By Pat Henry
Yes, I am going there. One of the most hotly debated questions in prepper/survival/firearm enthusiast circles is around the best survival rifle. For all intents and purposes, there are only two in competition in the US and those are the AK-47 and the AR-15. I will add that there are variants of both and I am lumping all of those into these two categories. This question of what is the best survival rifle is one that I asked myself when I was considering my first rifle purchase so I wanted to take some time to hash out what I see are the differences and to give you my opinion as to which rifle is better when it comes to the AK-47 vs AR-15.
I know that this subject is insanely controversial, even though it shouldn’t be. It’s the same as getting upset over Ford versus Chevy. If this post makes it to some of the firearms forums out there I know I will have some people who will disparagingly call me an “Internet Expert” implying that I have no idea what I am talking about. So be it. I am not an expert, but I don’t think anyone else is an expert either in this subject. I don’t think anyone out there is more qualified to determine what rifle is best in my opinion, for me, than me. I don’t really care if you are active duty police, 20 year military veteran, or mercenary for hire. This is my opinion based upon my belief and requirements, you are entitled to yours, but that doesn’t mean mine is invalid. It also doesn’t mean you are smarter than anyone else that disagrees with you. It simply means we have different opinions.
Additionally, I will throw out some facts that should be pretty easy to agree on and some opinions based upon my personal experience which may not be. Just because your experience is different, that doesn’t make it a law of science or anything. If you have a different experience, by all means, please comment down below but I would ask you to keep the debate civil as that is what I am going to try to do. If you would like to make your case for the opposite of what I recommend, please do so in the comments and we can all judge whether what you are saying makes sense.
Very briefly, the The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated rifle that fires 7.62×39mm ammunition. The AK-47 was developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year of World War II (1945). In 1949, the AK-47 was officially accepted by the Soviet Armed Forces and used by the majority of the member states of the Warsaw Pact. It is still widely used today.
If you are going to count on a rifle, you should know how to take care of it.
The AR-15 is a lightweight, magazine-fed, air cooled rifle with a rotating-lock bolt, actuated by direct impingement gas operation or long/short stroke piston operation that fires 5.56 mm/.223-caliber ammunition.
The AR-15 was first built by ArmaLite as a small arms rifle for the United States armed forces. Because of financial problems, ArmaLite sold the AR-15 design to Colt who made some modifications and the redesigned rifle was subsequently adopted as the M16 rifle which was the main rifle used by US Armed Forces. Colt then started selling the semi-automatic version of the M16 rifle as the Colt AR-15 for civilian sales in 1963 and the term AR-15 has been used to refer to semiautomatic-only versions of the rifle since then.
For the purpose of this comparison we are only going to be discussing semi-automatic weapons available for purchase in the US by a non FFL carrying person, not their fully automatic counterparts.
You can quickly see some of the facts below about each rifle on this excellent info graphic from TacticalGear.com , but I will list what I see are the important differences between the two rifles.
- The AR-15 can effectively shoot 200 yards further than the AK-47.
- The AK-47 shoots a significantly larger bullet than the AR-15.
- The AR-15 weighs 2 pounds less (not counting a lot of hardware we add after the fact) than the AK-47
- The AK-47 usually costs less than an AR-15.
- The AR-15 has a higher (30% more) accuracy than the AK-47
- The AK-47 is more widely used globally by a long shot than the AR-15.
There are really only 3 main arguments that proponents of the AK-47 use as their rationale for saying that the AK-47 is the better survival rifle so I want to list and address each below.
- AK-47 rounds penetrate better and do more damage – This is true generally speaking, let’s move on to the next point.
- AK-47 Costs less – This is true generally, let’s move on to the next point.
- AK-47 will keep working no matter how dirty it gets – This is also true to an extent, but with a caveat. The point to this argument is that if the AR-15 gets too dirty, you will have firing problems. I can tell you from personal experience that I have never had a single problem with any AR-15 or it’s fully automatic cousins that I have ever shot. However, I clean my rifles usually after every time I shoot them. Sometimes, I will wait, but they never go too long without a thorough cleaning, so what is this point supposed to be saying to us? Well, what if you are in a firefight and you have to shoot 300 rounds through your AR-15 rifle; will it jam then? No, at least not in my experience. Maybe if you shot 10000 rounds through it without cleaning the rifle you could see some issues, but if you are in a firefight so bad that you have shot 10000 rounds, you have bigger problems. What if you drop it in a vat of guacamole? Not a valid point in my book.
For more information and my opinion on which rifle is best, please read below the graphic.
Which Rifle is the Best Survival Rifle?
I will tell you that in my opinion, the best rifle is the one you have with you when you need it. That sounds well and good, but if I was going to buy one rifle, and I lived in America, it would be the AR-15. Why? For me this comes down to 4 simple points.
Accuracy – The AR is simply more accurate at further distances than the AK-47. If I wanted to shoot a rifle up in the air when I was mad, riding in the back of a Toyota truck with 20 of my friends, or happy, or just plain stupid then I might get an AK-47. One of my goals is to be able to engage targets at up to 500 yards and the AR-15 does that better than the AK-47. The AK might use a heavier round that will go through more solid objects, but if you are able to kill the person holding the AK 200 yards before he can hit you, does that matter?
Range – Speaking of range, the AR-15 shoots further effectively, so that just adds to what I was saying above. Range is also important to me because I want to be able to take people out as far away as possible. I don’t want you getting so close that your AK-47 can hit me. I would rather you and your AK be far away and I will take care of you way out there. I don’t mind walking out there to pick up your rifle when I am finished.
