The AK pattern rifle is the most prolific firearm in the world and is becoming increasingly popular in the Untied States. Initially, a lot of the popularity derived from the AK’s low price tag. However, as more and more research has been done on quality versions of this iconic rifle, we are finding that Kalashnikov rifles are one of, if not the best, battle rifle available.
The argument that places the AK pattern rifles in the running for being the best has a lot to do with its decent accuracy up to 300 yards, reliability in harsh climates, and its durability to continue to operate after tens of thousands of rounds being shot through it. Even though the design of this rifle is from the 1940’s, recent innovations has allowed optics to be mounted on most variants. Let’s look at some of the mounting options and the best scope for AK 47 and iron sight upgrades for the AK rifles.
If you’re in a hurry and don't have time for the details, here are our best picks for AK 47 Optics:
Rear Mounted Optic
Gas Tube Mounted Optics
Upgraded Iron Sights
Table of Contents
- Side Mounts for AKs?
- What Cons Are There for Side Mounts?
- How Can I Mount an Optic to Co-Witness Iron Sights?
- Why Gas Tubes Rails Will Drive You Mad?
- What’s a Poor Man’s EOTech?
- What Options Are Out There?
- Best Scope for AK 47 on the Market Review
- Rear Mounted Optic
- 1 EOTECH XPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight
- 2 Trijicon ACOG
- 3 Primary Arms Silver Series 1-6x24mm Variable Optic
- 4 Sig Sauer Romeo 5
- Gas Tube Mounted Optics
- 5 Aimpoint T2 Micro
- 6 Trijicon RMR
- 7 Trijicon MRO
- 8 Primary Arms Silver Series MD-ADS
- Upgraded Iron Sights
- 9 Kensight Fiber Optic Sight Set
- 10 XS Sight Systems AK 2001-6 Front Sight Post
- Wrapping It Up
Side Mounts for AKs?
Due to the unique design of the AK , mounting optics has been somewhat difficult. In the past, numerous state-run manufacturers building AKs have had varying tolerances of the side mounting systems which places an optic at risk of losing zero. Fortunately, the majority of those manufacturers has listened to consumer concerns and tightened the tolerances of the side mounts making them more reliable.
We now have also seen more quality mounting brackets on the market like the RS Regulate AK-300 series or Midwest Industries AK mounts. These mounts will allow you to mount your favorite red dot sight, holographic sight, or a low power variable optic (LPVO) with a low profile that will not dramatically change your check placement on the stock.
What Cons Are There for Side Mounts?
To the uninitiated the RS Regulate mounts seem to be the best in light weight mounting options. However, some may not realize that you may need additional pieces to complete the mount. This can be frustrating when your mount arrives in the mail and you find out that it is not all that you hoped for. To place the sight directly over the bore axis of the rifle you will also need to purchase an optic mounting piece that corresponds to the optic’s mounting configuration.
Those configurations could be the Aimpoint T1 Micro style, picatinny section or others. In addition, the AK-300 and Midwest Industries rails may not allow for co-witnessing of your optic with the iron sights. Some people are not concerned with that option since these mounts are so easy to remove. However, some prefer the redundancy to co-witness and may want to look to other options.
How Can I Mount an Optic to Co-Witness Iron Sights?
Photo Credit: Mark Grimsley
Having built in redundancies can be a major advantage to not only the tactical minded shooters but to hunters as well. Technology can fail at any given moment and being able to seamlessly adapt to the situation is a benefit to any optic set up. UltiMAK has developed an integrated picatinny rail section into a replacement gas tube for AK variants. This rail sits below the iron sights and allows for most optics to co-witness.
Not only is the optic and iron sights aligned, you will also find that your natural shooting position is maintained with the UltiMAK rail. Installation is fairly simple and will accommodate most AK pattern rifles. There are also other systems like the UltiMAK and could work great if you are on a budget and looking to put more money in your optic.
Why Gas Tubes Rails Will Drive You Mad?
