The rifle first saw service with Soviet forces engaged in the 1979 Afghanistan conflict. The head of the Afghan bureau of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence claimed that the CIA paid $5,000 for the first AK-74 captured by the Mujahideen during the Soviet–Afghan War.
Currently, the rifle continues to be used by the majority of countries of the former Soviet Union. Additionally, licensed copies were produced in Bulgaria (AK-74, AKS-74 and AKS-74U), and the former East Germany (MPi-AK-74N, MPi-AKS-74N, MPi-AKS-74NK). Besides former Soviet republics and eastern European countries, Mongolia, North Korean Special Forces, and Vietnamese People’s Naval infantry use AK-74s.