Thursday, November 22, 2012

AR vs. AK as a Survival Gun

FerFal -
Read your book twice, love it! Most don't feel that could happen here in America but anything is possible. Read where you said the AR is flawed design. And for some time I wasn't an AR fan either, but that's changed recently. I've come to experience the AR Colt 6520 as well as SURPLUS ARMS and both are extremely reliable and far more accurate than I am. Compared to the AK they are lighter and if you keep them lubricated they are just as reliable. So when I factored these things together I've beed sold on the AR platform.
Is the AK a good battle proven rifle? YES. Without a doubt the AK is battle proven but I've seen them jam on occasion. Is the AR a battle proven rifle? YES.
So perhaps you should review your feelings against the AR platform, as I have. They're reliable, accurate, light weight, and when placed right, the 5.56 is lethal. In fact we spent the entire afternoon destroying cinder block & brick walls and the 5.56 cut through them like a hot knife through butter, and accurate. Follow up shots become second nature before long.
Take care my brother in arms,

Hi Agustino, glad you liked my book. Many of the things described in it are already happening in USA unfortunately. Lets hope it doesn’t get much worse.
The AR is a flawed designed because its direct gas impingement proved to be an awful choice. For those unfamiliar with this working mechanism, direct gas impingement means that gas is tapped from the barrel through a gas port, goes through the gas tube directly into the bolt. This happens to be a very bad idea because it fouls and overheats the bolt carrier. It becomes especially sensitive to the kind of ammo used. Powder that doesn’t burn as clean will have some serious consequences on the reliability of the weapon. As a SHTF fighting rifle, I certainly wouldn’t want a gun that sensitive in terms of what ammo I use on it. Chances are I’ll just grab whatever I can afford, or if you want to look at it from an ever more extreme case, whatever I can scrounge.
If you look at some of the best modern firearms made today, like the ones in Phase II of the Individual Carbine Program to replace the M4, none uses a direct gas impingement, and they favor mechanism that use a piston of some sort, separating the dirty gasses from moving parts.   In fact, the AR design is so bad, that Colt itself named its Individual Carbine program contender the Colt Advanced Piston Carbine (APC) because that’s right, they no longer use direct gas impingement and now has a piston instead.

You are right regarding how accurate they are, ergonomics are also excellent, and there’s tons of accessories and parts for it, but compared to the AK it certainly lacks reliability and robustness.  Instead of spending big money in a top of the line piston AR, to me it makes more sense to get an AK variant which is proven, reliable and accurate enough which by the way already has one of those new flashy piston thingies in it, you know, like Colt´s brand new “Enhanced” M4. 

At the end of the day its up to you to choose your firearm given not only your preferences but also personal circumstances. I would strongly suggest taking your weapon of choice to basic and advanced gun fighting classes, and there see how it performs. If after that you are still happy with it, then that’s just fine. Keep it clean and ready to rock if needed. If you keep having failures while training, then you might want to reconsider. 

 Its not only about the gun design, but also about the manufacturer and even down to the particular gun itself. They are not all equal. AKs are generally more forgiving due to an intrinsically reliable design, but a beat up uSd 90 surplus AK47 put together by a blind one-armed Afghan shooting ammo that was hand loaded by an eight year old using a combination of gunpowder and dirt at a 50/50 rate may have reliability issues too. In that case, your Smith and Wesson AR will be more reliable. At the same time a well put together AK with decent optics can hit a chest size target at 500 meters.
I happen to like .30 calibers better too, so to me that’s also a factor that comes into consideration. Either caliber can kill, but to me quality 7.62 x 39mm ammo feels better than 5.56. 

Again, if you are happy with your gun and can use it well, and most of all, if you train on regular basis, took classes with it shooting a thousand rounds and you’re still confident about it, then go with what works for you given your criteria.
Take care and happy Thanksgiving!



Ryan said...

I like both rifles. That being said the disadvantages of both have been over exaggerated by people with ego's invested in the guns they own or a vested economic interest.

AK's are reasonably accurate within the round's realistic range. It is a short heavy round with realistic combat range closer to a 200 meter range than a 300 meter one. However unless there is a problem with a gun (bent sight post, etc)it certainly is not the 50 meter ghetto blaster some folks make it out to be.

AR's have a very high potential for accuracy. They are capable of precision accuracy well past 400 meters if the shooter can do their part. As to the required maintenance it is in my personal and professional experience seriously overinflated. Keep them lubricated and they will run just about forever. Most issues come from people using ammo the system is not intended for or junk/ worn out magazines.

