Best Optic for an AK?


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AKElroy
November 13, 2010, 02:42 PM
I pick up a clean Polish 1960 milled AK on Monday. I have ordered the Ultimak gas tube rail, and I am debating which optic to mount. I would like to co-witness the iron sites, but I am not going to drop $500 on a micro Aimpoint.

I have a $100 Millet red-dot that will be mounted for temporary duty because I have it on hand, but I really would like a quality dot for permanent duty. I need to keep it inder $250. Any thoughts???

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kwelz
November 13, 2010, 02:49 PM
Well I suggest you from the 500 on the Aimpoint. But if you are dead set against it you can look at the Vortex Spark.

AKElroy
November 13, 2010, 02:51 PM
I have been reading up on them. Any first hand experience? It is the one at the top of the list for the moment--

kwelz
November 13, 2010, 03:11 PM
Myself no. However one of the guys at the Hackathorn AK class I took a couple months ago used one. I haven't talked to him in a while but it held up fine throughout the class.

Primary arms is another good option. However I don't recommend either if this is going to be a defensive carbine.

wriggly
November 13, 2010, 03:19 PM
Myself no. However one of the guys at the Hackathorn AK class I took a couple months ago used one. I haven't talked to him in a while but it held up fine throughout the class.

Primary arms is another good option. However I don't recommend either if this is going to be a defensive carbine.
Why? You have some substantive data to back up your aversion. Aimpoint made units that were laughable at best when they first hit the market back in the 70's, yet they performed admirably. The Chinese are rapidly taking a position of dominance in manufacturing, and their quality has moved ahead by leaps and bounds.

I own both of the red dots mentioned, and would not hesitate to use them "Defensively".

As for the OP, get the Primary Arms 6th gen. It is made to be optimized on the Ultimak in an absolute Co Witness configuration. Out of all the red dots available, the Primary Arms sits lower than everything else, including Aimpoints T1/H1 sights. For $79 you will not be sorry, and if you dont want to depend on it defensively, use your 870 or Glock.

AKElroy
November 13, 2010, 03:24 PM
However I don't recommend either if this is going to be a defensive carbine.

Might see pig duty, that's about it for actual shots on living matter. The rest will be the usual plinking.

gunnutery
November 13, 2010, 03:32 PM
I too am looking for an optic for my project MAK90. I love the compactness of the micro aimpoint but financially I really can't spend that much either. There are some other companies making micro red dots that are under $100. I think I'll be going with a barska for around $60-70.

Search for "micro red dot" and go to google shopping. I think cabelas also has a similar sight.

Averageman
November 13, 2010, 03:34 PM
I have had a Bushnell TRS-25 for a couple of months and it co-witnesses the irons and has run fine.

kwelz
November 13, 2010, 03:49 PM
Wriggly even supposed quality optics like Eotechs have a failure rate higher than I am comfortable with. So no I would not trust a 150 dollar optic with no track record of durability for a weapon I am going to trust with my life. For me it is Trijicon or Aimpoint.

Even the owner of Primary Arms has stated that his RDS are for training purposes and that those who want a RDS for a fighting carbine should look elsewhere. I had a Vortex strikefire fail on me once. Obviously not the Spark but it was enough to make me worry about their quality in general.

Vortex makes some great optics. Especially their higher end scopes. But their RDS are mid range. More suited for casual use than a patrol weapon or defensive carbine.

Rail Driver
November 13, 2010, 03:51 PM
In my opinion, the best optic for the AK is the original iron sights. At the most, an original Russian 4x scope on a side mount would work. Beyond that you may as well get an AR :p

Girodin
November 13, 2010, 03:57 PM
well the T1 aimpoint is the best. You could save a few dollars by getting an H1. You could also save a bit more by using one of the less expensive models like a C3.

For a gun you are not staking your life on the primary arms sight is a good budget red dot.