Parts – The AR-15 is like the Barbie doll of the firearm world. There are so many accessories! And yes, the military version of this rifle (M16/M4) has a majority of parts that are fully compatible with the AR-15. The AR-15 is also the same weapon used by police, DHS, and NASA. If anything bad happens, there should be plenty of opportunity for spare parts to be acquired. I can’t say the same for the AK-47 unless we are invaded by Russia. So, even if your AK is able to fire with some mud in it, what if something breaks? That is why you buy spare parts you say. No, that is why you buy what everyone else is using including our government.
Ammo – Same as above, this is the ammo our police and military use as well as quite a large number of my countrymen, so I have the advantage of a very common caliber in my favor.
Related: How And Where To Store Ammo
OK, that is my rationale and those are my reasons. The AR-15 does cost a little more on average, but you can find really good deals out there if you look and the price difference would be much lower. Does this mean I wouldn’t own an AK-47? No, not at all. I would love to have one, but I do think that for the reasons I listed above, if you can only choose one and you live in the good old US of A, the AR-15 is the better option in my opinion. I know for a fact people will disagree with me, so please let me know what you think in the comments below.
This article was written by P. Henry and first appeared on The Prepper Journal.
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If it was a full on armed conflict I would choose the ar-15 as well for the simple reason of ammunition. I’m able to carry more 223 than 39’s. I may be more able to capture more 223 than 39’s because of geography. There is far more reloadable brass available here for 223 vs 39’s and finally the powder to reload the 223 goes a lot further than it does with the 39’s
I agree in general,but(In My Opinion)People always ASSUME(also applies to 9mm,that they are going to scavenge,steal,barter(Grid Down)for example.Assumptions get you killed.Myself)Personally Like the SR Platform,But not the Cartridge.Just Me,I do own an(Del Ton in 308,Echc-Model.Also a PTR-91.I believe a(556/223)in War,combat is fine.But in WROL.I’m not eorrosbout getting the right ammo.I believe a more powerful cartridge is needed,Totally Different scenario than combat.But to each his own,if I had a decision to make on a small/lightweight high velocity cartridge,I would choose the(5.45×39)Russian Cartridge.In my shooting of both,the 5.45 is much more devastating than the 5.56.I will look up the link about the military(Army)looking to replace the 5.56 with an heavier grain cartridge,obviously not in 5.56.
Great read, I bought the Ak 15 years ago for $350.00, I bought the AR-15 15 months ago for $600.00. BUY BOTH.
I agree, if one is worried about this sort of thing.
I couldnt agree more. I presently own two AR’s and only one milled AK. the weight factor is a concern, so I do prefer, the light wieght. 223. As a handloader for more tan 20 years, I’ll say I do think the 7.62×39, is a better overall round.
As a corporal in a local militia group,my primary rifle is my .223 mil-spec AR.
Does the rifle have any problems,with a steel Cased ammo.All brands?My biffy bought anAK-47(Arsenal,it’s almost as heavy as my M1A1(Socom)
That was my concern. If I didn’t have any parts on hand, which one would break first. Which one could I rely on if I was in a bad situation, I had enough ammo but limited cleaning supplies and no parts. The American army has parts for there weapons. The terrorist groups live in caves in mountains for years with basically nothing and their weapons seem to function. Maybe when I think about it I’d buy a quality AK.
I carried an AK-47 my tours in Vietnam for some of the reasons you listed but it was because we didn’t always have time to clean our rifles between engagements. Also we almost always had access to ammo. I agree that we did range problems with the AK but we really never did a lot of far off shooting we were either in close combat or ambushing enemy. While I have both I still favor the AK for close combat but would choose a AR for everything else. Its ease of cleaning and weight make a great tie breaker.
Enjoyed your article.
You hit my point exactly you aren’t taking 500 yard shots in combat most of the time you can see if they have a mustache. And dependable is life or death. If your gun breaks down you don’t have a person landing you parts or another gun to fix it. But I like both weapons and have several of both and each has its purpose and don’t forget a plate that will stop a .308 sniper rifle won’t stop an AK round but will stop 5.56 round
Huh? What level armor are you talking about? XM193 will penetrate plates that other rounds cannot. Not trying to argue, I just have been reading just the opposite of what you stated here.Speed kills or penetrates in this case.
no 7.62×39 can penetrate a plate that will stop 7.62 nato.
I guess is what is defined by the thickness of the plate.As to any caliber,also my Bolt Action,30-06
The AR15 has won every conflict against enemies using the AK platform.
Mhmm sure you used a ak47 in Vietnam. Still used m16 back then as well what a load of shit.
“American military had reissued captured Ak-47s, made new ammunition for them and came up with a few other surprises.
It’s often because the commandos hated their own U.S.-made guns.”
“For one, the American M-16 rifle was pretty crappy. The early design was a maintenance nightmare, and the guns often jammed in battle. The AK-47 was far more dependable, and had a larger 30-round magazine to boot”
Wait…. So you never been in combat?? As tame as Afghanistan is there’s plenty of times where we have had to engage and move. Engage and move. Getting sand and more inside the weapon. I’ve seven several A4s go down mid fight due to sand and debris junking up the mechanism. Since this is a shtf article treat it as such. You will be going through sand, mud, dirt, etc. That is what makes the AK superior. It chews it up and spots it out, where an AR NEEDS to be cleaned…
I’d take an AK over and AR any day for shtf… There’s a reason why nearly all combat vets agree.
I agree, but I’m glad I didn’t say that. I was a LRRP with 3rd Bde, 101st in Vietnam in 68-69. The only source for 39 ammo was the VC/NVA on the battle field. We didn’t hang around battlefields to collect ammo. While the AK, when fired, would fool the enemy, it could also get you killed by your own people thinking the VC has broken thru your perimeter. If I needed the calvary to come an get me out of a tight spot, I didn’t want them shooting at me, thinking that I was the enemy. Friendly fire kills just as effectively as enemy fire.
