The AK 47 is the world’s most popular assault rifle and has spurred a wide range of variations throughout its history. A highly collectible variant is the AK 74. But, what is the difference between the AK 47 vs AK 74?

Find out what differentiates the AK 47 from the AK 74, and which one is more widely available to private collectors. Learn about how the AK rifles operate, and why they are so widely manufactured. And, figure out which model is a better fit for your collection. 

AK 47 vs AK 74 Comparison: A Look at the Evolution of the Kalashnikov 

Both the AK 47 and 74 are products of the same designer, Mikhail Kalashnikov. Since the AK 47 made its debut, in 1947, ‘Kalashnikov’ has become a household name across the world. To understand the progression of the Kalashnikov, look at what differentiates the AK 47 vs AK 74. 

The AK 74 replaced the AK 47, in 1974. At first glance, the differences between these two models are minimal. And, though the AK 47 remains wildly popular all over the world, the AK 74 was designed with several significant improvements. 

AK 47’s receive an appraisal that is much lower than that of an AK 74. This is, mostly, since private ownership and sale of the AK 74 is controlled by the National Firearms Act. First, it is important to understand the hierarchy of Kalashnikov rifles as they relate to the evolution of the AK 47.

’47 vs AKM: Variants in the Same Series

Out of the myriad variants of the AK 47, the traditional AK 47 type-1, 2, and 3 are the rarest. When most people think of an AK 47, the gun that comes to mind is an AKM. The difference between the AKM and the traditional AK-47’s is how they are manufactured.

The type-1, 2, and 3 were manufactured using milled parts. Milling is more expensive and time-consuming than using a stamp. The AKM was designed for stamped parts, which brought the cost and production time down, significantly. So, to compare the AK 47 vs AK 74, consider the AK 47 and the AKM as the same thing. 

The AK-47 Evolves into the AK-74

The AK 74 is more than a variant of the AK 47. The 74 features several overhauls that differentiate it from an AK 47. The most notable of which is the cartridge for which the AK 74 is chambered. 

One of the things that make the AK 47 a popular gun is that it shoots the world’s most manufactured cartridges: 7.62x39mm. They are inexpensive and widely available, which makes the AK 47 extremely practical for civilian use. It also makes the AK 47 effective at delivering a high-impact at close range. 

The 7.62x39mm packs a whopping punch in close-quarter combat, however, it also produces quite a bit of kickback. The AK 74 is chambered in 5.45x39mm, which still delivers a heavy punch, but is more reliable than the 7.62x39mm.

Improvements and Upgraded Features on the AK 74

Apart from the chamber – the upgrades to the AK 74 vs AK 47 include a gas cylinder, improved stock, and new handguard. The traditional stock, on an AK 47 is made of wood and doesn’t offer much traction for the kickback. The AK 74’s stock comes with a rubber shoulder pad.

In the redesign for the AK 74, engineers were able to reduce the weight of the gun, from over nine pounds to under seven pounds, by getting rid of extraneous material. The AK 74 features lightening cuts on either side of the buttstock, which cuts down on extraneous weight.

Another improvement is a spring washer on the gas tube. The spring washer retains the gas tube more securely than that of the AK 47. And the lateral axis of the gun is more securely held in place by a leaf spring, fitted to the lower handguard. 

The barrel length of the AK 47 vs AK 74 is almost identical. The AK 74 features a 16.3-inch barrel, a twist rate of 200mm, and 4 right-hand grooves. The muzzle brake features three ventilation holes to stabilize the gun from shifting side-to-side when firing. 

Both, the AK 47 and AK 74 are products designed by the Soviet Union. In Keeping with the soviet communist dogma, there is no patent system applied to the Kalashnikov rifle designs. Thanks to Kalashnikovs’ simplicity and open-source design, any manufacturer from any country is free to produce these weapons – and they do. 

Final Thoughts

Both, the AK 47 and AK 74 are products designed by the Soviet Union. In Keeping with the soviet communist dogma, there is no patent system applied to the Kalashnikov rifle designs. Thanks to Kalashnikov’s simplicity and open-source design, any manufacturer from any country is free to produce these weapons – and they do. 

Check out an upcoming firearms auction to find a Kalashnikov to add to your collection. And, if you’re interested in consigning a piece from your collection, contact an appraiser, today.