AR vs. AK, when they cost the same


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Hanafuda
February 16, 2009, 09:48 AM
A couple weeks ago a friend invited me to come out and shoot his AK's. I'm almost wishing now he'd left me alone and happy with my little handguns, cuz now I've got the bug pretty bad, and at probably the worst possible time ever.

While we were shooting, my buddy talked about the good ol' days when parts kits were $100 and Wolf ammo was $60 a case. With prices like those, I can see where a not-too-precise, but anvil-reliable gun like the AK can become extremely popular. But nowadays parts kits are all but gone, and a quality builder such as Arsenal or Krebs is charging as much for their standard AK as it would cost to put together a nice AR from RRA, or even better. On top of that is the current ammo shortage ... but even if stock does come back to the shelves, 7.62x39 isn't that much cheaper anymore. In fact, I believe if you wanted to invest in some reloadable ammo, the .223 might even be cheaper. (?)

I've never been into the CQB rifle thing (until now), but I have always had the perception that the AR was the more sophisticated, versatile, and accurate weapon. That appeals to me, since 99.999999999999% of my enemies so far have been cardboard and/or paper. I can appreciate the merits of the AK's utter reliability, but I'd be happier more frequently with 1 MOA performance. I like accurate firearms.

I know there is debate over the effectiveness of the 7.62x39 vs. the .223. I like both calibers, and think both have their pro's and con's, so I'm not really interested in that debate. But I guess it's inevitable that it will come up.

I really enjoyed shooting my friend's AK's. Really, really enjoyed it. If there were good, finished rifles on the market for under $500 and ammo was available and cheap like the good old days, there's no doubt this would be my next purchase. But when the costs are roughly equal to owning and shooting the AR ... well I just can't get my head wrapped around paying over $1000 for an AK, let alone $250-$300 for a case of Wolf. Every AR vs. AK thread I've ever read eventually included a recommendation of the AK platform because it was more bang for the buck. These days, not so much as before.

What do you think? I've got plenty of time to research and think this out (unless someone wants to buy my like-new Fender Custom Shop strat, which would put the needed cash in my hands).

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Gunfighter123
February 16, 2009, 11:07 AM
Hello,
I own AR15s , AKs and M1As -- my feelings are the .223 is not enough in penetration power -- in other words in the "rapid hits VS. power level " --- the .223 recoils the least makeing it easy to rapid fire ------ the .308 has the most power of the three but it is harder to rapid fire and get hits --- the 7.62x39 is easy on recoil and with enough power to get thru most things that the .223 can not.

Right now , the price of ammo is nearly the same for ARs or AKs.

For a deal on a AK check out PeachStateArms ---- they have AMD-65s for around $500 with folding stock etc --- you can pull off the front pistol grip if it is not to your likeing.

http://i19.photobucket.com/albums/b199/Jailbird123/DSC01730.jpg

Hanafuda
February 16, 2009, 11:26 AM
Nice suggestion, Gunfighter123. They're out of stock though. That's ok as currently, I'm out of negotiable currency. :p

I know a couple other places with "good" stuff in the $700 to $900 range, but I dunno ... steep. Of course, the counter to that argument is that it could get worse. I'm hoping for prices to drop some in the next few months though ... I do see that ammo supply is rebounding a bit.

I've just got sticker shock, seeing some AK's listing for $1500 and more (Krebs, Arsenal). It might take some waiting, but as I understand it, a good stripped lower and a kit from RRA and you've got a decent AR for ~ $1000.

As for the comparative ballistics, I've shot both calibers side-by-side and yeah, there's no doubt the 7.62x39 is the more effective penetrating round. But .223 isn't the only caliber that can be fired from the AR platform. That's getting into dead horse territory. I just more interested in opinions as to whether the AK-type rifle is justifiable at the same price point as an AR.

IndianaBoy
February 16, 2009, 11:58 AM
The sights, and the ergonomics of the AR make it a no-brainer for me.

I can't honestly say that I have much trigger time with an AK. I put one 30 round mag through one a year or two ago.

The AR platform fits me like a glove. Mag changes are fast and easy and intuitive. The safety lever is right where it is supposed to be. Aperture sights make hitting a 10x10 square offhand at 200 yards fairly easy.

