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AK-47 vs. AR-15 — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Published on February 12, 2024
The AK-47 is a Soviet-designed assault rifle, known for its reliability and widespread use. The AR-15 is a lightweight, magazine-fed rifle, widely used in civilian and military applications.
AK-47 vs. AR-15 — What's the Difference?

Difference Between AK-47 and AR-15


Key Differences

The AK-47, designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, is a selective-fire, gas-operated rifle that originated in the Soviet Union. Its name stands for "Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947." The AK-47 is renowned for its simplicity, durability, and effectiveness in various conditions. It has a distinctive curved magazine and is chambered for the 7.62x39mm cartridge. The AK-47 has seen extensive use worldwide and is often associated with guerrilla warfare.
The AR-15, initially developed by Eugene Stoner, is a lightweight, air-cooled, gas-operated rifle. Its name stands for "ArmaLite Rifle - 15." The AR-15 is known for its modular design, accuracy, and widespread use in civilian applications. It typically fires the .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. While the military version of the AR-15 is the M16, civilian variants are widely popular and have become a symbol of the modern sporting rifle.

Comparison Chart


Soviet Union
United States


.223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO

Gas System


Magazine Type

Curved (banana) magazine
Straight or curved magazine


Less modular design
Highly modular design

Compare with Definitions


Chambered for the 7.62x39mm cartridge.
The AK-47's 7.62x39mm cartridge provides significant stopping power.


Lightweight, air-cooled rifle with modular design.
The AR-15's modular design allows users to customize and adapt the rifle to various needs.


Notable for its curved (banana) magazine.
The distinctive curved magazine of the AK-47 is easily recognizable.


Originally developed by Eugene Stoner.
Eugene Stoner's innovative design led to the development of the AR-15 rifle.


Renowned for simplicity and durability.
The AK-47's design prioritizes simplicity and durability, making it suitable for harsh conditions.


Widely used in civilian applications.
The AR-15 has become popular among civilians for various purposes, including sport shooting and home defense.


Soviet-designed assault rifle with global influence.
The AK-47's robust design has made it a symbol of reliability and has influenced weapon designs worldwide.


Military version is the M16.
The M16, derived from the AR-15, is the military version used by armed forces globally.


Associated with guerrilla warfare and insurgency.
The AK-47's widespread use in conflicts has made it synonymous with guerrilla warfare.


Typically fires .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO.
The AR-15's caliber, often .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO, contributes to its accuracy.


A clip-fed, gas-operated assault rifle of Soviet design having a caliber of 7.62 millimeters and used throughout the world by armed forces and paramilitary organizations.

Common Curiosities

Why is the AK-47 known for reliability?

The AK-47's reliability is attributed to its simple design, loose tolerances, and effective gas system.

Why is it associated with guerrilla warfare?

The AK-47's reliability and simplicity make it suitable for guerrilla tactics and insurgency.

Can civilians own an AR-15?

Yes, in many places, civilians can legally own AR-15 rifles for sporting and self-defense purposes.

How did the AK-47 influence weapon design?

The AK-47's design influenced subsequent firearms, contributing to the development of numerous assault rifles.

Is the AR-15 used by military forces?

While the military version is the M16, the AR-15 has influenced military rifle designs and is used in some military and law enforcement contexts.

How accurate is the AR-15?

The AR-15 is known for its accuracy, making it popular for precision shooting and competitive sports.

Is the AK-47 still in use today?

Yes, the AK-47 remains in widespread use globally and is utilized by military forces and insurgent groups.

What makes the AR-15 modular?

The AR-15's modularity allows users to easily customize components such as stocks, handguards, and optics.

What is the civilian version of the AR-15 called?

The civilian version of the AR-15 is simply referred to as the AR-15.

What is the significance of the curved magazine?

The curved magazine design enhances feeding reliability and allows for smoother cycling of rounds.

What is the AK-47's caliber?

The AK-47 typically fires the 7.62x39mm cartridge, known for its stopping power.

What countries use the AK-47 in their military?

The AK-47 has been used by numerous countries globally, including Russia, China, and various nations in the Middle East and Africa.

Is the AR-15 used for hunting?

Yes, the AR-15 is used for hunting various game, and its modular design allows customization for different hunting scenarios.

Is the AR-15 a fully automatic rifle?

While some variants may have selective fire, many civilian AR-15s are semi-automatic, firing one round per trigger pull.

Who designed the AK-47?

The AK-47 was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, a Soviet engineer and lieutenant general.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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