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AK-74

Assault rifle

AK-74

The AK-74 is a standard infantry rifle in the Russian Army, and there are no plans to replace it

 
 
Country of origin Soviet Union
Entered service 1974
Caliber 5.45 x 39 mm
Weight (empty) 3.07 kg
Length 1 089 mm
Barrel length 415 mm
Muzzle velocity 900 m/s
Cyclic rate of fire 600 rpm
Practical rate of fire 40 - 100 rpm
Magazine capacity 30, 45 rounds
Sighting range 1 000 m
Range of effective fire 500 m

 

   The AK-74 assault rifle was a Soviet answer to the US M16, which was adopted in 1964. A number of the American M16 assault rifles were captured during the Vietnam War. These weapons were examined by the Soviets and tested against the AKM, which was then a standard-issue infantry weapon used by the Soviet Army. It turned out that the new American 5.56x45 mm intermediate ammunition has superior ballistics to the Soviet 7.62x39 mm round. An official requirement was issued in 1966 to develop a new assault rifle alongside with new ammunition. Their main goal was to improve firing accuracy of the AKM. Development of the new 5.56x39 mm ammunition was completed in 1973. It was based on the previous 7.62x39 mm ammunition in order to simplify production. Also Mikhail Kalashnikov developed a new assault rifle, chambered for this new round. This was essentially a rechambered AKM with some minor improvements. This weapon was adopted in 1974 as the AK-74 and became a standard-issue infantry rifle with the Soviet Army. By 1985 all previous AKM assault rifles were replaced in service by the AK-74. The AK-74 is also in service with at least 30 countries worldwide. This weapon was license-produced in Bulgaria, East Germany, Poland and Romania.

   The AK-74 has improved firing accuracy over the AKM. This weapon retains all advantages and disadvantages of Kalashnikov design, including reliability, ruggedness, simplicity of operation and maintenance. This weapon do not jams or misfires in worst conditions possible. Also it has reliable extraction even with dirty chamber and cases. This weapon can be field stripped in one minute without using any tools. Its design simplicity made it suitable for mass production. Its drawbacks are poor balance and ergonomics, as well as inferior firing accuracy to most Western weapons.

   The AK-74 is a gas operated, selective fire weapon. Design of this weapon is similar to that of the previous AKM. Even 53% of the parts are interchangeable. Such compatibility allowed to reduce production costs, simplified logistics and training.

   This weapon is chambered for the 5.45x39 mm small-caliber, high velocity round, that has a slim and relatively long bullet. The AK-74 is more accurate than the previous AKM due to improved ballistics and lower recoil. Also the soldier can carry more ammunition as it is lighter. However the 5.45x39 mm ammunition lacks penetration of the older 7.62x39 mm round. It is also inferior to the standard NATO 5.56x45 mm round. The AK-74 could not match accuracy of the original M16 and was even less accurate than a US M16A2, which was adopted in 1982.

   A combined safety and fire mode selector switch locks the bolt group and the trigger in the "safe" position. It also serves as a dust cover. The middle position is for automatic fire and the bottom position is for single shots.

   This assault rifle is fed from a plastic box-shaped magazines, that hold 30 rounds. It is also compatible with 45 round magazine of the RPK-74 light machine gun.

   Early models of the AK-74, produced since 1974 until 1986, had a wooden buttstock and foregrip. However weapons produced since 1986 were fitted with brownish polymer buttstocks and foregrips.

   This assault rifle has a sighting range settings from 100 to 1 000 meters. However it is way too optimistic, since the effective range of fire is limited to 500 meters. At a range of 350 meters the AK-74 penetrates a 5 mm steel plate.

   This assault rifle is fitted with a new muzzle brake, which is relatively larger than that of the AKM. It reduced the recoil and reduces the flash while firing.

   A new pattern knife-bayonet was introduced. This assault rifle can mount a GP-25 or GP-30 40 mm underbarrel grenade launcher. It can also mount a  PBS-4 silencer, that requires a special sub-sonic ammunition.

 

Variants

 

   AKS-74 is a version with a side-folding metal stock. It was designed specially for the airborne troops. It is fitted with a new type of side-folding metal stock. It has similar design to the baseline AK-74, except the buttstock. It replaced in production the AKMS.

   AKS-74U is a compact assault rifle. It was intended for the special army and police forces, vehicle and artillery crews. It was adopted in 1979.

   AK-74N and AK-74N2 are "night" versions. These have special scope rails and are compatible with NSPU and NSPUM night vision sights.

   AKS-74N and AKS-74N2 are "night" versions of the AKS-74 with a side-folding metal stock.

   AK-74M is an improved variant. It has been produced since 1991. It replaced in production both the AK-74 and AKS-74, as well as "night" versions. It has a side-folding solid polymer buttstock. This version has a scope rail and is compatible with various night vision sights. Currently the AK-74M is still in production and is a standard-issue infantry rifle in service with the Russian Army. It looks like the Russian Army has no immediate plans to replace it.

   RPK-74 is a light machine gun. It was adopted alongside the AK-74 assault rifle in the 1970s. It can be seen as a heavy-barrel version of the AK-74, fitted with a bipod. This weapon is chambered for the same 5.45x39 mm ammunition. Essentially it is a rechambered version of the RPK with some minor improvements. It replaced in service the RPK light machine gun and became the standard squad automatic weapon in service with the Soviet Army. Currently it is used by the Russian Army and a number of former Soviet republics.

   AK-100 series of assault rifles have been developed in 1994. These weapons evolved from the AK-74M and were intended for export, as well as domestic market. Assault rifles of these series are chambered for various calibers. There are versions chambered for 5.45x39 mm, 7.62x39 mm and standard NATO 5.56x45 mm ammunition. These weapons have some improvements and use modern manufacturing methods. The AK-100 series assault rifles have been exported to a number of countries.

   Type 88 was a North Korean version of the AK-74. It had some modifications to suit local needs and manufacturing capabilities. This weapon was adopted by the North Korean military and replaced in service the previous Type 68 assault rifle (copy of the AK-47). The Type 88 has been exported to some African countries. Eventually North Korea adopted further improved versions of their Type 88.

 

 

AK-74

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AK-74

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AK-74

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AK-74

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AK-74

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AK-74

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AK-74

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