run around $600 for 1000 rounds picked up in bulk the cheep steal case 7.62 will be around $300 for 1000 rounds a little hint the ar’s chambered 5.56 will shoot 2.23 ammo but the ar’s chambered in 2.23 will NOT shoot 5.56 you may want to look at the sks as a option it shoots the same cheep hard hitting ammo as the ak and you can pick one up for around $200 good luck to ya and prep up

      • Sideliner

        Hillbilly – many thanks for the prompt reply, the good info and advice, and the good wishes. Right back atcha.

        Prepping in progress…

        • Sideliner

          Thanks to all who have weighed in with additional perspective, whose comments don’t appear here for some reason. All excellent input that will help me decide. PIP…keep ’em coming.

          • Everyone who comments gets through unless they are blatant spam, like the ones advertising for shoes or some other software. I haven’t had to block anyone legitimately leaving a comment so far.

            Pat

  • Robert

    I like them both for certain reasons. I like the AR Because of its weight and accuracy, and because it is like Lego’s for Adults. The ammo may be expensive, but I can reload it. The AK is awesome because I “can” drop it in a vat of Guacamole and fire it. It’s easy to load (not that the AR isn’t) and shoot. I can hand it to my wife or son’s and they can fire it and reload it with minimal instruction. The ammo for the AK is cheaper but you can’t reload steel cases. It doesn’t matter what type of ammo it is, the AK will shoot it almost flawlessly. I have heard that AR’s on the other hand are partial to good quality ammo. Steel cases and the like have a higher rate of FTE, and FTF. There is only three reasons I can think of that an AK will not fire. 1. The safety is on. 2. The mag is empty. 3. The charge handle was not cycled. Look in any manual for an AR and there will be six or seven reasons. 🙂

  • BlakeW5

    Ah, the age-old gun debate. There’s a few issues the article overlooks.

    Range: The extra range of the AR is debatable, especially “effective range”. I’ve read numerous studies (take that for what it’s worth) concerning the effectiveness of the 5.56 out of the standard 16″ barrel and most of them conclude that the real effective range of the round is similar to the 7.62×39. The thing the 5.56 has going for it is muzzle velocity plain and simple. Once that smaller round gets below it’s optimum speed it massively loses performance, something that will happen quicker with a carbine length AR. There’s a reason for the popularity of .300, 6.5, and other new rounds manufacturers are chambering ARs in, the 5.56 has always been a compromise, it’s a glorified .22

    Besides, what LIKELY survival scenario can you see happening where you can justify shooting at someone at 300+ yards? In an all out collapse sure, but let’s not kid ourselves the chances of that happening are slim to none and it’s fool hardy to prepare for that as opposed to the more likely scenarios (ie economic collapse, civil unrest, etc where rule of law still exists). Even then, if you’ve got to shoot at extended ranges do the smart thing and grab a bolt gun. Better accuracy than either AR/AK and a better round to boot. Or we could do the WISE thing and avoid the conflict all together, no point drawing attention or picking a fight we could have avoided in the first place. The only benefit I can see from the accuracy of the 5.56 is for hunting purposes and being able to land better shots, too bad you’re still held back by a sub-par hunting round.

    Price: AK wins hands down obviously, but you’re overlooking the real telling aspect of price….ammo. For the price of an AR I can buy an AK and thousands of rounds of ammo. Not to mention I can run cheap steel-cased ammo all day, something AR guys balk at. Money talks, and most people have limited funds to throw around, hence the popularity of cheaply made junk at Walmart that people buy even though they know it’ll break after sustained use. Give me the rifle I can shoot, train with, and learn to use for less money and chances are I’m more likely to practice with it. Which leads us to another valid point….

    Usability: Neither rifle is TOO hard to use, but the AK is substantially easier. Hell, kids use the AK worldwide. Given the average person, I’d put my money on it you could teach them to use an AK quicker, there’s simply less to it, and it’s more intuitive, it was made with the thought of equipping poor, uneducated peasants after all. Chances are given 10 minutes of fiddling with it most people could figure out the AK themselves. Let’s not even get into learning to break-down and clean each rifle…
    If I were in a survival scenario you can be damn sure I wouldn’t want to go into any conflict lone-wolf style

    With that said, the AR doesn’t lag far behind as the average shooter can control rapid shots with an AR easier and stock irons make quickly lining up a sight picture easier. I can also imagine the ghost-ring set-up is more intuitive to non-“gun people” too.

