Both of this week’s guns stem from one design: the original Kalashnikov, the AK-47. The bigger of the two, the AK-74, is based directly on the AKM that followed the original rifle. Beginning its main period of service in the late 1970’s, the AK-74 is a modernized, lightweight take on the basic AK blueprint that fires slightly smaller 5.45x39mm rounds instead of the previous 7.62x39mm.
The smaller caliber AK features a number of changes resulting from experience with previous members of the AK family, in addition to choices made specifically to take advantage of its lighter ammunition. Differences necessitated by the 5.45 round actually resulted in roughly half as much recoil being transferred to the user, and a higher muzzle velocity assists the rifle in achieving an approximate 25% greater effective range compared to the AKM. Perhaps most importantly, the smaller 5.45 rounds can be carried in greater quantities at the same weight versus the previous 7.62x39mm.
The AKS-74U is a special adaptation of the base AK-74 design intended for use by paratroopers, support crews, etc. It came about as a result of the Soviets’ desire for a carbine, and was chosen for the job due to its compatibility with previous AK-74 manufacturing. It weighs almost 0.4kg (1 lb.) less than its full-sized counterpart and is down to nearly half as long with its stock folded, but does suffer reduced muzzle velocity and range as a result of its compact size. The version we get in-game does not include a side mount for optics (a feature reserved for the AKS-74UN variant).
Original images via Wikimedia Commons.