AR vs AK?

by Evan on May 17, 2010

Heya Preppers,

Well I finally found an AR that had the features I wanted or required for a price I considered affordable, so I took the plunge. The weapon I purchased is a Delton kit built AR, with removable carry handle, and if the shipper can be believed a Wilson barrel. I paid $700.00 for a weapon with a chrome lined bore and removable carry handle, whereas my brother’s AR is a DPMS or Panther Arms and has no chrome lined bore and no carry handle, for which he paid around $600.00

First impressions this thing is accurate indeed. I zeroed it using the improved battlesight method of zeroing at 50 yards using the 6/3 – 4 (my sight has half clicks) zero point on the adjustable rear sight. The reason for this is the weapon is on at 50 yards and 200 yards, and 100 yards it only shoots a tiny bit high due to the flat ballistics of the .223/5.56 round. After zeroing the weapon at 50 yards I of course moved to the 100 yard range to really wring it out and do some tweaking of the accuracy. I was able by the end of the session to put 5 rounds into a playing card sized bullseye at 100 yards using a rest and iron sights. That is STUPENDOUS imho. I only took 100 rounds with me to the range and it was the cheap steel cased Wolf ammo I use in my AK. I also tweaked my red dot sight, which is mounted atop the removable carry handle so I could do the same thing. This sight has no magnification, but is for rapid target aquisition and engagement, without giving away your position like a laser will.

Now those of you who’ve read my earlier SHTF firepower on a budget post will be aware I also have a .223/5.56 Saiga with extras, to include a dragunov stock, UTG two rail mount, 3-9×42 scope with rangefinding reticle, bullet drop compensator, and 5mw laser integral, Galil foregrip, AK-74 style muzzle brake, and tactical two point sling. I have achieved 1.5″-2″ groups using that rifle and the scope at 9 power, but never got groups like the AR without magnification. I am given to understand that groups like this are not typical. Now both weapons are very servicable, both proven systems, and both used by military forces the world over.

Today I will cover comparative advantages and disadvantages of both systems so folks can make an impartial and informed choice, rather than “Do what I do, because I know all” which I see a lot of on forums.

AK:
+ Legendary reliability.
+ Simple construction and maintenence.
+ Gas piston so the action is less fouled in operation.
+ Pricepoint is usually several hundred dollars lower than AR’s.
+ Customization options plentiful.
- Safety and weapon overall is not terribly ergonamic.
- Spare parts are difficult to get.
- Accuracy is typically less than experienced with AR’s.
- Magazines, depending on what variant may, be somewhat difficult to aquire inexpensively.
- Weight is a bit more than an AR-15 and more muzzle heavy.

AR-15:
+ Ergonamic design, user friendly.
+ Accuracy above typical battle rifles.
+ Easy to find spare parts and accessories for customization.
+ Compatible with current US millitary and police stocks.
+ Easier disassembly for cleaning and servicing.
+ iron sights are superior to standard post notch systems.
- Less than legendary reliability unless well maintained.
- Gas system is direct impingement, so the fouling is more servere than with a piston.
- Pricepoint, typically several hundred dollars more expensive than AK’s.

I have fired over 1000 rounds through my Saiga (AK) and can’t complain about it’s performance, but I did have a hard time finding affordable high capacity magazines. I intended to get a magwell adapter that would allow the weapon to take AR magazines, but it was $120.00, and I figured might as well sell the AK and buy an AR if I am going to invest much more into the AK. Speaking of which, anyone want to buy a slightly used Saiga .223/5.56 rifle with extras for a reasonable price?

I have only fired 100 rounds through the AR and am already VERY impressed by the accuracy using iron sights of this weapon. Reliablilty was not at issue except some feed issues with some ancient 20 round mags I was using to bench the rifle. When I switched to the new 30 rounders I’d retrofitted with orange anti tilt followers I had no issues whatsoever. Part of the reason for the reliability I attribute to my use of Miltek-1 dry lube. I treated the bolt, follower, firing pin, and other working parts with this penetrating lubricant which is akin to slick 50 for your engine, but in your gun. It coats the surfaces, you heat it up to operating temperatures, I usually go to 250 ish degrees in my oven, and re-apply.