You were there, with him? Oh you weren’t? What a load of shit.
Thank you for your service.
I enjoyed your article, it had real good info.
Now, I would like to see you compare the AR-15 to the Ruger mini-14 since they both fire the same ammo.
I would prefer the AR-15 for magazine exchanges with others or for compatibility. The mini-14 you can only use the Ruger. The AR just seems to be more user friendly. I would probably even choose the AK over the Ruger.
Lots of comparison vids on YT, including AR15 vs Mini14
Look on YT, just about any firearm comparison vid you could want including AR15 vs mini-14.
Better comparison is the AK-74 to the AR-15.
The main advantage of an AR-15 over an AK-47 is that other Americans won’t shoot you when they see you holding it.
While I like the range of the AR-15, the thought that I will be watching an identifiable target approach from football field away is highly unlikely.
The disadvantage of the AK-15 compared to the AK-47 as the one gun to have when the SHTF is its light round makes it a poor choice for a hunting weapon.
In the case of an emergency, you can hunt smaller game with a .22, so in a pinch, the AR could definitely bring down some dinner.
Many people make the mistake of assuming 55 grain, M193 cartridges will be used. The minimum weight I use is 64 grain bonded rounds. TSX rounds also make much better 5.56/.223 hunting rounds. I also like 6.8 SPC cartridge much more than 7.62×39. Just swap out the uppers.
I really enjoyed this comparison. I whole heartedly agree with your reasonings. I would love to own both but if I have the opportunity to purchase one it will be the AR-15. Thanks for a great read
Good article. I also like your preface … this is an opinion piece, NOT a definitive article. All your facts seem accurate, and I agree with your conclusion … go with an AR-15 if you live in North America … parts and ammo will be much easier to find.
Regarding which one runs better dirty, it’s not a question of whether or not you clean it. In the field, you often have to deal with mud or sand, and despite your best efforts, these get into your weapon. In my experience, the AK-47 has less trouble operating in these conditions, overall, than the AR-15 or its variants. This is mostly due to the engineering tolerances built into the weapons which also, by the way, contribute to the difference in accuracy.
The AR platform is designed with tighter tolerances, and therefore, is inherently more accurate. So, you’re dealing with tradeoffs. If your AO (area of operations) is “dirty”, just be aware of that, and plan accordingly.
A friend of mine bought the M-16 several years ago. Yes an M-16. Bought the stamp to make it legal. Anyway he wanted to test the dirty gun theory. We didn’t throw it in the mud but we did put 1000 rounds through it without cleaning and never had a misfire or jam. I have a Colt S-1 and I have had no problems with it either.
The AK is legendary, reliable and affordable. Its the glock of rifles. I have nothing further to add!
Legendary because it was given away to satellites states of the USSR. There are much better cartridges than 7.62×39 and 5.56. I like 6.8 SPC, makes the AK round obsolete.
Legendary because it’s the most produced battle rifle in history. It’s easier to disassemble and clean, has much loser tolerances to facilitate function in a wide variety of environments, and can run and run and run……The AR is a winner only in weight and sight radius…in MHO. I’ll take my AK variants over an AR simply because I have many hours of trigger time on those platforms and value function over comparatively rare issues like ammo and parts availability. Most folks don’t know how to diagnose a rifle malfunction let alone replace parts in the field without the proper tools…especially if using the AR. Most of my friends who own AKs have a few spare parts packed in their field gear should the need arise. Lastly… it’s been my experience that engagement distances of over two hundred meters are a challenge to most weekend warriors/gun shop commandos firing either an AR or AK. They spend too much time adding “tactical” crap to their weapon instead of being in the field/at the range improving their skills. Thanks!
Exactly, I keep trying to get my kids understand that buying all this “tacti-cool” crap does not make you a better shooter…only practice does that. Years ago the Army taught me to “KISS”…keep it simple stupid. That is what has worked for me!
Wow! What a great article! That intro should precede every piece on the internet. We should print it out and tape it to the wall over our computers. We should memorize it and try to adhere to its sentiment!
Wonderful, Pat. Thank you so much.
Can a study be done as to exactly what you can drop with the 5.56 round… I been on the range and have the round punch paper targets above us and tumble down into the pit…at 500 yards. Paris island range… It may be good for coyote and people… And that sure changes with distance… As it will punch a hole in an I beam at close range… But it would be nice to know if it can effectively take out elk or whatever… HUMANELY
Im not sure what you mean by tumble into the pits, but I too have been in the pits at 500m many times and there is plenty of gas left in the round for human sized targets. Not elk though.
I have killed very large wild boars with the 556 utilizing FMJ and nossler ballistic tips. Large white tail and Mule deer. I have never shot an elk but wouldn’t hesitate in an emergency. In an animal as large as an elk shot placement is critical.
Are you referring to an AR-15,or another type of rifle handling the smme caliber cartridge,Mini-14,bolt action etc.
Also you(just wondering)did not list approximately the distance of the kill.
Greg all were shot with an AR 15. Ranges from twenty feet to three hundred meters. Largest hog went about 350 lbs.
There are lots of videos on youtube.com that tests the different guns and ammo and their abilities.
I have shot and own both. I would recommend the AR for the following.
1. You can carry more ammo and mags. with less weight.
2. Way faster reloads with the AR. In a gunfight that’s crucial.
3. Way more accurate.
4. The capability of adding accessories is a big plus.
5. It can be shot faster with accuracy because of less muzzle rise.
6. It needs to be cleaned more often but in the event you cant, just spray the bolt and chamber with lubricant and it will keep on running.
