The AK-47 and the M16 were two of the most important rifles of the period following the Second World War. The AK-47, often known as the Kalashnikov after the man who developed it, was a Russian design developed in 1945, the last year of the war.
It was modeled on the German Sturmgewehr 14 assault rifle, a weapon which had impressed the Soviets. It was first tested in 1946 and introduced into the Soviet Army in 1948.
The AK-47 is a gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle which can operate as an automatic or semi-automatic weapon. It has a 30 round magazine and an effective change of 350m (380yd).
To this day the AK-47 remains the most popular assault rifle in the world on account of its reliability, low cost, availability, and simplicity. In 2004, 100 million Kalashnikovs were in service, out of a total of 500 million firearms throughout the world.
The M16 is the American equivalent. It is a 5.56×45mm rifle. It is a development of the Armalite AR-15 rifle which had been produced in the 1950s. In 1969 it became the standard firearm of the U.S. Army. It has a magazine of 20 rounds. Like the AK-47 it can be automatic or semi-automatic. It has an effective range of 550m (601yd).
Also like the AK-47, it is used by many other military forces in the world. Around 8 million M16s are produced worldwide.
In this video, R. Lee Ermey finds out which is the better rifle – AK47 or M16?