The AK-47 vs AR-15: Which Rifle is Best?

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Last Updated on December 4, 2021

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 on the Prepper Journal blog today 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.

House cleaning

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, a 20-year military veteran, or a 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 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.

The AK-47 vs AR-15: Which Rifle is Best? - The Prepper Journal
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.

The Facts surrounding the AK-47 vs AR-15 debate

You can quickly see some of the facts below about each rifle on this excellent info graphic from , 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.

For more information and my opinion on which rifle is best, please read below the graphic.
AK-47 vs. AR-15

The Debate

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 of 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.

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. The 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 opportunities 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.

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.

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Freedom-loving American doing what I can to help prepare and inform others. Editor and creator of The Prepper Journal 2013-2017, 2020 -

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I have just a question. As you speak about AR-15 – you probably speak about last major modification (in M-16 words M-16A4) of the rifle, am I right? But of what version of “AK” are you speaking? AK-47? AKM? AK-74? AK-10x? All versions are commonly spoken of as “AK-47″… My question is based on the diagram you attached, where is a production date of “AK” 1949-59… But it is true only for the “47” version. E.g. 74 version is still being produced. I dont know the specifications, but it is probably better than “47” (I dont know which version you… Read more »


One thing I know because I’ve used both my ak and panther mk 12 on two week hikes in the big horns is that yes the ak is a beast of abuse and burden, but I still attempt to keep both said rifles from damage/dysfunction. The problem I’ve had is that my ar has jammed with cheap ammo, tul, wolf, etc. here’s the kicker, I’m an FFL, gunsmith, and former marine. These aren’t user errors. After scrubbing the Chamber function resumes as normal. I’m not getting into combat scenarios, but this one would leave you with your sidearm. Since America… Read more »


Agreed! But the question remains: Which of them would you rather depend upon in a shitfight?

Kudu GS

BULL! Wolf and Tul are not qualify ammo, it’s just keep ammo. DPMS isn’t a quality AR by any mean either. Blackhills, Hornady or at least Federal is quality ammo. Larue, Daniel Defense or Spikes are quality ARm’s. I have 20 years of combat arms experience and have NEVER had a properly maintained AR variant fail in any way during peacetime or while in combat. To say otherwise shows your level of inexperience and bias.


Oh man, did ya see where I put Cheap before Tul, Wolf, etc.? And Did I say anywhere that that Panther was all quality? Your making arguing points on what I didn’t put in the text, and not reading what was in there to begin with. Forget firearms experience, let’s just start with reading something before we comment on it.

Kudu GS

Never said you did? I clearly stated that your experience of crap ammo and mid grade weaponry doesn’t count as valid testimony of a weapon. Use quality ammo and weaponry that is properly maintained and you won’t have a single issue. Period. Can guns fail? Sure, but if you are properly maintaining them they will never fail. You couldn’t see my point because you were focused on a sentiment that I somehow was implying something entirely different. Again you are showing your level of inexperience and bias.


I’ll be perfectly clear. The M16 I served with was more accurate, modular, and sharper than the AK. For the purpose I’m seeing here in the survival weapon standpoint. My Aerp precision piston AR is grand at marksmanship, however, I have an AK with an AKARS and scope. Though not as accurate, I took an Elk cow last year with it. I can hunt game no larger than a deer with .223, with 7.62×39 black bear, ram, and elk. So, if I wanted a survival rifle I’m not limiting myself with the smaller caliber for one. Two, I never only… Read more »

Kudu GS

What? I’ve taken Elk, Mule, Whitetail and Black bear with an AR in .5.56. So don’t give me that line of BS. Good hunter don’t need a large caliber. Hell I’ve taken all but the Mule with Bow inside of 30 yards. Hunting regardless of weapon is a skill that must be mastered. Can’t take anything other than deer???


Game larger than a dear is illegal here with .223. Where are you exactly that allows it? Elk with a .223, clean through heart and lungs? Now I know I’ve been wasting my time with you. Good day…gone camping.

Kudu GS

No, head shot. In New Mexico. Everyone thinks 5.56 and .223 isn’t capable for big game. Though not the preferred or recommend round for big game they are still very capable of bringing down big game. Case in point back in 2013 in Alaska on the Russian River a man killed a Grizzly with a AK-74. Pierced the bears skull and killed it. Much larger rounds have been known to bouncy off bears skulls. So don’t dismiss the 5.56 as incapable or unworthy of big game. In the right hands it can and does deliver, though at not the stand… Read more »


You just like to argue Kudu. You’re boring us.