7. Safer to operate.
I enjoyed your article. Thanks
I have a Ruger ranch rifle in 7.62×39. It’s like a mini Garand. Light, accurate, cheap ammo, 20 round mags, and it doesnt look like an assault rifle. Prefer it over either one. And you can mount whatever goodies you want on it.
Great Article… Buy Both!
Nice article on a well worn subject. I have owned both platforms for many years & enjoy them both. One point in favor of the AR is weight of ammo. You can carry more rounds of 223 for the same weight. Not that is a big issue unless your going out on patrol. A point in favor of the AK is that some of the U.S. made ones are much more accurate at distance. Bearing in mind that the AK was designed to be used & maintained by minimally trained personnel, I figure on letting my “non gun nut” friends or wife use the AK & I’ll hang on to the AR. And before the ladies in the audience get upset with me, one of the most unnerving things in life is to hear an AK bolt carrier slam home & look up to see my better half holding it.
The majority of the AK47’s lack of accuracy at distance is due to the 7.62×39 round itself. After 125 yards it starts to drop and tumble dramatically, the round and the rifle was designed with one thing in mind, row upon row of Ivans running at NATO soldiers throwing huge amounts of lead down range. Really enjoyed the artical.
I own both, along with an SKS and Saiga 12. I much prefer the AR-15 over any of the others.
I own both, and the AR is more accurate, it’s not as heavy, and the AK gets really hot. The AK is a rugged rifle, and I’ve never had any trouble out of either rifle, my choice would be my AR! I won’t be target shooting when the SHTF, I want a kill, accuracy is more important!
I currently do not own either an AK or an AR 15. I currently own an IWI Tavor, why did I choose a bull pup design? I like how short the overall length of the rifle is with it still having a 16″ barrel. Since I live in a city I figured that in a SHIFT situation my use would be primarily in an urban setting and the short bull put design is easier to maneuver inside a building but it still has the same range and similar accuracy of an AR 15 when out in the field. My next gun purchase will be one of the semi auto 12ga shotguns, probably a Vepr 12 Semi Auto Shotgun. Will I ever own an AK or and AR? Yes but most likely I will put together a custom build of each type from parts mainly because I am a retired aircraft technician and I enjoy making things.
The Bull Pup design is definitely the way to go for urban CQC and accuracy.
So since you own neither and don’t seem to want to why are you commenting on this article? In your opinion the tavor is a better weapon for you and that’s great but not at all what was being discussed .
I have 12 years US Army Infantryman years of expience, and i doubt the truthfulness of the writer saying he has never had a AR 15 or M16 failure. I was a company armorer as well as a regualr line grunt, and I can tell you I never went to a live fire range where someone did not have at least a bad magazine fail to feed, or a misfire from poor ammo quality. I have personally had the buffer tube pin bend on one when I fell into a hole while running in the dark, and I seen another mans rifle break the lower reciver at the point where the buffer tube retaining pin and spring are tapped. Theier is only like 1/16 of an inch of aluminum there. The weapon is a good gun it is more accurate, but it is a delicate beast. It is easy to make an M16 stop working. I have heard of a platoon in Afgainstan that had every single M4 go down when they were being sieged and over run in a long firefight.
The AK is a rugged weapon. It is made to work in Russia, where delicate weapons frost and freeze up, by illiterate peasants and farm boys to operate with minimum maitainence. It is battle proven and used all over the world by crude folks in rough conditions and keeps working.
Most people will be involved in firefights at 100 yards range, and the AK can be mastered with practice to be accurate enough for combat.
The 7.62 x39 ammo costs half the price and tends to be more reliable than 5.56 and .223, and it goes through cover better than 5.56.
I own both weapons but Id buy an AK first, over an AR.
When id pick one over the other is a whole other debate.
Thank you Pappy for the insight. I am a newb when it comes to the AR platform. I currently have DB-15 from Diamondback Firearms of Florida and I enjoy shooting it very much. Occasionally I do get jams and as you point out in your reply it is generally due to a defective magazine. The AK-47 is one I have grown up hearing stories about regrading the durability. I still would like to own one as I feel as others that for my initial SHTF situation there will be less then a few hundred years (if that) I am having to fire. I feel more comfortable after reading this writer’s views and the other responses that both platforms would be good to own. Thank you again for your input in this discussion. I understand even better why the AK has the “beast” reputation that it does.
Pappy, you bring up some very good points, I work for a Firearms Manufacturer in Lake Havasu, AZ, we build AR15 and AR10 platform rifles, the forged lower and uppers on the AR15 can have the concerns that you mentioned, but, lately we have been building more and more Billet Lowers and Uppers (one solid piece of Aluminum Machined) which makes for a much stronger platform. RTTFirearms.com
I have to agree I was having the same argument with a friend while he was playing with his AR and he dropped it and had to buy another lower the AR is a good weapon when it works but is a princess rifle. With the AK it will eat any kind of ammo without a hiccup and I can buy it at half the cost and you can run a car over a good AK. And this crap about 500 yard shots is ridiculous in combat you can almost see what color their eyes are there aren’t many 500 yard shots But I do own several of both and like my ARs for my ergonomics and and for squirrel hunting.
Nice to see some realistic information brought to the comments for a change. Much better than the standard speculation and opinion.
So Which would be best for a person with little knowledge of how to shoot with great accuracy. Would it make a difference? I’m of the opinion of course that if one is going to get a gun of any kind for home defense they should take lessons & practice regularly with it,(them). But I know folks who would like to get one, or the other, & thought we’ve gone to several gun shows they still can’t make up their minds. They’ve read this & other articles as well. But I know them & they wouldn’t be out training with it very much. Maybe, if I & others work on them 2 or 3 times a year, but that’s only a maybe. The bottom line is, I’m afraid they’ll just go out & get a shotgun & call it good. They can’t concieve of a SHTF scenario.
