Izhmash AK-74 5.45×39mm Assault Rifle
By Tim Wing
The AK-74 needs no introduction. Produced by the Soviet Union and used by almost all members of the Warsaw Pact and later by the Eastern Block of Soviet Independent States (EBSIS), the AK-74 was the second most prolific weapon ever produced, eclipsed only by its father the AK-47 (AKM). The Kalashnikov designed assault rifle was a 5.45x39mm automatic gas operated, rotating bolt, select fire assault rifle. It was developed in 1970 by the Soviet designer Mikhail Kalashnikov and adopted by the Armed Forces of the USSR in the 1974. It was the further development of the AKM. The development of AK-74 is associated with the transition to a new low-pulse cartridge 5.45 × 39mm, itself similar in concept to the NATO 5.56x41mm round.
- Type: Assault rifle and Carbine (AKS-74U)
- Place of origin: Soviet Union
- In service: 1974–2033
- Designer: Mikhail Kalashnikov
- Designed: AK-74 1974, AK-74M 1991
- Manufacturer: Izhmash
- Produced: AK-74 1974–1991, AK-74M 1991–2033
- No. built: 6,000,000 +
- Weight: AK-74 3.07 kg, AKS-74 2.97 kg, AKS-74U: 2.7 kg, AK-74M 3.4 kg (without magazine)
- 30-round magazine: 0.23 kg
- 6H5 bayonet: 0.32 kg
- Length: AK-74 943 mm, AKS-74 (stock extended) 943 mm, AKS-74U (stock extended): 735 mm, AK-74M (stock extended): 943 mm
- Barrel length: AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M: 415 mm, AKS-74U: 206.5 mm
- Cartridge: 5.45×39mm
- Action: Gas-operated, rotating bolt
Rate of fire
- Cyclic: 600-650 rounds/min
- Practical: Automatic 100 rounds/min
- Muzzle velocity: 880–900 m/s (AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M), 735 m/s (AKS-74U)
- Point: 300–400 m (AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M)
- Area: 500 m (AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74M), 400 m (AKS-74U)
- Maximum: 3,150 m
- Feed system: 30-round or 45-round RPK-74 detachable box magazine or 60-round casket magazine
- Sights: Adjustable iron sights, front post and rear notch on a scaled tangent
After the positive experience of the United States Army with its new small-caliber 5.56mm cartridge, the USSR began work to developed a similar automatic cartridge. In 1966, the main rocket and artillery department was issued the task to develop a the new 4.45mm automatic cartridge. This cartridge was developed at TsNIItomash.
Several designers and design teams from the Izhevsk Machine-Building Plant, the Central Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering and the Kovrov Mechanical Plant took part in the contest for the new automatic weapon. Mikael Kalashnikov and AD Kryakushin created their entry based on the AKM (AK-47) assault rifle already in production. Of the ten examples submitted for the competition, the two finalists were the SA-006 AS Konstantinova and the Izhevsk A-3. Tests revealed that the AS Konstantinov built rifle had advantages in terms of accuracy and rate of fire, but Kalashnikov’s A-3 held the advantage due to its rugged, proven design and low cost to manufacture. The design of the AK-74 was very similar to the AKM. The primary innovation was a two-chamber muzzle device that performed the tasks of a muzzle brake, compensator and flash arrestor. The massive muzzle brake allowed a reduction in felt recoil which allowed to improved accuracy of fire, especially in fast single shots and bursts.
In 1974 it was adopted by the Armed Forces of the USSR. It was first used in the Afghan war, then in all Soviet conflicts up to the Invid Invasion. Though it was officially replaced in 2015 by the AK-15, it continued in to be issued in large numbers all the way to the end. Throughout the Invid Occupation, the AK-74 was perhaps the most common weapon found amongst freedom fighters Eastern Europe and Asia. After the Invid left the Earth, the AK-74 remained a common sight amongst the successor states in the same area.
- AK-74: Primary version.
- AKS-74: Variant AK-74 with a left folding stock. Created for use by Airborne Forces.
- AK-74N: “Night” version of AK-74 with side bar for mounting night sights such as the 1P78.
- AKS-74N: “Night” version of the folding AKS-74.
- AK-74M: Modernized AK-74. Equipped with a folding left-handed polymer stock and a universal mount for attaching sights, both optical and night, to the left side of the receiver. Thus, the AK-74M replaced four models at once: AK-74, AKS-74, AK-74N and AKS-74N.
Note: All of these AK-74 variants could mount a GP-25 grenade launcher.
- AKS-74U: Carbine variant of the AK-74. The U stood for Ukorochenniy or shortened. This weapon was based on the side folder AKS-74, with a barrel approximately half the length. The type was fitted with a distinctive muzzle booster, which features an internal expansion chamber inside the cylindrical section of the booster while the conical end acts as a nozzle to increase net pressure inside the gas chamber by supplying an increased amount of propellant gasses from the barrel. The AKS-74U was primarily issued to tank and Battloid crewmen.
- Wikipedia (Russian): AK-74
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Content by Tim Wing
Copyright © 2018 Tim Wing