I have had one solitary malfunction with my AR. It was overlubed, had about 600 rounds through it, and was left in ~20 degree temps for an hour or so. It wouldn't strip the top round off of a full 30 round magazine. Downloaded the mag to 28 and got it warmed back up. ;) Good to go.

I handload so I can shoot for 171 per 1k with the components I have on hand. 22lr conversion kit = $28 per 1k. :D

Someone else can talk up the AK. They have their merits.

22lr
February 16, 2009, 12:04 PM
If the price is the same its a no brainer, get the AR. However that said back when AKs were a dim a dozen I should have bought one as money speaks my language loud and clear.

m4joey94
February 16, 2009, 12:07 PM
i definitely agree with 22lr, go for the AR.

benEzra
February 16, 2009, 01:07 PM
I can appreciate the merits of the AK's utter reliability, but I'd be happier more frequently with 1 MOA performance. I like accurate firearms.
If you want 1 MOA or close to it, you'd want a RRA AR or somesuch. A 7.62x39mm AK is typically a 3-4 MOA rifle.

mshootnit
February 16, 2009, 02:14 PM
As for AK's vs AR's which to get if they cost the same:

I am biased toward the AK's as long as we are talking Russian stamped receiver or Bulgarian milled receiver rifles. The older Bulgarian rifles from Arsenal had a Steyr chrome lined barrel. I had one of these in the low cap version (SLR101) that would hold minute of angle as far as you could shoot with those open sights. I have another one now which is a converted SLR95 that I have a Kobra on. I can take the Kobra off, and put it back on, and its right back to hitting bowling pins at 100 yds with every shot. Now thats dependable. As for jams, forget about it. The high quality AK's are a little more ergonomic with regard to stock fit and they are tighter than AR's so they feel and sound good when you are shooting them. They have no upper and lower so there is no slack there and the handguards are as tight or tighter than AR's. They are also less finicky on magazines and followers.
I also have a Russian Vepr that is an honest 1 moa performer. Its as good or better than any M1a.

Now to the AR's. I have a Bushmaster M4 type carbine. This rifle is lighter, and the optics setup is better because the rail is machined into the weapon. Also its a sub moa gun. The downside is that it is more complicated but only slightly so.
Really it gets down to preference. But I like both of mine and would be hard pressed to pick.

RP88
February 16, 2009, 02:21 PM
Since we've somewhat touched the topic of penetration...

how good is .223/556 penetration? Now, of course, it isnt going to rip through a cinder block like x39 can, but I've seen that it can go through your everyday brick wall. Just how good or bad is it?

but if the gun and the ammo price is the same, then the AR wins without a doubt. I love my AK, but I'm not paying 1200 bucks for it.

Paladin_Hammer
February 16, 2009, 02:29 PM
If an AR and AK are the same price, get the AR then go buy an Adamsarms gas piston. Sure you spent another $100-ish dollars, but the only reason to get an AK is for amazing reliability and incredibly low price. If all I had to do to get the AR "AK reliable" was spend another $100-ish dollars, I'd do it.

This is coming from a guy who used to own a Saiga in 7.62x39.

elmerfudd
February 16, 2009, 03:27 PM
To me it would mostly depend on what you want to do with it. For most serious shooters the AR will be more satisfying. It's more accurate and generally better suited to hunting and target shooting than the AK. It's also a little faster handling and the controls are better. Of course it's also a more finicky rifle that requires more maintenance.

If I were suggesting a rifle for someone who will likely never shoot more than 50 rounds, but still wants to have a fighting rifle just in case, then I'd recommend the AK. You can pull it out of the closet after it's accumulated dust for 5 years and is dry as a bone and still expect it to function properly.

If I were in a primitive, EOTWAWKI situation of long term survival, then I'd also choose the AK.

RockyMtnTactical
February 16, 2009, 03:32 PM
I like the AR15 better, regardless of price between the two. AK's are excellent rifles. I love them too. You really cannot go wrong, but for me, give me an AR15.

H2O MAN
February 16, 2009, 03:34 PM
I own M14s, an AKM and an AR.
The M14s and AKM get shot, but the AR just doesn't call to me like it once did.