Girodin
November 13, 2010, 04:06 PM
In my opinion, the best optic for the AK is the original iron sights.

Define best. If best is defined as an aphoristic dogmatic adherence to a 60+ year old design and its limitations then yes it is the best.

If best is measured in anyway by performance and practicality then the stock irons are far from the best. Even a fuller rear sight is a big improvement for irons.

A red dot is a serious performance enhancement for an AK. If you are opposed to improved performance you might as well get a musket, or just a rock to throw for that matter.

Even if you want irons something like a fuller rear sight is still an improvement

JTH
November 13, 2010, 04:11 PM
Not trying to hijack your thread just have a few questions, that are relative to the topic.
AK's were never meant for optics. There is the Dragonev sniper AK. What options do you have that secures the optics tight enough that they don't work loose or the jarring of the receiver from shell ejections doesn't eventually do some harm to scope/optics itself. Since my eyesight isn't great anylong, it would be super to be able to put some type of Optics on my AK and SKS, that really helped and was practical relative to it's cost. If you can place something like a Red Dot on a Picatanny rail further up the rifle away from the receiver, this may help. I just don't think, unless you are an expert marksman, you're going to get much accuracy, past 100 yards IMO. Good topic though!
Isn't that what bolt action rifles are for?
JT

wriggly
November 13, 2010, 04:12 PM
Wriggly even supposed quality optics like Eotechs have a failure rate higher than I am comfortable with. So no I would not trust a 150 dollar optic with no track record of durability for a weapon I am going to trust with my life. For me it is Trijicon or Aimpoint.

Even the owner of Primary Arms has stated that his RDS are for training purposes and that those who want a RDS for a fighting carbine should look elsewhere. I had a Vortex strikefire fail on me once. Obviously not the Spark but it was enough to make me worry about their quality in general.

Vortex makes some great optics. Especially their higher end scopes. But their RDS are mid range. More suited for casual use than a patrol weapon or defensive carbine.
I really appreciate your point, but the Primary Arms red dot used in conjunction with an Ultimak sits the lowest of any other Red dot, and if it ever failed, it is a non issue, because you will be reverting instantly to your co wittnessed irons.

Why put a $500 sight on a gun that cant shoot MOA anyway? Save the fancy stuff for an AR.

I would not trust "Any" optic for defensive purposes, unless it can be either lower 1/3rd co witnessed, or Absolute Co witnessed. For me, red dots are a luxury beyond the irons. But as far as comparing the Primary arms to anything else out there for use on the Ultimak, I would stake my life on it, because if it does break, it doesnt matter, when you have your irons.

How about an Aimpoint on a side rail or some other rail that blocks usage of the irons? I see a lot of folks that think that setup is the cats pajamas. Sight breaks, and where did I put that wrench.......

Rail Driver
November 13, 2010, 04:16 PM
Define best.

Best is what works best for me. There's no aphoristic dogmatic anything involved. As far as performance and practicality, what's more practical is the lightest weight possible (IE no dot or scope), and as far as the irons go, I wouldn't object to mounting a set of tech sights or another form of aperture sight, but for close to medium range (if I'm shooting out past 30 or 40 feet I'm likely going to end up in prison unless it's an active shooter scenario, and I don't make it a habit to tote an AK in Florida) the irons are sufficient and don't get in the way, there's no scope offset to deal with, no added weight or balance issues... Red dots may be more effective for certain situations, and scopes may be more effective for certain situations, but (and I reiterate) IN MY OPINION... the best optical solution for an AK (adding this next bit) when used as a home defense/self defense truck gun or similar use, the iron sights are your best bet.