If “they” are looking strictly for a home defense weapon and won’t be doing much practice they should consider a shotgun. It would be more economical and forgiving for the lack of practice.
I agree. IMHO nothing has the knockdown power of a 12 gauge at short range. Yeah I know folks will say this weapon with this style cartridge ect and faster back on line with multiple targets but you can think it to death all day. You can buy a shotgun for under 400 all day long and most will eat whatever you feed them
If I remember correctly, the Army did some similar testing back in the late 60’s. They found that each rifle was adequate for the environment it was to be used in. They gave the gold star to the AR because you could carry more rounds of ammo per pound.
Life is all about choices. In 5 years, a person can drink an awful lot of beer, or buy a few guns and an awful lot of ammo. If, at the end of that 5 years, the SHTF, do you want to tell your family how much fun you had drinking all that beer, or do you want to be able to protect yourself and them? While all valid, to me your points are moot. I have AR-15, AKM, 12 gauge pump shotgun, .45 auto, 9mm auto, Katana, and several hawks and knives, and cases of ammo for each. Now I can start enjoying some nice, cold, brew. Best of both worlds. BTW, my US made AKM shoots as well as my US made AR15.
Wait, you have several hawks to be deployed in your arsenal?
I own both, because someone who has a realistic view of how s may htf, knows that owning both has massive benefits. Understand that the reasons I own both are for specific purposes in an shtf scenario. I own an ak because anything at 100 yards is totally game for the rifle, especially cqb. Id rather us an ak up close. I like not having to care at all about the gun in terms of cleaning. I do clean it every time I shoot it, but I like the option. And while the ar might be slightly more accurate, since I’ve acquired a Vepr, I find that the ak has really closed this gap. For combat accuracy, they are neck and neck. I have an ar for distance shooting because the recoil is milder and allows for faster follow up shots. I also have the ar because if s does htf, parts are everywhere, and so is ammo. I can and do however stock 7.62 x 39, so running out isn’t something that’s likely to happen. I think some peppers have it in their mind that if there is a shtf scenario, it’s the end of the world. That’s not likely. A week or two at most will go by before law and order are restored, and you won’t be getting into firefights every five minutes. Think realistically.
Excellent points as well Gman.
agree. I will go with an AR, with an AK in reserve as a super robust backup in the case of an extended SHTF planet of the apes event.
AR is light, dependable, tough, accurate, and can shoot 22lr with a drop in bolt. Great for small game etc. Or even self defense. Firefights will be few or none. i’ve got a rack of ARs, loads of spare parts, and enough oil to keep them happy for about 30 years.
I will say the ak is outstanding, but that ability to make an AR into a 22lr in about 11 seconds is the game winner.
I have both and don’t necessarily favor either. I keep plenty of mags on hand for both(and ammo as well). I also have a Chinese Dragunov but only have one 10 round mag for it(thanks, Bill Clinton). I still love my M-1 Garand and keep lots of ammo and clips for it too.
I prefer to buy what I carried in the Navy (Submarine Service): M14, Remington 870 shotgun, and 1911A1 .45. Because of our CO’s preferences, we were the only boat in the squadron (maybe all of SUBPAC) to routinely carry a shotgun.
Being disabled, I won’t be doing much crawling in the mud.
I can snipe, though.
That is probably the best thing said here. Stuck to what you know. I wish I’d had that mindset when I first got into prepping, would have had an AR, an M9, and an 870 a long time ago.
I’d like to point out an error, both rates of fire are wrong! Since civilian AKs and ARs are SEMI-AUTOMATIC, The rate of fire depends solely on how fast you can pull the trigger for each shot and change out mags, so the figures quoted are irrelevant.
Mr henry great article some very valid points for the ar15 however I truly believe that it comes down to your location I lI’ve in va, calif, and Nevada and I can tell you a long range shots don’t work every where nevada yes wide open parts of northern California no I live in va now and your lucky at times if you get a good 50 are 75 yd clear shot the brush and trees are that thick no joke I truly believe you need to take into account your location as well I have a couple of both ak and ar and I love shooting them both ar for wide open spaces ak for dense cover
Hopefully, with our new President-elect, this won’t be a problem. But if our government ever wants to control ammo sales, it will be easier for them to halt 5.56 ammo than 7.62 x 39. They can’t seem to stop anything from being smuggled into the country.
Good article, but as far as I am concerned there is one fact that was left out of this and similar articles. I am left handed. I shot a M 16 in the mid 60’s and I HATED it. I was hit on the cheek by over 50% of the ejected brass. I do understand it was later modified to eliminate that. How do the two compare shooting “on the wrong” side?
I prefer the tried and true AR-15 (M4) any day. The trick to making your weapon dependable is to keep it clean. Served as a weapons instructor for 23 years in the USAF. Part of our inventory in the special tactics arena, for familiarization, was the AK-47. I saw the posted data and have to challenge, from my experience, the accuracy. I’ve never seen an AK consistently accurate beyond 200m and wouldn’t count on it beyond 150m.
The AK-74 is a variant which has the durability of the AK47 and fires a similar round to the AR-15. Best of both worlds. I’d pick the AK-74.
I went into a gunshop and asked for an AR-15 and after looking at several models I selected one made byAnderson out of KY.
When I got it home I find that it is listed as an AM-15.
It looked just like the other 5 or6 guns that Ilooked at.
Is there any difference betueen the AR-15 and an AM-15? Or is that just the Manifactors naming?
