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Best AK-47 Scopes & Red Dot Sights

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The AK-47 stands out as one of the most iconic rifle platforms, and despite undergoing some changes since its inception, its fundamental design remains largely unaltered. Used by many globally, the AK platform has earned its reputation as one of the most popular rifle variants around. 

Still, while it’s often regarded as one of the best, it has its drawbacks, one of the greatest being its optic mounting capabilities. Due to its construction, the AK’s iron sights are all that’s available in most cases, and they often leave something to be desired in terms of their overall sight picture.  

Fortunately, as AKs have surged in popularity, many manufacturers have begun producing components to bring the AK to the 21st century, making it capable of housing many kinds of optics and accessories. Below, we’ll go over the different kinds of mounts and red dot sights that can be mounted to your AK.  

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Understanding AK-47 Optics and Red Dot Sights 

For much of their recent history, AKs were limited to just their iron sights. While there were a few AK-47 red dot sight options like the Kobra EKP reflex sight, they were scarce in the American market and often fell short in performance when compared to American red dots of the time. Today, the landscape has changed, offering a plethora of dedicated mounts and a vast array of sight choices. 

Benefits of Using a Red Dot on your AK 

Like scopes, red dot sights have become a common upgrade for rifles and can provide a compact, lightweight optic package for the AK.  

Red dot sights have a number of advantages. They provide superior target acquisition compared to the basic iron sights found on AKs. A red dot fixed to the right mount will not only give you a wider field of view, but also an unobstructed one.  

As we mentioned before, AK iron sights aren’t always the greatest and often appear crowded, making it difficult to see your target. With a red dot, you don’t need to worry about this, since all you’ll need to do is put the center of the reticle on your target, so long as it’s zeroed in, of course. By the way, we’ve got a hack for zeroing your red dot that will be useful when you add one to your AK.  

Being able to see more of your target will also enhance your situational awareness. Since red dots make it easier to shoot with both eyes open, you can focus more on your target and what’s around it, giving you greater awareness and responsiveness when you need it most. In scenarios where there are moving targets or multiple factors to focus on, this is especially beneficial. 

As versatile as red dot sights are, it’s no wonder they’ve become a popular choice to add to the AK. That said, most AKs generally don’t come with any optic mounts.  

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Mounts and Adapters 

While red dot sights are a definite upgrade that we highly recommend you make to your AK, there are some factors that you have to keep in mind before doing so. Most AK variants don’t come with any mounts or adapters from the factory, though there are some that come with upgraded/aftermarket components.  

Unless your AK comes with these upgrades, you’ll need to have some kind of mount that will make the rifle capable of running modern optics. Fortunately, since the AK has seen a massive spike in popularity in recent years, there are a plethora of manufacturers making adapters, mounts, and chassis systems that modernize the AK and make it capable of running modern optics and other accessories.  

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Side Rail Mounts 

Most of the AKs on the market today have a side mount riveted on the left side of the receiver. This mounting rail is compatible with a side rail mount that positions an optic mount over your dust cover. Originally, AK optic mounts were optic specific and didn’t see much use in the U.S. By the time surplus optics and their respective mounts started being imported stateside, we already had better optics that easily outclassed them. However, this didn’t stop manufacturers from seeing the benefits of utilizing these mounts. 

Midwest industries, RS Regulate, and AK Master Mount all make great side rail mounts that are compatible with most AKs. Depending on the rail, some have either shorter or longer picatinny sections. Pairing your red dot with the proper rail length gives you a more streamlined end result as well as minimizing any excessive rail space that might make your rifle feel crowded.  

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Railed Gas Tubes and Dust Covers 

One of the most common optic mounts available for the AK is a railed gas tube. These replace your gas tube with one that has a Picatinny rail section integrated on top of it. Depending on the model, some are proprietary and require the use of a matching handguard, like the JMAC Customs MMS handguard. However, gas tubes like those from UltimAK don’t require any other facets, and you can use it in conjunction with nearly any lower handguard.  

If you’re not interested in using a railed gas tube, a railed dust cover is another option. Like its namesake suggests, it replaces your standard factory dust cover with one that has an integrated picatinny rail. One of the most popular and most readily available options is the Dog Leg Rail from Texas Weapon Systems, as it doesn’t require the use of any additional handguards or other mounts.   

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Chassis Systems 

Currently, one of the most popular optic mounting methods is to overhaul your rifle and modernize it with a chassis system. Chassis systems go a long way in modernizing the AK since they often add free-floating M-LOK handguards, upper Picatinny rails, and railed dust covers all in one package. One such chassis system is the Alpha Series handguard and dust cover from Midwest Industries.  

While you can use the handguard by itself, the dust cover requires the handguard to be able to mount to the rifle. Still, it provides a solid mounting point for red dot sights, scopes, and other accessories, making it one of the most versatile options available. However, if you’re interested in maintaining the traditional look and feel of your AK, this option may not be the best for you. 

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Popular Red Dot Sights for the AK 

With your mount selected, it’s time to choose a red dot. There are plenty to choose from, and depending on your AK’s optic mount, nearly all will work with your rifle. Still, it can be difficult to pick out a single optic when there are so many options. Below you’ll find a breakdown of some of the popular manufacturers and the optics they provide:  

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Primary Arms Optics 

Classic Series RD-25 Push Button Red Dot Sight – We have a lot of great optics available for the AK, like our Classic Series 25mm Push Button Red Dot Sight. Our Classic Series red dot sights are a great entry-level option that can live up to the abuse of serious field use. This model has a 3 MOA dot and can easily be used on any of the mounting options that have surfaces with picatinny rails. It’s a lightweight optic with an incredibly long battery life of up to 25,000 hours. Overall, you cannot go wrong with this one, no matter the budget.  