Trevor Jolly

Well DOH! ‘In the right hands’ even an unloaded pea-rifle can kill a bear. All you need to do is be able to bash the beastie over the head with it often enough.


I’ve been shooting things for decades, in all sorts of circumstances, and as a matter of human decency, would NEVER take anything but a headshot. (and have been sorely tempted once or twice to remove the head from arsehole cowboys who call themselves ‘hunters’. So many of this ilk wouldn’t be out there if their victims could shoot back.)

Trevor Jolly

I detest so-called ‘sporting shooters’/killers for fun, trying to increase the size/content of their their scrotums. None of these cunts would be nearly so willing if the beasties could shoot back.


Interesting comment. I don’t have combat experience. But I do have experience with common sense. I own a Norinco MAK 90 (7.62×39) & Sig M400 (5.56). Both are excellent (in my opinion) rifles. The MAK will eat anything without constant care. She’s like this girl I use to know. Ready to go without notice and forget low, no maintenance. The Sig is a bit more paticular even with scrubbing after each use but, as expected a tad more accurate. In my opinion, any combat rifle that must use top quality ammo to be dependable isn’t the ideal combat rifle since… Read more »


It’s not about the top quality ammo G-Dog, it’s about the right ammo. Two different things. The AR was not designed around Russian manufacturing standards. Would you use lead fuel in your new 2017 Chevrolet, after all it’s fuel. Ok, some of you might say “Hell Yes”, but my point is it might run ok at first, but it will eventually have problems. Same with ammo, even with it being the same caliber, improper bullet weight to barrel twist, powder burn, casing type, and the use of lacquer or not, can and will affect the operation. I use only American… Read more »


I understand what you mean because you’re precisely making my point. ‘Best ammo, casing type’ etc. My AK platform only needs the right caliber. I doesn’t give a damn about lacquer, powder burn etc. The AK doesn’t care if the ammo is U.S. made, Russian, Chinese or whatever. That was my point. Call it “best ammo”, “particular ammo”, “powder burn”, casing type. Bottom line: AKs don’t care.


The AK Will fire evertime .. good luck hitting your intended target .. AKs are crap

Trevor Jolly

They beat the shit out of American crap in Vietnam and elsewhere (Most recently in Afghanistan.)

Trevor Jolly

Point taken. 93.3% of assorted terrorists can’t be wrong.;)

Trevor Jolly

Ever put a Lee Enfield .303 to the test? When I was growing up every household had one (army disposal) and a shotgun behind the kitchen door. between them all needs were served (my mother who had a psychotic terror of snakes, which were knee-deep where we lived, went through umpteen shotgun shells over the years. She even tried sniping them off the woodpile with the .303 on occasion. Much different world these days, and I’m glad I’m 70 and not 17.

Last edited 5 months ago by Trevor Jolly

Looks like YOU are the biased one, Kudu. I sell guns for a living and every one of my hundreds of customers all agree on the AK being loose and able to feed any ammo under any conditions while the AR has to be babysat and clean or it fails to feed. I also have both weapons and elicit the same opinion.


From what I’m gathering from what you’ve said, a good test between the two platforms might be to feed them both what they don’t usually like and see which one fails first. Problem is, what doesn’t the AK like as far as ammo quality? Since, as you’ve inferred the AR performs optimally with higher quality ammo, that’s hardly an advantage over the AK. Since the AK will eat anything, higher quality ammo would be a delicacy. In summary, the points you’ve made indicate the AK is the most reliable. AR – Loves high quality ammo. AK – Loves high quality… Read more »



7.62x39mm is not produced in large quantities here in the U.S., must be imported from mostly unstable parts of the world!!!! Furthermore, what is produced in the U.S. is expensive.

No ammo, No work!!!!


I Disagree. I don’t know where you shop but I’ve had a AK variant in 7.63x39mm since the early 90s and have never had a problem getting ammo. I don’t even bother worrying about quality anymore because I’ve never had an issue with the ammo I’ve used. Norinco, Tul, Black Bear, Brown Bear whatever. My AK doesn’t care. I keep at least 1000 rds around at all times and I’ve never broken the bank to do it. The only viable argument is the interchangeability and availability of replacement parts should something break. The AR does have that advantage. But then,… Read more »

Kudu GS

Here ya go straight from a 22 year year Special Operations Vet CSM of CAG (Delta) Pat McNamara. He said when asked Which is better in a fight, an AK-47 or an AR-15? “Easy one, AR, that’s not even close. That 7.62×39 is a devastating round. It’s going to go right through a lot of stuff — it’s really freaking bad ass. But ergonomically, the AK-47 is just not sound — that’s a conscript army freaking gun. To me the AR is just a more professional platform, and there’s a lot more you can do with it. And when it… Read more »


Bs! All guns fail even high quality guns with high quality ammo and high quality maintenance.
You have no real experience with combat or combat training


When you shoot a low end gun and low end ammo what do you expect. While you might be a gunsmith, have you ever attended a Colt AR15/M16 armor school and been certified? I have and I can tell its user error. Cheap gun and cheap ammo, bad mix!!!! Buy quality once or you will buy twice!! Pat, good article by the way!!!


