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Guys and gals this is a little article I threw together, and I would like your opinion on it.

This article is some of my opinions on the AK-47, AR-15 and the FN/FAL rifles.

Lets start from the very beginning:

Inserting a magazine

AK-47 uses a cam style magazine, where the magazine has to be cammed into position
FN/FAL uses the same type of cam action, but seems to be a better design then the AK
AR-15 magazine goes straight in

In a stressful situation, its going to be easier for someone to insert an AR magazine then any of the others.

After inserting the magazine, its going to be easier for the FN/FAL or the AR-15 to charge the weapon then the AK-47.

People may argue that with proper training the AK magazine is just as easy to insert as the AR or the FN/FAL magazines. The thing is, not everyone has time or money to take the whole family to the range on a regular basis and fire off thousands of rounds in training exercises. For someone that gets to shoot a few times a year, the AR is going to be easier to load then any of the other rifles.



Charging the weapon

AK charging handle is on the right hand side of the weapon. After the magazine is inserted with the left hand, the shooter has to either reach over the receiver to charge the weapon, or switch hands that is holding the weapon and use the right hand to cycle the bolt.

FN/FAL charging handle is on the left side of the weapon. After the magazine is inserted with the left hand, the left hand stays on the left side of the rifle and cycles the bolt.

AR-15 charging handle is on the rear of the receiver, making is easy to charge for right or left handed shooters.



Last round bolt hold back

The AK does not have a bolt hold open feature after the last round was fired, while the AR and FN does.

After a new magazine is inserted into the AK, the shooter is going to have to cycle the bolt to chamber a round. With the AR and FN/FAL the shooter just releases the bolt and round is chambered.

In the having to reload the weapon category, the AR and the FN/FAL are the clear winners.

Recoil

From my personal experience with all three rifles, the AK seems to have the most recoil. Maybe its due to the lack of a well designed buffer system combined with the light weight of the rifle, I don't know. But the AK seems to kick a little harder then either the AR or the FN/FAL.

The AR-15 was designed to have as little recoil as possible. The buffer system, combined with the 223/5.56mm gives the AR-15 very little recoil.

The FN/FAL has an adjustable gas system, recoil buffer and the rifle weighs between 9 - 10 pounds. All of those factors combined reduces the recoil of the 308 Winchester to very manageable levels.

In the recoil category the AR wins first place, FN/FAL second and the AK-47 comes in third.

Reliability


There is no clear winner here, as all three rifles have been battle proven all over the world. But,,, the AK-47 seems to have a slight advantage when it comes to dusty, muddy, or otherwise **** poor conditions.

If you want a rifle that will function regardless if its covered in snow, ice, sand, mud,,,, then the AK-47 is the rifle to go with.

During some of the conflicts in the middle east, the FN/FAL ran into issues with sand getting into the action. This might be a factor if you live in a desert. But, if you look at the recent conflicts in Libya with the resistance fighters/rebels/freedom fighters, they are mainly using FN/FALs. If there was a real issue with the FN/FAL and sand, why are they being used so much in Libya.

Accuracy

There are people out there that are going to claim that the AK-47 in the right hands can shoot just as good as the AR. That might very well be true, but this is my list, and this is the order I am putting the 3 rifles in order of accuracy.

1. AR-15
2. FN/FAL
3. AK-47

And that is just the way it is.

Breakdown and cleaning

AK-47, you remove the dust cover, remove the bolt assembly, remove the gas piston, wash everything off in a muddy stream, put it back together. The AK-47 was designed to be cleaned in the most adverse conditions known to mankind.

AR-15, get your rain poncho out, smooth out a spot to put the parts, because if you clean the bolt, your going to have a bunch of small parts to keep track of.

FN/FAL, push a lever on the receiver, break the rifle open, pull the bolt assembly out. To remove the gas piston, there is a retaining pin that you remove at the end of the gas tube. In all, the FN/FAL is pretty easy to break down and clean.

In the breakdown and cleaning category, the AK-47 leads the pack with a strong first place, the FN/FAL a close second, and the AR-15 comes in dead last.

Conclusion:

Its not that I can say the AR-15 is the "best", or even the most well rounded survival rifle, but it is one of the better choices on the market. The recoil of the AR is manageable for small framed and young shooters. There are tons of spare parts on the market, ammo is still cheap and easy to find, someone can be trained on the basic functions of the AR in less then 5 minutes.

The one drawback with the AR-15 that has not been discussed, is how the 223 compares to the 7.62×39 and the 308 Winchester. There are people out there that say the 223/5.56mm is a devastating round due to the tumbling action. That might very well be true, but I know one thing for sure, .308 is larger then .223. While some people may deer hunt with a 223, I would feel more comfortable using the 308 Winchester on deer sized game.

In the 308 vs 223/5.56mm debate, I like how compact the 223/5.56mm rifles are, as compared to a 308 rifles like the FN/FAL.

