Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Relooking Cost AR vs AK #Whatever

Longtime reader Chris gave us a blind flash of the obvious about this ongoing debate over at his blog. One of the benefits of the AK platform has always been price. For the price of an AR you could have two AK's or an AK with some ammo and mags or whatever. Even 5 or 6 years ago AK's cost half to two thirds as much as AR's. Accessories such as mags and ammo were cheaper too.

With the massive explosion of the AR platform in recent years (for goodness sake they sell them at Walmart now) many new folks have gotten into, or expanded their role in, making AR's. This has driven down the cost point of real quality mil spec type fighting guns too which is pretty great.

As Chris pointed out it is pretty hard to touch an AK for under $600 these days. I did some checking and confirmed this to be accurate or close enough. There are some basic but solid AR's at or very near that price point. Some nitwhit AR hater or fanboy might argue that only a $1,600 big name AR is capable of being a decent fighting gun. That nitwhit's AK fanboy buddy could argue with equal effectiveness that only an Arsenal AK customized out of a big name shop is capable. They are both stupid and equally wrong.

I did wonder if accessories for the AK platform were still cheaper.

As to ammo this 7.62x39 Tula FMJ in a spam can is running 24.8 cents a round. You do pay a premium for getting ammo in a spam can (though it is already properly stored which is something to consider). You can get it closer to 20 cents a round if you don't want or need it already packed.

PMC .223 ammo is available for $350/1,000. At first glance this is more expensive than 7.62x39 but we are talking modern manufactured brass cased ammo vs com block steel cased stuff. If we compare apples and apples steel cased .223 can be had for a tiny bit more than 7.62x39. Conversely brass cased 7.62x39 is pretty expensive both because it is relatively rare and it requires more metal than .223.

[Personally I do not shoot steel cased ammo in the AR platform. I shoot steel cased ammo in AK's and Glocks but not other guns. The only hassles I have had with AR feeding were with steel cased ammo. While not in any way scientific the answer to use brass cased ammo was obvious to me. YMMV]

So ammo is really a wash in terms of cost.

As to mags I can answer this somewhat easily looking at recent purchases. I got a bunch of PMAG's from Brownells for $14 a piece. Mil spec type (new) AR type mags are running around twelve and change if you buy in any quantity. The excellent to good condition surplus eastern European milsurp AK mag's I use are running $15 right now. Then again they do pop up cheaper sometimes, I bought some for $11 back in April.

Mag prices are also a wash.

Spare parts are one area where AK's still have the edge. You can get a full AK parts kit (the whole gun minus receiver and barrel) for under $200. I am not willing to look up prices and make estimates but you cannot do that with an AR.

Chris's point that AK supplies are drying up (at least in part due to import regulations on Chinese guns) is valid. AK prices are going up. I would guesstimate AK's and AK stuff is up about 40% over the past 5 or 6 years. AR stuff, except ammo has generally stayed flat or dropped in price.

This is not meant to be a comparison of the two platforms. John Mosby made a very compelling case for the AR which is worth considering. That being said if you have an AK (especially if you bought it at $250-350) and are happy with it then keep on keeping on. My point was to take a look at the cost to purchase, equip and train with an AR and an AK today. It is fair to say that when considering the strengths of either platform (real or mythical) you can pretty much remove cost from the discussion as it is very comparable.

Take care of each other,
Ryan


5 comments:

Chris said...

One more thought on the AK platform I didn't mention in the post that I thought about once you mentioned spare parts -- once you go with a foreign built receiver now you have to deal with 922R compliance.

Once you start swapping things around you have absolutely got to make sure there's enough US-build parts in there to be compliant.

No risk of that with the AR platform!

http://gunwiki.net/Gunwiki/BuildAkVerifyCompliance

Chris said...

Also -- PMAGs are running $13.20 each at Midway with dealer pricing (you do have a FFL03, right?)...

Commander_Zero said...

I just got a flyer from one of my vendors (Ron Shirk, I believe) and they were offering S&W Ar-15's for $549....whereas an Arsenal AK was about $800. Topsyturvy world where AR's are cheaper than AK's.

Ryan said...

Chris, That is a good point to consider.

Negative, I avoid dealing with the ATF even if it inconveniences me.

Zero, AK's definitely are not cheap any more.

Kevls143 said...
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