I agree with this guy !! shoot crap ammo get crap results .. If you can’t afford good Ammo get rid of one of the sisters


And let’s not forget the ability to get behind and close to the the other dill!

Trevor Jolly

…and IF my auntie had balls she’d be my uncle. A rule of life is: A good big one will always beat a good small one. The AK has proven itself; and I remember that in Vietnam M15 (and similar) were being dumped for AK47s whenever they were available. Range is unimportant. If you need to reach a mile out you shouldn’t be shooting at it; even a top marksman counts on luck when looking at a target 1000 metres away. I have a Weatherby mag.(which will outshoot any standard military weapon all ways to Sunday, and once managed to… Read more »

Northern Raider

I definitely choose the AK 47 or the more modern 74 and its derivatives as used by places like Sweden and South Africa. The AK family was designed to do the job, cost was not a consideration, The AR being American was built to a price. I used both on various attachments over the years when I was in the British army along with other notables like the Galil, H& K G 36, Steyr Aug etc. The AK would work flawlessly even the most appalling of conditions and regardless of how well it was cleaned (or not). The wonderful chaps… Read more »

Northern Raider

Eze makes a very valid point, todays AK family of weapons are fine quality beasts that still have all the good points of the original with improved specification and quality controls as well. In a survival situation for an ordinary dude not part of the SF, just a guy with a family trying to survive, who may not have the time or skills to religiously maintain his rifle, a guy who NEEDS it to work in appalling conditions and with reduced maintenance the AK wins hands down. The AK is the Hummer of the rifle family the AR15 is the… Read more »

Kudu GS

1. All AK’s are horrible marksmanship weapons and in a survival situation marksmanship is paramount. 2. AR maintenance is quite simple really. 3. Summers are horrible vehicles compared to Jeeps. Jeeps are reliable, easy to find parts and repair and can go where a hummer can’t.


That “horrible marksmanship” myth is a bit overstated for the AK. It’s not as accurate overall as the AR. But, it’s far from “horrible”. I consistently get 1 1/2″ groups at 150.




In a survival situation EVERYTHING is paramount. The AK isn’t “a horrible marksmanship weapon”. That’s and extreme overstatement. The truth is the AK is accurate enough in a firefight. The difference in accuracy between the AK and AR platforms have more to do with the front and rear iron sights being too close together. This is easily overcome with decent zeroed optics. Inside of 400yds outfitted with the same zeroed optic my performance with each platform is virtually identical. Typically, the effect range of an AR platform is about 200yds beyond the AK. But, “real world” small arms firefights don’t… Read more »


Nah. Marksmanship may be an issue, but for my money being able to empty a 30-round clip in three seconds settles ANY other issue.


Why you hating on the Jeep, MAN!!!!
You don’t have to be a SF operator, just a responsible firearms owner. SHTF is not the time to learn what your weapon skills are or what kind of beating your weapon will take. The AK is a machine, and like every other machine made by man it will fail at some point. You take care of it all the time, like your life might depend on it.

Northern Raider

By the way your info graphic is comparing the old 7.62 x 39 AK with the modern AR15, that’s not very fair or responsible. you should compare the AR15 with the 5.56 AK 74 so its fairer and more balanced.


The AK 74 is 5.45

Northern Raider

Wag your right of course, I was having a senior moment, especially as I have an empty steel cased 5.45 shell on my desk Doh !!!







Some commas and a period after “With”, please!!! haha Just messing with you man!

Oh, and the yelling!!!


There are 5.56×45 AK’s. Bought a pistol one just to round out the collection without having to stock a new ammo caliber. Its neat, but I really prefer the AR-15 ergo’s since I’m so used to it.

Nathan Simcox

If you’re gonna compare all the “modern” aks then let’s also bring in the ar10 and the 300 a ac etc. This was a basic comparison of just those two models. I have owned both rifles. I have since condensed to just ar15s because all parts fit all brands unlike the different aks.


