AR-15 vs AK-47

On Father’s Day, I was at the range with my oldest daughter, both of us shooting my AR-15. She is just entering the gun shooting world and has a lot of questions about a lot of things. So afterwards, on the ride to a local micro-brew for some wings and beers, she asked me questions about the AK-47 and how that compares and contrasts to the AR-15 she was just shooting.

So for other newbies out there, like my daughter, here is a brief comparison.

Classic AR-15 with its modular design.

Contrary to what the gun-fearing liberals say, “AR” does not mean “Assault Rifle”. It stands for “Armalite Rifle”. (For the record, “assault” is a behavior, not a rifle.) In 1950, when the effective usefulness of the tried and true M1 Garand began to fade, the U.S. military issued a competition for the M1’s replacement, probably due to the emergence of the AK-47. The Armalite company threw its hat into the ring. When Armalite was not awarded the contract, they began producing the AR-15 for the civilian market, and sales spread like wildfire. Shortly thereafter, Armalite sold the manufacturing rights to Colt Manufacturing, who began making the military variant known as the M16. The M16 is fully automatic and the AR-15 is semiautomatic. M16s in their full auto configuration are illegal for civilians to own.

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov with his invention, with the classic wood stock and foregrip.

The “AK” in AK-47 stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova. It was developed in 1945 by Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, a general in the Soviet Red Army. The gun was released in 1947 and became standard issue for the Red Army in 1949. To date, over 75 million of them have been produced. The World Bank indicated that one fifth of the world’s firearms are AKs. They are found everywhere, from the former Iron Curtain armies to African warlords to Latin American drug cartels.


Both the AR-15 and the AK-47 are gas-operated. This means the guns use the expanding gasses from a fired round to eject the shell casing and a load the next round automatically. This involves a piston mechanism. Similar to the giant pistons on steam locomotives, where hot steam pushes the piston which moves the wheels, hot expanding gasses from the fired round pushes on a piston, which in turn, pushes the bolt backwards, opening the breech and ejecting the spent casing. A spring, located behind the bolt, is compressed during the breech opening. The spring then expands, pushing the bolt forward, loading the next round. This allows both guns to have very little felt recoil.

Cutaway view showing how an AR-15 recycles

Both of these guns use a locking bolt mechanism. After the bolt pushes the next round into the chamber, the front of the bolt rotates slightly, locking the bolt in place. This can be seen in the above cutaway view. Just as the bolt is about to close completely, you can see the bolt rotate slightly. After the round is fired, before moving backwards, the bolt rotates slightly the other way, thus unlocking it, freeing it up to move backwards.

Both of these guns have about the same effective range, about 400 meters.

Both of these guns were developed within a decade of each other, and as such, have been used during the same time, albeit on different sides.

Both of these guns have roughly the same magazine capacity.


Between these two guns, there are more differences than similarities.

First off, the AK-47 is more rugged than the AR-15. This is the main reason for its popularity and longevity. It has been used in some of the worst physical conditions possible, from the frozen arctic to the equatorial sweat-baths. It holds up better to dirt and muck. There are reports that American soldiers in Vietnam often cast aside their M16s in favor of AK-47s when crawling through muck-coated VC tunnels or swampy Vietnamese jungles.

The AK-47 shoots a 7.62x39mm round with a capacity of 600 r/m at a muzzle velocity of 715 m/s, whereas the AR-15 shoots a slightly smaller .223 Remington or 5.56mm NATO round with a capacity of 800 r/m at a muzzle velocity of 975 m/s. But since neither of these guns are legal for civilian ownership in the full auto mode, the rounds per minute capacity is really immaterial.

But because of this smaller round, the AR-15 is actually easier to shoot than the AK-47, resulting in a smoother experience for the shooter, often resulting in less felt recoil. However, if you were to have a sound meter nearby, the AR-15 is probably a little louder. But in either case, hearing protection is mandatory.

The AK-47 has adjustable rear sights

The AK-47 has adjustable rear sights, whereas the AR-15 has fixed sights (out of the box).

The AR-15, on the other hand is completely modular. This means that you can do just about anything to it to make it shoot the way you want it to shoot. Want to shoot longer distances? Simply change the barrel, Want more aiming accuracy? Add better sights. Don’t like the trigger pull? Replace it. Want to shoot with more stability? Add a bi-pod. The only thing you cannot do is make the AR-15 completely automatic.

So, final thoughts. If you want a reliable gun that you can quickly grab out of your gun safe when the excrement impacts the rotary oscillator, then the AK-47 is for you. On the other hand, if you want a gun with modularity so you can customize it any way you want, or you are an American Patriot who simply must have American products, or who still has visions of the Cold War dancing in your head and could never conceive shooting a Russian gun, then the AR-15 is for you.

