The AK 74 is an adaptation of the 7.62mm AKM assault rifle and features several important design improvements. These modifications were primarily the result of converting the rifle to the intermediate-caliber 5.45x39mm cartridge, in fact, some early models are reported to have been converted AKMs, with the barrel re-sleeved to 5.45x39mm. The result is a more accurate and reliable rifle than the AKM. The AK-74 and AKM share an approximate 50% parts commonality (interchangeable are most often pins, springs and screws).
There are many variations. The weapons are used by all former Warsaw Pact countries, and they are in service with numerous armed forces, both regular and irregular. They can be found in many countries in Asia and Africa.