As mentioned, the UltiMAK is a great option for co-witnessing your optic with your iron sights. However, there are a few considerations you will need to have in mind. First, while the installation is not overly difficult, the UltiMAK, and similar rails, will attach to the barrel with brackets. This means that it does not wedge into the rear sight and gas blocks like a normal gas tube. Due to this configuration, gas block style rails may need to be leveled. If not properly leveled, this could cause issues with zeroing, co-witnessing, or those of us with OCD a minor eye twitch.
Moreover, since the retaining brackets clamp to the barrel and heated gases are passing thru the gas tube, sights mounted to the rail will get very hot. Budget optics may not handle the heat very well and could cease to function. This is the key consideration the consumer as they set up their rifle.
What’s a Poor Man’s EOTech?
For some, optics are just a nuisance and they have come to live without them. Becoming accustomed to using the iron sights as their primary source to aim the rifle has created a comfortable and confident set up for those shooters. Comfortability and confidence are the key components to any rifle set up and should be foremost in your mind. One technique to quickly aim the AK pattern rifle is to use the front sight shroud as the aiming ring similar to the 68 Minute of Angle (MOA) ring of the EOTech reticle. The bottom of the front sight shroud should be on the top edge of the rear sight and the top of the front sight is your focal point.
This method allows for quick target acquisition on targets up to 20 yards away. Due to this technique, the AK front sight has been referred to the poor man’s, or the cave man’s, EOTech. Using this system of shooting close targets, you will not have to concern yourself with the height over bore of your iron sights. In addition, some feel it is faster than acquiring a red dot. The industry has responded to this segment of AK shooters by offering several aftermarket iron sights upgrades.
What Options Are Out There?
Let’s take a deep dive into some of the best sights on the market for the AK. Naturally, this list is not all inclusive and there may be some great optics omitted. However, the below sights is merely a representation of some of the best that can be easily found.
Best Scope for AK 47 on the Market Review
Rear Mounted Optic
1 EOTECH XPS2 Holographic Weapon Sight
One of the most sought-after holographic sight brands is EOTech. They have pioneered the holographic sight market by encompassing rigidity with functionality. The XPS-2 is the newest offering from EOTech that minimalizes the footprint on you weapon while still providing the same features as their larger options. EOTech is renowned for their 68 MOA ring that houses their signature 1 MOA dot reticle. This reticle has been copied by several companies due to its ability for fast target acquisition for close quarters; yet, still capable of precision shooting at further distances. One added feature is the XPS-2’s ability to utilize the CR123A battery which is a departure from the 2 AA batteries used in previous models.
The XPS-2 supports some of the most cutting-edge technology in the optics world. The sight has 20 brightness settings that can be manually adjusted with an optional 10 settings for night vision. The eye relief is unlimited ensuring the shooter has the fastest target acquisition possible. Setting the eye relief at 3 inches you will have a field of view of 30 yards. EOTech has worked to increase the battery life by incorporating a user-controlled auto shutdown that is programmable to 4 or 8 hours. In addition, the optic has a low battery indicator in which the reticle will blink when it is time to swap batteries.
2 Trijicon ACOG
The ACOG has been a staple sight for various military units around the world. While 7.62x39 is not a supported round by the Trijicon reticles, .300 Blackout is supported and very similar to AK ammunition ballistics. With a few slight adjustments to your hold-over/under the reticle can be adapted to suit the AK platform well. The 7065-T6 aluminum is aircraft grade will has created a tough optic that even the U.S. Marines have a hard time breaking. Seeing battle in some of the harshest environments, such as Afghanistan, this optic is combat proven and continually sought after.
This sight is the only battery free optic on this list. It utilizes a combination of tritium and fiber optics to light the reticle. What makes this a bonus feature is that it will automatically adjust to the ambient light ensuring that you will not get reticle washout. Some believe that having a fixed 4 power optic is a con; however, utilizing the Bindon Aiming method and shooting with both eyes open, the ACOG can be a great option. Mounting this with the correct eye relief is easy with either the RS Regulate or Midwest Industries rails.