Manufacturer naming convention. The AR in the original rifles stood for armalite, the original manufacturer… AR-15 became the default name over time, like Kleenex, and tissue…
Best gun for SHTF? .22LR, that being said. I own a variety of them like many people, I also own others that shoot heavier and harder hitting rounds. The best to have after SHTF is which ever your enemy has. You can get one with a .22LR or any other firearm or bow, rock, whatever. That gives you, ammo on demand, spare parts or another like rifle if it breaks or ftf. For those who don’t believe in the .22 LR round for hunting, I have taken with 1 shot fairly close range, black bear, dear, elk and a nice mountain goat, small game as well as numerous birds on the ground. They are quiet compared to either AK or AR, that is something else you need to look at, staying out of harms way, be quiet.
WELL SAID!!! The .22LR does not get much love from folks in my area of the Republic when it comes to defense and especially hunting.
To have to read this far into the comments before someone even mentions the .22LR tells me alot about the people making the comments. The .22LR in a quality rifle is one of the best weapons you can have in a survival situation. It not only takes out small game, but as mentioned in the next comment, when used by someone who can hit what they aim at, can take down some rather large game, without notifying the entire countryside of your presence. Stealth is half the battle in a survival situation.
I am glad somebody mentioned them, the 22LR islight to carry accurate and can drop big game; to say nothing bout reliable and you can carry a hundred rounds with ease.The only real fault I find with most 22LRs is the inexperience or inaccuracy of the user.
Good article Mr. Henry. I greatly enjoyed reading.
Also appreciated the many comments. All very good food for thought.
I would rather go with an Arsenal AK in 5.56×45, accurate with the same perks as an AK. A very wicked little honey.
I also have a AK from Russia that was done by Arsenal that I purchased several years ago. Its one bad ass AK!!! As far as accuracy it was dead on right out of the box. I also want to debunk the claim on the range of the AK. I have some FMJ-BT rounds and can hit a 20 inch steel plate @520 yards 7 out 10 shots. I put a scope mount and a straight 6x ss scope on my AK mainly because my eye sight is not what it use to be and the mount is grooved underneath so I can still use my iron sights for closer ranges. And when your talking about when shtf you may not have the means to clean your weapon every time you use it. I have fired over a thousand rounds thru without cleaning without any problems just to see if I would have any misfires or jams I had none!! I do clean it more often now it was just a test.
Interesting article. Whilst I agree with pretty well all your points I would point out that your map shows the AK in use in England. This is incorrect as there are no privately herld firearms in the UK apart from the odd shotgun, and the military use the SA-80.
I own a Bushmaster and have never had a problem with it.
Great article, and very informative. As an owner of each, I’ll say that I love them both, however when shtf,my primary will be the AR. mainly because of weight issues. My Bulgarian Milled AK, is the cadillac, of civilian models, and is exceptionally accurate. A bit heavy to carry, in a combat situation though. For static defense, and a 75 rd drum. Excellent!
If I have a garrote at sunrise I will have an AR-15, AK-47, Glock 9mm, Uzi, .50 Desert Eagle, rocket launcher or anything else I want by nightfall.
The debate about accuracy of the AR vs the AK has ended. It is NOT the AK, it IS the ammo. I have an AK action in .223. Im hitting silhouettes at 500 yds. Case closed.
that is why the soviets switched the AK 47 to the AK 74, the 5.45 ammo is supposed to bridge the gap between the 7.63 x 39 and the 5.56. Also lighter hence the rifleman can carry more ammo.
The other major facto in the AK design hindering its accuracy is the distance between the front and rear sight. Ask have the rear leaf sight mounted on the top of the muzzle area, at the half way point of the rifle. The M16 has it mounted (properly ) at the rear of the upper receiver. The closer the rear sight is to the eye make an enormous difference in optical refraction witch means minute of angles (inches missed left or right.) Israel built the Galil rifle by taking an AK receiver and working parts and chambering it in 5.56 and mounting the sight at the rear and had damn near a perfect weapon.
I found myself an after market receiver cover that has the rear sight but on it, which did the trick for me.
I lust for a Gallil in 5.56 every time I go on the internet and look at gun store inventory. The issue I have is the price- $1800 for a glorified AK74? Preposterous! But I will own one some day.
Well good pts and here the car wins in Europe ak gets better when you go east. It is easy for me to be pragmatic I don’t like auto’s and my gun club only laughed once. Now when we team shoot they all want the old Mauser on there team for the 1000 yard round. In the real world I am not able to do the same things that the ak,ar can so my slow reloads lack of ammo and urban maneuverability gets me killed. Time to buy the car for in town .
I had this argument with a friend and when in doubt buy two of each but during the argument he dropped his AR and had to buy a new lower and so if you crack your lower in combat and have to find another rifle in a firefight with a broken down AR good luck. A quality Ak you can run over with a car and this crap about 500 plus yard shots is nonsense in combat you can just about see their mustache and AK round will penetrate a plate that will stop a .308 it’s a mean round and 5.56 will not and you can feed an AK any kind of ammo you like steel case at half the cost of the 5.56 round however I love the ergonomics of an AR and is lighter and bullets are lighter and you can carry more and I love the accessories of the AR so I own several of both but if I had to pick one for survival I would pick the AK and maybe an AR pistol
7.62×39 round is less powerful than .308 aka 7.62×51 unless it’s an AK armor piercing round it will not go through a plate that could stop .308
Tiger Man,,,soooo, you been in combat? Maybe you should inform the military they dont really need .50 caliber sniper rifles?
If you have the choice of stopping a bad guy at a greater range than he could stop you, ???
I will take my AK pistol over my AK or my AR any day of the week.
