Aviation & Aerospace Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Small Arms Warships & Submarines Military Ranks U.S. Military Pay Special Forces DoD Dictionary (Alpha-to-Zulu) Military Alphabet Code

Kalashnikov AK-74 (M1974)

Assault Rifle

Soviet Union | 1978

"The 5.45mm Kalashnikov AK-74 replaced the 7.62mm AKM as the standard Soviet infantry assault rifle in 1978."

Authored By: Dan Alex | Last Edited: 05/17/2022 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
During the 1970s, the Soviet military sought a new infantry assault weapons system chambered for an intermediate cartridge apart from the rifle round fired by the famous Kalashnikov AK-47 and its successor - the AKM (both 7.62x39mm). Mikhail Kalashnikov began work on such a solution in 1974 and returned with his AK-74 weapon chambered for the 5.45x39mm cartridge while many other facets of the design remained faithful to his original offering. Production began in earnest by 1975 and the weapon was first displayed to the West during the November 1977 Red Square Parade with Soviet airborne troops. Shortly thereafter, the AK-74 went on to become the standard-issue assault rifle of Soviet Army ground forces. From there, it saw considerable success in export and local license production initiatives by Soviet states and allies worldwide. Indeed some 5,000,000 were eventually produced with many still in circulation with world forces today.

In addition to the new cartridge, the weapon brought about use of a new bolt component and chrome-lined barrel assembly as well as a new 30-round plastic-and-steel construction detachable box magazine. Though was given to muzzle climb on full automatic by way of a muzzle compensator/brake - making for a more stable gunnery platform than previously seen. All other components were largely carried over from the AKM - a 1959 revision of the original AK-47 of 1949. The weapon weighed in at 3.3 kilograms with a 37 inch length (barrel of 16.3 inches long) and featured a gas-operated system with rotating bolt action (same as found on the AKM). Rate-of-fire was approximately 650 rounds per minute with a 2,950 feet-per-second muzzle velocity. Effective firing ranges reached out to 1,000 meters with sighting handled through an adjustable rear notch and front post arrangement. The AK-74 could also mount the GP-25 series 40mm Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) to broaden the tactical value of the standard infantryman.

The primary, initial variant of the line was the AK-74 noted for its solid wood buttstock. The AKS-74 was a variant given a side-folding skeletal metal stock for compactness, primarily serving specialized troops such as airborne. The AKS-74U became an automatic carbine form of contained proportions to also serve specialists not requiring the facilities of a full-length service rifle. The AKS-74UB was a special silenced version of the AKS-74U chambered for the 5.45x39mm subsonic cartridge. The AK-74M was a modernized version of 1991 with support for new generation UBGLs since introduced into the Russian military and various optics. This version became the new standard Russian service rifle.

Several full-length variants, modified for night operations with specialized optics, were given "N" designations to signify their roles including the AK-74N, the AKS-74N and the AKS-74UN.

The AK-74M was eventually evolved into a more modern fighting form (with increased use of plastics) as the AK-100 family line to include the AK-101 rifle and the AK-102 assault carbine all way to the AK-108 rifle chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO.

Operators of the AK-74 (beyond the Soviets/Russians) became Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Georgia, Jordan, North Korea, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine (among others - see operators listing for full mention). The AK-74 remains the standard service rifle of Armenia. Azerbaijan locally-produces the weapon as does Bulgaria (as the AR-M1), North Korea (as the Type 88/Type 98-1) and Romania (as the PA md. 86). Syrian airborne forces continue its wide scale use. The Polish wz. 1988 "Tantal" was a localized version of the AK-74, though since removed from frontline service from 2005 onwards. United States special forces have used the AK-74, this under the local "M1974" designation.

The AK-74 has seen fighting action since the Soviet-Afghan War of 1979-1989 and has been encountered during the Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988-1994), the Georgian Civil War (1991-1993), the First Chechen War (1994-1996), the Second Chechen War (1999-2000), the South Ossetia War (2008) and many lesser, regional conflicts. Additionally, it is consistently seen in the ongoing War in Afghanistan (2001-Present).

Content ©MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted.
Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Kalashnikov AK-74 (M1974). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
2,952 ft/sec
900 m/sec
Muzzle Velocity
The physical qualities of the Kalashnikov AK-74 (M1974). Information presented is strictly for general reference and should not be misconstrued as useful for hardware restoration or operation.
943 mm
37.13 in
O/A Length
415 mm
16.34 in
Barrel Length
7.28 lb
3.30 kg
Gas-Operated; Rotating Bolt
30-Round Detachable Box Magazine
Iron Front and Rear; Optional Optics.
Notable series variants as part of the Kalashnikov AK-74 (M1974) Assault Rifle family line.
AK-74 - Original production models; solid wooden butt.
AKS-74 - Side-folding skeletal metal butt
AKS-74U - Assault carbine form
AK-74M - Modernized version of 1991
AK-100 - Modernized family of firearms evolved from the AK-74 line.
M1974 - U.S. Inventory Designation
AR-M1 - Bulgarian variant
Type 88 - North Korean local variant
Type 98-1 - North Korean local variant
Kbk wz. 1988 "Tantal" - Polish Army variant; since retired.
MPi-AK-74N - East German designation
MPi-AKS-74N - East German designation
MPi-AKS-74NK - East German designation
PA md. 86 - Romanian local variant
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Kalashnikov AK-74 (M1974). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national small arms listing.

Contractor(s): Izhmash / Kalashnikov - Soviet Union
National flag of Afghanistan National flag of Armenia National flag of Azerbaijan National flag of Belarus National flag of Bulgaria National flag of Cyprus National flag of Georgia National flag of modern Germany National flag of East Germany National flag of Iraq National flag of Jordan National flag of Kazakhstan National flag of Kyrgyzstan National flag of Mongolia National flag of Namibia National flag of North Korea National flag of Pakistan National flag of Poland National flag of Romania National flag of Russia National flag of the Soviet Union National flag of Syria National flag of Tajikistan National flag of Turkmenistan National flag of Ukraine National flag of Uzbekistan

[ Afghanistan; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Belarus; Bulgaria; Cyprus; Georgia; East Germany; Iraq; Jordan; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Moldova; Mongolia; Namibia; North Korea; Pakistan; Poland; Romania; Russia; Soviet Union; Syria; Tajikistan; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; Uzbekistan ]
1 / 3
Image of the Kalashnikov AK-74 (M1974)
Image courtesy of the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
2 / 3
Image of the Kalashnikov AK-74 (M1974)
Image courtesy of the United States Department of Defense imagery database.
3 / 3
Image of the Kalashnikov AK-74 (M1974)
Image courtesy of the United States Department of Defense imagery database.

Going Further...
The Kalashnikov AK-74 (M1974) Assault Rifle appears in the following collections:
Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2024 Military Pay Scale Military Ranks U.S. DoD Dictionary Conversion Calculators Military Alphabet Code Military Map Symbols US 5-Star Generals WW2 Weapons by Country

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT gmail.com. No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.

Part of a network of sites that includes Global Firepower, WDMMA.org, WDMMW.org, and World War Next.

©2024 www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-2024 (21yrs)