I've shot matches (two and three gun) with ARs and AKs (in both 7.62 and 5.45), and of course ARs. I'm not even going to talk about ARs, because almost every spec ops unit in the world uses an M16 based rifle, not because they have to, but because it works. It is if not THE best, it's certainly among the best modern rifles in the world. The rifle (and those that choose to use it) speak for themselves.
Here are my issues with the AK. Some of these issues have workarounds, some don't. Some of the workarounds are half assed, at best.
The AK has no last round hold open. You can't use the safety without using two hands, or a major grip adjustment. Optics mounting is complex, usually with significant added weight. Iron sights are not optimized for accuracy. Sight adjustments (front sight) are imprecise, and non-incremental. Available ammunition limits accuracy, even before we get into the construction of the weapon. Under heavy firing schedules, the hand guard retainer and the front of the receiver get hot enough burn your support hand, while having a grip area small enough to make avoiding the hot parts difficult, if not impossible. It's not an inherently accurate design... way too much reciprocating weight (crude manufacturing methods don't help, either). The triggers are usually OK to good, if not a little creepy.
Having said all that, the rifle is only part of the picture. Let's take a look at magazines.
AK magazines have a significant curve to them. They have large protuberances and edges (mag catch, the 'hook' on the front, base plates, spine, etc). This means they don't stack well, and can be problematic getting in and out of mag pouches. They take up a lot of space in a row of pouches, because of the curve. They are heavy (although some are heavier than others). Reloads take significantly longer than other platforms.
If you want the best rifle you can get, it's not an AK. It's an OK all around rifle. It's not the best at anything. Even the Russians want to get rid of it.
It's not an affront to your manhood, it's not personal. The AK was a cutting edge rifle...50 years ago. Those who can, have moved on. If you just want to challenge yourself, rock on, but don't kid yourself.
Last edited by eodinert; March 26, 2013 at 12:00 PM.