Much has been made over the years about AK reliability. It is a great weapon system. I am not posting this as a knock on the AK or their owners. This is simply for educational purposes.
I get tired of hearing people claim that they can dump a handful of sand into their AK and it will keep on truckin'. I wonder how so many people who make these claims have actually tested it like this. My guess, not many.
The claim seems to have originated from Kalashnikov himself.
"Reliability depends on a variety of factors. First: A short locking distance of the firing chamber. Second: All moving parts are installed with more space between them. All designers sought to tighten them up, while I, on the contrary, let them hang with absolute freedom. You take a handful of sand, throw it in the rifle, retract the bolt and fire!"
I have heard people repeat similar lines more times than I could possibly remember.
Internet myth, meet reality.
Here is another similar example with a different AK variant in 5.45.
It is quite obvious that the AK design has a flaw in that with the safety off, junk can really stop up the whole system because of the large gap left exposed. This creates a big problem in the fire control group and can lead to other problems with mags and the weapon not going into battery.
End result, these AK's really need to be completely cleaned before they will be fully functional again. What this test shows is that the exaggerations made by many on the internet and in gun shops ("You can dump sand into an AK and it will still run") in regards to the AK is simply not true.
For those that think the AR15 would fare worse in a similar test, here are the results for it.
As you can see, despite the many flaws the AR15 is accused of having, it fared much better with this test. It had 2 stoppages (which were fixed promptly and without stripping down the weapon) and ran through more ammo without problems in this test.
These are extreme conditions, unlikely for anyone to see in combat.
Bottom line, well maintained guns simply function better and ANY machine can and will fail, especially when they are abused and misused.
The AK still has a well deserved degree of reliability. This is not to bash the AK. I just wanted people to come back down to earth a realize that it is not flawless. It can and will fail.
Some people out there are under a false impression that the AK is so inherently reliable that it will take excessive abuse. People like to exaggerate flaws of the guns they don't like and attributes of the guns they do like. The truth is somewhere in between much of the time.
The AR and AK endure these types of absolute statements in arguments on message boards every day. Reality is, both systems are combat tested and proven.
People need to focus less on the weapon, and more on training, tactics, and survival!
Choose a weapon system that is well made and that you like and take care of it, and you will increase your chances of survival.