    Valid point about parts availability though. In America the AR wins hands down, not to mention should you have to scavenge ammo (assuming a VERY unlikely collapse scenario). There’s much to be said about having the luxury to fit the rifle to an individual shooter, something the huge aftermarket for the AR does VERY well.

    Honestly, you can hardly go wrong buying either rifle, they’re both better than sticks or fists. However, I based my choice on weaknesses rather than strengths. The AR simply has more, so I bought an AK. Let’s put it this way, I’ve never fired an AK that screwed up, can’t say the same for ARs. There’s a reason the AK is the most popular “assault rifle” (hate that term) in the world, it’s affordable and it does the job with a boring reliability. It may not have the range (moot point seeing neither were meant as ranged weapons), or accessories, but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

    • Thanks for your comments Blake!

      I know that there will always be disagreement and I think you are right in that for the most part, you aren’t going to be substantially worse off with either choice. I would rather have an AK than nothing if that is my only choice.

      So, just a couple of comments to one of your points:

      What situation could I see myself shooting someone/thing at 300 yards if as you say we only had an economic collapse where the rule of law still stands? If there was still rule of law, I wouldn’t imagine too many instances where I would be using a battle rifle anyway. If there is still rule of law, we would all still be relatively safe, right? I was talking purely from the hypothetical scenario of WROL. In that case, I could easily see taking out threats if possible from as far away as I could. I would rather have my trusty .30-06 for that job, you are right, but I doubt I am going to carry two rifles. One for long range and one to get me back home. I know my AR can hit targets at 300 yards because I have done it numerous times personally. Even if I am only shooting that glorified .22 as you say it is doing damage. You do have a point in that an AR chambered in .308 would be vastly better and Santa has that on my long-term wish list.

      I know the pitfalls of this debate honestly and there will never be a true winner because the differences are subjective. I do appreciate your well thought out comments though and hope you will visit again. I guarantee we will have less polarizing topics!

      Pat

      • Capo

        One reason there are so many AKs out there is that the old Soviet Union was the single source supplier for the majority of the Warsaw Pact and flooded third world markets in Asia and Middle East with its 1940’s pattern rifles. The NATO standard was .308 until the 60’s and then 5.56 afterward and each member nation only had to have ammo compatibility.

  • Kris

    I don’t think the police or military will be sharing ammo or weapons parts so that point is moot. Also, as far as accuracy I know my experience is different than anyone else’s but my AK’s are human size target iron sights accurate to 400 yards +. I won’t take anything away from the AR but it’s primary design goal was to injure enemy combatants. Will it kill? Absolutely. The AK just kills better. If the proverbial S does hit the fan, I’m grabbing my AK and several magazines filled with FMJ and several more with SP ammo. FMJ for 2 legged targets and SP for 4 legged meat on the table. That being said though, the AR is coming along too. No need to argue the merits of either platform when you’ve got both:)

    • Thanks for your comments Kris, but I think you misunderstand the point about police and military carrying the same caliber. It doesn’t have anything to do with them sharing…

      The simple fact is regardless of circumstances, there will be a predominance of .556 ammo available. I would think that there would also be 7.62, albeit in shorter supply.

  • Bill Brasky

    All in all considering these prices I’d rather buy several Ak-47’s and have everyone in my group armed.

  • YourKidding Right

    Excellent discussion–myself–never had a good M16 when I was in the service, A1 or A2–spent more time clearing the thing than shooting it–might be just because they were wore out BUT–My AK’s–never an extraction issue–the AR’s definitely have the edge in several categories BUT from my experience–they are finicky, to finicky for me. The AK–it doesn’t care what ammo you throw at it or if it has laid in the mud for a week–I do own an AR but it would not be my first choice in the area I’m in–100 yds or less visibility–They both have their attributes in specific situations that is for sure–with that said–I’d replace both with an M60–god given killing machine there–

