Accuracy Showdown: My AK -vs- My AR at 100 Yards

Ever since I mounted a scope on my Serbian N-PAP M70 AK-variant rifle, I wanted to see what this rifle could do at 100 yards. Yes, 100 yards is outside of the “sweet spot” for this rifle, but I still thought this would be fun! I thought to myself: “While I’m at it, let’s compare the results with an M4-ish AR-15”. I tried to think of what would be the best AR-15 upper from my collection to use- and then I remembered that A3-style AR-Stoner upper receiver I had never unboxed from a few years back. So I got out the A3 upper, mounted a scope, and headed to my 100 yard range with both rifles.

Just For Fun

Yes, I’m totally aware that this is not a scientific test- if I really wanted to test the relative accuracy potential for the AK and AR rifle platforms, I’d need to incorporate many other factors including:

  • Multiple rifles of the same specification on each side
  • AR-15 rifles with a combination of different handguards (fixed -vs- free floating)
  • Factory rifles and custom rifles
  • Multiple types of factory ammunition, multiple hand loads, bullet weights, powders, etc
  • AK: Milled receiver rifles and stamped receiver rifles

So this exercise was a “just for fun”  kind of thing- let’s go to the range with a couple rifles and compare. At the same time, I thought there would be some meaning to this comparison since the N-PAP is a pretty decent example of a typical AK rifle (in terms of accuracy and precision), and the fixed-front-sight AR-15 seemed like a pretty fair comparison on that end of things.

The Rifle Setups

For this comparison, I shot off a wood table using a Caldwell Rock BR front rest, and a Caldwell Universal Rear Rest as well. Each rifle was supported by the handguard and the buttstock only.

The AK was setup with an RS REGULATE AK307M scope mount (It is quick attach, using the side mount integral to the N-PAP) and a BSA variable power scope (24 power max).

The AR-15 was seup with a scope riser and Vortex Viper HS-T scope. I opted to use a nice Rainier Arms lower that is my “go-to” run-n-gun lower (I typically have setup with free float upper, using a red dot sight).

With both rifles using a 24 power scope, and both shot off the same rest, I felt this was a pretty good and equivalent setup for this test.

Ammunition

For ammo, I used what I had on-hand. I thought it would be good to compare factory and handloaded ammunition in both rifles to see how that may affect things.

7.62x39mm Ammunition

In the above picture we have TulAmmo 122 grain FMJ steel cased ammo (left), and Brass-cased (7.62x39mm once-fired brass from Capital Cartridge) 7.62x39mm handloads using 123 grain Hornady spire point bullets with 0.310″ diameter  (right).

223/5.56 Ammunition

In the above picture we have PMC Bronze 55 grain FMJ 223 Ammunition (left), and 55 grain hand loaded 223 ammunition (right).

Would the ammunition used affect the outcomes? Let’s see!

Results

I shot three “sets” of targets during the range session. The first set was to sight in the rifles, and get point-of-impact (POI) shift numbers for each type of ammunition. The second set was a dress rehearsal (I intended it to be the final run, but one of my cameras was not setup right!). The third set was the shots you saw in the video.

First Groups (not in video) click/tap to enlarge

Second Groups (as seen in video) click/tap to enlarge

Here’s some quick analysis of the groups:

All groups 5 shots and measured in inches, fired at 100 yards, 95 F Temp.
Group 1 Group 2 Average Overall
AK (N-PAP) Factory Ammo 7.25 6.25 6.75 6.50
AK (N-PAP) Handloaded Ammo 6.25 6.25 6.25
AR-15 Factory Ammo 1.50 2.25 1.88 1.88
AR-15 Handloaded Ammo 1.25 2.50 1.88

And let’s compare this with general acceptance criteria for each rifle platform:

  • AK acceptance criteria: ~6 MOA* (General, international)
  • M4 Acceptance criteria: ~4 MOA* (US Military)

*These numbers are general, and not meant to be exact, will vary based on organization and country

Conclusions

From the information I gathered, I’ve drawn the following conclusions:

  1. The AK performed *about* like I thought it would, perhaps slightly worse.
  2. The AK is about where acceptance criteria are set.
  3. The AK was not affected by heat or ammunition type
  4. The AR-15 did far better than I thought it would (I was expecting 3-4 MOA)
  5. The AR-15 met acceptance criteria
  6. The AR-15 was affected by heat (see first groups -vs- second groups)

This exercise was more of a curiosity for me- I don’t expect an AK to shoot tight groups at 100 yards, but I do wonder what it would take to get an AK to perform like the AR-15 used in this article did. I know it’s possible, but it’s not inline with the intent of the AK platform (perhaps that’s why it’s intriguing). The AR-15 shot well during this round of testing, but I do have free floated AR-15 uppers that do better, so again, this was more of a “fun experiment”. I expected the fixed front sight to respond to heat, and it did- doubling the size of the groups!

Most importantly, I had fun- I didn’t know exactly what would happen, and that’s what made me want to perform this comparison.

Do you have experiences with AK or AR-15 accuracy you’d like to share? Please leave a comment!

Thanks,
Gavin

About the author

2 thoughts on “Accuracy Showdown: My AK -vs- My AR at 100 Yards”

  1. I took a 1916 Spanish Mauser small ring. That had been converted from 7mm to 7.62 Nato. Most likely over spec as you couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn with it. Converted it to 7.62 x 39mm. The AK round is just slightly larger in Dia. (7.65). You can now get 1 1/2 inch. groups at 100 yards. Used the same as his test Factory Tula Ammo.

  2. I have a WASR 10/63 and I hand load 123gr Hornady using Lapua brass and have had great results in getting a better grouping. My Bushmaster AR still is a tighter group. It looks like you are using an American made Century Arms AK, they are not made as well as either the VEPR or a WASR 10. I would look into getting a better quality AK, one not made in the US and re do the same test.

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