The AKS-74 (Автомат Калашникова образца складной; Skladnoy 1974 года or "Kalashnikov folding automatic rifle model 1974") is an assault rifle with folding stock that was developed in the early 1970s in the Soviet Union as the replacement for the earlier AKM (itself a refined version of the AK-47). It uses a smaller intermediate cartridge, the 5.45×39mm, replacing the 7.62×39mm chambering of earlier Kalashnikov-pattern weapons.
The AK-74 rifle first saw service with Soviet forces engaged in the 1979 Afghanistan conflict. Presently, the rifle continues to be used by the majority of countries of the former USSR. Additionally, licensed copies were produced in Bulgaria (AK-74 and AKS-74U), the former East Germany (MPi-AK-74N, MPi-AKS-74N, MPi-AKS-74NK) and Romania (PA md. 86). Besides former Soviet republics and eastern European countries, Mongolia, North Korean Special Forces, and Vietnamese People's Naval infantry use AK-74s. The rifle was originally developed, in 1974, by Russian designer Mikhail Kalashnikov.
The AKS-74 is a variant of the AK-74 equipped with a side-folding metal shoulder stock, designed primarily for use with air assault infantry and developed alongside the basic AK-74. Unlike the AKMS's somewhat fragile underfolding stock (modeled after the MP 40 submachine gun stock), the AKS-74 stock is fabricated from stamped sheet metal struts, machine pressed into a "U" shape and assembled by punch fit and welding. The stock has a triangular shape; it lacks the folding shoulder pad found on the AKMS stock and is folded to the left side of the receiver. The hinged stock is securely locked in its extended position by a spring-loaded button catch located at the rear of the receiver. When folded, the stock is held closed by a spring-loaded capture hook situated on the left side at the front of the receiver housing. A rear-mounted sling swivel is also provided on the right side at the beginning of the stock frame.