  • Dylan

    You can get an ak in 223, and you can get an AR in 7.62×39. I think it really depends on your situation. AKs weren’t meant for long range, they were meant for modern engagements in cities and close quarters. ARs can really do both though. AK ammo is cheaper but AR ammo is plenty in the US. But you can really just get the same rifle but in a different caliber so that shouldn’t matter too much except on finding mags that’ll work. Newer ARs are far better and more reliable than the old m16s but still require some maintenance. AKs really don’t, that’s why terrorists and military groups love them. Plus how do you break an AK? Personally I’d go with an AK variant rifle. Lots of diversity with either rifle and it’s really more of a situation and personal preference. Hell just buy both

  • sig121

    Why would accuracy at 200 yards matter when the enemy probably won’t be stationary knowing they’ll live longer if they keep moving. Trying to pick out targets at long distances might not work too well when targets are erraticaly moving trying not to get shot. Both rifles are accurate at short-medium ranges. If one factors out long range shooting, the AK is superior in many ways. The 7.62 has more penetration potential than the 5.56, it’s less prone to jamming, less finicky, and in a SHTF situation where maintanence parts may not be readily available, the AK will still function with minimal maintanence. I even think the AK platform is much more suited for melee fighting, and even the surplus steel mags are tough enough to be used for a makeshift hammering tool, or for bashing someone’s face in. The AR/M16 is designed for range shooting. The AK is designed for war.

    • OK, fair enough. But, if the platform is only useful on the range, why does our military use it? Why does every police force field officers with these? Why are special operations running around with M4’s? Shouldn’t they all be using AK-47’s if they are all around superior?

      • Sideliner1950

        You ask, “But, if the platform is only useful on the range, why does our military
        use it? Why does every police force field officers with these? Why are
        special operations running around with M4’s?”

        Can I take a shot at this one? Maybe this is just a naive, cynical oversimplification..but it could be that the powerful lobby for American defense contractors have made it eminently clear to politicians that they would never stand for something like that? Politicians have been taught that if they don’t dance to the tune being played by powerful lobbies, PACs, etc., the flow of money from them will dry up.

        • That may very well be true, but I guess more specifically my question was that if the platform (piston driven, 7.62 round) is so much better why hasn’t the US moved in this direction by now? The defense contractors can make one weapon just as well as another so if they aren’t making the standard M4 variants they could make an AK variant and still make money, right? Government loves new toys so why is this standard still hanging tough?

          We are already giving away MRAPs because they are obsolete, the uniforms they wear are changing again soon from ACU to a new pattern, why not the AR-15/M4? Shouldn’t we have a new battle rifle by now that shares the great aspects of the AK47?

          • Sideliner1950

            Right you are. “What is” and “what could/should be” aren’t always the same, especially once politics get inserted into the mix.

          • maksim

            actually marines use HK variant which is piston driven AR

  • Steven

    I don’t need to worry about need spare parts with my Ak since I can make most of the parts with a few common tools found in any hardware store. Can you do this with your AR. Not downing the fine machine parts in AR but hard to make with hacksaw and dremil.

    • OK, I guess you have me beat then. I can’t make spare parts for my AR, but the fact you can for your AK seems to illustrate that either you are an exceptionally crafty person or the AK is made up of simple parts. Either way, I don’t think most people can make machine parts with some simple tools like you can so the AR is still my choice. Also, if the power is out, that Dremel isn’t going to work too well.

  • David Sanders

    A good argument can be made for both. I have each of them in my collection, but that said, Ill take the AK…. KNOCKDOWN DELUX power.

  • TD

    I say, let the majority of preppers use the AK-47. This way, there is more AR centered parts and ammo for me to use if SHTF.

  • Ben

    I have both and use the M-4 at work. I am very familiar with both and shoot both on a regular basis. It is hard to beat either one, as both fill a notch and are able to perform the same basic duties. Yes the AR is more accurate than most AK’s. However, given a choice of only one, the AK would win hands down for me for most of the reasons already stated. However, when you look at peneration at say 100 yards the AK also wins hands dwn, as I have shot through 2 cinder blocks placed one behind the other, and 1 round of 7.62×39 goes through both, where it takes 4 shots with the AR, yes I have done this little experiment several times to prove it to my military buddies and even had them do it. So for the prepped( me) included I think the AK wins out. Both are very popular in our part of the U.S and ammo is abundant for the AK. The parts and ammo that LLEA and the military uses and any parts won’t be there, because they will most likely take it all home with them. Personal preference both are good and fit the bill. Buy both if possible, but AK in my opinion.

