Is the AK47 More Powerful Than the M16/AR15?

   04.17.18

Is the AK47 More Powerful Than the M16/AR15?

One of shootingdom’s most enduring debates is how the AK47 and its 7.62×39 cartridge stacks up against the 5.56 NATO in the M16/M4/AR platform. Most serious gun guys have seen the numbers over and over, and statistics are one thing, but actually seeing how much difference there is in destructive power is something else entirely. And that’s where Paul Harrell takes us in this video.

To begin with, he shoots a log wall from 25 yards. 5.56 provided full penetration, but the bullets keyholed the target behind the wall, indicating they were tumbling as they exited the wall — and the target was peppered with a shotgun-like pattern of wood splinters. 7.62×39 bullets sailed on through the log and kept flying true, but without the secondary spray of wood frags.

Next, he savagely attacks an array of concrete blocks. As you might expect, the heavier bullets of the 7.62 (123 grains vs. 55) did a better job of busting up the blocks.

For comparison of hydrostatic shock, he switches to soft point ammo since that’s what you’d hunt with. Since all the jugs were fully ruptured, it’s tough to say which one wins.

For the ogligatory car door shoot, Paul displays his typical thoughtfulness by ensuring a fair comparison between the two cartridges. In other words, he makes the doors and conditions as identical as possible for each one. The results were surprisingly similar.

In the end, I’d say it’s tough to declare a clear winner, although I generally lean towards larger, heavier bullets as a rule.

What’s your take on it?

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Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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