As to your choice question… The bad guy needs to be a dead guy before he even knows you exist let alone before he gets within range to do you harm. When the SHTF as it probably will, I am going to do the same as I did on my way to Nam. I had a long talk with my Creator which boiled down to: I am going to do what I have to, if you think I should not, then do not let me do it, and I will accept the results without complaint. I although many I knew didn’t, came home and am still here, so He must have agreed with what I did.
Food for though considering the two rounds:
1- Very seldom in a “survival combat” situation you will get into a fight on a open field length longer than 300 yards. Most of them wont even be that far. It’s more likable “the fight field” will be full of obstructions like woods, buildings, and other obstructions. Thus the caliber in these cases really doesn’t matter.
2- I think the most interesting fact about these calibers is that the AK-47 round starts TUMBLING at around 125 yards and the AR-15 round does not, therefore the AK-47 round will do more BODY DAMAGE at these ranges due to the tumbling of the bullet. If you think Vietnam where you could barely see beyond 100 yds you can see why the AK round worked so well.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
tumbling at 125? Lol. I think do your research and some ballistic/physics self education. Unless your commy rifle has a smooth bore.
Unless there is something wrong with your weapon’s bore or ammo, the AK round (7.62x39mm) does not begin tumbling at 125 yards for no reason.
In firing at least half a dozen different rounds over a period of about 40 yrs I have never encountered this phenomenon without interference with the bullet during it’s flight.
I chose the AR-15 for compatibility and options. For bug out definitely the AR-15 With a CMMG 22lr adapter only consist of bolt and magazine. Light and easy to change.
I was agreeing whole heartedly with your preface and mentally preparing my rebuttal as I was assuming you, as a survivalist, were heading in the communist direction “cuz the AK never fails”…
Not necessary. Google in range tv, ak47 mud test then watch the ar version. Several others out there as well. Slowly the mystique of the jamproof fail proof rifle is debunked. The ar is just a better engineered, tighter tolerance gun. The AK works, it works well, if I was in Europe, Asia, Africa etc. Probably. But not here boys, not here. MURRRIIIICAAAA!!!!!!
I have 12 years as a US Army infantryman, and I do not believe for a second any testimony of the M16 / AR15 rifle having never malfunctioned. I have seen them malfunction plenty of times, and have heard of many situations where they overheated and jammed. The gas system is delicate and finicky and is prone to jamming and overheating. I have personally BROKE an M16A2 in training, the buffer spring retaining pin bent, causing the weapon to become a single shot/jam/clear/single shot weapon. I had a friend who’s AR15 actually had the lower receiver fracture at the point this same pin recesses into the receiver, which was the end of the low receiver. there is only a few millimeters of soft aluminum there holding the pin in place. Also, in Afghanistan, there were incidents where units were being overrun and fighting furiously for their lives, and a platoon had EVERY SINGLE M4 overheat or jam and go down, and the only thing saving anyone were the M240 and M249 machine guns that kept working. Personally i own both weapons, and if i had to stake my continued survival on one, it would be the AK, hands down, all day, every day of the week. It can take massive abuse and neglect, while the M16 requires it to be very clean.
The M16 has now been modified and some models with a blowback style method of operation replaces the gas system and these are able to take the heat and dirt much better than the original system.
The ak47 hits harder but it’s accuracy past mid-range is shit.
The ar15 has good range all around, but it’s bullets tend to be weaker unless you upgrade to .308 and above.
I’ll stick to my Remington 700 in .308 and Mossberg 500 12ga.
All great and valid points on all sides,my only beef is like the 9mm,If SHTF,EMP/CME,there is always the assumption you will be able to get ammo/spare parts for an AR,in my opinion(bad assumption)
If range/accuracy is a concern get an SKS,far superior to the AK(IMO)And tapco 20-round mag do a little to even the field
Lol Pat Rogers ran his BCM AR15 over 40,000 rounds without cleaning it, he Just lubed the SOB up and it ran and ran and ran with little to no issues. Also checkout the articles on high round count AKs and AR15s rom Battlefield LV over on arf.com too. Before anyone else starts blabbing about thier credentials you should probably look at Pat Rogers background, he was one of top firearm instructors and knew his shit. Pack a spare BCG and you will be fine.
I really think this should be a debate about the AR-15 vs the AK-74.More comparable cartridge wise,but that being the case,I disagree on the weight comparison,with the 2-pound weight differential,my buddy has an AR-15,heavy barrel,the total dry weight of the rifle is 7 and a quarter lbs,My brother in laws AK-47,stamped receiver is 7 and a half lbs.So the weight comparison cannot be done.Because of a to each his own,no one I know buys an AR-15,At approximately 5 and a half lbs.Keeps it bare bones stock add a free floating rail(which most people I know do,and you could really get up there.Yes I know in general the AR_15 is going to be lighter,but the point,is non comparible,if not ridiculous.It’s all about the cartridge,If ammo,was freely available I’d definitely choose the AK-74’s,5.45×39 cartridge over the 5.56/223.Any day of the week.Until then I’ll stick with the overweight,heavy cartridge(M1A1)Socom.
When the SHTF I want my AR because it’s what I’m comfortable with. When your adrenaline spikes and you can hear your heartbeat in your ears you’ll be running off muscle memory primarily. If you feel the same way about your AK then more power to you.
Im pretty sure this debate is ended in my mind. I have an AK chambered in .223. The problem with accuracy IS NOT the rifle, AK, it is the ammo. Im easily hitting silhouettes at 425 yards IN PISTOL CONFIGURATION!
AK-47 will keep working … “no matter how dirty it gets ” – This is also true to an extent, but with a caveat.
not true … they must also be cleaned.
Unless it’s a Century Arms,their AK’S are all JUNK!!!
