Without a doubt, the most eye catching member of the Kalashnikov Avtomat family is the ultra short AKS-74U (AKC-74Y). The size of a submachinegun, this model has always had a special appeal, practical or not, to many. With its stubby 8.2 inch barrel, abbreviated handguards, and sidefolding stock it's a visually captivating package. As its name implies (U stands for Ukorochennyj or Shortened) it's a short barreled variant of the folding stock AKS-74 assault rifle issued to airborne troops.
The AKS-74U was developed to fill a Soviet Army need for an ultra compact weapon. While the addition of side folding stock to the standard AK-74 reduced the weapon's overall length considerably, even this was still too long for use by certain specialists. Drivers of combat vehicles, combat engineers, signal men, and special law enforcement subunits required an even shorter and handier weapon. In effect the Soviets were looking for what we currently refer to as a PDW, or Personal Defense Weapon. Something intended more for carrying than shooting. With the stock folded the weapon's is a compact 19.3 inches, unfolded it’s still a short 28.7 inches. Loaded the AKS-74U weighs only 6.8 pounds.
The short barrel has a noticeable effect on velocity. Our review gun averaged 2,369 fps with Wolf Performance Ammunition’s 60-grain FMJ load. Contrast this with a full size AK-74 which averaged 2,880 fps. Dropping 500 fps will have a noticeable effect in terminal performance, especially at 200 or 300 yards. Shooting prone off the magazine I found I was easily able to hit a man sized silhouette at 200 yards, and with some concentration at 300 yards. Final thoughts? The AKS-74U is a visually captivating weapon that's extremely small and light. Although not as practical as a full sized rifle, it’s a handy weapon well suited for its intended purpose.