Someone looking for a survival rifle pick one that suits their needs the best. If someone handed me an AK-47, AR-15 or an FN/FAL, I would not be disappointed.

Now for a random video of some whitetail deer. This video was taken during the 2010 - 2011 deer hunting season.

Now for an related video showing some deer from last hunting season

 

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I like the article for the well-described comparison/contrast between the rifles, and maybe that's all you intended it to be.
However, I'm a little unclear on its major premise. If it's a simple compare/contrast, then I would only add a discussion of weight, current "cost to own" (ammo, mags, etc.) and perhaps expand the comparison of the relative power of 5.56 NATO v 7.62x39 v 7.62 NATO.

If, OTOH, the article is about the best/better rifle choices for total societal collapse/Zombie Apocalypse/SHTF, then other action types and semiauto rifles probably deserve inclusion (Mini-14/30, .30-30 lever guns, CETME/HK, AR-10, M1A, etc.). Obviously, you were sticking with common types, but I'll bet there are way more Mini-14s and Winchester/Marlin lever guns out there than FALs.

Perhaps I'm in small company, but I see the 7.62 NATO rifles in a completely different class than the 5.56 NATO / 7.62x39 / 5.45x39 rifles, just as I see them in a completely different class than pistol caliber carbines.
Comparing "across the lines" doesn't strike me as useful, unless it's to help determine which "class" of long gun is best suited to the task.

For me personally, it's probably a moot point: when the Flash Mob/Zombies swarm my house, they'll find me standing in front of the open safe, still trying to figure out which rifle is the best option, and I'll end up randomly grabbing something like a 70 year old Webley, shoot it dry, and get eaten right there.
 

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Sniper 173D Abn Brigade
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Good article. I like the comparisons. One thing though... How about an AR that shoots the 7.62 X 39 ammo? Any thoughts on that rifle when tossed into the mix?
 

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As a lefty I want to point out that for us the ak actually is easier to use than the FAL because the charging handle is right by our hand as we change mags. If you use a magazine grip with your weak hand then the safety is handy too.
My personal AR has an ambidextrious safety which makes for a lot easier use. Since I have long fingers I just use my trigger finger to hit the bolt release so the AR isn't too far behind in ergonomics.
I had a Fal and the charging handle and safety were awkward for me as a lefty to use but otherwise it was a fine rifle.
If your left handed the M14 style rifle is the most user friendly rifle I've found so far.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the comments guys

then I would only add a discussion of weight, current "cost to own" (ammo, mags, etc.) and perhaps expand the comparison of the relative power of 5.56 NATO v 7.62x39 v 7.62 NATO.
Cost of ownership is something I did not even think about.

I remember going to some of the gun shows in Houston Texas, and buying AK and AR magazines 5 for $15.

The FN/FAL magazines are close to $20 each.

Academy sports and outdoors has 223 and 7.62x39 for around $50 for a box of 20. But its steel casing.

The cheapest 308 I run through the FN/FAL is Remington 150 grain at around $18 for a box of 20.
 

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...Cost of ownership is something I did not even think about.... The cheapest 308 I run through the FN/FAL is Remington 150 grain at around $18 for a box of 20.
I have seen .308 Federal 150 and 180 grain soft-point at Wal-mart for about $16 a box. I was in a local shop the other day and I grabbed some PMC Bronze 147 grain FMJ .308 for less than I had been seeing the Russian Steel cased stuff, about $10 a box.

I could be mistaken but didn't DS or someone else possibly address the dirt problem with the FAL by doing some simple modifications of the bolt design to enhance reliablity under adverse conditions. Seems like I saw a Larry Vickers' show where he discussed that issue with the FAL rifle.

Nice comparison of the three rifles by the way.
 

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I have seen .308 Federal 150 and 180 grain soft-point at Wal-mart for about $16 a box. I was in a local shop the other day and I grabbed some PMC Bronze 147 grain FMJ .308 for less than I had been seeing the Russian Steel cased stuff, about $10 a box.

I could be mistaken but didn't DS or possibly address the dirt problem with the FAL by doing some simple modifications of the bolt design to enhance reliablity under adverse conditions. Seems like I saw a Larry Vickers' show where he discussed that issue with the FAL rifle.

Nice comparison of the three rifles by the way.
Are you referring to sand cuts in the carrier?
 

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Dane17, yes, I guess that is what I was referring to, just couldn't remember the technical term they used in the show.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have seen .308 Federal 150 and 180 grain soft-point at Wal-mart for about $16 a box.
It seems that prices on ammo is starting to come down. I found some 223 on sale at academy sports and outdoors for $4.99 a box - monarch brand name.

I need to check my local wal-mart and get some ammo before hunting season.

