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The AK-74 (Автомат Калашникова образца 1974 года, Avtomat Kalashnikova obraztsa 1974 goda, English: Kalashnikov assault rifle, model 1974), is a Russian assault rifle. Essentially an upgraded and refined version of the AKM, the AK-74 was designed in the early 1970s to replace the AKM in service, which it eventually did. Russia uses the improved AK-74M after Russia had its independence from the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.