G36 vs. AK-47
A strictly objective opinion,
My personal experiences with the Bundeswehr’s standard issue weapon.
By Zsolt Madai
In the second week of September, 2007, a bunch of comrades and I were invited to participate in German soldier’s training for a week.
All of us that had grown up on the AK-47, couldn’t wait to spend a week with the G36 A1 rifle.
Many people think a week isn’t enough for an experience that allows one to form an opinion about a weapon, but maybe this is balanced by the fact that we could pick up the weapon as soon as we arrived on Sunday, and the following week the weapon was always at our sides. we slept and woke with it, we went to shower with it, and even had to have it when we used the toilet and ate. In short, we lived with the weapon on our side.
We picked up our weapons with mixed feelings of curiosity and devotion.
We instantly noticed that this weapon represented completely different values, engineering and age.
I won’t go into details about the weapon’s attributes because those are very easy to find on the internet. I’d rather go in depth about the weapon in practical use and the primary differences between the G36 and the AK-47.
The outside made a compact, uniform impression, but the amount of plastic was a bit wierd compared to the AK’s “bio” material.
Of course, this is only an aestethical opinion as it doesn’t affect the weapon itself. Let’s carry on.
Our first practice experience was with the three-point sling, which is a very good solution apart from one small thing (that i will mention later). The added buckle allowed it to be used as a normal sling(such as the standard two-point kalashnikov sling) as well as the three-point configuration. What is a three-point sling good for? It’s capable of keeping the weapon on your body in such a way, that the stock is always at your hip and leaves your hands free, it also doesn’t let your weapon fall off. It makes movement in standing, crouched and prone position very easy, while also simplifying handling of the weapon. As an added bonus, when there is no danger of enemy, the sling can also be used as a backpack with either folded or open stock and it keeps the weapon steady and easy to travel with even while running.
The only downside is the width of the sling, is that it is very narrow. It is thinner than the AK47’s “bio” sling. (leather slings were typically used on hungarian kalashnikovs. -the editors)
This resulted in a hurting shoulder, despite the lighter weapon and as a result, taking it off was a real pleasure.
All in all, the sling was superb. Simple, cheap and compatible with almost any weapon. It would improve Hungarian Kalashnikovs a lot if they were equipped with this clever little sling.
G-36 vs. AK-47
1 : 0
We recieved three plastic magazines and a plastic box with the dimensions of 15x10x2 cm. The magazines seemed solid, and checking ammo level was made easier due to the transparent design, unlike metal and bakelite Kalashnikov mags. in practice, crawling and climbing resulted in 5 broken magazines in our unit alone(Luftwaffe training battalion 13th company) and neither the weapons nor the magazines were old. The weapons were made in march 2007, while the magazines were made in june. I don’t recall magazine issues, especially breaks with Kalashnikovs.
G-36 vs. AK-47
The cleaning kit provoked crying while laughing, or laughing while crying in most of us, along with the cleaning procedure.
The little box contained two kinds of barrel brushes, a paintbrush, an oiler and a cleaning chain made of metal balls that strangely resembled a toilet handle.
BUT now back to the “procedure”, the cleaning. There are two methods: one for peace time, and one for field cleaning in wartime.
In peace time, the weapon has to be cleaned both before and after shooting. This goes as follows:
After disassembling the weapon, you have to insert the chain into the barrel FROM THE CHAMBER(!!!), which is the narrowest part of all weapons, and you have to make sure you plugged the right end of the chain in. Then you have to let it through the barrel bit by bit, in such a way that the end comes out the other end. What you get this way is a barrel with a chain inside it. Now, you have to attach the “dry” cleaning brush to the chamber-side of the chain and pull it through the barrel once or twice to get rid of raw mechanical dust. Of course, you have to get that chain through the barrel every single time. Well yeah. You could hear juicy Hungarian cursing pretty often. But we’re only halfway through with the procedure yet! When you’re done with the raw brush, then comes the fine brush which has to be lubricated with strictly 4-6 drops of oil and pulled through the barrel with the method explained above THREE TIMES. At this point, the Hungarian team has consumed it’s entire supply of verbal munition, and our German comrades looked strangely at us as we reminiscensed over our AK-47 experiences more and more often. This is where i’d like to mention, that out of the whole German team, consisting of a whole battalion and protocol team(about 150 persons). one single soldier, an ex East-German captain that had had actual experience with the kalashnikov. The others belong in the “i saw it in pictures” category. But let’s go back to the “procedure”! Anyone who believes (we believed it) that we’re finally finished cleaning the rifle, is wrong. There’s more, After going through the barrel five times with two different brushes, comes the “doch”: This magic word covers a 20 cm long bundle of cotton, from which you have to pull out six strings, and tie them on the chain mentioned earlier, one by one. No less than six strings, or it won’t clean properly, but you can use no more than six because it would cause it to get stuck in the barrel. Once that’s done, now we just have to pull this improvised brush through the barrel.
At this point, the Hungarian team failed because we used up the plentiful amount of curses available to us at the previous step of cleaning. So our only remaining choice was to repeat and dramatically increase the volume. (I’d like to take the opportunity to appologize to the ancestors and descendants of the G36’s designers because of the frequent cursings last week, I do this in the name of the whole team.)
In battlefield conditions you are permitted to skip the dry brush and the “doch”, and only use the oiled fine brush, but we don’t really understand the point of this method. Just think about it, the smallest piece of dust that gets in the barrel blocks the cleaning chain from going through. Don’t think about dust the size of a brick or something, dust left over from firing a couple of blank rounds was enough to COMPLETELY block the barrel and make cleaning impossible. To solve this, we had to use a carefully designed tool (we cut a rod off a tree) to force the chain in the barrel. There is no cleaning rod issued for the weapon (you can borrow one from an armorer if you really need one).