You mean the 5.45x39mm Ak-74 right? or the Ak-100 series, because the Red Army and later GRAU (or rather izhmash) never chambered the AK-74 in 5.56mm NATO. However the 100 series if that is what your referring to is quite comparable to the AR Platform, in terms of performance (accuracy) and adaptability.

Mark Devillier

Either, or … I’m just glad Americans have them in large #’s!
This is the only thing that keeps foreign invasion at bay. Our own Government is slowly rotting from the inside …. but there is little one can do when a cancer is misdiagnosed for a long period of time.
Dont tread on me.

Don Roberts

Just a biased opinion on my part as I own both the AK47 and AK74.

The AK47 with a 30 round magazine is a load to carry and shoot. On the other hand the AK74 with a 30 round magazine weights a lot less and is a great little battle rifle. It takes very little knowledge to maintain and shoot either the AK47 or AK74.

I’m not certain that the AR is an easy weapon to just pick up and shoot.

Also the cost and availability of AK ammo (either 7.62×39 or 5.45×39) is better than for the AR.


If you buy steel case prices per round are nearly identical, especially since the Ukraine got invaded and basically doubled the price of 5.45×39. Operation wise AK and AR are fairly similar with 1 big difference in last round bolt lockback. The AK is not as ergonomic. Big sharp selector, reciprocating charging handle, and rocking mag loading. Almost everything on the AR can be done 1 handed. Selector, bolt, and mag release are right there and can be operated with the grip hand.


That was an excellent post Don. I love the AK74 but those are all valid drawbacks of the AK. Let your thumb stick up on the bolt side of an AK once and you’ll never do it again.





You just need to know how to do it!!! Just this AK video out.


The AK74, as the AK47, is not a battle rifle, but an assault rifle. The cartridge is intermediate. Battle rifle territory would be the 7.62x51mm or 7.62x54R variants.

Northern Raider

The more I think about this subject and if the choice was between a MODERN AK versus the Modern AR 15 I think that if I was a cop, city dweller, federal agents, Coast guard or member of some other professional organisation that had full workshop and armoury support I would probably go for an accessorised AR15. BUT if I was (am) a prepper, hunter, rural dweller, forester, off gridder, loner, survivalist, etc the choice would have to be the rugged durability of the MODERN AK such as the AK74 carbine in 5.56 x 39. Without afull armourer as back… Read more »


I have not deployed but have combat deployments with the m16a2, m16a4, and m4, being shot at by AK versions and still pick the AR


I have not only deployed but have combat deployments is what I meant to say.

Matthew Mann

I know I’m late to this conversation, but I’ve gotta say that the AR-15 is extremely simple to work on yourself with only an AR armorer’s wrench (about $20), a set of punches, a mallet and maybe a screwdriver. I replaced my AR’s stock fire control group with a Geissele two-stage fire control group with nothing more than my bare hands and a 5.56 cartridge. You can easily build your own entire AR-15 from individual parts ordered on the internet in an hour or two. AKs are usually welded and riveted together from a mixture of domestic and foreign surplus… Read more »


I have had the pleasure of putting thousands of rounds through both guns. I will try not to be too tactical of a mindset but give some food for thought. I LOVE the AR! Ammo- if I’m in close quarters I am giving a hammered pair or failure drill. That being said I can carry more 5.56 ammo than 7.62. Also a lighter recoil with the 5.56 which will allow me to get back on target faster and help with follow up shots. The ammo price comparison really is not a big difference and I have had no problem ever… Read more »

Northern Raider

Can I remember folks that in both Iraq and Afhanistan the terrible shortcomings of the 5.56 round showed itself up, that’s why US and UK plus others suddenly went mad on a shopping spree for 7.62 rifles new and refurbished. 5.56 simply did not cut the mustard especially in the mud enclosures the locals live in in Stan. It took quickly obtained tuned M14s to begin with to do the job. Now both forces are looking VERY closely again at 7.62 / .308.


I think comparing ak47 in run of the mill configuration is not fair comparison. At current state, there lot of accessories available for ak47/74, not as much ask ar15 though. I own both platforms. I have Vepr 7.62×39 / 54R, Vepr 5.45 x 39 and HK 556/ 7.62 (own both). I love both systems, I do prefer piston over DI. My X39 is heavily modified and have very little recoil and very accurate. It really about person and what mod were done to the rifle. But if I had to pick one rifle, I would pick my X39, because of… Read more »


Just saying, In the graph above it says the AR-15 in used in Australia, and I know for a fact, we Aussies use an AUG variant.


Aussies use both rifles actually. AUG’s for the line troops and M4 variants for SOF and some specialty jobs.