  • Ben

    Also another reason that our government hasn’t switched to the 7.62×39, is it is not a NATO round where the 5.56 is. If the 7.62×39 round was a NATO round, we would have probably switched over. As we have a lot of military and reserve personnel where I work and they all like the 7.62×39 round better, just not the rifle.

  • Big&Ugly

    If I may add my $.02, I was a trauma nurse; I have encountered and treated several GSW (gun shot wounds). 1) FMJ bullets suck! Little hole going in, little hole going out. They are designed to WOUND. Use soft point or (even better) HP. 2) .22 vs .30, hands down use the .30; the .22, .223, 5.56 makes a much smaller hole and does less tissue damage. If you want the target to go down and stay down, Use a 7.62 HP. That’s why I prefer the SKS, AK, or anything else that shoots 7.62×39, or .308, or 30-06. Yes, I know that the AK round is not equal to a .308 or ’06. But at 200 yards or less, even a coroner would have trouble telling them apart. It seems to me that most “Social Inter-course” using a rifle during times of crises will probably be at 50 yards or less. I guess my question would be: “What would you prefer to be shot with?”. BTW, this is also why I prefer a .45 over a 9mm.

  • Zed

    Well, the comparison was not wholesome..and without a common sense and rationale…
    If you want to have a gun in SHTF…
    Well in Middle east, they all are currently living in shtf, with constant war,terrorism, deaths, famine etc..And there they choose AK’s
    Why?
    its quite Simple..post SHTF world points to consider
    1. It won’t be like US army battling terrorists which is techno-savvy, group (battalions) and air backup..you will be atmost with your wife, kids ..and/or few friends who don’t have tactical or strategic insight.
    2. The cleaning materials will be very difficult to get hands on… after few months into SHTF and cleaning oils will be costlier than gold…and you will probably living in wilds,rural setting where humidity, dust etc will affect your rifle..
    3. The more parts a rifle has, the more probability of it to breakdown as well as hard to maintain in working conditions..Have anyone of you seen how AK’s parts are made in Asia..They are roadside workshops with people having very low technical know-how making its parts..Same as in SHTF situation..
    4. Modern AK’s meet all above conditions along with modern equipment, and very good accuracy..

    5. The OP has made this comparison with statistics and charts which is totally baseless.. You are not gonna fight chinese or iranian army in US..you are going to fight anti-social people , there you need one bullet-one kill thing..
    cuz if you are against a well-trained soldier then AR or AK won’t make any difference cuz you would be dead anyhow..

  • Sandy Murdock

    I am afraid I have to disagree with the author. I spent a number of years in the army so I have been around weapons ‘a bit’ here and there.

    If I were looking for a COMBAT rifle I would probably choose the AR15, but for a SURVIVAL rifle I’d be looking at the AK.

    The AK is much more rugged, and when you are in survival mode you are not spending lot of time cleaning your rifle, you are trying to survive. If you are in a survival situation you are not firing at targets 500 meters away, you are firing at a predator at 30 meters, or food probably at less than 100 meters. For either of those the difference of accuracy is so negligible that you may as well say it does not exist.

    Also in the AK’s favour is the larger round. If I am in a survival situation stopping a predator from eating me, or ensuring I have food to eat is absolutely critical. I need to stop that animal with as few rounds as possible. If you hunt deer you know that if you don’t drop it and it gets out of site it could lie dead in the woods and you might never find it. Food lost…

    That is my opinion in any case, based on the initial statement that this was not a combat situation but a survival one.

    Side note: I was in the Canadian Army when we went from the FNC1 to the C7 (an M16 variant.) Listed in the C7’s specs as a bonus was that it was ‘much more accurate’. In my case it meant that instead of a 1.5″ grouping at 300m I had a 1.25″ grouping at 300m. Really… does that make any difference at all? In combat that is such an insignificant number that it really makes no difference, in the bush it really means nothing.

  • I know soldiers were having problems in Afghanistan and Iraq with the AR15 reaching out at a distance, so they started reverting back and reissuing M14’s to certain units to help in accuracy.
    When the M16/AR platform was designed during the Vietnam era it was ideal for those conditions. Well not idea I won’t say that but better suited for that atmosphere. I believe both weapons the AR and the AK have their advantages and disadvantages.