After several applications you assemble the parts, wipe off if in a sandy or dusty environment so the moisture will not attract dirt. Obviously I didn’t bake my receiver in my oven, it won’t fit, but I did coat the parts liberally for what it was worth. I even typically put this in the bores of my weapons. I shot a .22LR pistol for some time without needing to clean it simply because this stuff will NOT allow stuff to stick to it. Anyone who shoots .22 LR in a pistol length barrel knows the fouling is quite impressive. I simply ran a dry patch down the bore and it was pristine and required no other cleaning. Even bolt faces won’t allow fouling to stick and can simply be wiped clean using a dry towel when treated with this product. Bottles of this are very small but a little goes a LONG way, I have treated all my rifles with the one bottle I have and still probably have 1/4 of it left. It is about the size of an AR-15 military issue cleaning kit oil bottle by comparison.

To treat the bore of a rifle you fire a few rounds, clean it…I use a bore snake…then apply the lube on a patch and run it through the bore. Fire two or three more rounds possibly up to 5 in rapid succession to heat the bore up, clean it and re-apply the lube. My theory on this is it acts like molly coating bullets, only you’re coating your bore instead. This process needs repeated about every 500-1000 rounds if you want it to remain slick, the bottle says about every 1-2 thousand.

Now my impressions of both rifles are favorable, but the AR wins on the ergonamics department hands down. Magazine changes are more fluid and smooth, and certainly faster. Handling is superior in my opinion, and the lighter weight is noticable. The safety is MUCH more accessible and requires less fumbling to operate, and the sights are far superior. That said, it IS a few hundred dollars more than an AK and if your budget doesn’t have much budge, as mine didn’t when I bought the Saiga, it’s certainly a viable alternative. Finding an AR for $700.00 isn’t going to happen every day and if I hadn’t I probably would be stuck on my Saiga to this day. Notice I didn’t say STUCK WITH, heh.

One potential jackpot with the AR is firing the cheap steel cased .223 rounds from Wolf is not factory recommended. That said, I know many people shooting it regularly and for many thousands of rounds without any difficulties. I do intend to have an extra bolt handy for easy change out if the extractor gives in to the steel cases, which covers one possible issue. The other potential issue, more serious if it happens when you need it, is that if you fire steel cased ammo in the AR it tends to foul the throat more since steel cases do not expand much when fired. This allows some fouling to get around the case mouth into the throat. If you follow up the steel cased ammo with brass after heating up and fouling the throat it could potentially expand into the fouling and cause the case to stick and be unextractable by the bolt. This has occured in the field but I know of it only by report and not by first or secondhand knowledge. I believe by treating my chamber and bore with Miltek-1 I have either mitigated or eliminated this potential jackpot, but intend not to mix ammo types if it’s at all possible to avoid it. I consider it possible that people have fired 5.56 ammo in a .223 chambered rifle and the higher pressures and tighter throat potentially exacerbated this to the extent that the reported incidents may not be typical with a 5.56 chambered rifle.

In all I was glad to have the AK when my only available rifle was a bolt action and insufficient firepower to defend against a concerted attack, and I certainly wouldn’t put anyone off buying a GOOD one, such as an arsenel or Saiga, but the cheap ones are pretty cheap indeed and I’d steer clear of those. Now that I have the AR I am much more satisfied with it than I was with the Saiga, but again, the Saiga was a HELL of a sight better than nothing or an inadequate platform. In all I would have to say the AR is worth the extra money, and though I got mine cheaply indeed I did get forged parts, no cast crap, and it’s reliable and well put together. I think the Delton kits are certainly better than average quality, and pretty inexpensive, and even see dealers selling complete guns at comparable prices to mine, not including shipping and transfer. If I had to do it again I’d probably save up the extra few hundred and buy an AR out of the gate, but as they say hindsight is 20/20. I look at it like this….if I hadn’t bought the AK I couldn’t have done this spiffy review for you all, heh. .

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