(yes, the first post is mine, I just happened to misstype the nick 🙂 I believe in this discussion, it is very important in which region each of us is. Because as I wrote in my first post (yes, it is me, I just happened to misstype the nick :-), North America region is probably going for the AR. Not only because of the availability of the weapon/accesories/ammo in that region, but also because they are very familiar with the gun. They are used to its weight, behaviour, recoil… That makes it an ultimate rifle for them. For those in… Read more »


As a “newbie” to prepping, and a tight budget, the best rifle IMO is the one you can get your hands on. Weight, accessories, ammo size, etc. are meaningless if you can’t get one in hand.


I started with a sks uses the same ammo as the ak And you can pick one up for around $200 it is best to keep your options open so I now have an ar and ak as well would not mind using any of them in a pinch







Northern Raider

I guess as Pat live in the US the focus must be on what is best for that domestic environment and that would naturally be the AR15 family.

Though I still think for preppers and ordinary folks with limited facilities I would go for a Ruger Mini 14.


Informative article. The AR-15 is on my shopping list.

Mark Duplessis

I understand your reasoning for the AR and I agree that the best rifle is the one that suits you. Personally I chose the AK and for some of the reasons you’ve listed. The main one being penetration and cleaning. I live in south Louisiana where everything is extremely humid and, once out of the city, is mostly marsh and swamp. In a survival situation I don’t plan on stopping to clean my rifle. If while on the move the I had to drop to the ground, the odds of being on dry ground are very slim. I don’t want… Read more »

A. Prepper

I understand the premise of your comparison, but, here’s a simple solution that should work for many family-type preppers. Get at least one of each. The AK variant for the husband (father) and the AR variant (in 5.56 NATO for sure, not .223) for the wife and kids. AK’s are somewhat heavy and clumsy, best handled by an experienced male shooter. Females/kids would find the AR variant much easier to operate and carry. For example, with safety considerations in mind, it is MUCH easier to flick the safety on/off between shots on my wife’s SIG M400 (AR) than on my… Read more »


Really great article, and follow-up comments. Thank you all very much.

OK, so let’s say I decided I want to acquire either/both. At today’s prices, about how much should I budget for the weapon/s, optics, lights, magazines? and once I get comfortable with either/both of these weapons, how much ammo – at minimum – will I need to keep on hand? Tough to say, I know, but I’d appreciate someone’s best guess. TIA.


It’s like buying a car depends on the options but if you want to go cheep it can be done you can get a carbon ar for around $800 a ak on the low end around $350 you will not want to carry more than 2500 rounds for either very far and there is a big difference in ammo prices as well the 5.56 will run around $600 for 1000 rounds picked up in bulk the cheep steal case 7.62 will be around $300 for 1000 rounds a little hint the ar’s chambered 5.56 will shoot 2.23 ammo but the… Read more »


Hillbilly – many thanks for the prompt reply, the good info and advice, and the good wishes. Right back atcha.

Prepping in progress…


Thanks to all who have weighed in with additional perspective, whose comments don’t appear here for some reason. All excellent input that will help me decide. PIP…keep ’em coming.


I like them both for certain reasons. I like the AR Because of its weight and accuracy, and because it is like Lego’s for Adults. The ammo may be expensive, but I can reload it. The AK is awesome because I “can” drop it in a vat of Guacamole and fire it. It’s easy to load (not that the AR isn’t) and shoot. I can hand it to my wife or son’s and they can fire it and reload it with minimal instruction. The ammo for the AK is cheaper but you can’t reload steel cases. It doesn’t matter what… Read more »


Ah, the age-old gun debate. There’s a few issues the article overlooks. Range: The extra range of the AR is debatable, especially “effective range”. I’ve read numerous studies (take that for what it’s worth) concerning the effectiveness of the 5.56 out of the standard 16″ barrel and most of them conclude that the real effective range of the round is similar to the 7.62×39. The thing the 5.56 has going for it is muzzle velocity plain and simple. Once that smaller round gets below it’s optimum speed it massively loses performance, something that will happen quicker with a carbine length… Read more »


One reason there are so many AKs out there is that the old Soviet Union was the single source supplier for the majority of the Warsaw Pact and flooded third world markets in Asia and Middle East with its 1940’s pattern rifles. The NATO standard was .308 until the 60’s and then 5.56 afterward and each member nation only had to have ammo compatibility.