My AKM (Norinco T56SHTF) is very AR like in configuration and value and it's a real pleasure to shoot.

http://www.athenswater.com/images/Norinco-T56SHTF-12.08.2008-small.jpg

HorseSoldier
February 16, 2009, 03:40 PM
how good is .223/556 penetration? Now, of course, it isnt going to rip through a cinder block like x39 can, but I've seen that it can go through your everyday brick wall. Just how good or bad is it?

For a civilian looking for a home defense rifle or similar, being able to chew through a cinder block wall is a liability, not a strength. "I couldn't see what I was shooting at, but I unloaded on where I thought he was," is not a verbal formula leading to success in a criminal or civil trial.

For an end of the world, apocalypse sort of rifle . . . if you're sitting on top of cases of ammo as you fire, there might be some utility to being able to chew through cover. If you're on foot and have to finish the fight with the four or five magazines you have on your person, blindly firing into what might be concealment or might actually be cover and soak your rounds up seems like a rather less desirable idea.

H2O MAN
February 16, 2009, 03:45 PM
Another thing I like about the AKM are the super reliable 75 and 100 round Chinese drums :evil:

RockyMtnTactical
February 16, 2009, 03:53 PM
For a civilian looking for a home defense rifle or similar, being able to chew through a cinder block wall is a liability, not a strength. "I couldn't see what I was shooting at, but I unloaded on where I thought he was," is not a verbal formula leading to success in a criminal or civil trial.

For an end of the world, apocalypse sort of rifle . . . if you're sitting on top of cases of ammo as you fire, there might be some utility to being able to chew through cover. If you're on foot and have to finish the fight with the four or five magazines you have on your person, blindly firing into what might be concealment or might actually be cover and soak your rounds up seems like a rather less desirable idea.

Always usual, HorseSoldier, a great post.

yosarian
February 16, 2009, 04:07 PM
I have owned both but my ak was a wasr.For all the bad press my ak was reliable and not bad to look at but after 1 mag downrange with my ar I knew the ak was on the way out.

H2O MAN
February 16, 2009, 04:11 PM
HorseSoldier

For a civilian looking for a home defense rifle or similar, being able to chew through a cinder block wall is a liability, not a strength. "I couldn't see what I was shooting at, but I unloaded on where I thought he was," is not a verbal formula leading to success in a criminal or civil trial.

Yeah, the same could be said for the civilian emptying a 30 round mag
from his AR into a target that he could see, but mistakenly identified.

"I unloaded on what I thought was a bad guy."

We are all liable for our actions even in the fog of war.

RP88
February 16, 2009, 04:21 PM
I do not use my rifles for HD. I'm not concerned about liability. I'm simply curious about just how good the .223 stacks up in terms of ripping throuhg brick, concrete, or (despite how tasteless and mall-ninja-esque it is to ask) modern/conventional armor.

WardenWolf
February 16, 2009, 04:21 PM
It depends on whether you're willing to tinker. If you're a tinkerer, a Saiga might be a good choice. They're Russian AK's with a rear-shifted trigger group. In a few hours, you can convert one back to standard AK pattern. They're available in 7.62x39, .223, and .308. They're fairly cheap, too, as are the parts to convert them.

The downside is that you do have to spend some time working on them if you convert (it took me 5 hours when I did mine), and the .223 model is simply an underbored 7.62. The reason this is a disadvantage is it makes the barrel heavy, and the ejector is still set up for 7.62 so it ruins .223 brass (not so much a dent as a fold). However, once you get done, you have a nicely finished, absolutely reliable Russian AK in whichever caliber you want. Most people who have Saigas have never even had a single jam. Saigas shoot around 2 MOA (2" pattern at 100 yards) in all calibers.

Duke of Doubt
February 16, 2009, 04:51 PM
Have both. Assuming comparable quality, these days if you find an AK for the same price as a mere AR, GRAB that AK.

Davionmaximus
February 16, 2009, 04:58 PM
Just depends on what style hammer you prefer. If your into mods and gadgets go w/ the AR....

SDDL-UP
February 16, 2009, 05:14 PM
I purchased my AK for one reason - reliability!

You are quite correct though in that AK's will become increasingly less popular because of increased costs. The importers, and especially ammunition importers, are going to price themselves into a smaller and smaller market share.