AR reliability is one of those myth's that came from issues in 'Nam and have lingered. Modern AR-15 style rifles do not require excessive maintenance. I recommend googling "Filthy 14". It is about an M4 that shot something like 30k rounds with one broken part and 1 cleaning IIRC.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Ryan that the AR reliability issues are far overblown. The DI system is mechanically simpler and lighter than piston systems. The AR is extremely simple to field strip and clean and requires no special tools to do so. A can of spray oil and a toothbrush will do in a pinch.

As for the caliber, the 5.56 round is excellent for self defense.

In the US the AR is now the single most popular style of rifle on the market while parts and accessories are plentiful and cheap.

In the end it comes down to personal preference. AR vs AK - who cares? Both work fine, pick whichever makes you happy.

Don Williams said...

1) Does anyone know if the AR design/aluminum parts can handle being cleaned with just gasoline for solvent and auto motor oil for lubricant like the AK47?

2) What do you do if you don't have the Army logistics organization/civilian gun shops around to provide you with flawless ammunition, mil-spec CLP (Cleaner, Lubricant and Preservative) and pipe cleaners to clean out the gas tube?

3) Initially, There were a number of Army deaths in Vietnam due to M16 jams caused by smoky powder -- although the changeover to the proper powder greatly improved the reliability.

Obviously the Army found the M16 to be sufficiently reliable with proper maintenance or they would not have stayed with the weapon for the past 40 years.

However, Army personnel don't have problems getting proper supplies like lubricants and ammo. Civilians one year after an economic collapse might not be so fortunate.

Anonymous said...

The problem with AKs in the US is that AR ammo is getting cheaper and more available every day. I see the 7.62x39 ammo getting pushed off the shelf at many stores because of all of the .223 ammo. AK ammo is almost twice as expensive in my area.

A Saiga AK in .223 would be a decent choice, but we have to modify them to legally accept hi-cap magazines, which are sometimes hard to come by.

Bret said...

Ryan has ignored real world evidence as to the AR problems. the new gas piston guns work fine. the gas impingement guns are still jamming as evidenced by combat in Afghanistan. Soldiers had jammed up m4's fighting against what rifle, ah the ak. the ak just kept doing what it does while U.S. soldiers again had issues. also be advised The shooting school, Thunder Ranch, while in Texas, had to be resurfaced due to the sand jamming up the ar-15's on the training course. TRAINING COURSE. Not in combat.

Steve said...

I am no expert but the argument thats its a flawed design seems pretty powerful

Anonymous said...

Don and others weigh in on this subject but their comments reveal they have zero trigger time on the AR platform.

1. Many folks use motor oil as lube on their AR.
2. The gas tube never needs cleaning.
3. I have yet to see a propellant used in factory ammo or handloads that produces enough carbon to foul the system in shooting that wouldn't stop anything short of a dedicated full auto weapon.

The AR appeals to those who enjoy shooting as a measure of rifle mastery. The AK tends to be more of an infantry weapon (and would be unlikely to be the choice of a squad's Designated Marksman).

If we go beyond Thunderdome, none of these guns will have ammo in short order. No one manufactures his own jacketed rifle bullets, propellant, or primers.

Anonymous said...


1) Gas and motor oil will work fine in a pinch. There are no non metal parts in the action that could be damaged by either.

2) You can use any kind of stiff wire to clear the gas tube, but it doesn't really need to be cleaned all that often. See "filthy 14" referenced above.

3) the Vietnam deaths were due to the wrong powder being used AGAINST the specific recommendation of designer Eugene Stoner. Additionally, word somehow got around that the rifle didn't need maintenance to the point where cleaning kits weren't being issued or used. Bad powder + no cleaning = disaster. All modern manufactured ammo uses the correct powder.

4) Most AR malfunctions are attributable not to the action but to damaged or out of spec magazines. The magazines were originally designed to be disposable, yet old mags get continually recycled rather than replaced. Pmags, Lancers, etc., all solve this problem.

All this yet still people pretend AK's never jam or need cleaning. Pro Tip: AK's will be more reliable if properly maintained. A little knowledge goes a long way.

Anonymous said...

If you are concerned about overheating the BCG on an AR-15, I have to ask, how many mags to you expect to empty in 15 minutes?