I don’t think the police or military will be sharing ammo or weapons parts so that point is moot. Also, as far as accuracy I know my experience is different than anyone else’s but my AK’s are human size target iron sights accurate to 400 yards +. I won’t take anything away from the AR but it’s primary design goal was to injure enemy combatants. Will it kill? Absolutely. The AK just kills better. If the proverbial S does hit the fan, I’m grabbing my AK and several magazines filled with FMJ and several more with SP ammo. FMJ for… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thanks for your comments Kris, but I think you misunderstand the point about police and military carrying the same caliber. It doesn’t have anything to do with them sharing…

The simple fact is regardless of circumstances, there will be a predominance of .556 ammo available. I would think that there would also be 7.62, albeit in shorter supply.

Bill Brasky

All in all considering these prices I’d rather buy several Ak-47’s and have everyone in my group armed.

YourKidding Right

Excellent discussion–myself–never had a good M16 when I was in the service, A1 or A2–spent more time clearing the thing than shooting it–might be just because they were wore out BUT–My AK’s–never an extraction issue–the AR’s definitely have the edge in several categories BUT from my experience–they are finicky, to finicky for me. The AK–it doesn’t care what ammo you throw at it or if it has laid in the mud for a week–I do own an AR but it would not be my first choice in the area I’m in–100 yds or less visibility–They both have their attributes in… Read more »


You can get an ak in 223, and you can get an AR in 7.62×39. I think it really depends on your situation. AKs weren’t meant for long range, they were meant for modern engagements in cities and close quarters. ARs can really do both though. AK ammo is cheaper but AR ammo is plenty in the US. But you can really just get the same rifle but in a different caliber so that shouldn’t matter too much except on finding mags that’ll work. Newer ARs are far better and more reliable than the old m16s but still require some… Read more »


Why would accuracy at 200 yards matter when the enemy probably won’t be stationary knowing they’ll live longer if they keep moving. Trying to pick out targets at long distances might not work too well when targets are erraticaly moving trying not to get shot. Both rifles are accurate at short-medium ranges. If one factors out long range shooting, the AK is superior in many ways. The 7.62 has more penetration potential than the 5.56, it’s less prone to jamming, less finicky, and in a SHTF situation where maintanence parts may not be readily available, the AK will still function… Read more »

Pat Henry

OK, fair enough. But, if the platform is only useful on the range, why does our military use it? Why does every police force field officers with these? Why are special operations running around with M4’s? Shouldn’t they all be using AK-47’s if they are all around superior?


You ask, “But, if the platform is only useful on the range, why does our military use it? Why does every police force field officers with these? Why are special operations running around with M4’s?” Can I take a shot at this one? Maybe this is just a naive, cynical oversimplification..but it could be that the powerful lobby for American defense contractors have made it eminently clear to politicians that they would never stand for something like that? Politicians have been taught that if they don’t dance to the tune being played by powerful lobbies, PACs, etc., the flow of… Read more »

Pat Henry

That may very well be true, but I guess more specifically my question was that if the platform (piston driven, 7.62 round) is so much better why hasn’t the US moved in this direction by now? The defense contractors can make one weapon just as well as another so if they aren’t making the standard M4 variants they could make an AK variant and still make money, right? Government loves new toys so why is this standard still hanging tough? We are already giving away MRAPs because they are obsolete, the uniforms they wear are changing again soon from ACU… Read more »


Right you are. “What is” and “what could/should be” aren’t always the same, especially once politics get inserted into the mix.


actually marines use HK variant which is piston driven AR


I don’t need to worry about need spare parts with my Ak since I can make most of the parts with a few common tools found in any hardware store. Can you do this with your AR. Not downing the fine machine parts in AR but hard to make with hacksaw and dremil.

Pat Henry

OK, I guess you have me beat then. I can’t make spare parts for my AR, but the fact you can for your AK seems to illustrate that either you are an exceptionally crafty person or the AK is made up of simple parts. Either way, I don’t think most people can make machine parts with some simple tools like you can so the AR is still my choice. Also, if the power is out, that Dremel isn’t going to work too well.

David Sanders

A good argument can be made for both. I have each of them in my collection, but that said, Ill take the AK…. KNOCKDOWN DELUX power.


I say, let the majority of preppers use the AK-47. This way, there is more AR centered parts and ammo for me to use if SHTF.

Pat Henry

Ha ha! Ditto!


I have both and use the M-4 at work. I am very familiar with both and shoot both on a regular basis. It is hard to beat either one, as both fill a notch and are able to perform the same basic duties. Yes the AR is more accurate than most AK’s. However, given a choice of only one, the AK would win hands down for me for most of the reasons already stated. However, when you look at peneration at say 100 yards the AK also wins hands dwn, as I have shot through 2 cinder blocks placed one… Read more »


Also another reason that our government hasn’t switched to the 7.62×39, is it is not a NATO round where the 5.56 is. If the 7.62×39 round was a NATO round, we would have probably switched over. As we have a lot of military and reserve personnel where I work and they all like the 7.62×39 round better, just not the rifle.


