Growing up I was never a fan of the AK-47 or AK-74 rifles. They were always the rifle used by our enemies. As an impressionable kid growing up, Chuck Norris always had the newest M-16 or M-4 variant and the bad guys always had AK-47’s and AK-74’s. It was not until I was considerably older did I begin to see the virtues of the AK platform. I also had the pleasure of meeting Jim Fuller of Rifle Dynamics whose work on the AK platform is well known. His work on AK rifles really changed my perception of the system. I have always heard the AK is renowned for their reliability but not so much for their accuracy.
After shooting a dot drill with the match rifles we set up a 25″x15″ IPSC target at 900 yards. Our intention was to see how well Dane could connect with a target at long range using his AK-74. The wind was blowing 13-25 mph from east to west and the POSP 4x scope was far from ideal. I was impressed with the clarity of the scope but the low magnification made it hard to see the target. The rifle has a Red Star Armory trigger which is a nice upgrade.
Out of 30 rounds Dane managed to connect with the target 5 times. The first 5 rounds were sent while I spotted so we could figure out where it was impacting. Once we got a bead on it he started sending rounds at the target (impacting the target 5 times). We are both unfamiliar with the subtensions in the reticle and did not take the time to properly zero the optic.
Given the conditions and the low magnification scope I would say that is pretty good. Not the accuracy we expect from our precision bolt action rifles but certainly not bad for an AK shooting 5.45mm 60 grain projectiles. I do not think a comparable semi-automatic rifle would have done significantly better.
As with any rifle or any other firearm I own. I always test the outer limits of its performance. I have taken 200 yard shots with my Glock, 350 yard 12ga slug shots, so why not try some long pokes with the AK? The first time I had the AK at the range Joe and I took it back to 300 yards. We didn’t have very high expectations for it and were surprised when nearly every single shot hit the 2/3 IPSC. Next was 715yards and I figured there was no way that it would make it. Wrong again, Joe and I managed several hits on a 12”x12” plate.
Whether it’s a short site radius, non-free floated barrel or ammo quality, the AK platform is not known for its accuracy and far from an ideal tool for long range shooting. I don’t really have a specific plan for the AK-74 other than filling in that hole in my collection. Ideally I would like to have a red dot or 1-4x optic on it, but since it came with the POSP I plan on testing the distance limits of the rifle, optic and myself.
Next time I have it out I would like to start at 1k then push back beyond that. My original predictions for max distance was 500 yards but with our recent experience I think the 5.45x39mm will not make it beyond 1175 yards. I know this is way beyond its practical range but thats my prediction and I will try to prove or disprove it in the near future.
Like I mentioned at the start of the article, I have never really been a fan of the AK but over time I have found myself with a growing appreciation for them. I still don’t have one but it is on the list of rifles I would like to eventually own.