THE argument as to which is better, the AK-47 or AR, has raged for years and will not be ending anytime soon. It is one of those emotional arguments in the gun world often devoid of facts and high on hyperbole. Arguments about these two systems have been the subject of documentaries, and you would think it was some sort of way to keep the Cold War raging at times. It ranks right up there with the pistol or revolver argument. Given my lack of emotional attachment to weapons, both systems have been in my kit off and on for years. The simple reliability of the AK system caught my eye years ago, resulting in a couple of Israeli versions being fielded. Better accepted by the administration types, they were great weapons but they still used the 5.56mm cartridge. For some that was fine, and for me it was acceptable but not my preference. I wanted the best of both worlds—an AK with the ergonomics of the AR that accepted the typical SOPMOD equipment while maintaining acceptable weight and the AK reliability.
Each of these tools has their strong and weak points as well as their proponents and detractors. Ultimately they are nothing more than tools designed to perform a task. Like any tool, they can be altered or adjusted to perform that task better. The current accessory market for both systems is a clear indication of how many have done so. The AR market is a small economy in and of itself, as there are thousands of choices to “upgrade” your AR. The AK accessory market, although smaller, is growing each year. In both cases many of these accessories are excellent, many are nice but not really all that useful, and many are completely useless.
Altering the AK is a bit more difficult at times, as the system was never really designed that way. That does not mean it cannot be done, it is just a bit more difficult. But in this day and age it seemed to me there was no reason why it could not be done, given the advances in machining and design. The biggest hurdle is getting past the “throw-away weapon” syndrome. It is this idea that simply because the system was designed originally to be a use-it-and-toss-it rifle, it cannot be made better. That is just ridiculous to me—it is a machine, and like all machines it can be altered. Even within its own design parameters, the system has undergone several upgrades and alterations.