If you decide to get your hands on either one of these fine guns, there is one thing which is the same regardless of the model, for which you need to be aware. The fired round of either gun is extremely loud inside walls. At the range, hearing protection must be used. Inside your home…don’t even think about using either of these for defense inside your home. Not unless you install a suppressor on the gun. Guaranteed that if you shoot either of these inside your home, everyone inside the home will go deaf. The reason I say that is because if you need to grab your home defense weapon, you are not going to put on hearing protection, nor are you going to ask your family members to do the same. You are never going to say “Honey, I just heard a noise downstairs. Put on your hearing protection while I grab the AR”. You are simply going to grab your home defense gun and investigate. Save the use of either of these guns to protect you and your family from invading zombies or the government attempting to take your guns, and only then stick the barrel out the window before pulling the trigger.

Below are some photos of our Father’s Day outing.

Daughter Julie
Saving a goat at 50 yards (the target of which is available for downloading on this site, under “Training”)

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Repulsive, But Right

On Saturday, May 14, 2022, 18-year old Payton Gendron traveled from his home in upstate New York 3.5 hours away to a supermarket called “Tops Friendly Market” in Buffalo. There he live-streamed himself shooting at shoppers, killing 10 of them. He chose this location because it is in a predominantly black neighborhood. His actions were repulsive, by everyone’s standard. No controversy from me on this.

Police also discovered he wrote a 180-page “manifesto” of his actions. This blog is not about white supremacy or racism, so those aspects of his manifesto will be ignored. But in a commentary posted by Western Journalism, Gendron did what he did and chose New York because of its lax and idiotic gun laws. Within this manifesto is a section entitled “Weapons, Equipment, and Mentality of the Attacker”, he expressed his views on gun laws that gun grabbers don’t want you to know about.

He started off with his vitriol of liberal fetish for “gun-free” zones, and progressive loathing for permits to carry concealed weapons: “Attacking in a weapon-restricted area may decrease the chance of civilian backlash. Schools, courts, or areas where CCW are outlawed or prohibited may be good areas of attack. Areas where CCW permits are low may also fit in this category. Areas with strict gun laws are also great places of attack.”

Further down, in that same section he wrote, “NY has cucked gun laws. Assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines are illegal for civilians to own, thus lowering threats from law-abiding civilians.” He wore body armor because he knew, thanks to New York liberals and their mania for defying the Second Amendment, the chances of his being met with multiple heavily armed individuals were almost nonexistent, and that only the police could stop him.

As repulsive as his actions were, his analysis is spot on! Areas where gun-control laws are strong are great places for mass shootings to take place….schools, movie theaters…and now…supermarkets. Over the last decade or so, where have we seen the mass shootings?…Columbine High School, a movie theater in Colorado, a nightclub in Orlando, a supermarket in Buffalo. You do not see mass shootings at an NRA convention or bike week in Sturgis. Criminals know to stay away because of the high probability of attendees being armed.

There is a very popular phrase out there among law-abiding gun owners, and maybe you heard of it. “An armed society is a safe society”. This cannot be further from the truth. Criminals are not going to do their crime if everyone is armed. This statement is also applicable on the geopolitical scale as well. Russia has been kept in check since the end of WWII with regards to attacking NATO countries because all the NATO countries are armed. Putin attacked Ukraine because Ukraine is not a member of NATO.

So criminals like this asshole know where to strike…areas of vulnerability. He knew the civilian population was not going to stop him.

While Gendron pulled the trigger, New York state also has blood on their hands. Below is a list of NY gun laws which allowed this massacre to occur:

New York State’s ban on magazines that hold over 10 rounds of ammunition; this murderer totally ignored this stupid law, and said he was happy knowing that any armed citizen who confronted him would be low on ammo.

New York State’s mandatory background checks on handgun sales; like most mass killers, this murderer passed his background check and then shot thirteen people. These checks do nothing other than give governor Hochul a list of gun owners.

New York State’s ‘Red Flag Gun Seizure’ laws; this murderer was flagged but nothing happened. New York’s ‘Red Flag’ laws are great at seizing guns from innocent gun owners, but are totally worthless at stopping criminals.

New York State’s ban on buying AR-15s or similar firearms; this murderer was very prepared for his attack with an AR-15, while New Yorkers are limited to handguns and hunting rifles.

New York State’s lack of a Stand-Your-Ground law; while almost 40 states have this law on the books, New Yorkers are required to retreat before taking defensive action against criminals. Even drawing your firearm in the wrong county can leave a gun owner facing criminal charges!

If your personal belief is that you abhor guns and don’t want to be around them, that is your prerogative. I and others like me are not going to browbeat you into getting one. Just make sure that when the excrement impacts the rotary oscillator, you hide behind someone who does not share your point of view.

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