AK74 / AKS74 / AK74M

 Experimental Kalashnikov 5.45mm assault rifle, ca. 1970
Experimental Kalashnikov 5.45mm Assault Rifle, ca. 1970

Experimental Konstantinov SA-006 assault rifle, ca. 1970
Experimental Konstantinov SA-006 Assault Rifle, ca. 1970

AK-74 5.45mm assault rifle
AK74 5.45mm Assault Rifle

AK-74 rifle of the late production, with black plastic furniture andthe new pattern bayonet
AK74 rifle of the late production, with black plastic furniture andthe newpattern bayonet

AKS-74. Folding butt version for the airborne troops
AKS74. Folding butt version for the airborne troops

AK-74M. The latest variant, issued to the Russian troops since early1990s. Key differences from the earlier AK-74 rifles are the side-folding plastic buttstock and the scope mounting rail on the left side of the receiver.
AK74M. The latest variant, issued to Russian troops since the early 1990’s. Key differences from the earlier AK-74 rifles are the side-folding plastic buttstock and the scope mounting rail on the left side of the receiver.

AK-74M with GP-30 40mm grenade launcher installed
AK74M with GP-30 40mm grenade launcher installed

AK-74M with buttstock folded
AK74M with buttstock folded

The standard issue '7N6' 5.45x39mm ammo (note lacquered steel case and slim,long bullet)
The standard issue ‘7N6’ 5.45x39mm ammo (note lacquered steel case and slim,long bullet)

 

 

AK-74 AKS-74 AK-74M
Caliber: 5.45x39mm
Action Gasoperated, rotating bolt with 2 lugs
Weight, empty 3.07 kg 2.97 kg 3.4 kg
Length: 940 mm 940 / 700 mm 942 / 704 mm
Barrel length 415mm
Rate of fire 600- 650 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity 30rounds standard

 

The origin of the AK74 is in the idea of reduced caliber ammunition for military shoulder arms. It was one that was played with for a very long time. Each time the technology leaped forward, the standard calibers were reduced – from the 0.45 – 0.50 inch (11.4 – 12.7mm) of the mid-19th century to the .30 of the mid-20th century.

The idea of further reduction of the caliber down to 6.5 – 5.6 mm (.240 – .220 inch) was also considered in many countries from the beginning of the 20th century. It was not until the 1960’s though when the idea of a low impulse, small-caliber, high velocity round became something valid and real. When the US Army adopted the M16 rifle in the mid-1960’s, everybody else eyed the Americans with interest. And as soon as the idea of a small caliber rifle was found worthwhile, total rearming began.

The Soviet Army started the development of its own small-caliber ammunition in the early 1960’s. After some years of development, a new round was created. This round featured a bottlenecked, tapered case 39mm long made of steel. It was loaded with a slim, relatively long bullet with nominal caliber of 5.45mm (actual bullet diameter is 5.62 mm). The bullet featured a combined steel and lead core with a hollow nose. Muzzle velocity from a 415mm barrel was about 900 m/s.

It must be noted that the new 5.45mm ammunition featured a case of smaller diameter (compared to 7.62×39 M43 cartridges); this allowed for a lighter round. It also solved the problem of attempting to load 7.62mm ammunition into the 5.45mm weapon by mistake (which might result in a catastrophical failure of the weapon).

As soon as the new ammunition was available and accepted by the Soviet Military, it was decided to develop a new family of small arms around this cartridge. Official requirements for this new range of small arms were issued to all development organizations in 1966. Trials of the new weapons commenced in 1968, and it must be noted that most of the rifles submitted for trials, were of highly advanced designs. The main goal of the new weapon was to significantly improve hit probability (relatively to 7.62mm AKM rifles). Most weapons were built using so called “balanced action“, in which additional mass is added to the action to counter-recoil synchronously with the bolt group. This minimizes its effect on gun stability. About the only weapon of more or less conventional design was the entry by the Kalashnikov team – this was more or less the old AKM rifle, but adapted for the new 5.45mm ammunition.

