A while back, doing a tour in Afghanistan, you can see everyone carrying an AK-47 in country. I’m sure we’ve all heard the rumors about how reliable and not accurate they are, but just how true is this? There’s been a plethora of AK’s that hadn’t been cleaned in 10 years and it’s still shoots just fine. I wanted to see just how accurate these rifles truly were and exactly what they can withstand.
The AK-47 is not the most accurate weapon when compared to other assault rifles, such as the M4(AR-15). The accuracy of the AK usually when taken out of the box is steady at 4 inch group. Though over time, changes in its accuracy begin to spread out to 5.8 inch group at 100 yards. This is more than likely due to poor maintenance. When compared to the accuracy of the M4, which can easily hold a 3 inch group at 100 yards.
The reason for the AK’s lack of accuracy is due to its “functioning” and projectiles ballistic coefficient. The AK-47 is made up of only a few “moving” parts. There are fewer parts, these parts are made up of large chunks of metal. Take the bolt for example once fired. The hunk of metal that unlocks and flies back once fired is pretty heavy when compared to the M4. As it rides the railing and slams to the back, the weapons harmonics are disturbed significantly, take a look at a few videos of the AK-47 fired in slow motion and see the amount of barrel whip.
There may be a decrease in accuracy due to the fact that the rifles hand guard is made up of wood. Wood has a notorious tendency to bend, tighten, and loosen under temperature changes. For example, in the summer time, the doors within your home may become harder to open and close because wood expands and shrinks when hot. This shrinking and expansion of the wood hand guard, though minuet, changes the harmonics of the barrel.
Solutions for Improve Accuracy
There are some solutions depending on your source capital and willing to spend to get customize barrels, handguards, buttstock and sights. A simple fix that you can try is to increase the distance between the rear and front sight. This will make it easier to aim the AK-47. With that said there are many excellent sight systems available such as the X Shot Systems which makes it easy to see the front sight in dim lighting.
The AK-47 can withstand environments in the desert, mud, cold, extreme heat (109+ degrees Fahrenheit), rain, snow, etc. Malfunctions do occur, usually is failure to feed. Why is that?
Due to the weapons design and function. The fact that there are fewer parts needed to operate the weapon, there are fewer parts to get obscured by any foreign objects such as dirt, mud, etc. The debris simply falls out of the rifle, so it doesn’t affect the critical mechanisms needed to fire the weapon. This is a “peasant” weapon, its suppose to be, there is a reason why our enemies continue to use this weapon system. If you get a chance to compare the trigger housing on an AK and M4 do so and see the differences. Once disassemble, note the open spaces in the trigger mechanism and the designs of the bolt, just picture how debris would and can maneuver in each platform.
In summary the AK-47 when customized, can be highly accurate for an assault rifle. Remember you can’t make this into a sniper rifle, there are other rifles better built for long range shooting. In terms of close quarter shooting providing suppressive fire, reliability and longevity, the AK-47 can do the job.
Written by Jon Hines