DI is a decent system. It has some benefits (mass reduction, especially of bore-line, during cycling being a big one). Yes, it is a little dirtier. If you really are worried, throw a cleaning kit on your vest/in your bag. A couple drops of oil, in the right places, will keep an AR-15 running for several hundred rounds, min.

Anonymous said...

Just get a quality AR-15 that shoots .300 Blackout.
All the benefits of the AR-15 and .30 caliber to boot.
Same receiver, same mags.
Just a different barrel.

Just get a barrel for 5.45 x 39mm for target practice.

Anonymous said...

I've owned both and trained with both. I know that I'm not going to need to make a shot at 500 yards in an urban SHTF scenario, and if I did, I'd drag my .50 BMG out, with which I have made shots on mansized targets out to 2400 yards and where anything inside of 1200 yards might as well be in your backyard.

Anyway, I know what I'd grab if the chips were down, and it's a chrome-lined-barrel 7.62x39 AK with a couple drum magazines and a decent optic. Being in a firefight means a bunch of shit has ALREADY gone wrong, and worrying about having everything "just right" with your fighting rifle is a worry I don't want.

Anonymous said...

I have used both types of rifles extensively (5000+ rounds). The internet commando myths about ARs and AKs are equally laughable. Quality ARs are fully reliable. Quality AKs are fully reliable.

AR example: Independently verifiable: Filthy 14. Personally: used a BCM rifle where the only cleaning was wiping the bolt carrier with a rag every 500-1000 rounds, re-lubing, and then boresnaking the barrel. Done cleaning within 60 seconds and goes on again for another 500-1000 rounds before cleaning.

AK example: Hungarian AMD-65. Eats ammo, doesn't complain. Less accurate than the AR but good enough out to 300m. Again, only cleaning is with a rag and a boresnake. Lube every 500 rounds or so.

However, I would still take the AR with me. It is easier to disassemble for cleaning, has better ergonomics, faster mag changes, and you can carry an entire spare bolt carrier group for little extra space/weight without worrying about headspace provided you are using mil-spec parts. Most importantly, you can carry a lot more 5.56x45 ammo per unit weight than 7.62x39.

Anonymous said...

Buy what you want and stop arguing about it.

For ME, it's an AR in 6.8mm SPC. Hits like 80% of a 308, weighs several pounds less than that 308, and (best of all) you can put a Giessele SSA-E trigger group into it that makes the heart of any rifleman sing with joy. Oh, and it's very Lefty-friendly once you put an ambi safety and ambi mag release on it.

Direct Impingement guns are mechanically easier to make into tack drivers. Modern manufacturers are using the best parts and newest manufacturing techniques (like nitro-carburizing, which is arguably better than chrome-lining in barrels). The AR scopes easily in its flat-top configuration.

All in all, if you intend to measure your skill as a rifleman using a paper target, you may prefer to lean harder on accuracy as an attribute. If instead you plan to shoot little, and largely want a battle rifle for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, maybe the AK wins.

Dude said...

The AR's biggest fault, its caliber. Yes you can buy superior caliber uppers, but then you nix the one advantage the AR has - cheap ammo.

5.56 is accurate out well beyond 500 meters but what does it do when it gets there. It sucks penetration wise, especially at range. Impressive on varmints. I wouldn't hunt with it.

Most of the internet commandos don't reload. The versatility of cartridges such as the 308 is completely lost on them. Shoot a grouse at 10 meters with your AR and hope you have something besides feathers and goo left to eat. Use a subsonic 308 load and even with a body shot there will be something left that looks like meat. Plus the 308 has a huge upside on BIG game (anything in North America) over the little 5.56/.223... And with the 308 there IS a difference between Cover and Concealment.

I own an AR only because there might be a day when I can't. It's accurate and makes tiny little holes in paper. Don't use it in the field. Like my other 22's its fun on the range and to plink with.

Anonymous said...

Brett, your comments are mostly rumor and inuendo.

All guns have stoppages when filled with sand. The AR system, by actual testing, can be far more reliable in sandy conditions than the AK due to being less open to getting sand inside.

Simple YouTube search yeilds several vieos.

The issues in Afghanistan were troops trying to use an M4 as a LMG. You burn off 20 magazines on full auto in just a few minutes and you'll have problems, no doubt.
I have seen AKs burst into flames when subjected to such treatment.


Idahoser said...



from the conclusion at the end of the list:

"There you have it. In the end, it is clear to any open minded inquirer that the Mosin Nagant is the most superior weapon of all time, but the AR and the AK come out as a draw when compared side by side."