Nice comparison of the three rifles by the way.
Thank you
 

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I like this link

It's nice to see a forum where folks don't get into a peeing contest :D

I own the FAL (L1A1 variant) and a mid-length AR. Now in full disclosure I've never even handled an AK but I'm very familiar with the L1 and somewhat with the AR.
In my opinion, if it goes bang when you pull the trigger and hits what you're aiming at, all is off to a good start, but I do think the FAL and AR are very different platforms. The FAL is a battle rifle, the AR is a semi-auto version of an assault weapon. One fires a full power round, the other an intermediate (yes, I think the 5.56 is very intermediate). The 7.62x51 will go through a car at 400 yrds - I know - not so sure about the 5.56. 7.62x39 might not hit the car at 400, unless you're aiming somewhere else - and it's a lower power intermediate again.
I personally think the FAL is easier to handle, bias due to training, with easier cocking and BHO/release operation. The AR cocking handle needs getting used to as I prefer to keep the weapon close to firing position when going into battery. The AR is lighter in the operation though.
The 7.62 has way more power and punch and keeps long range accuracy, the 5.56 is very much a short range round.
The FAL weighs a ton, the AR is a featherweight.
I'd happily use the FAL as a club, I fear the AR would shatter.
If the SHTF I'd be very tempted to grab the FAL, but at the end of the day it's down to personal comfort level, intended use and level of training. All weapons require training but of the three, the AK can be fired by an ill trained carrot, the AR next followed by the FAL, as it does have the gas system to be familiar with.
Field strip issue. Again, familiarity and training. To pull the Ak apart is easy, seen it on youtube, the FAl ia easier, cock-break-pull CBG - reverse. AR is a bit more involved and required, the other two not so much. The L1A1 has sand groves, a piston system, but no dust cover like the AR, but I've fired that FAL in disgusting conditions without issues.
ALL great weapons.
 

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On the weekends I will occasionally share a public firing line with a large group of Russians from New York City's Brighton Beach community. As far as I can tell all of them are Soviet Army veterans; and you should see these guys handle their AK's!

They are terrific and have been good enough to teach me a lot about how to handle and manipulate an AK. When everything is said and done it really does come down to training, and what you're used to using. Because of the time I've spent with these guys I bought my first AK carbine - A high quality, Arsenal, Inc., AK-74, 101 Variant in 5.56mm with an integral scope mount, and milled receiver.

This AK is every bit as accurate as my Colt LE6920 - Every bit! You can't even tell the targets apart. As for reliability? I think it a foregone conclusion that the AK is, by far, the more reliable weapon. (I've never seen or heard this disputed before.)

I'm able to operate either firearm with equal ease and proficiency; but, then again, I've now been trained on both; and, to me, this makes all the difference in the world. I've even become used to the AK's lack of a bolt, 'hold-open' mechanism - Which, once you get used to it, can actually be an advantage! (The gun's not ready until you are!)

As for the FN/FAL? Undoubtedly it's a good battle rifle; but, that's what the Israelis, also, had against it. An FAL is a lousy urban combat weapon. As for the difference in recoil between the AK, and the AR? The AR typically launches a 62 grain bullet. The AK usually launches bullets in the range of 120 to 125 grains. You WILL feel these differences against your shoulder.

The one thing I will give the AR (M-4) over the AK (Krinkov) is that the AK has way too much recoil and too slow a rate-of-fire in order to be a highly effective and easily manipulated close-quarter weapon. (I still remember the German police commenting on this after the '72 Munich Olympics massacre.)

As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to firearms like the: AK, AR, and FAL a shooter should be proficient with all three. (The Russians I occasionally shoot with on weekends are!) ;)
 
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Excellent post, Kevin.

Here are my personal favorites:

M14 - Hybrid cam style magazine insertion with the ability to top off the magazine with stripper clips. Op rod charging handle on the right side. The bolt holds open on an empty mag. Recoil is not as severe as other .308 semi-auto rifles. My SEI builds have been AK reliable, and they are normally MOA or better with quality NATO ball. Breakdown and cleaning are easily performed.

AK47 - Cam style magazine insertion. Op rod charging handle on the right side. The bolt does not hold open on an empty mag, but my safety lever will hold the bolt open. Recoil is less than my M14. My Norinco has been AK reliable. Accuracy is better than average with Golden Tiger. Breakdown and cleaning is very easy.

AR100 - Straight in magazine insertion. Op rod charging is on the right side. The bolt hols open on an empty mag. Recoil is nominal. My Daewoo has been AK reliable. Accuracy is about the same as my M14. Breakdown and cleaning is similar to the AK.

All three are equipped with a flash hider. All three are piston driven. All three are left hand friendly. None of my 3 favorites require frequent cleaning, and with the exception of my M14 EBR, all three weigh less than 10 lbs. Familiarity and training make all 3 a pleasure to own & shoot.
 