9mmepiphany
February 16, 2009, 10:44 PM
i'm stunned that 7.62x39mm ammo is as expensive as 5.56x45. i loaded up when it was <$80/1k and the only thing that made it more palatable was that shipping was included.

i knew AKs had gone up in price, but anything over $800 is crazy...you can't really compare a Krebs, as they're built on a RPK receiver. maybe you can compare a Krebs to an AR...in that comparison the AK would win as it is everybit as accurate as a AR

a true comparison might be an AK purpose built to take advantage of the 5.56x45 cartridge. so compare a Sig 556 against against an AR of like price and decide which is the better gun

helz_mcfugly
February 16, 2009, 11:01 PM
here in the Dallass area a new AK will run about $750 to $850, a new AR is about $1200 to $1500 depending on the brand. If you are finding Ar's for the same price as AK's please please tell me where, ill jump a flight and but every single one and mail them to myself.

Hanafuda
February 17, 2009, 12:00 AM
well, helz, fair enuff. but what I said in the original post is that 'premium' AK builders like Arsenal Inc. and KrebsCustom's AK's are listed for prices that you could (theoretically) put together a decent AR, i.e. with a stripped lower and a good kit (RRA, etc.) I never said the average AK was selling now for the same price as new, complete brand-name AR's.

stubbicatt
February 17, 2009, 04:26 AM
Get what you like and what fits you well. I doubt that we will see anything like the pricing structure in place a couple of years back, ever again.

Peakbagger46
February 17, 2009, 04:26 AM
My issued patrol rifle is a .223 bushmaster and I have a personal Saiga AK. I prefer the reliability of the AK as well as the bigger round. My Saiga cost me $500 a couple of months ago.

Gun Wielding Maniac
February 17, 2009, 04:57 AM
Ok... if we're saying that quality and price are even... lets say an LMT M4 style rifle vs an Arsenal SLR-107FR... then I'd go with the SLR-107FR.

Mp7
February 17, 2009, 05:15 AM
Saiga .308?

elmerfudd
February 17, 2009, 07:09 AM
...
Saiga .308?

The only real problem with the Saiga 308 is the price of magazines.

I put together my first one using good parts, (RSA trigger group, Ace folder, etc...), for a little over $600 and it's a great rifle, but you don't just go out and buy a dozen mags for a Saiga like you would for an FAL or AR.

helz_mcfugly
February 17, 2009, 04:24 PM
sorry, I missed where you said that.

Gord
February 17, 2009, 04:27 PM
I dunno if anyone's reccomended a non-.308 Saiga yet, but I'll throw my hat into the ring - you get AK reliability and very good accuracy (~2-3MOA) from an AK-pattern gun.

conw
February 17, 2009, 04:38 PM
Can someone explain the actual reason to convert a Saiga? Shorter OAL?

Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow
February 17, 2009, 04:51 PM
Caliber is irrelevant, as you can get either style rifle in a variety of calibers.

So, if you're asking, which one if they cost the same, that's easy - the AR/Stoner design, definitely.

kirkcdl
February 17, 2009, 07:04 PM
conwict,it is to restore the "pistol-grip style",Saiga rifles and shotguns come set up like a standard rifle.

That said,to the OP-you could always get an AK in 223,that and my Saiga 308 are the only ones I have left,at one point I had one in every caliber available-223,5.4539,7.62X39,308,and 12ga.All I kept were the ones chambered in NATO calibers.

As an alternative to the 223 or 7.62 rounds vs ammo cost,5.45X39mm is the current Russian military caliber,is very accurate,and considerably less expensive than the other calibers...

Gord
February 17, 2009, 07:11 PM
Can someone explain the actual reason to convert a Saiga? Shorter OAL?

To elaborate, doing the conversion also allows use of standard AK mags (cheap! - or at least they used to be), improves the trigger and allows use of the safety. I have stubby fingers so it also made the trigger reach a lot more manageable for me - I really had to stretch to get finger on trigger with the, uh, stock stock.

priler
February 17, 2009, 07:24 PM
hanafuda,it seems to me that you answered your own question.it looks like you want an AR...get that.

this is coming from one who prefers AKs.

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