Home All Is a Russian SF AK really an AK?

Is a Russian SF AK really an AK?

Russian SF AK-74 Captured in Syria

I will admit, the title of this post is somewhat provocative. But I think it’s an important question to ask if you are looking at getting into the AK game. Especially here in the US. Let me explain.

The gun community has a bad habit. It will sometimes use two different terms interchangeably that aren’t so: A perfect example of this phenomena is the use of the 1911 and 45 interchangeably. They aren’t. The next time you see someone arguing about what the next US Military service pistol should be, especially if someone is advocating for a return to a 45, are they actually talking about the 45ACP or a 1911 pattern pistol? It’s an important distinction.

The AK is no different. First of all, let me be intellectually honest. When it comes to Russian military units, an AK rifle is whatever they say it is. 5.45, 7.62, AK-47,AK-74, Ak-12. But is that true in the United States? I would say no.

Here, the AK rifle tends to be mostly a stripped down, bare-bones 7.62×39 caliber rifle. And sometimes a 5.45. In the US, it is becoming more and more common to see AK’s in NATO standard 5.56. Is a 5.56 AK actually an AK? Many of the purists here in the US would say no. But I wonder if those same purists would argue that a 7.62×39 AR isn’t an AR? Well then, how about a 6.8 AR? Or a 308 AR? Or a 9mm AR? Or a 300 Blackout AR? Are they AR’s or not? Only you can decide that. Let’s put that aside for a minute.

Upgraded modern Russian Style AK
Upgraded modern Russian Style AK. There seems to be more US than Russian equipment on it.

Back to the Russian, high-speed, low-drag, Tier 1, Ninjinski rifle that was captured in Syria. It’s got AR furniture, A US Made Top-Cover, almost 2 feet of rails, suppressor, American made and upgraded safety. And that is just this individual rifle. If you look at other Russian AK rifles from various SF units, you will see Aim-Point and EOTech RDS, white lights, visual or IR lasers, tape-switches, (BUIS) backup iron sights, and almost every one of them is a AK-74 in 5.45. Not 7.62.

So what is going on here? Bottom line, desirable features and ergonomics are desirable features and ergonomics. Be it Russian or American rifles. There has been a trend by the US gun community to try and pickup some of the best features of the AK design and incorporate them in an AR format. But what gets almost no discussion in the US, is the migration by Russian gun designers towards better ergos and features like those we take for granted in the AR series of rifles!

The pictures don’t lie.

So…if you are an American gun owner who wants to buy an AK, you are living in the golden age of AK’s stateside. Because if you want to go the old-school, weapons familiarization route, quality made “basic” AK’s are easy to find. If you wish to build a cutting edge, modern working-gun variant of the AK, you can do that as well.

Modernized AK looks more and more like an AR.
Modernized AK looks more and more like an AR. Rails, Laser, Red Dot, AR stock and grip, Notice the Front and rear irons?

But I will leave you with this. If I was looking for a modern AK caliber/variant that I could shoot a lot, I would be taking a hard look at the Galil Ace with it’s upgraded sights, folding stock, charging-handle and safety. Why reinvent the wheel since someone has already done the work? If I wished to run a “traditional format” AK hard and heavy to achieve Musashi level, Kalashnikov enlightenment, I would be thinking long and hard about getting one in 5.56! Yes really. Why? Because mastery takes practice. And practice takes ammo. And in the US the standard ammo is 5.56.

The collectors may disagree.


“Shooting Guns & Having Fun”

Latest posts by Marky (see all)