I think you mean the 7.62×51 or .308. We would never switch to a common caliber as the Russians.


If I may add my $.02, I was a trauma nurse; I have encountered and treated several GSW (gun shot wounds). 1) FMJ bullets suck! Little hole going in, little hole going out. They are designed to WOUND. Use soft point or (even better) HP. 2) .22 vs .30, hands down use the .30; the .22, .223, 5.56 makes a much smaller hole and does less tissue damage. If you want the target to go down and stay down, Use a 7.62 HP. That’s why I prefer the SKS, AK, or anything else that shoots 7.62×39, or .308, or 30-06.… Read more »


Well, the comparison was not wholesome..and without a common sense and rationale… If you want to have a gun in SHTF… Well in Middle east, they all are currently living in shtf, with constant war,terrorism, deaths, famine etc..And there they choose AK’s Why? its quite SHTF world points to consider 1. It won’t be like US army battling terrorists which is techno-savvy, group (battalions) and air will be atmost with your wife, kids ..and/or few friends who don’t have tactical or strategic insight. 2. The cleaning materials will be very difficult to get hands on… after few months… Read more »

Sandy Murdock

I am afraid I have to disagree with the author. I spent a number of years in the army so I have been around weapons ‘a bit’ here and there. If I were looking for a COMBAT rifle I would probably choose the AR15, but for a SURVIVAL rifle I’d be looking at the AK. The AK is much more rugged, and when you are in survival mode you are not spending lot of time cleaning your rifle, you are trying to survive. If you are in a survival situation you are not firing at targets 500 meters away, you… Read more »

Omega Tactical and Survival

I know soldiers were having problems in Afghanistan and Iraq with the AR15 reaching out at a distance, so they started reverting back and reissuing M14’s to certain units to help in accuracy.
When the M16/AR platform was designed during the Vietnam era it was ideal for those conditions. Well not idea I won’t say that but better suited for that atmosphere. I believe both weapons the AR and the AK have their advantages and disadvantages.

Steve D

The FBI, after extensive studies, is recommending police ditch their .40SW cartridges in favor of the more controllable 9mm. A big part of this recommendation is that modern 9mm ammo is equally as effective as .40 or .45.

Carry this logic into the rifle cartridge size debate. After watching video of what a modern round such as the Winchester PDX1 does to ballistics gel I can’t imagine needing anything more powerful against a likely adversary. A magazine with alternating rounds of expanding hybrid ammo and FMJ (or others) seems like a great idea to this non-expert.


Marc Redding

I have often thought of this myself.. Great Article!!! And myself getting into prepping, I had to consider this scenario awhile back.. Thus, living in the USA, your I chose the AR-15 for the main reasons you gave. Accesibility of ammo and parts, the fact most government agencies in the US use this weapon, and many civilians also own the AR. I did read a small article awhile back where the Father of the AK-47 was asked about some AK-47 versions that had been modified with accessories and such.. And his reply was “The rifle was fine, adding anything to… Read more »


as long as you don’t touch main operational parts of the AK, you not sacrificing the reliability


In a abusive environment the AK wins hands down there are no exceptions, you can’t throw you rifle in a river, run it over in a vehicle, toss it from a building onto cement, drag it on a dirt gravel road, bury it in the mud, and expect it to fire and gas impingement system will lose every time. Is this rifle capable of good accuracy up to 200 yard man size targets; absolutely! Now can you make it more accurate with rails, sights, barrels without a doubt, so the conclusion is a simple one is it a fighting rifle,… Read more »

William Kevin Styers

When we talk about reliability issues between the two rifles what we are really talking about is piston versus direct impingement. Direct impingement can be a finnicky system by its very nature. You are essentially funneling hot gas, and whatever unspent powder and particulates it carries, through a very narrow aperture to create pressure against the bolt carrier to move the action. The very narrow part is the key there. Over time, and without proper maintenance, that narrow aperture can become clogged resulting in feeding malfunctions at best. If we are talking about a prepper end of days scenario then… Read more »

Pat Henry

Great comments! Thanks William.