wriggly
November 13, 2010, 04:19 PM
Not trying to hijack your thread just have a few questions, that are relative to the topic.
AK's were never meant for optics. There is the Dragonev sniper AK. What options do you have that secures the optics tight enough that they don't work loose or the jarring of the receiver from shell ejections doesn't eventually do some harm to scope/optics itself. Since my eyesight isn't great anylong, it would be super to be able to put some type of Optics on my AK and SKS, that really helped and was practical relative to it's cost. If you can place something like a Red Dot on a Picatanny rail further up the rifle away from the receiver, this may help. I just don't think, unless you are an expert marksman, you're going to get much accuracy, past 100 yards IMO. Good topic though!
Isn't that what bolt action rifles are for?
JT
The Ultimak rail he is talking about, clamps very solidly to the barrel, and they dont move. Any optic made would be the weak link before the Ultimak rail.

wriggly
November 13, 2010, 04:22 PM
For the OP.....this would be the one you want for your Optimak,

http://www.primaryarms.com/product.sc;jsessionid=2BE400A54EBBC0442EAFD575A2BEF17A.qscstrfrnt02?productId=402&categoryId=5

You would only be out $79 plus the shipping.

Justin
November 13, 2010, 04:29 PM
I've known a couple of guys who've attached a JPoint dot sight to AK-pattern guns and reported good results.

The JPoint weighs in at around half an ounce, which shouldn't be a concern for even the most weight-averse shooters out there.

kwelz
November 13, 2010, 04:30 PM
I really appreciate your point, but the Primary Arms red dot used in conjunction with an Optimak sits the lowest of any other Red dot, and if it ever failed, it is a non issue, because you will be reverting instantly to your co wittnessed irons.

Why put a $500 sight on a gun that cant shoot MOA anyway? Save the fancy stuff for an AR.

I would not trust "Any" optic for defensive purposes, unless it can be either lower 1/3rd co witnessed, or Absolute Co witnessed. For me, red dots are a luxury beyond the irons. But as far as comparing the Primary arms to anything else out there for use on the Ultimak, I would stake my life on it, because if it does break, it doesnt matter, when you have your irons.

How about an Aimpoint on a side rail or some other rail that blocks usage of the irons? I see a lot of folks that think that setup is the cats pajamas. Sight breaks, and where did I put that wrench.......

Gotcha. A couple of points. Aimpoint Micro sits just as low as the Primary arms.

The inaccuracy of AKs is vastly overstated. And RDS are not about accuracy anyway. They are about Faster target acquisition and engagement. With Irons as bad as the AK has you need a good RDS. :)

I would never use a Side rail mount for a RDS for the reason you already mentioned.

Justin
November 13, 2010, 04:33 PM
The factory AK iron sights are a godawful travesty. Those who want to stick with iron sights really ought to get a set of Tech Sights for them.

wriggly
November 13, 2010, 04:38 PM
Gotcha. A couple of points. Aimpoint Micro sits just as low as the Primary arms.

The inaccuracy of AKs is vastly overstated. And RDS are not about accuracy anyway. They are about Faster target acquisition and engagement. With Irons as bad as the AK has you need a good RDS. :)

I would never use a Side rail mount for a RDS for the reason you already mentioned.

You may be right, I thought the Primary Arms Gen7 sat a few thousandths lower than the Aimpoint, and the Gen6 and Gen8 were the same as an Aimpoint.

As for the stock Irons, that why you replace the rear with a KCI peep. :D

Gordon
November 13, 2010, 04:48 PM
I've used an ML2 Aimpoint in the factory ring on two of my Hungarian amd63's for 7 years in countless training sessions and classes. ZERO FAILURES! This combo is the only one that seems to dead co witness, I used the irons without removing the Aimpoint more than once when the battery went dead (rarely) as I don't turn them off for classes/outings only when returned to safe. You can find a good used ML2 for $200 on E bay.