SLx Advanced Rotary Knob MicroDot – It’s notoriously difficult to a get a proper co-witness when using an AK since their iron sights sit so low; however, when using a railed gas tube, it’s possible, so long as your red dot sits low enough. Fortunately, our SLx Advanced Rotary Knob Microdot sits low enough to give you a lower 1/3 co-witness. With its durable construction and 50,000-hour battery life, it is definitely worth adding to your rifle if you want to have a good co-witness.   

SLx MicroPrism™ Scopes – Though it isn’t a red dot, one of our most popular sight options is our SLx MicroPrism™ line of prism scopes. Our 1x prism scopes perform similarly to red dot sights, but instead of utilizing a diode to project a reticle on the objective lens, prism scopes have etched reticles that can still be used when not illuminated. Our scopes in this line are available with different reticles and different magnification levels. For instance, the SLx 1x MicroPrism™ with the ACSS® Cyclops® Reticle can easily be used with 7.62×39, while our SLx 3x MicroPrism™ with the ACSS Raptor 7.62 Reticle is designed specifically for it. Both are excellent options for your AK.  

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Holosun 

Holosun needs no introduction, as they are one of the most renowned optic manufacturers around. With many types of red dot sights available, they have an incredible variety to choose from. Some of the most popular models they offer are the AEMS, Paralow HS503G, and the 510C. 

Holosun AEMS – The AEMS is a low profile enclosed red dot sight with a battery life of up to 50,000 hours. Its reticle can be quickly swapped between a circle dot, 2 MOA dot, and a 65 MOA circle reticle. Depending on the model, it can come with either a red or green reticle. Other features include a solar failsafe and transparent flip caps that protect the lenses from scratches and other damage. 

Paralow HS503G – This red dot sight is part of Holosun’s incredibly popular HS503 series. While similar in construction to the other 503 models, the Paralow HS503G is co-branded with Primary Arms Optics and comes with our exclusive ACSS® CQB Reticle. The ACSS reticle features three BDC dots underneath the chevron, allowing an unprecedented 600 yards of bullet drop compensation in 7.62 NATO or 5.56 NATO calibers. Additionally, it allows for 450 yards of compensation for 300 Blackout and 7.62×39, making it a great optic and reticle for the AKM. 

510C–One of the more popular optics offered by Holosun, the HS510C is an open reflex circle dot sight with an incredibly wide field of view. Like the AEMS, its battery life can last upwards of 50,000 hours, but it’s durable enough to withstand tough conditions. It uses the same reticle patterns as the AEMS, has 12 brightness settings, and features an integrated QD mount for easy removal and attachment. Depending on the model, you can have either a red or green reticle.  

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Trijicon 

MRO – The MRO from Trijicon is a great red dot for the AK. The large objective lens provides a large field of view, giving you a more than adequate image of your target and its surroundings. For a reticle, the MRO utilizes a 2 MOA dot that can either be red or green, depending on the model. If you’re looking for more than just a dot reticle, there is an MRO HD available that utilizes a circle dot reticle. The HD also has upgraded lenses, increased battery life, and is better optimized for use with a magnifier. 

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Vortex 

Though they’re primarily known for their variable power optics, Vortex Optics produces high quality red dot sights. Some of the most popular options they make are the SPARC series red dot and their AMG UH-1 holographic sight.  

SPARC – The SPARC is a micro red dot sight that is lightweight and has many great features. To start, it has a simple and intuitive design and is constructed from durable aluminum parts. It utilizes a 2 MOA dot reticle that is motion activated to conserve power. Additionally, there is another variant of the SPARC that has a solar panel integrated into the top. The SPARC SOLAR red dot sight takes all the great features of the original model and boosts the battery life up to 150,000 hours by automatically switching between solar and battery power.  

AMG UH-1 – A holographic sight, the UH-1 is robustly built and incredibly durable. This optic blends hologram and Quantum Well Light Control to provide an incredibly efficient lighting system. It eliminates stray light emissions that are common in low light and prevents glare. Adding to its durability in field use, it’s coated in Vortex’s ArmorTek coating, which protects it from receiving any cosmetic damage while in use. The UH-1 utilizes an EBR-CQB reticle with a 1 MOA center dot. The durability and versatility of this optic make it a great addition to any AK.   

Conclusion 

A red dot sight can greatly enhance your rifle, giving you better capabilities to make fast and accurate shots without compromising your sight picture. Where it was once difficult to mount such optics on the AK platform, it’s now common to see a plethora of AK optic mounting solutions available.  

Whether you choose to utilize the integrated side rail on your AK (if it has one) or overhaul with modern components, each solution will make it possible to run a modern optic on your AK. Before you purchase a mount and optic, be sure to check compatibility charts and manufacturer websites to ensure they will fit onto your rifle properly. If you’re still on the fence about which red dot you should go with, our red dot buyers guide can help. 

The AKM is a tried-and-true rifle, which proves that traditional style rifles still have their spot in the modern firearms scene. Adding a modern optic is only the start of modernizing your AK.  

Be sure to check out our article on modernizing your AK and the top 5 best upgrades for your AK-47 to see what else is possible with this incredible rifle platform.