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LONE GUNMAN: "They are terrific and have been good enough to teach me a lot about how to handle and manipulate an AK. When everything is said and done it really does come down to training, and what you're used to using.

As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to firearms like the: AK, AR, and FAL a shooter should be proficient with all three. (The Russians I occasionally shoot with on weekends are!) ;)[/QUOTE]"

:D
Exactly. There is a tendency these days to dismiss something because it doesn't do everything for you, it's not easy enough, it doesn't wipe your backside for you. Every weapon on the planet, including a fox hole shovel, with training, is a great tool or weapon if you know what you're doing with it. These guns were all developed extensively to address a need and require training. I'm really glad you got to see the benefits of the AK from those who have the knowledge. It's the discriminator between good army s and bad ones, not so much the equipment, but the training.
 

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I think that's a strong general overview of the average AK vs the average AR vs the average FAL -- of course there is a wide variety of quality of builds within each of these categories. As Lone Gunman mentioned, I too have had milled receiver Arsenal AK's, and they (especially the Nevada built ones) are in a whole separate league from run of the mill Romanians, for example.

Which one a person chooses has everything to do with the circumstance, environment, expected length of average shot, number of shots anticipated to be fired, etc etc etc. It comes right down to why do we own them at all, and then works its way back up from there.

I had several of each, but because of financial issues had to sell off most of them. It was an interesting and difficult process, to have to choose and think through why I would keep one and not another. When I had to choose, I would rather be capable of fewer precision shots than having guns whose strongest feature was its ability to not overheat under extreme use. But that's just me, as time passes, my expectations and projections for the future have changed.
 

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This is the stupidest thing I ever read. Evidently Kevin has and likes his AR. That is fine. Why would you have to insert a mag in an AK with your left hand and reach over or switch hands or what ever to pull the bolt back with your right hand? Talk about making up some kind of stupid scenario. I quit reading after the OP's first paragraph.:wacko:
 

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Draw, Varmint!
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....... Why would you have to insert a mag in an AK with your left hand and reach over or switch hands or what ever (SIC) to pull the bolt back with your right hand? Talk about making up some kind of stupid scenario. I quit reading after the OP's first paragraph.
I (almost) don't believe you wrote that! What were you thinking? :rolleyes:

For a right-handed shooter: Always maintain the grip and control over an AK's trigger with the right (gun/strong) hand. That is the correct way to handle an AK.

While maintaining his grip with the right (gun/strong) hand, the shooter should, then, (1) load his AK magazines and (2) charge the chamber using only his left (support) hand.

Charging the chamber is done by either reaching over the top, or underneath the bottom of an AK's receiver with the left (support) hand.

Within the Russian Army: THIS IS STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE.


(The fellow in the above video first demonstrates the wrong (American) way to load and charge an AK. Then he demonstrates several right (Russian) ways to do it. Just for the record, I've seen better; but the guy is OK!)
 

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Hell, you guys are in an all out gun battle. I was target shooting. Sorry. I understand now.
 

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Excellent analysis. Having owned all three, I can pretty much agree with what you say. The recoil of the AR is the lightest, while the FN has the heaviest. For some reason, the AK that I owned(a Hungarian SA-85, pre-1989 ban) rifle had a recoil that was vicious. It might have been the short length of pull(about 2" short) or the stock configuration, but every time I shot it from the shoulder, the upper portion of the stock would slap my cheekbone right below my eye socket. After 5 rounds, I was done as I could take no more of this painful abuse. It was a beautiful rifle with black painted metal and blonde wood furniture. But during the 10 years I owned it, I think I put maybe <200 rounds through it. My new AKMS with a folding stock has solve the cheek slapping problem, but is still a hefty recoil, but the bullet is twice weight of the 5.56 and the rifle only weighs about 6-7 pounds empty.

I think the accuracy issue has a lot to do with the sighting system and for that the AK gets low marks for it's crude notch and post system as well as the short sight radius and barrel length. The AR and FN have the best sighting system with the peep and post as well as the longer sight radius and barrels.

Since the AR has the most options regarding optical sighting systems, I would figure it to be accurate at distances out to 600 yards. Beyond that, a scoped FN would dominate. Then we get into ballistic differences between the cartridges.

In regard to the basic iron sights of all three(no optics allowed) I would tie the AR and FN with the AK coming in third.

If all three had optical systems and were being shot from the bench, all would do well in my opinion. But we are talking about three very different cartridges with different characteristics.

But, I did also sell my AR(I must have gotten a lemon) because my Mini-14 shot the pants off it. It was a Colt HBAR, and I tried my best to get it to shoot right, but could not do it and didn't want to spend the kind of money I was going to have to. I might get an M4 in the future, but I would probably get an M1A first.

Shortly, I plan on taking my new PTR-91 to the range and try it out for the first time. But that, as they say, is another story.
:)
 
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