SharpsDressedMan
November 13, 2010, 05:42 PM
Ultimak rail/gas tube with a Zeiss Z-point. Wish the Zeiss didn't cost so much (it cost more than the gun:eek:), but it is compact, rugged enough so far, and simple to sight in and use. It doesn't have the battery life of an Aimpoint, and now there are some small micro sights (Leupold has a small "Docter-type" sight that might be worth checking out) available for less money than the Zeiss. A monetary compromise, but otherwise, it makes my AK a more efficient tool. http://i106.photobucket.com/albums/m247/matquig/DSC05447.jpg

wally
November 13, 2010, 06:00 PM
you can look at the Vortex Spark

Only if you are willing to lose the use of the iron sights.

I recommend you try the Primary arms Gen 7 micro red dot:

http://primaryarms.com/product.sc?productId=402&categoryId=5

Its only $80, co-witness with the irons when on the Ultimak and it works well enough you will likely be willing to spring for the Aimpoint next time you have $500 burning a hole in your pocket!

Girodin
November 13, 2010, 06:12 PM
Ok is an "optimak" actually a product or are you just calling an ultimak by the wrong name?

Best is what works best for me.

Fair enough what RDS have you used on AKs and how did you evaluate their performance vis a vis iron sights?


As far as performance and practicality, what's more practical is the lightest weight possible (IE no dot or scope)

Yes the 3 oz that an aimpoint micro adds is indeed burdensome.

there's no scope offset to deal with, no added weight or balance issues

An aimpoint on an ultimak is not offset. The weight is 3 oz. If one is super concerned they could remove the front sight post and run a bolton gas block/front sight that would probably come real close to offsetting any shift in balance. That said, most people don't find the very light aimpoint on the ultimak to be any real issue in terms of balance or weight. Particularly when considered against the serious advantages an aimpoint offers. In fact I've never known anyone who has run it offer that critique.

Red dots may be more effective for certain situations, and scopes may be more effective for certain situations, but (and I reiterate) IN MY OPINION... the best optical solution for an AK (adding this next bit) when used as a home defense/self defense truck gun or similar use, the iron sights are your best bet.

You are certainly entitled to your opinion. I do not think it inappropriate, however, to ask one offering their opinion to explain what informs it or to probe into the basis of that opinion.

What RDS have you used on an AK?

Have you ever shot a weapon with an ultimak and a micro or are you just theorizing as to how handling will be affected?

Why do you think an iron sight weapon is best for your new limited set of situations, to wit HD shooting and what I suppose is a very malleable task, truck gun duty?

An RDS is indeed more effective for certain types of situations including the very type of shooting seen in HD. The RDS offers major advantages over the stock irons. It is faster plain and simple. I challenge anyone who doubts this to go out with a shot timer and test it for yourself. It is much easier to use in the low light. Its easier to use while shooting and moving and from improvised/awkward positions. There is a reason that RDS have become overwhelmingly common on guns for this type of shooting and are ven starting to show up on defensive/ccw pistols. In sum, they are faster and easier to use, no two weighs about it.

If you were local to me I'd invite you come shoot various weapons with and without a RDS on the clock and in various scenarios. I think you might just come away with a different opinion.

Irons only have two advantages.

1) they are cheaper
2) they be are negligibly lighter

If I have to use it in HD I want the equipment that gives me the best chance of survival not what is the cheapest. My life is worth more than $600 YMMV.

I'm not the hulk but still I don't find a 3 oz sight to be so heavy as to outweigh all its distinct advantages. If I did I could trim the weight somewhere else so again it is really just a matter of cost.


Now there are some things others will say are advantages to irons such as:

No battery to go dead: The battery life of aimpoint is measured in years. So if you replaced it once every 2 years even it would never die. If however, it craps out at just the moment you need it then what. Look through it and use your irons and you are no worse off than without it.

The optic is too fragile for a rugged weapon like an AK: Aimpoint sights are very rugged. They allow for a co witness if somehow one did manage to make their aimpoint give up the ghost. If they are good enough for use in war your HD probably isn't too much for it to handle though.

DBR
November 13, 2010, 06:35 PM
The AK gas tube mount gets very hot. Aimpoints seem to survive quite well. I wouldn't be so sure about lesser RDSs.

