AR Vs. AK: Which is best?

posted on February 19, 2016

While the headline might be provocative, the subject matter really isn’t. Whether you’re a fan of Mikhail Kalashnikov’s Avtomat Kalashnikova or the carbine version of Eugene Stoner’s AR, the folks at Magpul can help upgrade and update your rifle. Whether you’re looking for a fixed stock, an adjustable one or even a folding stock, there’s something in the Magpul catalog for your rifle. 

For the AR-15 (as shown):

Stock: ACS-L Carbine Stock. Offers a length-of-pull adjustment range of 3 inches over 6 positions. Weight is 12.5 ounces, and a friction lock keeps the stock firmly in whichever position is selected. MSRP is $79.95.

Pistol grip: MOE+ Grip. Containing a small storage area for replacement parts or batteries, the MOE+ grip adds only 3.4 ounces of weight in an overmolded, rubber texture sure to enhance purchase. MSRP is $23.95.

Fore-end: MOE Handguard. While the straight MOE is being phased out in favor of the new M-LOK series, if you’re invested in the MOE line for rails and accessories it’s a fantastic bargain, but act quickly. MSRP is only $17.47 for these closeout items.

Fore-grip: Rail Vertical Grip (RVG). Set up to attach quickly to any Picatinny-style rail, two screws set one rail-section apart to help firmly anchor the grip. MSRP is $24.95.

Magazine: PMag30 Gen2 (for the color-match; Gen3 is the latest available). At $12.95 (and generally selling for less than that pretty much anywhere), the PMag has become the de facto standard for polymer magazines.

Rear Sight: MBUS Sight. For under $60 (MSRP is $57.95), adding a backup sight is cheap insurance against Murphy killing the battery in your red-dot sight or knocking a scope out of alignment. Deploying rapidly and folding flat, these inexpensive sights are certainly not cheap. 

For slightly more than $200, a stock AR-15 can be outfitted in full Magpul regalia with significant upgrades over milspec. While myriad options exist even in the Magpul universe, these represent a standard outfitting for an AR-15-pattern rifle. There’s also plenty of other options for other configurations, including fixed stocks for precision work, lightweight gear with trim profiles and other accessories such as sling mounts, offset sights and more

For the AK-47 (as shown):

Stock: Zhukov-S stock. What an improvement over the standard AK-47-pattern wooden stock… Not only does the Zhukov-S stock provide for adjustable length-of-pull, it even folds for transport. There’s even a variety of color options—including plum—to dress up your AK. MSRP: $99.95.

Pistol grip: MOE AK+. Again, a huge step-up in ergonomics over the stock AK grip. The MOE AK+ offers a rubber overmolding for increased purchase along with serrations fore and aft. The grip is hollowed and has a cover for storage of extra parts and other small items. MSRP: $24.95.

Fore-end: MOE AKM. With molded hand-stops and M-LOK attachment points, the MOE AKM stock fits AK-47-pattern rifles with stamped sling mounts, keeping the mount intact. M-LOK attachment points at the three-, six- and nine-o’clock positions which allow for easy attachment of foregrips, lights, lasers and other such accessories. MSRP: $36.95.

Verticle Fore-grip: M-LOK MVG. Obviously not an AK-specific vertical foregrip, the M-LOK MVG is ridiculously easy to attach and provides a rock-solid forward grip for those that favor such holds. MSRP: $22.95.

Magazine: PMag30 Gen M3. The Gen M3 features steel-reinforced locking lugs to ensure longevity and function, while maintaining the same rugged, useful features we’ve come to expect in a PMag. MSRP: $26.95.

As configured, the upgrades cost about the same as the AR-15 items. The boost in ergonomics, though, is far steeper—taking the AK-47 platform from a fixed-stock, utilitarian semi-auto to one that’s customized for individuals. Not only does the Magpul furniture greatly enhance the handling of the AK-47-pattern rifle, there’s a distinct increase in the aesthetics, as well. With the M-LOK-compatible handguard, too, accessories can be added to the rifle that were previously not possible.

If you prefer a fixed stock, there’s a MOE AK stock available at a significant price reduction (MSRP: $59.95), but at the expense of adjustability. If your AK-47-style rifle doesn’t require the AKM handguard, there are two options available, both with M-LOK attachment points. The larger Zhukov guard offers more attachment points.

In both cases, the upgrades add much in the way of ergonomics and ease of adding attachments. Both stocks are adjustable depending on the shooter’s size, the pistol grips are comfortable while providing plenty of purchase, both handguards offer plentiful space for accessories and the magazines are robust and fully functional. The upgrades are more noticeable in the AK-47 platform, though, as the carbine comes with a fixed stock and simple wood fore-end in its natural state. Being able to add a weaponlight or laser sight to the AK is a big plus, and the folding stock allows simpler transport. The AR-15 upgrades make it easier to add accessories as well, and the ACS-L stock provides for a more stable shooting solution while offering storage for small parts.

Whether you prefer the AR or the AK, there are affordable, useful upgrades for both platforms available from Magpul. Stocks, handguards, pistol grips and other furniture options abound, as do accessories and upgrades like sling attachments, weaponlight mounts, handstops and extended magazine releases. No matter which of the two platforms you prefer (and no, we’re not taking sides), the folks at Magpul have upgrades available.


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