May 2016

AK-Pattern 5.56/223 Rifles: We Test Izhmash and Archer

AR-15 shooters will ask, ‘Why buy an AK in this chambering when there is a perfectly good American design for the round?’ We answer this question and more in head-to-head testing.

AK-Pattern 5.56/223 Rifles: We Test Izhmash and Archer

The Leapers UTG 5th Generation quick-detachable Picatinny-style double rail mount MNT-978, $28 from MidwayUSA.com. It adjusts to fit the majority of side-rail variants and has a quick-detach lever.

Putting new calibers in old designs is a popular trend, proving you can teach an old dog new tricks. In this test we look at the classic AK-47 platform chambered in 5.56x45mm to see if the new trick would fit the old dog. Matching a new rifle to an old favorite in caliber means keeping fewer types of ammo around the house, so we wondered how the AK would perform with the smaller 5.56mm NATO round to match our favorite AR platforms. Many AR and M4 variants are now available in a range of chambers, from 22-caliber plinkers to 300 Blackout and most things in between, including 7.62x39mm, so this switch works both ways if you want it to. We recently found two AK-styled rifles chambered in 5.56 NATO that we could perhaps upgrade into something better, if the base rifle functioned well enough to consider making the initial investment. Depending on their performance, these two AK-47 variants chambered in the NATO 5.56x45 round might be nice additions to a collection and would make a great companion to an AR in the same caliber. 

We found a Polish Archer, imported by I.O. Interordnance, and an Izhmash Saiga Sport, imported by TGI, Inc., of Knoxville, Tennessee, to compete in a head-to-head contest of fit, form, and function, with considerations toward making modifications. Here’s what we learned.

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