Russian AK vs American M-4: When and what Spec Ops guys take on missions

Evgeny Yepanchintsev/Sputnik; U.S. Department of Defense
You would expect to find out that an AK is better, but the answer wouldn’t be so obvious. 

For decades, gun lovers around the world have argued over which assault rifle platform is better - the Russian AK or American M-4. 

We asked a Russian Spec Ops instructor to bust the myths and elaborate on which weapons their teams take on missions around the country to eliminate terrorists threatening civilian people. 

Here’s what he told us. 

Operations in mountainous areas, forests and in big cities

“Spec Ops units would definitely take AKs if they have to spend weeks in forests, swamps or mountain regions. To put it simply, they would take AKs to the dirtiest and muddiest places ever imagined as these rifles were created to withstand them.

“You can even run over an AK with a truck, hit reverse and run it over again and then go on shooting down bad guys. Nothing like that is possible with other weapons,” jokes Andrey Piskunov, a Spec Ops units instructor. 

He says that an AK is the best weapon when you have no means to properly maintain and take care of your weapon. 

In other circumstances, they arm their units with M-4s assault rifles. 

“They are the best for city operations. They are accurate and have no recoil. A person adjusts a weapon for himself and operates it however he wants,” says the expert. 

Pros and Cons of an American M-4

Russian units praise the American M-4 assault rifle for particular reasons - high accuracy, low recoil, high ergonomics and comfortability. 

“A professional shooter can rework an M-4 in which fashion he wants. He can make the trigger smoother and increase his shooting capabilities this way. He can mount top optics and gadgets on it and expect a weapon to shoot in the same spot after 200 or 300 shots,” the officer notes.

The bullet’s flatness is higher compared to the bullet used in the AK, especially when firing from long ranges (typically 250 and 300 meters for assault rifles). 

The M-4 is also made out of aluminium - a lighter and more sensitive metal compared to the steel used in AKs. 

The weapon also has lots of small details that make it a faster and a more convenient weapon for ‘seek-and-destroy’ operations. 

Media and Internet users alike circle rumors that American soldiers abandoned their M-16s in favour of AKs in skirmishes with local militants in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan warfares. The reasons for that were simple - M-4s didn’t work, while AKs kept on operating in drastic circumstances. 

“The last time Americans abandoned their rifles in favor of AKs was during the Vietnam war. Thirty years later, their assault rifles became resilient to adverse environments. Nowadays, a Spec Ops unit would only pick up an enemy’s weapon to shoot down targets in order to conceal their traces. So everything would look like the enemy was eliminated by local mafia or military and not by some foreign Spec Ops unit,” the expert notes.

Pros and Cons of a Russian AK

“The AK is outdated for silent operations at night. People with money would prefer an American rifle, as it would be more effective. At the same time, we would definitely not recommend a rifle like that for a mass army,” says Piskunov. 

According to him, an M-4 can only operate effectively in the hands of highly trained officers and shooters. At the same time, a mass army needs a reliable weapon that can be taken through swamps and still shoot down enemies. The weapon’s mechanisms will knock out all the mud from the weapon and make it work. An American rifle “can’t brag” for having options of this kind.

“The AK is resourceful. It can fire thousands more ammo compared to an American rifle prior to having to switch out-worn barrels and parts for new ones. It’s a good feature,” he notes. 

The expert also says that American rifles “burn” after shooting 200 rounds in a row. Meanwhile, the Russian weapon remained operational. 

“You can arm a soldier with an AK and he will be able to fight with it even ten years of consecutive usage. This weapon is created once and forever, while foreign guns need constant maintenance.” 

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