Logistics: Why AK-47 Ammo Sucks So Much


March 31,2008: One unspoken reason for Iraqi and Afghan troops switching from AK-47s to M-16s, is problems with ammunition quality. AK-47 (7.62mm) ammo has long had quality issues, at least to a greater degree than M-16 5.56mm stuff. As new Iraqi and Afghan security forces were recruited, trained and sent into action, there was a huge increase in demand for AK-47 ammo. This led to a lot of older stuff  coming onto the market. In many nations that use the AK-47, including China, not a lot of ammo is used. Put simply, the troops don't get a lot of practice firing their weapons. But large stocks of ammo are stockpiled in case there is a war. With the increased demand from Iraq and Afghanistan, many nations with these stockpiles saw an opportunity to unload their older (often 40 years or more) stuff. This elderly ammunition was not only suffering from the usual aging problems of old ammo (the chemicals in the propellants breaks down and makes the bullets move a lot slower, and less effectively), but often showed the effects of poor storage (corrosion). All that, plus the ease with which one can bribe Iraqi or Afghan supply officials to accept the bad stuff, led to many Iraqi and Afghan troops going into battle with defective ammo. These problems largely go away with M-16 ammo, which is made to higher standards in the first place, and rarely lies around for a long time (M-16 users let their troops practice more often). There is some crap 5.56mm ammo out there, but to a much lesser degree than is the case with the AK-47 stuff.


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