Sure buddy, sure…. that’s why it is the most mass produced and widely used firearm in the history of humanity. Because all of them are junk.
he was talking about century arms not all ak’s produced in history.
read / comprehend before commenting.
he did not say all of them are junk … he said century arms makes junk AK’s.
and the truth is they have.
but they are getting better with some variants.
My “Junk,” Century Arms Romanian WASR 10 is still working fine, 15 years of use. I put 750 rounds through it rapidly the first day I fired it, and me and my buddies enjoy feeding magazine through it rapidly, until its so hot me have to put it down. Not a single jam, misfire, (except the lone time I picked a unfired round up off the GROUND at range, and tried it just to see if it was bad. someone else had misfired already.)
Ill take my piece of junk to a police buy back now and get a hundred dollars for it. thanks for your wise insight. I would never have know otherwise.
I have friends that have shot between 1000-2000 rounds without ever cleaning their AKs without failure. (WASR-10s)
m1a by springfield soldiger don’t have no cheap shit
Well, we are close to a Bugaloo, so many of you biased know it all key board commandos will get to discover for yourselves.
The “best” weapon is the one in your hands at the time of a fight and that you are most proficient with.
I have enjoyed the read and the different viewpoints.
Ak hands down, accuracy depends on shooter. Some can teach 500yd with an ak, just depends. As for the weight, don’t be a pansy and get stronger. The weight is worth the punch.
I am not an expert just want to know more about thew 300Blackout and the new 6mm bullets for AR platform’ other than you cant get them in QTY now. or in the SHTF scenario
Of note: Your chart says that the AR-15 shoots between 700-950 rounds per minute. That just isn’t so.
The M-16 could do that, up to the A3 model, but the AR-15 can not.
A better comparison would be the SKS to the AR-15. Or the Ruger Mini 30 to an AR-15.
Lots of people are making some very good, valid points as far as the AR/AK debate is concerned, but everyone is forgetting one thing- you can cure all the “ills” of the AR platform by simply adding an Adams Arms or other brand piston system. I bought a Ruger SR-556 when they were first released specifically because it has a short stroke piston system installed by the factory. No more overheating, no more shitting where it eats, ease of cleaning is vastly improved because the DGI filth is completely removed from the equation. I’ve built a few more AR’s myself and every one of them has the AA piston system installed. I will all day, every day choose one of my piston operated AR’s over the AK for the reasons others have already stated about range, accuracy and weight. There are several manufacturers that are making piston AR’s these days and one would do well to spend the little extra money that a piston AR costs, just because of reliability.
Another great point people are making is about.22 lr weapons, and the fact that you can turn your AR into a .22 by simply swapping out the bolt and magazine is yet another reason I’d choose the AR over the AK. I personally own a Ruger 10/22 with an Archangel 556 chassis that makes it very similar in function and ergonomics to an AR, which means I can train more often and for a lower cost than my AR’s.
Now before the internet mob goes psycho and starts downvoting my comment and calling for my head on a platter let me state that I own both platforms and would gladly carry either one into the shit. Especially if I had a US built, milled receiver AK. They eliminate all of the accuracy woes of a stamped receiver AK, and with a proper optic and practice, you can hit human size targets out to 400 meters without problem.
These comments are my own personal opinion, but I do have tons of military training and practical application of that training, so you can take mine and others advice, or don’t. Totally up to you.
I like the FN FAL but I have gotten to old and weak to carry such a heavy weapon.
There is no substitute for good marksmanship. That being said the thing to consider the most is to be prepared with which ever you can obtain or afford. Your surroundings should influence your choice as much as possible. I have been a firearms instructor for many years. In that time, I have come to the conclusion that the self taught marksman has a fool for a student. Training is very important. Find a good certified and experienced instructor.
I have several AR and AK rifles plus many more that are mentioned in previous comments. 22LR, 223, 7.62×39, 308, 30-06, 12ga and several others that are not. All have a purpose. You must choose which one is best for your situation that you can acquire. The main thing to look for is reliability, availability, both ammo and parts, but most of all, learn to be proficient with what you have. A near miss never killed anything. Improve your skills. Don’t be afraid to seek good help learning to be proficient. Any weapon you choose, no mater how accurate it is, is a waste of time and money if you cannot use it efficiently.
There situations where I would prefer an AR. Other situations I would prefer an AK. There are also situations that would require something else, 22LR, 30 cal. or 12 ga. You must evaluate your own situation as which to buy. Maybe you need more than one choice?
A pistol of any description should be your last choice. They are very under powered compared to rifles or shotguns. They are much harder to place an accurate shot in a stressful situation than rifles or shotguns. If you doubt this, why does the armies of the world arm their combat solders with rifles instead of pistols? Rifles do a much better job than pistols. Pistols are issued to officers, cooks, and pencil pushers for last minute backup. It should be your last choice when SHTF too. i am not saying don’t have one, only acquire one after you have chosen a good long gun or two. This is my best advise with only a few paragraphs.
Depends on the mission. If you are doing counter insurgency work for a 3 letter agency in the jungle, you confuse the enemy by using the AK with green tracers(5.56/M16 had red tracers). If you are in the Stan, and your average shot was 200m, Use the M4 with the ACOG or EOTECH. Any incoming sniper fire, in comes the 7.62, 300mag bolt actions, 50 BMG M107 or the humvee mounted MA Deuce..
Minus the ma deuce and the M107, I’m ready.
I shot both and love them both. I must Say a friend was trying to sell me one of his AR’s and had not cleaned it for over 1000 rounds and it started to stove pipe and not eject spent rounds properly. Another con to the AR is the common.223 round. During Covid and the new administration the common 9mm round was becoming difficult to find as many more had 9mm than other rounds. I realized that owning a weapon with a very common use caliber may not be a good thing when SHTF.