  • Steve D

    The FBI, after extensive studies, is recommending police ditch their .40SW cartridges in favor of the more controllable 9mm. A big part of this recommendation is that modern 9mm ammo is equally as effective as .40 or .45.

    Carry this logic into the rifle cartridge size debate. After watching video of what a modern round such as the Winchester PDX1 does to ballistics gel I can’t imagine needing anything more powerful against a likely adversary. A magazine with alternating rounds of expanding hybrid ammo and FMJ (or others) seems like a great idea to this non-expert.

    Thoughts?

  • Marc Redding

    I have often thought of this myself.. Great Article!!! And myself getting into prepping, I had to consider this scenario awhile back.. Thus, living in the USA, your I chose the AR-15 for the main reasons you gave. Accesibility of ammo and parts, the fact most government agencies in the US use this weapon, and many civilians also own the AR. I did read a small article awhile back where the Father of the AK-47 was asked about some AK-47 versions that had been modified with accessories and such.. And his reply was “The rifle was fine, adding anything to it DECREASES the reliability and peformance of the rifle.”

    I have also heard this echoed many times from others.. That the AK isn’t as reliable once one starts modifying it.. But the same doesn’t appear true to the AR.. I strongly believe, like you said.. Depending on your region in the World, pick a rifle that is if you will “The main rifle of that region / country”. So for prepping.. If you are the USA home.. Then the AR most definitely should be your first pick for a solid rifle in a SHTF scenario.

    • Thanks for the comments Marc,

      Yes, the debate will rage forever, but I am still looking at picking up another AR if the budget allows this year.

      Pat

    • maksim

      as long as you don’t touch main operational parts of the AK, you not sacrificing the reliability

  • David

    In a abusive environment the AK wins hands down there are no exceptions, you can’t throw you rifle in a river, run it over in a vehicle, toss it from a building onto cement, drag it on a dirt gravel road, bury it in the mud, and expect it to fire and gas impingement system will lose every time. Is this rifle capable of good accuracy up to 200 yard man size targets; absolutely! Now can you make it more accurate with rails, sights, barrels without a doubt, so the conclusion is a simple one is it a fighting rifle, is the bullet enough for the job, the 762×39 round can produce amazing results with the right bullet, powder, casing and primer ask hornady, they will definitively say yes…..:+}

  • William Kevin Styers

    When we talk about reliability issues between the two rifles what we are really talking about is piston versus direct impingement. Direct impingement can be a finnicky system by its very nature. You are essentially funneling hot gas, and whatever unspent powder and particulates it carries, through a very narrow aperture to create pressure against the bolt carrier to move the action. The very narrow part is the key there. Over time, and without proper maintenance, that narrow aperture can become clogged resulting in feeding malfunctions at best.

    If we are talking about a prepper end of days scenario then it follows that proper maintenance equipment will become increasingly difficult to come by. The tight tolerances and precision machining that make the AR platform rifles such capable battlefield weapons will become a liability as routine maintenance becomes more difficult to perform in an environment that has lost much of the industrialized base that we have come to rely on for our military hardware. There is a reason our military trains soldiers to be armorers and makes sure every solider is familiar with how to maintain their weapon. There is a reason we maintain the logistics to make sure our soldiers have basic cleaning and maintenance supplies even in the field.

    In a post collapse society you would not longer have people manufacturing gun oil or swabs. There would be supplies but those supplies would essentially be finite and it would be in those days where the AK would shine. It lacks the tight tolerances of the AR and most importantly it is piston driven. Pistons can still become fouled but repairing a fouled piston and gas tube is head and shoulders easier than getting the fouling out of a direct impingement system. You can clean the whole apparatus with a tube sock and a sturdy stick if you had to. The AK won’t win you any awards for long range marksmanship with its clunky, loose tolerances. Hell anyone who has ever fired one can’t tell me with a straight face that the first time they heard the dust cover rattle under the force of the action that they didn’t wonder, just a little bit, if the rifle wasn’t about to fly apart. Those loosely machined tolerances can actually accommodate a little bit of crud without seizing up. AR platform rifles tend to be a little less forgiving of grit and grime. If you have the supplies and ability to maintain it a direct impingement AR is a fine and obviously battle proven rifle that will do what you need it to do. The AK, on the other hand, has shown time and time again that it can perform under harsh conditions with rudimentary maintenance in an relatively unskilled operator’s hands and still be an effective weapon. Of course the best of both worlds would be a piston action AR.

