Many Reasons Why The AK47 Is The World's Most Reliable Rifle
Our Reasoning On Why The AK-47 Is The World's Most Reliable Rifle
Magazine and Feedway Design
On a magazine-fed firearm system, the magazine is probably the single most critical item. A firearm will not feed properly if it doesn't have an effective and reliable magazine. An estimated 95-99% of an automatic firearm's malfunctions are due to a faulty or bad magazine.
Over the years the AR-15 has been considered to be a superb magazine design, although Kalashinok brute-forced the design and concept of the magazines on his AK-47. Despite the fact that the Kalashnikov magazine is greatly overbuilt, through its sheer mass and sound design, it is still able to achieve reliability and longevity. The Kalashnikov magazine is definitely a well-engineered, well-built magazine. It is very overbuilt, which is its most distinctive feature, particularly when the original slab-sided pattern is considered.
The AK magazine body is a simple curve and does feature a noteworthy feed tower. The feed tower, like the other parts of the magazine, is overbuilt and its ingenious geometry is incorporated that supports the magazine when it is locked into the gun, without needing an AR-15 style chute or mag well. Another important feature that the feed tower has is fairly long feed lips. They are long enough so that the travel of the round is effectively controlled until the nose enters the chamber of the barrel. Therefore the AK-47, unlike the AR-15, is unlikely to have a feeding problem, such as the fishtails or round yaws failing to enter the chamber.
The AK-47 also features a very clean feedway which helps the straight shot into the chamber. Unlike with the AR-15, where rounds must be pushed over the barrel extension that is ramped inside of the chamber, there is practically nothing in between the rounds and the chamber in the AK-47. Also, the rounds don't need to climb to reach the chamber given that they are positioned in such a way by the magazine that they are practically in line from the very beginning. The feed lip alignment combined with the clean feedway design ensure a reliable and trouble-free feeding each time. It would be a lie to claim that there are never feeding problems with the AK, but when you consider how the chamber geometry, feed lips, and feedway are designed, it is very unlikely that you will run into problems.
The following are some other things that are worth mentioning: first of all, is the advantages that rock-in rock-out magazines have that tend to go unrecognized. Although straight-insertion magazines like the AR-15 have reloading times that are much faster in ideal conditions, the AK (rock and roll) has a great arrangement that allows for much greater leverage when you are removing or inserting magazines into your gun. That results in many fewer magazines becoming stuck where they can't be removed by the user. It still can occur, however, particularly when the magazines that are used don't fit the rifle properly.
The second thing is that one common trait that rifles like the AK-47 have is that they don't have an hold-open, automatic last round bolt device. The hold-open bolt system is an excellent idea, but rifles without one do expose the action to debris for the shortest amount of time. So under extreme conditions, like during a sandstorm, the bolt group will not stay open while loading, and that can allow debris and dust into the action, which in those circumstances can affect the rifle's performance. The fact that the AK is lacking the last round bolt does illustrate some extreme compromises that may be needed for achieving the best reliability.
Ammunition and Chamber Design
The 7.62 x 39 mm centerfire cartridge, as you might already know, is one of the most friendly cartridge designs that are available. They are very well-tapered and have a wide bore and a low thermal load, which means that the cartridge has been optimized to offer reliable weapon function. Some of these features are relaxed on the 5.45 x 39 mm, which is its successor. In particular, it has a smaller bore diameter, still ample but less ludicrous case taper, while still having a thick rim and wide extractor groove.
Of course, any discussion about the chamber and ammunition of the AK needs to mention that from the very beginning the Kalashnikov gun was all-chrome, featuring a chrome-lined piston, op rod, and barrel. The whole bolt carrier was even lined in chrome on some models. Chroming is a necessary feature in areas like Russia or Indochina in the summer where there are high moisture levels. The lack of this was one of the main causes of the American-made M16 rifle's problems during the early years of the Vietnam war. Some of the essential parts on the Kalashnikovs were the chromed outsets, which played an important role in the weapon's reputation for have reliable dead-nuts.
One of the most overlooked design elements in firearms engineering is probably the humble springs. One modern self-powered firearms, it is driven by the round's power. The AKs feature some of more solid engineering around, even in the modern world of automatic small arms.