AK103K
November 13, 2010, 07:16 PM
Why put a $500 sight on a gun that cant shoot MOA anyway? Save the fancy stuff for an AR.
A good red dot brings the AK into the 21st century, and right in line with the AR's. Cost of the gun or the optic is really meaningless, as long both work and the sum of the two make the package the deal.

Most of my AK's and AR's are set up very similarly, basically, a stock gun with an Aimpoint on them. All set up this way have BUIS's of some sort, that cowitness. Other than that, and a good sling, what more do you need?

Oh, and believe it or dont, "most" AR's arent MOA either, especially when using commercial or GI ammo.

The inaccuracy of AKs is vastly overstated.
Vastly. And usually by those who have no real experience with them, and I'd hazard to say, most of the others either.

The factory AK iron sights are a godawful travesty. Those who want to stick with iron sights really ought to get a set of Tech Sights for them.
They really are not all that bad, and very usable to the realistic range the gun is used. They are not "target" sights, or are they trying to be, and they actually work better for fast, close in shooting than the peeps. If you shoulder and shoot an AK properly (head down and forward, nose to, or along side the top cover), I'd recommend against the Tech type sights, as they are in the wrong place and will interfere with natural shouldering/shooting of the gun.

I've used an ML2 Aimpoint in the factory ring on two of my Hungarian amd63's for 7 years in countless training sessions and classes. ZERO FAILURES! This combo is the only one that seems to dead co witness, I used the irons without removing the Aimpoint more than once when the battery went dead (rarely) as I don't turn them off for classes/outings only when returned to safe.
Ditto on all but the dead battery part. I've yet to find one dead, and I leave them on all the time. I just swap them out in the spring with the smoke detectors.

Its been awhile since I've had anything on my guns that wasnt Aimpoint, AK's or AR's, and a couple of others. The reason why they are still on them, they actually work under real use. I've had Tasco, Burris, BSA, Hakko, an and a couple of other "cheaper" (most werent "cheap") dots on them, and all failed in short order. If I had back what I wasted on them, Id probably have a couple more Aimpoints.

The AK gas tube mount gets very hot.
It gets warm, but nothing like the steel mounts. Aluminum dissipates heat quickly, and the mount, while warm, usually isnt usually hot to the touch.

kwelz
November 13, 2010, 07:29 PM
Its been awhile since I've had anything on my guns that wasnt Aimpoint, AK's or AR's, and a couple of others. The reason why they are still on them, they actually work under real use. I've had Tasco, Burris, BSA, Hakko, an and a couple of other "cheaper" (most werent "cheap") dots on them, and all failed in short order. If I had back what I wasted on them, Id probably have a couple more Aimpoints.

This pretty much sums up every Optics thread I ever see.

Take a look at this post over on M4C (http://www.m4carbine.net/showpost.php?p=706017&postcount=32)

This photo was from a class earlier this year. Everyone there was an advanced shooter with more Trigger time yearly than I had in my first 10 years of shooting.
Notice anything similar with almost every one of those guns?

All by 2 have Aimpoints of some type on them. The other two have Eotech XPS sights on them. I know for a fact one of them was a guys Duty gun so he had to use it, not sure about the other.

People pay the extra money for quality optics because they work better and are more durable. I have seen rifles run over and the Aimpoint still worked. I have seen them thrown around into things and still work.

If you are not doing anything that requires this type of durability then that is fine. But if the gun is going to be in any way used for Self defense then you need to consider how reliable every component is. Especially something as important as the Primary sighting device.

AKElroy
November 13, 2010, 07:50 PM
I stated in post 6 that this AK will not see an HD need; most likely pigs and plinking. I have progressing astigmatism, so iron sites are a fuzzy mess for me now. The RDS for this type of gun is really the only way it will see any use. The forward mount is a must because their really is no other way to get a solid mount on an AK other than the Ultimak. Please don't flame over the side mounts; First, my polish milled does not have them, and second, mounting some cheap ulgy russian tube that high above the bore just ain't gonna happen.