3 Primary Arms Silver Series 1-6x24mm Variable Optic
Primary Arms has become one of the premier optic manufacturers with the advent of the ACSS reticle. One of the great aspects of Primary Arms is being their affordability coupled with quality. While some of their scopes could be considered premium, they do have a number of offerings that will not break the bank. Even though they are budget sights, they still are equipped with the ACSS reticle. The amazing feature of the ACSS reticle is its built-in bullet drop compensation. That feature is extremely handy while trying to shoot close targets and quickly transitioning to targets at distance. Due to its versatility, this is a great option for a hunting scope regardless if that is for hogs or deer.
This variable optic features an illuminated reticle with 11 brightness levels. Since this is a first focal plane sight, the shooter can utilize the ACSS reticle at any magnification. Being able to quickly increase or decrease your magnification enables anyone the ability to shoot more accurately up to distances of 600 yards. Another great advantage with Primary Arms variable optics a wide eye relief that can be a hindrance with fixed power optics. Finally, the fully coated lens allows for great light transition which assists in dawn and dusk target acquisition for those hunters interested in this 1-6x scope.
4 Sig Sauer Romeo 5
Sig Sauer is known for producing quality products and their optics are getting more and more attention. The Romeo 5 may be the most inexpensive red dot sight on this list; however, that does not mean it is cheap. This sturdily built optic has several features that will allow for it to be easily used on any rifle or shotgun. As tactical scopes and/or optics go, this is a great option for someone that does not have hundreds of dollars to commit to a sight. Its 2 MOA red dot is great for precise shooting up to 300 yards even without the optional Juliet 4 magnifier.
The Romeo 5 red dot features 10 illumination settings, 8 daylight and 2 night vision capable, that allows for just the right brightness for any shooter. Even though this is a budget optic, it still allows for 40,000+ hours of battery life on 1 CR2032 battery with the integrated motion activated technology. This red dot also features an IPX-7 rating making it submersible up to 1 meter providing water and fog-proof performance. Lastly, this optic will come with a low riser and a 1.41” riser mount that gives the shooter options as to the height they feel more comfortable using.
Gas Tube Mounted Optics
5 Aimpoint T2 Micro
Aimpoint is arguably the pioneer in red dot technology. Their red dots were the first to be widely used by the U.S. military in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. The T2 Micro is the latest and, arguably, best red dot to be produced by Aimpoint. The Micro series of Aimpoint optics have been mimicked by nearly all manufactures to include Holosun, Sig Sauer, and Primary Arms. In addition, its rigid design makes it the best optic to be mounted to a gas block rail due its resiliency against extreme temperatures and ability to easily co-witness the AK’s low-profile iron sights.
Among the features that the T2 Micro has to offer includes the enhanced lens coatings that greatly improves the clarity and a precision dot enabling the best cleanest viewing optic on the market. Even though it only weighs 3.7 ounces with the low profile mount it is still one of the toughest red dots on the market today. Aimpoint’s ACET technology allows for extreme long battery life and should be expected to surpass the 5-year mark before a new battery is needed. Finally, the T2 Micro is sealed to prevent fogging and enabling it to be water proof up to 25 meters.
If you're interested in the older model from this leading brand, see our in-depth Aimpoint PRO review from Mark Grimsley.
6 Trijicon RMR
As lightweight sights go, the Trijicon RMR is the pinnacle of mini red dot optics. Mount this to the gas tube rail and you will have the lightest and most compact sight on this list. The RMR has become so popular in its abilities that some multi-gun shooters have used it as the primary sight on their rifles as well as their pistols. Since it has been developed to withstand a very rugged environment, the heat from the gas tube will not be an issue for this little optic. Absolute co-witness will also not be an issue with this sight and will give you a precise focal point to get accurate shots on target.
The RMR has a couple options of red dot sizes; however, the 3.25 MOA dot seems to be the most popular. Mounting options are plentiful based on the RMR’s configuration has become prevalent in the market. While you will have to remove the sight from its base to change the CR2032 battery, a 4-year battery life should be expected when set on 4 of 8 brightness setting. The weight is just over 1 ounce and under 2 inches long providing a very compact, lightweight option for your AK.
