AK-47s are easily recognizable, whether you’re on the range or watching an old Rambo movie. With their wooden stocks and iconic curved magazines, they’ve served militaries across the globe for decades. Accurate, hard-hitting, and reliable, AK-47s are said to be the most widely used shouldered rifle in the world. 

But did you know that you can also get an AK-47 pistol? That’s right, but before you do, you’ll need to know what sets AK-47 pistols apart from AK-47 rifles. We’ll break it down for you. 

Related: Best AK-47 Rifles & Pistols Available

AK-47 Rifles


This Zastava M70 N-PAP AK-47 rifle features a Magpul folding stock. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

AK-47 rifles have longer barrels, so they’re simply more accurate at longer distances. A matter of ballistics, the AK-47 pistol with its short barrel just can’t compete at longer ranges with its big brother. 

Based on the original AK-47 design, the Century Arms CGR is a less expensive  modern version, or AKM, made with a stamped receiver. (Photo: Zach Buth/Guns.com)

AK-47 rifles traditionally feature a fixed buttstock as opposed to a polymer pistol brace used on AK-47 pistols. Fixed, wooden buttstocks are sturdier by design. They’ll also leave a mark if you need to fend off someone during close-quarters hand-to-hand combat. 

AK-47s offer slightly less recoil on the full-size rifle compared to AK-47 pistols. It’s the same principal in handguns: the longer the barrel, the less felt recoil. 

AK-47 Pistols


Century Arms Draco 9S 9mm AK pistol
Century Arms' Draco 9S is a 9mm AK pistol. (Photo: April Robinson/Guns.com)

AK-47 pistols have been gaining popularity over the past several years. Manufactured by many popular makers, in a word, they just look badass. AK-47 pistols have a shorter barrel than an AK-47 rifle, sometimes by more than half the length. Because of this, accuracy at longer ranges is compromised due to the ballistics. Do they still pack a punch? You bet, but their accuracy is better at shorter ranges. 

AK-47 pistols are shorter overall. While it may not be an advantage for long-range shots, it does make the pistol more maneuverable, lending itself to home defense situations (although some would argue that 7.62 may be a little overkill for home defense). 

Some AK-47 pistols feature pistol braces, while others feature only a pistol grip, which shortens the length even further. Sometimes it’s good to have options depending on what and where you’re shooting.

A contestant at Red Oktober, an annual competition for AK fanatics. (Photo: Ben Philippi/Guns.com)

AK-47 pistols are generally chambered in 7.62, however you can also purchase them chambered in other popular rifle calibers including .223/5.56. Would you ever want to? Hard to say, but if for whatever reason, 5.56 is your preferred rifle caliber, you can still own an AK-47 pistol. AK-47 pistols produce more muzzle flash than seen on an AK-47 rifle. Much more – like fireball-level muzzle flash. It’s cool, there’s no denying it – and people at the range will notice.

The polymer pistol brace on an AK-47 pistol doesn’t feel as sturdy as the solid wooden rifle stock of an AK-47 rifle. The upside of that is AK-47 pistols are lighter to wield and more adjustable to the shooter. It can be fired shouldered or strapped to the arm as a traditional brace is designed to be. 



AK-47 magazine
The curved magazine is a dead giveaway for an AK, whether rifle or pistol. (Photo: Paul Peterson/Guns.com)

To start, both are AK-47s and have a coolness factor because of the history behind the gun. Either would be recognized at the range, and either will be a conversation starter. If you like drawing attention to yourself, either of these will do it. There’s no mistaking a 7.62 at the range when everyone else is firing .223.

Both are normally chambered in 7.62x39, which packs a punch! (As mentioned above, you can get an AK-47 pistol in other calibers as well, but generally, when you’re talking anything AK-47, you’re talking about something chambered in 7.62.) 7.62 is a beast of a caliber, and in today’s market it’s pretty easy to find. 


Whether you’re looking for an AK-47 rifle or an AK-47 pistol, both are incredibly fun to shoot. But why choose? If you’re still unsure of which is best for you, we highly recommend you buy one of each and some 7.62 ammo to feed them both. 

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