AKElroy
November 13, 2010, 07:56 PM
People pay the extra money for quality optics because they work better and are more durable. I have seen rifles run over and the Aimpoint still worked. I have seen them thrown around into things and still work.

I don't plan on running it, or any of my other guns over. I do not expect any of my optics to survive that abuse. I would like to have a co-witnessed site just in case the RDS fails to work, whether it is an aimpoint or other. The lack of co-witness ability rules out EoTech.

As mentioned, I am still looking for the best extremely low mount co-witnessing RDS I can buy for $250. there simply has to be something between a cheap $69 RDS and a $500 Aimpoint.

kwelz
November 13, 2010, 08:05 PM
I missed that in Post 6. Sorry.

Vortex or Primary Arms then should be fine then.

benEzra
November 13, 2010, 08:52 PM
Aimpoint Micro or Primary Arms Micro (depending on budget) on an Ultimak rail would definitely be the way to go, IMO. I like my Kobra, but if I had it to do over again, I'd have gone the Ultimak route. Who knows, I may still do so someday.

AK's were never meant for optics.
If that were true, AK's wouldn't have an optics rail on the left side of the receiver, and the Russians wouldn't have made optics for them (PK, Kobra, etc.).

What options do you have that secures the optics tight enough that they don't work loose or the jarring of the receiver from shell ejections doesn't eventually do some harm to scope/optics itself.
Either the factory siderail (which the OP's AK doesn't have) or an Ultimak rail will hold zero.

I just don't think, unless you are an expert marksman, you're going to get much accuracy, past 100 yards IMO. Good topic though!
In my experience, the #1 thing one can do to improve practical AK accuracy is to put a red dot on it. Also, use good ammo; replace the slant brake with an A2-style flash suppressor, a muzzle nut, or an AK-74 style brake (the slant brake has been shown to open up groups, presumably by inducing nutation as the bullet flies through the asymmetic gas flow); and don't rest the barrel or forend on anything firm when shooting.

wriggly
November 13, 2010, 10:22 PM
Ok is an "optimak" actually a product or are you just calling an ultimak by the wrong name?




I am getting old, annnnd Dyslexic. :D I think Optimak is a better name, they should change it. :p

GunTech
November 13, 2010, 10:33 PM
The big advantage of an optical sight on any rifle, precision or not, is that it places the target on the same focal plane as the reticule. This is a huge advantage in speed and make aiming much easier. With iron sights, you have to pick what you want in focus - the front sight, rear sight or target.

Anyone with iron sight experience knows the front sight is the important on, but it also makes the target fuzzy and identification hard, so most field shooters alternate focus between the target (to identify and categorize) and the front sight (to shoot with the highest probability of a hit).

The optical sight removes this whole problem. So yes, even on a cheap 5 MOA rifle, and optical sight offers an advantage. In fact the large scale deployment of optical sight on military rifles is arguably the most important upgrade to small arms in the last 50 years.

Girodin
November 13, 2010, 10:40 PM
I am getting old, annnnd Dyslexic. I think Optimak is a better name, they should change it. e

It sounded cool, I thought maybe there was a new product I hadn't yet seen.

AKElroy
November 14, 2010, 05:26 PM
OK, I made a decision & ordered an Aimpoint 9000L w/ a 2 MOA dot. It is more than I wanted to spend, but after buying so many "budget" RDS's, I am done replacing them. It won't co-witness, but with 5 year battery life I shouldn't need to. I went w/ Weaver Top Mount 30mm rings over the less expensive Aimpoint rings.

It is not a compact RDS, but with the near 6" Ultimak rail, that really does not matter to me. I will post pics once I have it all together.

I decided on the Aimpoint after realizing there really isn't a low cost alternative that is parallax free.

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