I have had tons of people message me about purchasing AK-74's. They say "Are AK-74's reliable, accurate, etc."? So let me outline my experience with the AK-74's I have shot and used over the years. First off the AK-74 is an amazing rifle. It is the AK-47 just in a different caliber. The caliber is 5.45x39 versus the 7.62x39 of the AK-47. The 5.45x39 has been called the poison bullet. During the Afghan war the Mujahedeen called the 5.45×39mm round of the AK-74 the "Poison Bullet" due to the severe wounds it created to extremities which resulted in the need for amputation. The bullet yaws and tumbles, much like the 5.56 round of the AR-15. It is said to be a more reliable tumbler compared to the 5.56, but I cannot confirm or deny this. They both work very well. So as far as the effectiveness of the round used by the AK-74, it works and devastates. Sounds like something I would want for self defense!
I have used mainly the old Soviet surplus 7N6 ammunition. It is corrosive so you have to clean after each use. I have a video on how to clean after corrosive use. Really just need to run water through the gun in all areas. Then dry it off and clean as you normally would. It was a cheap ammo many years ago before President Obama's BATFE policy went into effect. It labeled it as a armor piercing round and cited that the AK-74 can be made into a pistol, versus it's rifle configuration, which meant it was banned from import any longer. So I am glad I got some spam cans before this happened! But, there are all kinds of other ammo out there. For a defense round I really like Hornady 5.45x39 V-Max. It make a massive exit wound multiple times larger than the entry wound. It is accurate and non-corrosive. I have shot both 7N6 and Hornady 5.45x39 V-Max for over a decade now and have never had an issue with either. The main reason they went to the 5.45x30 from the 7.62x39 was they could carry massive more amounts of ammo on their person, the Russian Army. It is lighter and you can carry more basically. Ounces equal pounds and pounds equal pain!
Now let's talk about accuracy. I have a video showing me shooting my one AK-74 from 100 yards with just a red dot and hitting 1 MOA. Like almost any rifle, the accuracy is dependent on the shooter. Everyone saying the AK-74 is not as accurate as the AR-15 is exaggerating a bit. I believe the AR-15 is more accurate, but that is not to say the AK-74 is not accurate. It is and a 1 MOA expectation is not unreasonable in my shooting.
I will say the AK-74 game has changed since the ban on the 7N6 importation. But they are still cheaper guns that interchange with almost every aftermarket part you can find for the AK-47. There is so much now a days you can change out from rails, grips, optic mounts, muzzle devices, triggers, etc. As of today they are easy to change out as well. In regard to durability and lifespan, you can expect these to be just like the tanks the AK-47 have become known to be. In conclusion, they are good guns and I see no reason not to consider purchasing one.