    On the subject of ammo, which is hardly even a talking point since you can pretty much make an AR chamber whatever you want so long as you put the parts into it, if I had to choose between 5.56 and 7.62 in a prepper survival situation I’d pick the 7.62. The larger round is just more effective against unarmored opponents and light cover, which is what I imagine you would be faced up against in a prepper/survival scenario.

  • Fife

    We did some “research” once on a couple of dead bulls that took a lightning bolt while standing too close to the fence. We had 2 ARs, one AK, lots of ammo, and 2 dead bovines that were just starting to puff up. Results;
    1. I guess we were about 120 yards out. All rifles were right on, but the four shooters were not stressed and the extra weight of AK was not a factor. If I’m fatigued, I miss with heavy rifles…
    2. The AK made way bigger holes! You could cut the front legs off the young steer with the AK. The AR was pussy in comparison.
    3. One of the ARs had several FFs. Lets face it. It’s a lousy design. It was never considered good. Never. Never. Just cuz some US beaurocrat picked it back in the 60s, doesnt mean it’s a good design. The guy probably got bribed.

    1 in 5 Iraq vets who actually fired an M16 had a failure! 1 in 50 Iraqis who fired an AK47 had a failure. Go look it up.

    4. The AR looks pretty. The AK is ugly. That’s a factor. Vanity.

    5. If I were a soldier- take the AR. If you have to hump 20 miles, the weight savings is critical. For home defense/truck defense- the AK is FAR superior, for the same reason a CZ75 is better than a 1911. It is more likely to draw someone else’s blood.

  • Joe E Goodart

    A survival weapon? That be the AK hands down. It can shoot anything that fits in the chamber and you don’t need to oil it continually. Yes it design is rude and crude but it is simple. A 6 year old can take it down for cleaning. It is an ugly but a very elegant design.(simplicity)
    If you ask the question which is the best platform, well that be the AR hands down, just because you can do so much with it, but for reliability, usefulness at 150 yards, and for survival it is AK. 30 cal is better than 22 for bigger animals.

  • sterling

    There are some good points brought up and ultimately you did come to the proper conclusion to get a rifle with easily acquirable parts and ammo for your area. I am left with a big question that makes me question you having ever shot either of these rifles. What ar15 shoots 7 moa? and what ak shoots 10 moa? I’ve only ever seen ar’s with less than 3 moa (normally 2 or lower) and ak’s are generally around the 6 moa range. I’m referring to 16″ barrels for both of those. Maybe if you’re talking about a ppsh or something like that you’d get 10 or more moa.

  • Jonesey

    The AK-47 including modern variants is a superior firearm compared to the AR-15 (+variants) in a combat situation.. the AR-15 is over rated! In my experience the Aug steyr kicks the pants off the AR-15

  • If you are talking about a prepping situation, where you are living in the middle of a national or global emergency, you’re not going to be able to always clean and properly maintain your weapons. If I was in a survival situation, I would want to have a gun I knew I could rely on no matter what. Because I can kill more easily without wasting ammunition due to it’s larger caliber, and because of it’s unrivaled reliability, my edge goes to the ak. Also, some people complain that the range of the ak is only 400m, compared to the ar’s 600m. If you see someone at that distance, either use a scoped hunting rifle designed for use at long distances, or walk away from the whole situation. At 600m, why are you trying to start a fight when you can escape without anyone getting hurt?

  • Luke

    One thing I have to say is if your hit by an AK 47 you have less chance to live from bleeding, than an AR 15, and you may have a greater chance to live being hit by a AR 15! AK makes more of a mess!

  • strato man

    Not going to try to say which is “better” because that requires us to set the rating criteria but I do have a specific comment.

    I have 5 AR type rifles, the least accurate of the bunch (14.5″ lightweight barrel and a EOS holographic sight) will do 3MOA 10 shot groups (that’s 2MOA 3 shot group). The other ones are all set up more for target work and will shoot anywhere from 0.5 -1MOA.