After extensive and tortuous testing, two weapons were put forward for extended troop trials – the conventional A-3 assault rifle by Kalashnikov and the ‘balanced action’ SA-006 rifle by Konstantinov. During field trials the latter was found to be much more accurate (and thus more combat-effective). Especially in the hands of the average trained soldier, while remaining adequately reliable. Despite that, the trials commission recommended the Kalashnikov entry for adoption, as its design was already familiar to both industry and troops. Also the possibility of teething problems during production and use was relatively low, compared with the entirely new design by Konstantinov. The new Kalashnikov rifle was also simpler in design, lighter and somewhat cheaper to manufacture.

Following the decision of trials commission, the Kalashnikov 5.45mm assault rifle was officially adopted by the Soviet Army early in 1974 as ‘ 5.45mm Avtomat Kalashnikova, obraztsa 1974 goda (AK74)’. Basically, it was the same old AKM weapon, adapted to the smaller 5.45mm ammunition and fitted with a relatively large muzzle brake. Another distinguishing feature was found on the buttstock, in the form of two oval cuts on either side made to reduce weight.

The folding butt version, known as AKS74, which was intended for airborne troops, also featured a new type of folding buttstock.  Instead of the earlier pattern of underfolding stock, found on 7.62mm AKMS rifles, the AKS74 featured a more rigid and robust side-folding metallic buttstock, which folded to the left side of the gun.

Early production guns feature polymer pistol grips and wooden buttstocks and handguards. In late production models all furniture is made of polymer. The “Night” version, known as AK74N, was manufactured with a night /IR scope rail added to the left side of the receiver.

The latest variation of the AK74 family was introduced circa 1991 and replaced both AK74 and AKS74 in production . It was the AK74M rifle, which is still in production and currently the standard issue rifle of the Russian Army. The plans of replacing it with the widely advertised Nikonov AN-94 assault rifle were not carried out to any significant extent – the AN-94 is (and most probably will be) issued only to certain “elite” units of the Russian Army, police and the Internal Affairs Ministry troops. A fine weapon, it is also impossibly complex and expensive to manufacture.

The AK74M differs externally from the AK74 of late 1980’s production by having the side-folding, solid black plastic buttstock and scope rail mounted on the left receiver as standard. Some minor improvements were also made in the production process and external finish of the new rifle. The AK74M retained almost all the advantages and disadvantages of the earlier Kalashnikov designs, including reliability, simplicity of operation and maintenance, and less than ideal “human engineering” and ergonomics.

 The AK74 type, 5.45mm assault rifles were also manufactured in East Germany, Bulgaria, Poland and Romania. Most of these designs after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact were converted to 5.56mm NATO ammunition.

For a detailed technical description of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, please refer to the AK-7/ AKM article on this site.

 


Online Store

AK-47/Galil Pistol Grip

AG-47S

Amount
Price
1-5
20$
>5

Sniper Pistol Grip AK47/Galil

SG-1

Amount
Price
1-5
68$
>5

AK -47 Handguard

AK-47

Amount
Price
1-5
54$
>5
CAA AK-47 Folding M16/AR15 Collapsible Butt Stock
Amount
Price
1-5
299$
>5

FAB AK-47 Folding M16/AR15 Collapsible Butt Stock

Stock-47-AR15

Amount
Price
1-5
290$
>5

AK-47 Folding Galil Butt Stock

Stock-47-Galil

Amount
Price
1-5
290$
>5
AK-47 M16/AR15 Recoil Reducing Collapsible Butt Stock
Amount
Price
1-5
120$
>5
AK-47 M16/AR15 Recoil Reducing
Buffer Tube
Amount
Price
1-5
75$
>5
AK-47 M16/AR15 Folding
Buffer Tube
Amount
Price
1-5
240$
>5

FAB Tactical Foregrip-Bipod with Flashlight

T-POD

Amount
Price
1-5
106$
>5
CAA Foregrip-Bipod
Amount
Price
1-5
95$
>5

AK-47/GALIL LULA™
Loader & Unloader

LU762AK47BLK

Amount
Price
1-5
22$
>5
Magazine Couplers
IDF Rifle Slings