The AK has springs that have been designed to provide even and sufficient power throughout their stroke. That is achieved through ensuring that the springs are not completely compressed or completely extended at any one given point in time while the firearm is being operated. The action springs of the AK do not completely compress, but rather, the bolt group will bottoms out against the rear part of the receiver.
While it's bad for the AK-47, the rifle's recoil offers a good spring that will allow it to last longer without fear of wearing out. More importantly, however, is that the AK's action spring doesn't even come close to reaching its fully extended reach which means that if the bolt is fully locked and in the battery, the spring will still exert a great deal of force toward the rifle. In such situations, if the chamber is fouled, if the cartridge has been tough to strip from the magazine, if it's taken a lot of the energy from the action, the bolt will always have a lot of energy in which to close and lock itself. There is a huge difference that this can then make if you have an AK and any other semi-automatic rifle, you can try this out by loading a round into each chamber and observing. Simply close the bolt and pop it slightly open. Most weapons will stay out of the battery in this fashion, however, an AK, as long as the spring action isn't worn, will close and even lock, even if it's from a dead start and with zero forward in the momentum.
The magazine springs are another excellent example of the over-engineering that the Kalashnikov spring system offers. In comparison to the counterparts, the springs that are used in an AK magazine, are very long. This means that they offer more of a consistent and constant force on the round stack. In turn, this ensures that the first round will quickly rise to the right position just as the previous round. When compared, it's important to note that the AK is longer than other springs. Often, as much as twice as long.
The section wouldn't be complete if we didn't' mention that the AK-47 is semi-famous for its braided hammer spring. Braided springs are wise here as the higher the impact resistance will allow for more violent and thus more reliable hammer action. This, in turn, allows for a more accurate and ensuring ignition of the bombproof rifle primers. Just as the rest of the rifle springs, the hammer is not allowed to reach a full extension or a full compression.
Fire Control Group
Of course, the next topic has to be the fire control group. In so many ways, this is a study in the orthodoxy because the AK-47 works in much the same fashion as the Browning double-hook trigger that is dated back as far as the old Auto-5 shotguns. Of course, this, coupled with a Browning trigger system is their own automatic sear and rate reduction that allows not only the fire control but also reduces the auto fire rate to approximately 700 rounds per minute.
A simpler trigger is, of course, available, but, it's best to keep in mind that the Kalashnikov's is by and far an excellent choice that will build upon a proven and simple operational field.
Also, in the fire control group, the fire control chamber is very cleverly designed. It occupies a small area with minimal room for additional debris. Should there be an unlikely event that grit does, in fact, reach the fire control group, there will be minimal space for it to enter into the mechanism itself. AKs have a lot of room for fire control housing that allows them to be more substantially resistant to the invading debris and the grit. They're similar to many mechanical devices in that they aren't immune to debris ingress, however, the added space will reduce the opportunity for any malfunction in comparison to other designs that tightly pack their trigger groups. This makes it far easier for users to clean the weapon without disassembling the weapon.
Some of the smaller details regarding the AK are that it is very reliable. One major design for the Kalashnikov is that they perform well in cold as well as hot climates. Consider how unthinkable this is for many weapons. There are also many great features that will compromise this. The larger and much-mentioned safety switch that slows and loudens which makes it ready to fire in a freezing climate is a huge boon to users. The switch is longer and gives the user a lot of leverage to break it free from any snow or ice that may ensue. It can also be broken free of mud should the need arise. This means that the safety lever is convenient and safe for the rifle in comparison to other rifles that aren't nearly as easy to free up should they freeze up in any fashion.
Another consideration is the lever magazine release that is far easier to release than a button style release. This, coupled with the leverage of a rock in the magazine, will give the Kalashnikov user a huge advantage if they're using it in colder weather and need to reload.
Lastly, don't forget that the effectiveness of a fixed and right side charging handle. For many, the dominant arm that is often o the right and the stronger of the two arms is the reason that bolt actions are typically on the right side. Most people are right-handed. This means that the reciprocating handle is not ideal for a 3 gun gaming. It's far more likely to cause a malfunction clearance and need to be switched. It shouldn't be ignored. Infrequently, rifles will have an issue in clearing the problems and getting it back into action. Often only a change of the placement of the handle is required however, you can assume that the charging handle is on one side or the other and switch it against your thigh. Flip it upside down and try it that way with the other hand to see if that is easier.