AR-15 vs. AK-47: Reliability Under Extreme Conditions


Reliability issues about the AR-15 and AK-47 seem to concern many. My take is that any successful, long-serving issue service rifle will be very, but not perfectly, reliable.

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Here’s a report from a range offering rental services of fully automatic firearms that shoots approximately 400,000 rounds each month and their experience with extremely high round counts. Henderson Defense rents a variety of firearms, especially full auto, at their Battlefield Las Vegas range with some individual guns having over 200,000 rounds fired.

AR-15 Report

AK-47 Report

Some of our M4’s have well over 200,000 rounds down range. Barrels have been replaced, gas tubes have been replaced, BCG’s have been replaced but what sets it apart from the AK47’s is that upper and lower receivers continue to function. AK’s get to about the 100,000+ round count and rails on the receiver will start to crack. It’s an easy fix with tig welding but they crack. We have yet to lose an upper or lower AR-15 receiver from cracking

We no longer use ANY piston conversions or factory pistons guns with the exception of the HK-416 “knock-off” TDI upper. I purchased a FACTORY brand-new MR556 and it started keyholing after only 10,000 rounds. The only piston system to last on the range so far is the HK416 and TD415 system. Every other systems we have tried has failed in one way or another.

USGI mags have outlasted all of the other brands. We use UGSI (Brownell’s with tan follower) and on a mag for mag basis, they have outlasted Pmags and a few of the other mags that we get from mfg’s with new weapons. We don’t have to worry about various generations with different weapons like the MR556, SCAR, F2000, Tavor or a couple of others that use AR15/M4 magazines.

Every single stamped AK receiver has suffered from a cracked trunion. This includes Saiga, Arsenal (Bulgarian), Norinco (Chinese), Arsenal (Russian stamped), WASR, Hungarian, Polish (vintage kits), Yugo (vintage and PAP-series) and new Polish (from Royal Tiger imports).

– We have every type of AK available to shoot except for Cuban, Vietnamese or North Korean.

– US (Century), Bulgarian and Chinese milled receivers have yet to fail.

– Stamped receivers split at the angle of the upper rail and the side wall. N-PAP’s have literally cracked in half perpendicular to the length of the rifle. The receivers cracked just posterior of the front trunion (between center bushing and the trunion).

This may sound crazy but it’s fair to say that they finally suffer a catastrophic failure (cracked trunion) at 80,000-100,000 rounds. Also, we have WASR’s that have suffered a catastrophic failure and we just pull out the old trunion and barrel, grab one from a parts kit, re-rivet, re-barrel and get them up and running.

The AK is the most reliable but after seeing how many have broken over the last two and half years on the range, it’s not the indestructible weapon everybody talks about (and I always thought it was).

7 Experts Discuss Their Precision Caliber of Choice

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7 Experts Discuss Their Precision Caliber of Choice

My friends and colleagues skilled at High Power/ATC and Long Range are probably snickering that I made this list but I think think they’ll appreciate my conclusions.

Some useful examples of this:


Q&A ON THE AR15/M855 AT 1,000 YARD POST.


Can A Rack Grade AR-15 And M855 Make 1,000 Yard Hits?


For a while now there has been a lot of talk about how ineffective the 5.56 service round is. It’s all over the internet gun boards and the popular slick newsstand gun magazines. Time and time again we are all told how the 5.56 is a 200-yard gun, or if you’re using a carbine, you’re stuck with a 50-yard gun. Everyone knows this, it’s just plain common sense! The problem is, it’s not really true. A whole lot of people sound off about something they really don’t know much about and have zero experience with. This amused me for a few years, then as more and more time passed it really started to bug me to the point of aggravation. A certain type will always repeat the same inaccurate info and we all know that. The problem is that it causes those in military service to lose confidence in their service weapon and what it can do. Confidence in your tools is an important thing, if you believe in and know for a fact what your rifle can do, you shoot it better.

Most serious followers of the AR15 platform know about the MK12 rifles and have read stories about 500 to 800-yard kills and how effective it has been in the GWOT. A few are at least vaguely familiar with High Power service rifle matches. But they assume any AR15 type rifle that can be used for these ranges is by necessity some super customized and specialized weapon. Obviously there is truth in that. To shoot a winning score at Camp Perry you have to have some specialized rifle work done and use special ammo. When these accomplishments are brought up in discussion, they are shot down by the people who “know better” because they are not the same guns issued out to troops or normal civilian users for self protection. And so it goes on and on, that the AR15 is a 200-yard gun.

It is not. It will do more than most believe, and it will do it with military-issue ammo.

Armalite Rifle History


Zero the M16/AR-15 Rifle


Confusion on the ideal M16/AR-15 zero abound because people don’t understand how their sights work.


AR15 vs. AK47: Reliability Under Harsh Conditions


I’ve added additional articles on the history of issue firearm reliability:

M1 Garand

M14, Part 1

M14, Part 2

AK-47 Reliability Problems

Qualify with the AK-47

AK-47 and AR-15: Reliability after extreme round counts

M16/M4 Extreme Dust Test

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The reliability of the AR-15 vs. the AK-47 designs are babbled about routinely. Here is the only factor that matters.


Moron Cleaning Guns (Just Maintain Them, Please!)


Most military-issued firearms are worn out or damaged by excessive and/or improper cleaning. We should stop using the word “clean” and start using “maintain.” A properly maintained firearm is NOT white glove clean.


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