Some might think that the AK series are ugly, inaccurate rifles that are only fit for Communist conscript armies and terrorists.
Well, I don't have a good argument against those charges, actually.
But I like them. The AK series are rugged, reliable, and accurate enough for field use.
This brings us to the latest gun I would like you nice people out in internetland to buy for me: The AKS-74U. (Avtomat Kalashnikova Ukorochennyj)
The AK-74 is a AKM assault rifle chambered in the 5.45x39mm cartridge. The 5.45mm was developed after the Vietnam War, when it was seen that more of a lighter cartridge with a flatter trajectory was superior to fewer of a heavy cartridge. Whether or not this is the truth is still hotly debated today.
The AKS-74U was intended as a weapon for armored vehicle crews, artillerymen, truck drivers and anyone who would be overly encumbered by a full size rifle. The AKS-74U is mostly the same as its larger brother, it has a simpler sights and a shorter forearm, as well as a folding metal stock. The main difference is the very abbreviated barrel. The barrel is 8.3" long and is fitted with a special muzzle brake with an internal expansion chamber that is intended to increase the reliability of the weapon. The brake also is meant to allow unburnt powder to dissipate inside, before it has a chance to make a large muzzle flash, destroying nightvision and letting enemies zero in on your position. The 8.3 inch barrel was not simply adopted because it was shorter, though. The length allowed the 5.45mm cartridge to achieve the muzzle velocity of the older M43 7.62x39mm AKM, which the designers felt would give it sufficient killing power.
One problem of making a shorter automatic weapon is that the original weapon was developed to cycle the bolt with a certain amount of pressure. Shortening the barrel lowers the amount of gas pressure in the weapon and makes malfunctions much more likely. Also the AKS-74U loses a great deal of velocity from the full size AK-74 from 2,952 fps to 2,411fps. This resulted in a decrease in effective range from 625 to 350 m. Although I would guess that making a offhand shot on a man sized target at 350m with this weapon would be a nice shot.
This is the "Special Forces" variant of the -74U, it is fitted with a sound suppressor and the BS-1 "silent" grenade launcher. The BS-1 was developed specifically for the AKS-74U and fires a high-explosive dual purpose (HEDP) grenade. The grenades for the BS-1 are launched by blank cartridges and the rifle is cycled manually in this mode of operation.
Why do I want this gun? It is not very accurate, extremely loud, fires a weird little bullet, etc. To be honest, I want this gun just because it looks cool. To be sure, it is an assault rifle with the effectiveness of a submachine gun, but it is much more compact than most weapons with its level of power and probably more reliable than almost any similarly sized AR-15 variant.