AK-47 vs. M-16: Which Rifle Is the Deadliest?

AK-47 vs. M-16: Which Rifle Is the Deadliest?

Warfare History Network


You decide.

During the Vietnam War, the AK-47 earned the grudging respect of the American fighting man, even as his own M16 became the subject of controversy. The most recognizable variant of the original AK-47 is the AKM, which entered service in 1959 and was regularly encountered in Vietnam. Its famous silhouette is recognized around the world.

During the Vietnam War, two of the most famous firearms of modern times emerged as icons of the latter half of the turbulent 20th century. The Soviet-made AK-47 and the American M16 were both developments that followed the deployment of the world’s first true assault rifle, the Sturmgewehr 44, by the German Army during World War II. There were obvious advantages to the rifle that could be fired in automatic or semi-automatic mode without requiring the soldier to operate a bolt, and these weapons characterized modern combat with the Vietnam War serving as a proving ground.

The father of the AK-47 was Soviet arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, and it is believed that since the rifle entered production in 1949 over 75 million examples of the original or its improved variants have been manufactured, more than any other firearm in history. The AK-47 has developed a reputation for simplicity and rugged reliability. It has also become a common weapon in the Third World and a symbol of the revolutionary, the insurgent, and the terrorist. While the AK-47 was shipped to Vietnam in great numbers to equip the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong insurgency, it also armed the Soviet Red Army and its Cold War allies of the Warsaw Pact.

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