What kind of optics for a AK?


March 16, 2006, 11:12 AM
My local club hold rifle side matches from the IDPA (and IDPA-like) matches. Basically, the same type of IDPA scenarios, only it's for (almost) any rifle you want to use.

I'm not into rifles that much but some friends are, and talked me into competing. Not wanting to spend a large amount of money on a rifle I probably won't use much, I got an inexpensive AK47 to use.

Most scenarios were at 25 yards or less, and the AK was plenty accurate enough for that, and frankly it's been fun to shoot.

These matches have became very poplular so now they're starting up semi-regular matches specifically for rifles (instead of just side matches on the pistol matches). However scenarios will have targets out to 50 yards and maybe 70 yards.

I'm trying to decide if I should stay with iron sights, or put some kind of optics on the AK. And if I do put something on it, should it be a low-power scope, or just a red-dot of some kind.

I did some surfing, and found some sources on the net for various side mounts for the AK. Some are "quick detachable". What do you think of using iron sights for the close scenarios, and attaching a scope for the longer ones? Think the scope would really stay sighted in?

If I do put something on it, I'd like to stay with something fitting for an AK. (A super high-tech, high cost 30x power scope with laser-rangefinder just doesn't seem to fit the "flavor" of an AK to me)

So what do you all think? iron sights or red dot or lower power scope? Any specific suggestions for you choice?

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March 16, 2006, 12:13 PM
If those are the distances, I would stick to a good red dot sight. It doesn't make sense to mess around with magnification when the targets will quickly change from 5 yrds to 100 yards.

Luckily, the AK offers some great options in that area. I would specifically search this site and the web for both the PK-AS and the Kobra sights. You'll find out more than you ever wanted to know. :)

PS- I also wouldn't say that an optic is a necessity at the ranges you'll be shooting, the iron sights would serve you well too.

March 16, 2006, 12:52 PM
If by cheap you mean just slapping on a Tasco red dot, well, you certainly have that option. But IMO you are best suited by putting on one of two high quality Russian military red dot style scopes. The Russian military has tested with good success two particular models; the Kobra, which is a reflex style sight similar to the EOTech or Trijicon model, and the PK-AS, which is a red dot sight similar to the Aimpoint with some interesting features of its own. Both sights will run you about $200 with the PK series running you a little more than the Kobra. But both scopes are very much reflective of the Russian military tradition of reliability and durability. If my PK is any indication, then the rumors are true, and the Russian scopes are every bit as good as comparative Western optics costing twice as much.

The Kobra has multiple (4?) reticles and comes in models to take either AA or standard watch batteries.

The PK-AS has a small (~1 MOA) dot inside a ring measuring 44 mils (6 feet top to bottom @ 50 yards and from dot to ring @ 100 yards). With the optic turned off, the reticle is appears in standard black. The center dot can be illuminated to any of 8 different brightness settings with the turn of a knob and the help of watch batteries. The standard PK-AS is mounted slightly to the left side of the rifle, similar to the scope system used on the M1 Garand. This is supposed to allow a right handed user to use the optic with both eyes open and still allow unobstructed use of the iron sights. For left handed shooters or those who are more traditional in where they want their optics, there is the PK-AS-V, which mounts over the center of the bore. It does obstruct use of the iron sights.

I prefer the PK series simply because that is what I have, and because the Kobra is rumored to be slightly faster, but less useful at ranges out to 300 or 400 maters. The PK-AS series was designed from the ground up to still offer both-eye open reflex style shooting that is very fast, but also to allow the rifle to be used to the limit of its potential. In the manual, it says the Russian military has tried the optic on a 5.45mm AK-74 out to 450 meters with good results and I have no doubt in my mind from my initial range testing with one on my Romanian AK clone that you could be very accurate out to at least 300 meters with the standard 7.62x39. The rough adjustments made to sight it in can be a PITA because it requires either removal of the optic from the base or removal of the rifle's reciever cover to access the elevation nut with the included wrench, and you must remember to loosen the lock nut before every adjustment (both windage and elevation) and tighten afterwards. However, with this out of the way, the scope has a fine adjustment elevation wheel that when properly learned should allow you to quickly compensate for drop to aim dead on out to several hundred meters for the AK. While I haven't tested its ability to remain zeroed, the optic on its standard side mount is tight and very solid.

Both of these optics also come in versions compatible with a Picitanny mount and either is a dramatic improvement over the standard iron sights. I've posted this picture before recently several times but it is relevent. It was taken from about 10 feet away across my bed room. Such shots are easy--head up, both eyes open, focus on target, raise rifle--the dot comes on target and you pull the trigger. I left the range a couple weekends ago having run the PK through its paces by ringing a small hanging metal pole about 8 inches long and 1.5 inches across at 50 yards. I am extremely impressed with the optic.


March 16, 2006, 12:52 PM
I have a similar situation with a three gun shoot. I found the issue with AK optics, is the mounting system. With the exception of some of the milled receiver AKs, getting an optic mounted straight and true over the bore, can be a challenge. I'm one that would rather shoot the AK that has a properly aligned iron sight system, than a misaligned optic.

If your deciding on a mount, IOR makes one of the best AK side mount. You can get lucky, and it will line up perfect. If not, the IOR mount can be taken apart and shimmed with washers.

March 16, 2006, 01:00 PM
Even with Mojo ghost rings, the AK iron sights suck in comparison to a good red dot.

