AK74M is an assault rifle introduced into service by the Soviet Union in 1974 , to replace the AKM with a smaller caliber weapon ( 5.45×39mm M74 ) that could offer the same advantages as the American M16 .
Description and history
This rifle was distinguished by an almost entirely plastic muzzle brake , fittings and magazine, instead of the traditional metal. The first prototype was born in 1970, under the designation AK74M ; it is exactly like the AKM-59 in sheet metal and wood but has a metal magazine of a prototype of 5.45 ammunition. It was later that we decided on the real model in plastic and metal. A more modern rifle, the Nikonov AN-94 only appeared twenty years later and only received confidential distribution within elite units, due to its very high cost.
AK74M in use in 2014 by the Russian Army .
The AK-74 therefore remains the most common weapon chambering the new 5.45 ammunition, the adoption of which did not cause a problem since the rifle had been designed for it. Curiously enough, the AK-74 retains the shortcomings of the AKM , notably the awkward fire selector and spinning start, which force the operator to keep his index finger out of the trigger guard during non-fire phases.
The sights can be considered as primitive but fulfill their function perfectly, and are calibrated on the current distances of use of the weapon; their adaptation (site and drift adjustment of the handlebars) is a model of ease and robustness.
Serviceability is very good (this is the case with any weapon designed by the engineer Kalashnikov ), and neither sand nor water prevents it from working, to some extent. Most AK-74s have some sort of hook on the stock so they can be easily stored. This rifle, as shooting instructors call it, is idiot-proof : anyone can, without training or knowledge of weapons and after a short training, stock it, cock it and fire it. The simplicity of its mechanism means that it is often made or maintained by hand. The whole thing makes the AK-74 the most common assault rifle, leaving the FAL far behind .
The AK-74 was mass-produced starting in 1976 . The version for paratroop troops, AKS-74 is equipped with a folding metal butt along the weapon. The night-fighting version, the AK-74N, includes a side rail for mounting an infrared scope. In 1991 , a new version equipped with the folding stock and the side rail allowing to mount a scope will be put into service under the designation of AK-74M .
Derivative versions have been produced, including the AKS-74U which is a very short version with the dimensions of a submachine gun and the RPK-74 which is the submachine gun version. Other derivative models chamber other ammunition like the 5.56 NATO but not used in the Russian army.