7 Trijicon MRO
Trijicon again produces another winning optic for this list! The Miniature Rifle Optic or MRO is another viable option for a gas tube mounted sight. Its light weight, low profile and rigid construction from 7075-T6 aluminum also makes this a top contender for the best optic on this list. Utilizing a low riser, you will have no problem co-witnessing from the gas block and, depending on your set up, could establish a lower third co-witness from a side mounted option. The 25mm objective lens gives the MRO one of the largest fields of views of any red dot on this list. Even though the MRO has a conical design no magnification or undue parallax is induced providing form and function in a compact design.
This red dot comes in at an impressive 4.1 ounces ensuring no unnecessary weight is added to the end of your AK. Naturally, the CR2032 battery is expected to hold 5-years of continual operation at the level 3 setting. The MRO has 8 brightness settings with 5 daylight, 2 night and 1 super-bright setting allowing you to be prepared to find targets in any light. An added feature to the illumination dial is an off setting between each brightness position. Lastly, zeroing the optic is simple and precise with audible and tactile .5 MOA adjustments for windage and elevation.
8 Primary Arms Silver Series MD-ADS
Rounding off the gas tube mounted is the budget friendly MD-ADS micro red dot from Primary Arms. This red dot is very similar to the Aimpoint T2 Micro; however, is able to provide various high-end features in a cost-effective offering. The 6061-aluminum housing is lighter than its more robust brethren and may be prone to overheating if sustained shooting occurs. However, for the casual shooter that enjoys the occasional range trip to plink with friends, the MD-ADS is a great option.
Much like the other red dot offerings on this list, the MD-ADS has a number of similar features. It has 12 illumination settings with night vision capable levels. On a medium illumination setting, 50,000-hours of continuous operation should be expected from a single CR2032 battery. The red dot is 2 MOA in diameter providing a sharp and precise point of aim to easily engage targets up to 300 yards. And the low profile allows for easy co-witness with the AK sights. While these features have become some what expected of a quality red dot, Primary Arms has found a way to provide those features at a fraction of the cost of similar optics.
Upgraded Iron Sights
9 Kensight Fiber Optic Sight Set
For those shooters that are not interested in having the possibility of an optic fail at the most inopportune time, high-viz iron sights may be the way to go. Kensight offers a set of upgraded iron sights that are very similar to the standard AK rifle sites; however, utilizes fiber optic strands for quicker target acquisition. These replacement irons are a great addition to your AK for low light defense of your home or in hunting situations. The Kensight iron sights are very easy to install and will not require hard to find special tools.
One great feature for these iron sights is being able to choose between green and red fiber since both are included. The rear sight is set to graduate from battle zero to 800 yards and is windage adjustable. Fiber optic sights will not be overly bright as it draws from the ambient light but will be plenty visible in low light situations.
10 XS Sight Systems AK 2001-6 Front Sight Post
XS Sight Systems is a giant in aftermarket pistol iron sights and now has a night sight offering for the AK. The AK 2001-6 front sight post will replace your traditional front sight with a tritium filled blade that will be extremely visible during the day and night. The XS sight completely swaps the front post and windage drum to ensure that standard AK zeroing procedures remain consistent. Installation is relatively easy and will only require a standard AK sighting tool. Like the fiber optic iron sights this will allow you to quickly find and align the iron sights; however, the AK 2001-6 will do so without breaking the bank.
Wrapping It Up
Trying to determine what sight and mounting option is right for you is about as unique as the person setting the rifle up. Personal preference plays a major role in ensuring you, the individual, is as comfortable and confident as possible. One major pro to the AK is that you have multiple options in setting up the rifle regardless if it is a front mounted optic, rear mounted optic, or if you prefer to stick with iron sights.
Regardless which option you choose there is no better substitute than regular trips to the range and training to build your confidence with your rifle and the best scope for AK 47 set up.