As mentioned above, both the Kobra and the PK-AS-V mount directly over and parallel to the bore. As demonstrated:

March 16, 2006, 01:16 PM
As mentioned above, both the Kobra and the PK-AS-V mount directly over and parallel to the bore. As demonstrated:

I did not see your post. Nice set up. Seems like a well made dot. Where did you buy that?

March 16, 2006, 01:18 PM

How do you like that scope?

March 16, 2006, 03:59 PM
I bought mine from Tantal for just under $215, shipped. That is about as good a price as I have found on a new one. It comes with batteries and soft cover in a box marked in Russian with a Russian manual. It also has a rubber lens cover for the ocular lens and a translated manual in English that explains how to mount the scope, adjust the tension on the sidemount, make adjustments for windage and elevation, use the fine elevation adjustment knob to dial in extended ranges, and use the reticle as a rangefinder. You can also find them at Kalinka Optics Warehouse and Freedom Optics, most of the time.

The Kobra usually runs about $190, NIB, but some people report being able to find them slightly used for about half that. Maybe if you ask around you can get a deal on them.

AJ Dual
March 16, 2006, 04:21 PM
Kobra from Tantal.

Can't go wrong there.

March 16, 2006, 08:03 PM
I used to have a Ultimak mount with an Aimpoint CompM. I absolutely loved that set up. With the Aimpoint 'low' ring, you can still use the iron sights through the bottom of the Aimpoint. There was no need to raise your head or add a cheek pad to see through the optics as it is on the same plain as the iron sights. I only got rid of the entire package because I traded it off for another rifle I had to have. But I did just pick up a SAR-1 and a Ultimak in the past few weeks. I may need to try out a Tacpoint sight.

The are 2 downsides to using this system. One is that it gets hot when shooting. It has not been a problem with the optics, I have used a Tasco Propoint on it and emptied 3-4 mags in a row. The problem with the heat is that it will burn you if you touch it. Since is replaces the upper handguard, it is pretty close to your hand. I use (and like) the Romanian pistol gripped fore end. Any of the various rail systems will work as well, but they add expense from $50 for the TDI to $200 for the Ultimak system.

The second downside is you can't use a EOTech and the iron sights. I love the EOTech sight, but with this system it blocks the sights. You also have to raise your head/cheek off the stock or use a cheek pad. So it somewhat restricts the type of optics you can use to keep the iron sights.

Krebs Custom has a similar system that adds a lower rail to the gun as well. It runs about $200-225. If I didn't already have an Ultimak sitting around, that is probably how I would do it.

Both systems are fairly expensive as $85-200 before optics. But I really like all the advantages that they offer.

March 19, 2006, 08:15 PM
IMO the kobra is the best balance of funtion, quality, and cost. The only real negative is it sits a little higher then an ultimak combo, but its a lot cheaper as well (assuming you put a similar quality optic on the ultimak). I like the 03M, because it takes AA batteries. These can regularly be found on AK boards for $150 or less. The last one I got was LNIB for $135, but they're generally 140-150.

As far as funtion in general, for relatively close shooting, the red dots are the way to go. They're used with both eyes open, and they are a lot faster than irons. A red dot will still give excellent accuracy at medium ranges, at least better than with irons. I had a PK-AV on my SAR-1 and shot a .8" group at about 60-65 yards. When you start getting further out some magnification would be nice, but close up like you're talking about they're perfect.

March 19, 2006, 08:56 PM
You can adjust the PK-AS just by taking off the dust cover. The gun functions fine without it.

March 19, 2006, 10:15 PM
I have a similar situation with a three gun shoot. I found the issue with AK optics, is the mounting system. With the exception of some of the milled receiver AKs, getting an optic mounted straight and true over the bore, can be a challenge. I'm one that would rather shoot the AK that has a properly aligned iron sight system, than a misaligned optic.
Optics that are off to the left are not misaligned, they're designed that way so the iron sights can still be used.

March 20, 2006, 02:36 PM
Another vote for the PK-AS. I think it would fit the bill for you perfectly based on the conditions you listed. Get the one with the V-clamp.

March 20, 2006, 07:17 PM
Optics? On an AK?
I would slap on a ghost ring rear sight from Krebs, and be done with it. The AK excells at CQB, not long range target shooting.

March 20, 2006, 07:38 PM
Yet another common misconception about AKs is that mounting optics on them is useless or difficult. It is, in fact, rather easy. I can take the optic off my AK and put it back on in seconds without tools and it will maintain zero. It is really no more difficult than a Picitanny rail. Because the AK's standard sights are so crude, the AK actually benefits more from the addition of optics than many other designs. Even something like a Mojo ghost ring can't really fix the problem of sight radius. Krebs has reportedly been developing a rear sight fixed to the reciever cover that does, but how much will he charge for it? The addition of a good red dot or reflex sight makes an awesome difference on an AK. Even quality iron sights, such as a good ghost ring or apeture, can't match the speed of the both eyes open, heads up shooting provided by a good red dot. The fact that the PK-AS also affords better focus and precision with the use of a 1 MOA dot, which obscures less of the target at any range than the front post of the iron sights extends this advantage to improving hit probability at every range. The fact that the Russians offer some very high quality optics at a fraction of the cost of comparible Weatern optics is only icing on the cake.

Mounting optics on an AK is quick, easy, more affordable than most, and more beneficial than many people give it credit for.

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