The Difference Between The HK and the AK
With our new involvement with the G3 and HK33 rifles, we have received questions about the differences between these, and the AK we are famous for developing.
In short, the AK became popular in the USA because it was a cheap gun. Period. One could buy a kit for $50, and assemble a reasonably adequate gun for about $300. Or one could buy a pristine kit and have a very nice gun for about $500. Sadly, the "cheapskate persona" remained with the AK up until today even after the kits disappeared and the quality of manufacture - even custom - went down. That persona has severely stiffled the development of the AK in the USA.
Today if you want a good AK you will be looking at an Arsenal, or a converted VEPR. There may be a few custom shops that turn out good rifles as well. Example would be Krebs. But these will be in the realm of $1200 - 1500. Anything under $1000 today is a gamble on quality.
Advantages of the AK are as follows -
1). Very simple weapon to operate and maintain
2). Magazines (surplus ones) are still plentiful for the 7.62x39, and top tier US Palm are available under $30.
3). You can get great weapon specific training at Suarez International
The main problems that persist with the AK are as follows -
1). Very few quality accessories have been made in the USA. There are a few companies such as Midwest Industries, that are making top shelf accessories for this rifle, but most others are focusing solely on price...again reflecting the interest of the mass AK market.
2). Since many rifles are built on de-milled parts, the age and quality of those parts is in question. We have seen some very nice rifles and some absolutely unsatisfactory rifles. As well, since very few of these rifles enter the country as sold, the assembler/builder will determine the quality. And that is as unpredictable as the weather.
3). Number two, coupled with low grade ammo, leads to poor performance. The development of ComBloc ammo has simply not been developed by the ammo companies as they cannot compete with the cheap training ammo imported from the east.
4). There is no uniformity between rifles and magazines or parts between countries may not
The AK is an excellent rifle concept, and could be a very fantastic rifle (witness the Finn's Sako 95), but such a rifle is not likely to be made here in the USA at a price anyone could justify paying.
Now to the HK. The HK systems were around long before the AWB of '94, and were the epitome of the Assault Rifle then. The HK-91, 93 and 94 (AKA G3, HK33 and MP5) were the benchmark for special operations and SWAT. When the AWB errupted on the scene, HK lost a great deal of money and, disgusted with the American civilian gun scene (and after something like that who would blame them), took those guns off the market and sold them overseas.
The HK family was used and is still used in a great many countries. A search on wikipedia for G3 or HK33 will show. I have seen them in almost every country I have visited and they have been built by various nations under license from HK and on German machinery. Being German, the design and tolerances are far superior to the AK systems, and a magazine from Thailand will fit into a Greek rifle, and a Turkish handguard will pop right on to a German rifle with no issues.
Advantages of the HK Over AK -
1). Uniformity of design and fabrication. All one has to do is examine the two systems with an open mind. It would be like comparing a Russian Lada with a German Audi.
2). Has not been co-opted by the "Hills Have Eyes" crowd. There are no cheap accessories or "trashtical" add-ons to the HK platform.
3). Just as simple to operate and maintain as the AK platform...perhaps more so.
4). Dramatically enhanced accuracy capability compared to AK due to weapon design, and use of
very prolific and highly developed NATO ammo.
5). True weapon family available in 9mm, 223, 7.62x39, and 308 in SBR, rifle, and DMR
configurations. That is something that has been tried unsuccessfully by the AK world.
6). Magazines still very available for all the platforms. A new G3 magazine will cost less than ten dollars.
With the HK, we hear many of the same "yeah buts" that we heard with the AK when we began studying that system. Here are our ripostes to some of those.
Ergonomics: These are a matter of what one is used to. Just like an AK is not an M4, neither is an HK and AK. What is needed is to learn the system. The HK safety, for example, is far easier to operate than any AK safety and it is substantially easier to make it technically ambidextrous, which has not proven possible with an AK.
Optics Addition: I think we can rule out stock rifles since none of them are optimal. But once we realize that things can be added for enhancements. Investment Grade Firearms, our choice for any and all HK work, can easily weld a picatinny over the top of the receiver without the need for pivoting top covers, zero retention concerns, or anything else. Thus the HK is head and shoulders above the AK with optics.
Today, these rifle systems are available from Vector and PTR. And like anything else, they can be substantially better with some additions. We have several PTRs and Vector 93s and 53s in house with the staff and the consensus is that they rival the original and virtually unobtainable HKs. Those "legacy" HKs by the way are as pointless to the discussion as original Israeli Army UZI are
to a discussion of that platform as they are not available at any reasonable price point.
Incidentally, if a PTR or Vector has an issue, they will take it back immediately and either fix it or replace it. Something the original HK factory would rarely do. So in a sense, this is a better time for HKs than what we had before.
Disadvantages of the HK System -
1). These weapons are not for the economically challenged. You won't be getting a good HK rifle for the price of a used WASR ten. And magazines for the 223 and 9mm versions will exceed the cost for a comparable AK magazine.
2). Few schools have any experience running the platform
That is it in a nutshell. I am glad I have rediscovered this platform and am making a personal shift toward it and away from the AK platform. I have obtained a G3 copy (PTR-91) with enhancements, and a pair of V-93s, one of which will be an SBR. These will be my main working guns.
I will say that had the HK platform been quickly available in 2004, there would have been far less
interest in the AK system, and much more focus on the G-3 and HK-33.
Blessed be The Lord My Rock - Jesus Christ
To Whom I Owe All That I Am, All That I Have Been, Or Will Ever Be.