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AK vs AR Mud Test: Trench Warfare style

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The guys at In Range TV recently performed a mud-wear-function comparison of the AR15 and AK47, but with a different twist – they discussed it in the context of, “What rifle would you give an infantryman going into combat in trenches of World War I?” Think a battle like Passchendaele (July to November 1917), which was infamous for muddy conditions so bad that men and horses drowned in the quagmire and entire regiments became bogged down.

The results of the AK vs. AR mud test were surprising to many. The redoubtable AK has always had a reputation utter reliability under even the most improbable of conditions; the AR has of course been accused of timidity in the face of carbon, grit and debris. Neither of those reputations may be entirely deserved. Certainly neither are universally true. In the event, the FW tests results substantially favored the AR 15 over the AK.

Queue the Butt Hurt

As you might imagine, this does more than run counter to conventional wisdom, it created a lot of asspain in viewers. As might be expected there were expressions of incredulity and outrage mixed in with some thoughtful and intelligent commentary and occasional trolltastic stupidity (including at least one moron who suggested the entire thing was staged to promote the AR15 industry, for whom the IRTV guys are clearly shills). We'll leave you to sift through the comments to separate wheat from chaff.

AR over AK in the WWI mud - Forgotten Weapons 03

AR over AK in the WWI mud - Forgotten Weapons 04

Why these results?

So why do you suppose the test ended thusly? Because, as Ian McCollum (you may also recognize him from Forgotten Weapons) explains it,

“The AR15 is a really well sealed and enclosed design. There isn't a big open slot for a charging handle, there aren't big holes elsewhere in the action, there is a very good dust cover and even when the dust cover's open, the bolt itself really fills the ejection port and seals it, pretty tightly actually.On top of this, the direct impingement, or pseudo-direct impingement (the AR15 bolt itself is a piston in and of itself); the way that thing vents gas is it blows it out the side of the bolt out the ejection port, and that actually I think has a non-trivial effect on blowing dirt away from the ejection port which otherwise might fall into the gun. Now, the AK has this open slot behind it, the safety covers that slot but doesn't cover it nearly as tightly as the dust cover on the AR. There's a much larger gap, even on the highest end AKs, there's a large gap between the receiver dust cover and the bolt itself. Mud can get into that gap. It causes friction on the bolt, which prevents it from cycling properly and it can get backwards into the fire control group, and when you get maybe not soft things (water probably would not do this) but mud, with bits of sticks and rocks and sand and crap in it, that stuff gets into a fire control group and that will lock up a gun and it will cease to function.”

AR over AK in the WWI mud - Forgotten Weapons 02

AK vs AR Mud Test – the Actual Videos

There are obviously many variables here, and the test is not (nor does it claim to be) a long term analysis. The fact that they tested just two specific rifles is also a limiting factor, but is certainly not as big as problem as some of the mouthbreathers would have us believe. Watch the videos. They're interesting. Read the comments or weigh in on their Facebook page.

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