This standard Kalashnikov assault rifle of Russian troops was first seen in Afghanistan shortly after the invasion of that country. It is basically a smaller-caliber version of the AKM that is built with more modern materials. The 5.6mm Kalashnikov was originally designed for what would become the Kalashnikov AK-74 Assault Rifle, but prototype AK-74’s cartridge was changed for unknown reasons to the 5.45mm Kalashnikov round. (The 5.6mm Kalashnikov round later became a popular civilian round in Russia and Eastern Europe, but of course, I have provided game figures for a 5.6mm version of the Kalashnikov AK-74 Assault Rifle, mostly out of curiousity).
|Kalashnikov AK-74M Assault Rifle|
Early models used exclusively wooden stocks, but later models have been built with plastic stocks and handguards (usually of the same color wood that the Russian normally use for their weapons). Kalashnikov AK-74 Assault Rifle usually have a groove running down the sides of their stocks to provide a quick recognition feature; this was especially necessary in very early models that did not have the now-distinctive muzzle brake. Magazines for the Kalashnikov AK-74 Assault Rifle are made of plastic-coated steel (usually dark red or light brown, but sometimes black).
The magazines are of the same dimensions as those for the AKM and AK-74, but will not fit into those rifles (and they couldn’t fire that ammunition anyway). Though it is not often done, the AK-74 can also use the 40-round box magazines and 75-round drums of the RPK-74 automatic rifle. The AK-74 Assault Rifle sports a muzzle brake that actually works rather well; however, as the muzzle blast is largely directed upwards and to the right (to fight the natural recoil of the AK-74 to the same direction), fellow soldiers on that side of the AK-74 Assault Rifle user tend to stay at least three meters away from each other to avoid having muzzle blast and sand kicked in their faces. (There was also a concern early in the development program that AK-74 firers had a higher incidence of hearing loss, because of the design of the muzzle brake.) The muzzle brake, however, actually increases muzzle blast and this can be a problem, especially at night.
|AK-74 Assault Rifle|
An odd variant is the AKS-74Y Assault Rifle; this model has a special barrel surrounded by silencer designed specifically for the AKS-74Y Assault Rifle. The AKS-74Y is meant for use exclusively with subsonic ammunition; standard 5.45mm Kalashnikov ammunition will quickly ruin the silencer and the barrel inside it. Most versions of the AK-74 series firing calibers other than 5.45mm Kalashnikov are made in other countries, with the notable exception of the AK-100 series (q.v.).