We did some “research” once on a couple of dead bulls that took a lightning bolt while standing too close to the fence. We had 2 ARs, one AK, lots of ammo, and 2 dead bovines that were just starting to puff up. Results; 1. I guess we were about 120 yards out. All rifles were right on, but the four shooters were not stressed and the extra weight of AK was not a factor. If I’m fatigued, I miss with heavy rifles… 2. The AK made way bigger holes! You could cut the front legs off the young steer… Read more »

Joe E Goodart

A survival weapon? That be the AK hands down. It can shoot anything that fits in the chamber and you don’t need to oil it continually. Yes it design is rude and crude but it is simple. A 6 year old can take it down for cleaning. It is an ugly but a very elegant design.(simplicity) If you ask the question which is the best platform, well that be the AR hands down, just because you can do so much with it, but for reliability, usefulness at 150 yards, and for survival it is AK. 30 cal is better than… Read more »


There are some good points brought up and ultimately you did come to the proper conclusion to get a rifle with easily acquirable parts and ammo for your area. I am left with a big question that makes me question you having ever shot either of these rifles. What ar15 shoots 7 moa? and what ak shoots 10 moa? I’ve only ever seen ar’s with less than 3 moa (normally 2 or lower) and ak’s are generally around the 6 moa range. I’m referring to 16″ barrels for both of those. Maybe if you’re talking about a ppsh or something… Read more »


The AK-47 including modern variants is a superior firearm compared to the AR-15 (+variants) in a combat situation.. the AR-15 is over rated! In my experience the Aug steyr kicks the pants off the AR-15


If you are talking about a prepping situation, where you are living in the middle of a national or global emergency, you’re not going to be able to always clean and properly maintain your weapons. If I was in a survival situation, I would want to have a gun I knew I could rely on no matter what. Because I can kill more easily without wasting ammunition due to it’s larger caliber, and because of it’s unrivaled reliability, my edge goes to the ak. Also, some people complain that the range of the ak is only 400m, compared to the… Read more »


One thing I have to say is if your hit by an AK 47 you have less chance to live from bleeding, than an AR 15, and you may have a greater chance to live being hit by a AR 15! AK makes more of a mess!

strato man

Not going to try to say which is “better” because that requires us to set the rating criteria but I do have a specific comment.

I have 5 AR type rifles, the least accurate of the bunch (14.5″ lightweight barrel and a EOS holographic sight) will do 3MOA 10 shot groups (that’s 2MOA 3 shot group). The other ones are all set up more for target work and will shoot anywhere from 0.5 -1MOA.

Spirit of 1776

Your desire, preparedness,skill and gear will have more to determine how well either one of these work for you.Learn to fire iron sights because batteries die ,lenses break and technology fades.Don’t think you’re prepared because you have stored food and a couple of boxes of ammo.You wont be taking the time to load boxes of freeze dried when they are kicking in the front door.Have thousands of rounds stored in two to three safe places have your skills sharpened monthly at the range.Most of all be prepared to leave what you have to to get away.When you’re running they can… Read more »

Pat Henry

Thank you for your comments!

greg adkins

Not discussing the 5.45 in this debate is ridiculous it negate’s the 5.56 lightweight advantage and accuracy advantage at distance firing.I own both,they are both reliable/durable but in my opinion the AR needs to be maintained more often to keep up that reliability.Plus in grid down you don’t know how often you will be able to maintain the weapon(not just a quick cleaning)So for me I’ll grab the 5.45.Can’t speak to the 7.62 never have owned one.

Chrush Whorty

This the best “AR15 vs. AK47” analysis I’ve ever seen (so far). Thank you!

Don White

26 years active duty Army service and I’m in the middle of this decision right now. The AR has fought against the AK in almost every part of the world and they’re both excellent. So my first conclusion is that there is no WRONG decision here. So what does matter? #1 ACQUISITION. It appears to me (though I’m not 100% convinced yet) that with a limit of $800, I will get a better quality weapon for going with an AK. Both prices have become inflated but the AR appears more so. #2 AMMO RESUPPLY IN SHTF SCENARIO I think goes… Read more »

mojo risen

the mission and the objective determines the weapon, only a mass minded idiot would chose one over the other . both have added bodies to the cemeteries .

Pat Henry

So your stance is that it doesn’t matter which one you get? Or is it that you should get both? Neither?

What if you have a budget? What if you already have one and are looking to purchase another rifle? What if your mission and object precludes selecting one?

mojo risen

what is the mission ? clearing buildings or patroling the southern borders ? are we in the jungle or hot sandy desert ? i know what weapon to chose . i own several both . if you live in the USA go AR . if you live in russia go AK . that way if the shtf you know you can always get your hands on 223/556 ammo . whatever it takes (kill, trade ,steal) to achieve the objective .

Leslie James

I’m an American and have fired both weapons and much prefer the AK47.

Boyd Timothy Babcock

I like them both. The AK for its durability and dependability and the AR for its precision.