  • Spirit of 1776

    Your desire, preparedness,skill and gear will have more to determine how well either one of these work for you.Learn to fire iron sights because batteries die ,lenses break and technology fades.Don’t think you’re prepared because you have stored food and a couple of boxes of ammo.You wont be taking the time to load boxes of freeze dried when they are kicking in the front door.Have thousands of rounds stored in two to three safe places have your skills sharpened monthly at the range.Most of all be prepared to leave what you have to to get away.When you’re running they can get you by cell phone or credit card trails how are you on on paper money.How are you on hide-aways don’t have to be your property just has to hide you.The gun that fits you is the gun that’s best and sometimes you don’t want to leave a sonic boom in your wake from a round the size of your index finger.Ive hunted with a hipoint 9mm carbine survived on rabbits for two weeks and never attracted any attention in Palo Duro doing it .Not to take away from this youngens report he made some fine points and if you want to use it to determine your next weapon go ahead but best not to leave your choices limited just buy one of each and if you make a decision of one over the other….Christmas and birthdays are always happening

  • greg adkins

    Not discussing the 5.45 in this debate is ridiculous it negate’s the 5.56 lightweight advantage and accuracy advantage at distance firing.I own both,they are both reliable/durable but in my opinion the AR needs to be maintained more often to keep up that reliability.Plus in grid down you don’t know how often you will be able to maintain the weapon(not just a quick cleaning)So for me I’ll grab the 5.45.Can’t speak to the 7.62 never have owned one.

  • Chrush Whorty

    This the best “AR15 vs. AK47” analysis I’ve ever seen (so far). Thank you!

  • Don White

    26 years active duty Army service and I’m in the middle of this decision right now. The AR has fought against the AK in almost every part of the world and they’re both excellent. So my first conclusion is that there is no WRONG decision here. So what does matter?

    #1 ACQUISITION. It appears to me (though I’m not 100% convinced yet) that with a limit of $800, I will get a better quality weapon for going with an AK. Both prices have become inflated but the AR appears more so.

    #2 AMMO RESUPPLY IN SHTF SCENARIO I think goes to the AR. It seems that you can quickly build up a 2,000 round reserve for $500-600 with each. But what if you’re separated from it, or it gets stolen or you have to trade it away? I think it will be easier to get 5.56.

    #3 I THINK MORE AMERICANS OWN ARs. What are my neighbors likely to own? I think it’s the AR which means the ammo I stockpile has value as a self-defense tool and a trading tool. That also means greater availability of spare parts and repair knowledge.

    So far, the score is +1 AK versus +2 AR. But if I become convinced that I can get equal quality in an $800 AR that I can in an $800 AK . . . then the AR wins.

  • mojo risen

    the mission and the objective determines the weapon, only a mass minded idiot would chose one over the other . both have added bodies to the cemeteries .

    • So your stance is that it doesn’t matter which one you get? Or is it that you should get both? Neither?

      What if you have a budget? What if you already have one and are looking to purchase another rifle? What if your mission and object precludes selecting one?

      • mojo risen

        what is the mission ? clearing buildings or patroling the southern borders ? are we in the jungle or hot sandy desert ? i know what weapon to chose . i own several both . if you live in the USA go AR . if you live in russia go AK . that way if the shtf you know you can always get your hands on 223/556 ammo . whatever it takes (kill, trade ,steal) to achieve the objective .

  • Leslie James

    I’m an American and have fired both weapons and much prefer the AK47.

  • Boyd Timothy Babcock

    I like them both. The AK for its durability and dependability and the AR for its precision.

  • Nathan Bedford Forrest

    I spent 20 months in combat from the Ia Drang to the Iron Triangle and I tell my friends that there were many times when we would have died were it not for the punching power of the 30 caliber M-60 machine-gun. Not the rate of fire mind you, but it’s penetrating, punching and knockdown power. An AK 7.62 x 39 will punch through brush, forest, jungle, cement walls in towns and timber fronted bunkers. An AR-15 will not. For that reason, there is no question I’ll carry an AK-47. BTW, effective range and relative accuracy in the margins are meaningless in combat, which will all take place within 100 yards, usually much less.

  • Dave

    I think the main argument not in here towards being “in the mud” is that if things go “prepper” bad, you might find yourself unable to adequately clean a weapon for long periods of time. It may need to be able to really rough it and this is the conditions the AK was built for and has had a long history of surviving that the AR’s have a reputation for becoming finicky in.