Friday, June 28, 2013

Reader Question: Budget AK Optics

Anonymous 10:24 asked "Anyone recommend reflex sight or an optic that wont break the bank for an AK?"

Ryan here: Without knowing what you consider "breaking the bank" I can only speak in generalities. Broadly speaking I am not a fan of low end optics for practical use in general and especially for fighting weapons.
With optics there is a certain price point where quality falls off a cliff.  You go from duty grade briefly touching hobby grade and landing strait in plinker/ Chinese made junk. A $30 Walmart red dot on a .22 pistol is a riot to shoot. Worst case if it breaks or fails or the zero wanders so what, it ends the .22 pistol shooting fun for the day.  Worst case if a hunting rifle's $120 scope fails it messes up a hunting trip. Though inconvenient and not ideal that is not actually the end of the world despite what some may think. An optic on a fighting gun fails and good people can die.

For fighting optics/ red dots I like Aimpoint/ Eotech/ Trijicon products. For red dot/ reflex sights you can get a basic Eotech or Aimpoint Pro for around $400. A bit cheaper if you find a sale or something. Now and then stolen surplus used M68 Aimpoints pop up on various sites at very reasonable prices. Since they are hell for stout I would be comfortable with a used one at the right price. Trijicon makes a smaller (reflexive) type red dot that you could look at. 

Could you fudge it a bit and maybe get a Burris Fastfire or something and be OK, probably. However cheaper red dot's generally do not work real well. They do not hold zero's, fail to turn on and just have issues. Putting it simply a $400ish quality red dot will cost the same if you try a $100-250 cheaper optic before or not. Buy nice or buy twice.

For magnified optics it is a bit more complicated. Leupold has some nice offerings in the $400 ish range. Personally wanting a variable power with a true (or very close) 1x bottom end I went with a Burris MTAC. So far it is hell for stout and a well designed easy to use optic. I like it a lot. There are some other quality optics in that general $400 ish price range. Note that price did not include a mount. In general I cannot see the real reason to put a magnified optic on an AK. About where you need the magnification they are falling off in terms of accuracy and ballistics so I do not get it though to each their own.

Mounting an optic/ red dot to an AK is an interesting proposition. There is the original intended side mount for a scope but you would need to take it off to clean the gun which is problematic. Some folks make dust covers with a rail attached but those probably do not mount securely/ stably enough to work very well. A company (Texas Weapons Systems?) makes a kit to swap out the dust cover to a secure one with a hinge on front. This is the only good option for mounting an optic in the conventional position where a normal scope would work.

You can put a rail on the gas tube (I think Ultimak) or a quad rail forend on it (Midwest Industries) both of which are solid options.

If I was going to mount an optic on an AK here is what I would do. I would purchase an Ultimak gas tube rail. I would then put an Aimpoint (new Pro or used M68) on that rail. Out the door that setup will run around $500. That might be getting into "break the bank territory'. However first as I noted before that quality setup will cost the same if you put time and energy into trying cheaper stuff (which usually fails) first or not. Second while they are very nice you do not NEED an optic. If money is an issue I would recommend that you rock iron sights for a few months while saving up tobuy a serviceable setup that will last and meet all your needs.

Well those are my thoughts on that. Hope they are helpful.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for answering my question.I'll go with your suggestion and save for a higher end optic. "good guys can die" is a good enough excuse for me... Might have to part with a bar of silver to expidite the optic.

My m70 comes with a railbuilt onto the dust cover. I can see how the m70 would not retain its zero as it shifts around slightly. My m92's dust cover is hinged which is nice but the rail setup is forward of the dust cover.

Thanks again for info its greatly appreciated!

the ginga-

Justin said...

I would spend the money on ensuring the AK's irons are straight. Red dots make a good irons shooter faster, and AKs are notorious for sloppy irons. Having said that...

Other than that (and besides, the question was about red dots...), I have a primary Arms Micro on my AR pistol while I wait to get funds I can put down for a Trijicon or "real" Aimpoint. It's pretty good for the price. No problems with it yet.

Ryan said...

The Ginga, Yes quality optics are worth it. I wouldn't sell silver right now unless you do it way above spot. As to the M 92 if it's hinged and has a rail that just might work. Buy an optic and put it through the paces to see if it holds a zero. Worth 100 rounds of ammo to find out.

Justin, You bring up a valid point with the sights. Typically that's an issue which comes up pretty early in a shooting session. Going to make the assumption this gun has been tested.

Glad the budget red dot is working for you.

BOOSH! said...

I recommend the vortex optics - sub $400 red dots. I'm not a shill, but I did just recently purchase this model for my AR: -- they are everywhere for $200. This model is the same price with a 4 MOA dot:

I like my sparc, I originally saw a video for this sight on youtube: --here is the video I watched: -watch the video you will be impressed ----

That razor is a really nice dot......but at that price I would rather have 2 sparcs (I've got a new build I'm doing also) for my two rifles instead of one really expensive one and only iron sights for the other.....
Also, the sparc comes with 3 different mounting options, so you can mount it directly on the rail, a riser for co-witness or add the "extender" (I have no idea what it's called) on to it for 1/3 co-witness.
The best part of the $200 sight? This:

---a 100% warranty, ON A $200 SIGHT!
If you look around, you'll find that people that have the vortex stuff are very happy with it.

Now, it's not all rainbows and unicorns, the thing is made in China. But if you can get over that, you'll find a very good product for half the price. I would really like an aimpoint, or a trigicon......but for the money I'd spend on those, I could easily have: another rifle or pistol or shotgun, ammo, prep stuff or a nice hooker.....heh

Ryan said...

Boosh, I almost mentioned the Vortex in the same sentence as the Burris. Have heard good things about their scopes but nothing (good or bad) about their red dot's. Glad it is working for you.

AmericanEMP said...

Hey Ryan, the set-up you described is exactly what I put on my AK47. Aimpoint pro on the ultimak gas tube rail. All ultimak parts I've used have been outstanding with over 800 rounds fired. However, with the scope base the Aimpoint PRO comes with you are not going to be able to co-witness the iron sights. I beleive larue makes a Low profile quick detachmount mount (around 130$)that will allow you to co-witness in the lower 1/3 of the sight. Hope this helps.

Ryan said...

AmericanEMP, Sounds like you are a smart man or at least we are both fools in the same way. Co witnessing is nice but not strictly speaking essential IMO. At an additional $130 I would probably categorize it as a nice to have thing toward the bottom if the list.

krunch said...

Talk about timing for this topic! My Aimpoint Micro just came in the mail on Friday, and I can't say enough good things about it. I ran about 200rounds through my Yugo M70 underfolder with it mounted on a Midwest Industries quad rail, and after three rounds to zero it, I could have won the big ass stuffed animal at the "shoot out the star" game in a carnival. Absolutely amazing. It totally changed what I can do with the rifle. One thing I would say about the Yugo is to avoid AIM quad rails. I picked it up first (for half the price of the Midwest Industries) and it was a nightmare of metal removal. On the iron sights line, I would point you toward "Tech Sights". I have no personal experience with them, but from what I can tell, they pretty much double the sight radius. There is a lengthy youtube review linked to on their website that really shows off what they are all about, and if I had not just blown my load on the rail and the micro, I would be all over these. Just my opinion. Thanks, Ryan, for all the great work you do.

Mark smith said...

So nice blog and all the information are very nice good work.
reflex sight

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