Face-Off: AK47 vs AR15 — Accuracy

The AK-47 and AR-15 are often compared with hard lines being drawn by gun owners who prefer one over the other. It’s a bit of an apples-and-oranges scenario, though. They are two different rifles designed in contrasting ways but each has a solid following. So, what’s the difference in accuracy? Paul Harrell discusses those details in this video comparison of the two platforms.

Paul Harrell compares AK47 vs AR15
In this video, Paul Harrel compares the accuracy of the AK-47 to the AR-15 platform. (Photo credit: Paul Harrell)

What are the differences between the AK47 vs AR15?

AK-47 History and Details

  • Originated in the Soviet Union
  • Designed in 1946-48 by Mikhail Kalashnikov
  • Chambered in 7.62x39mm
  • Used in many wars by foreign soldiers
  • The gun of choice in the Middle East
  • Gas-piston operated

AR-15 History and Details

  • Originated in the United States
  • Designed in Eugene Stoner in 1956
  • Chambered in 5.56 NATO (among many, many others)
  • Used by United States military
  • Inarguably the most popular rifle platform in the country
  • Gas-operated (gas impingement or gas piston)
Paul Harrell shooting from the bench, comparing AK47 vs AR15.
The first comparison shots were fired from the bench. (Photo credit: Paul Harrell)

AK47 vs AR15 Test Details

For the purposes of the test, Harrell used the same brand of ammo (Winchester white box). The ammunition he used had different weights, though. The AR-15 ammo was 5.56 NATO 55 grain FMJ and the AK-47 ammo was 7.62×39 123 grain FMJ. The guns used are an M16A1 clone (the original M16A1 was a military rifle with full-auto capabilities) and a Romanian-built AK-47. Both guns were equipped with irons, although the rifles use different types of iron sights.

Shots fired for the first comparison round were a total of five shots fired from a bench, without sandbags, from a distance of 100 yards. A 50-yard test followed the 100-yard test and after those, Harrell ran a 300-yard test. For the 300-yard test, he changed AKs, switching the Romanian AK-47 for a WASR model which is based on the Romanian Model 63.

Here’s what Harrell had to say:

“Even when I try to use what I consider to be a more accurate version of an AK [the WASR] and ammo I would consider to be better ammo than what you typically shoot out of an AK, it still comes up short in terms of accuracy when compared to an AR-15…platform.

“And there are people who will say yeah, but you could do a trigger job to the AK. Well, I could have done a trigger job to this [AR-15]…to tell you the truth, this particular rifle has probably the worst trigger of any AR-15…platform rifle I’ve ever fired. And so, when you say in terms of what you could do with aftermarket adjustments, you could do that to both rifles, and I’m trying to compare them in their off-the-shelf format.”

Check out the video to find out what else Paul Harrell thinks of the two platforms:

AK47 vs AR15 Accuracy — Which Rifle is Better?

In reality, the two rifles are different platforms with varying features to recommend them. If you’ve fired both you understand the significant difference in controls and use; if you haven’t shot both platforms, you definitely should. It makes you a more well-rounded gun owner and better able to operate a multitude of firearms rather than only your own specific gun.

What do you think? Which platform is better, the AR-15 or the AK-47? Tell us in the comments below.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

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