I think precise German engineering has kicked itself in the face, because the weapon is so sensiteve to dust and the amount of cleaning it requires is very hard to achieve during battlefield conditions. Kalashnikov rifles on the other hand, are all equipped with a cleaning kit(in the buttstock) and cleaning rod, which don’t require much attention to begin withand they are far superior in this regard.
G-36 vs AK-47
1 : 2
While using the G36, our German comrades taught us, and we also experienced many things the manual doesn’t mention.
For example, the buttstock, foldable with the press of a button is very practical, and allows for better carry and better use of the weapon in confined space. But the buttstock serves another role apart from keeping the weapon steady. It supports the recoil spring. If we use the weapon with the stock folded, the recoil spring’s plastic base tends to break and hit the operator’s face. The German training battalion, who uses this weapon the most, has already learned this with their brand new weapons they recieved in march.
The carry handle is a nice addition and is well designed. It’s in the rifle’s center of mass, so it’s very easy to carry and doesn’t take a lot of energy to keep it balanced while running, for example. A downside to the carry handle is that the part in front of the optical sight seemed pretty fragile, We haven’t seen any cases of broken handles, but in my personal experience the plastic there is so thin, it can be easily deformed by hand thus leaving a very weak spot on the weapon.
G-36 vs. AK-47
1 : 3
This is where the G-36 outperforms the AK-47 and other rifles. There isn’t one, but two optics integrated into the weapon.
The top one is a red dot sight without zoom, powered by a solar cell in daylight. At night, it’s powered by a battery. The red dot is for defeating targets at up to 200 meters. It allows very quick and precise aiming using two eyes. Under this, we find a 3.5x zoom scope. This has crosshairs calibrated for 200, 400, 600 and 800 meters. We only fired it at 200 meters, and scoring headshots didn’t pose a problem even though we were handling an unfamiliar weapon. Drill officers personally don’t like using the weapon beyond 300 meters, and only one brave fellow attempted to use it at 400.
I found both the red dot sight’s and the scope’s view angle to be very narrow, so i only could cover a small area at once, but whatever enemy made it into that area was quickly and accurately elliminated.
Kalashnikov rifles on the other hand can only offer mounted optics. As a side note, the germans fielded the best sights in world war two as well.
Let me add, that despite the 930m/sec muzzle velocity, the germans haven’t even heard of hydrodynamic shock, and
One more thing! The ammo that we used wasn’t some 20 years old surplus, it was a fresh, six months old stock. MADE IN GERMANY
G36 vs. AK-47
2 : 3
Carrying the G-36, (as i have already mentioned) when we discussed the sling, is more simple and comfortable, but there is an interresting thing regarding the architecture, assembly and disassembly. Unlike AK family rifles, you don’t start from the reciever cover. Instead, you need to pull three pins out on the right side of the weapon.
These pins are a little exposed on the left side, and this is enough for the pins to be pushed out of their places if they touch clothing or any equipment. Thanks to the design, there is no way for them to fall out completely, but people tend to regularly check the pins and push them back if necesary. And this, though not exceptionally loud, still produces an audible clicking sound. When we were moving with a whole unit, we heard this clicking sound very frequently. The pistol grip is built into the trigger mechanism and the firemode selector switch. It’s almost entirely made of plastic, and even though changing fire modes isn’t loud, it still isn’t a silent operation. If this unit malfunctions, it doesn’t get repaired, the whole assembly simply gets replaced, so it is very easy to maintain. The pistol grip is completely smooth, and that makes it slippery not only with bare hands, but also while wearing gloves. You can always grab some soil to fix this issue but i find it disturbing with this weapon.
Assembling and disassembling the weapon isn’t complicated, but of course it has more parts and takes longer than AK rifles. Complete assembly and disassembly takes about 3 minutes for the germans. This belongs in the joke category with an AK-47. The ex East German captain field stripped it in about 10 seconds and reassembled it in about another 15 seconds, even though he hasn’t handled one since 1990. This resulted in such a surprised reaction, everyone’s underwear color had noticably changed. The most complicated part of the G-36 is the bolt assembly with rotating bolt, which consists of five parts (two of which are very small pins, that you can barely find in the dark) but it can only be assembled in one way so it actually works.
The AK-47’s bolt assembly on the other hand only consists of two parts that slide into each other.
A very nice touch, is that the weapon can be charged with both hands because the charging handle is on the top of the weapon. It also has a bolt catch, a feature AK-47’s lack.
G-36 vs. AK-47
All in all, this rifle is a precise weapon best used in clean areas. It is very sensitve to dust and heavy use, thus in my opinion it isn’t optimal for military use. At the same time, the AK family could use a big modernization, which wouldn’t even be all that expensive, and would still greatly improve the weapon’s effectiveness.
Of course, this is just my opinion.
There is two more things i’d like to mention. First, someone fired 4 mags with the G-36. After this, the plastic hand guard heated up so much that it started burning(without flames, only smoke), and it started melting. The rifle has been shown to the entire unit, and they have been reminded of the importance of precise firing, to prevent such incidents. They have asked us when does this occur to the AK. In reply to this, us active AK users haven’t only shocked our German comrades with the fact that the AK doesn’t catch fire after 10 magazines, but also with that when it does, you can just throw it in water, or urinate on it, and then it can be used again. No “brush this, clean that” nightmare.
The other interresting thing, is that it is strictly forbidden to hit the bottom of the magazine like with the AK. Neither the magazine, nor the weapon likes that. The weapon also doesn’t like when you let the charging handle go back on its own. This is also forbidden, you have to carry it back with your hand.