Cuban AK Optics???

Can anyone identify the optics used on these AKM rifles carried by Cuban soldiers.

I have never see one like it before and my copy of Frank Iannamico’s epic tome on the AK is not at hand.

[ Many thanks to m4shooter for emailing me the photo. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Jingles

    -74? Those magazines are Bakelite, but the curvature screams 7.62×39.

    • David

      AKMS-Cuban made or Soviet made AKM with bakelite magazine
      AKMSB-Kalashnikov (7.62x39mm) with suppressor and VILMA red-dot sight
      AKML–folding stock, etc.

      There are also SVDs 7.62x54R, PKM MGs and RPKs and other Soviet, Russian, Belarus, and Ukraine small arms and weapons.

  • cottage cheese

    Hey Steve,

    No idea about the odd ‘optics’ but the rifle appears to be a standard run of the mill Soviet era AKM….rather than a 74.


  • Lance

    Steve those are NOT AK-74s those are AKM-47s with 70s era Bakelite 7.62mm mags. I don’t think that’s a scope on them they looks like either a red or or a laser sight.

    • Thanks for the corrections guys. I always make that mistake. Whenever I need Frank’s book, I don’t have it!

  • Crystal

    My question is, why are all the soldiers female with their hair down?

  • It’s apparently called the “Visor Vilma”, named after Raul Castro’s wife. It’s a Cuban made 1st generation red dot sight as far as I can tell.

    More info and pics here:

  • Rob

    Jingles –

    The Russians made bakelite magazines for their 7.62x39mm rifles too. They’re hard to find on the US civilian market, and sell for around 50 dollars a pop.

  • I have found some info about scopes here:
    There are some info in spanish, but Google translate really helps… =)

    These scopes are first-generation Red Dot scopes.
    I wonder, if they just used them on the parade or all Cuban army use collimators on daily basis.
    If so, it’s rather cool for Cuban army.

  • JT

    Hmmmmm im gonna say red dot or maybe IR laser for night ops? Cant wait to see what it turns out to be!

  • Is there a better shot of the sight, it’s hard to see.

    It might be a red dot, or some sort of holo sight.

  • gary

    kinda want to rescue that girl from her evil communist ways 😉

  • Rafael

    Its a red dot called “VILMA” (Visor Lumínico para Matar Agresores),translation: Light Optic to Killl Aggressors. Im not kidding, its really the name of the red dot

  • Tim

    Vilma scope…

  • From my resident AK guru, it’s a Vilma scope. It’s a red dot / lazer. From this guru “we can buy better products from WalMart for Airsoft.”

  • Tim

    Called a “scope” but really a crude red dot

  • snmp
  • Sian

    from the looks of it, you don’t actually look through the sight, as it does not appear to have an objective lens at all. you look into it and see a red dot, and need to keep the other eye open to see the target.

    Crude may be an understatement.

  • DC

    Nice photo… Oh, the scope! I didn’t even notice she was holding a gun!

  • Ryan

    Crystal: My question is, why are all the soldiers female with their hair down?

    Duh! Because long haired chic’s with guns look HOT (especially when they are brown like my wife 🙂 Sure it sucks to be in combat with your hair down and in your eyes but this is a propaganda photo. If I had to guess they are aiming at trying to project “Strong Female” roll model or some commie ideal woman equality thing. Either to brag that they let woman in the military (as if this is still 1950) or as a recruiting tool to get more woman(and men) to join. Do they even have a choice to not join the army? I don’t know, nor care.

    Personally the silliest part are the white gloves. WTF? Bright white ill-fitting gloves? As propaganda, they distract, as a military uniform they are useless, and as a fashion statement they don’t even match! Might as well put on a pink tutu.

    • David

      The women marching in the photo are not regulars in the FAR. They are in the Milicias de Tropas Territoriales or MTT. The white gloves are worn because they are marching past a review stand during a desfile militar or military parade, possibly the April 2011 50th anniversary of the Bay of Pigs/ Playa Girón. There are very few opportunities to photography Cuban military personnel outside of parades such as that, hence all the pictures have the white gloves.

      Notice that all of the so-called “mass organizations” such as the MTT and the Ejército Juvenil de Trabajo/ EJT and members of the FAR and MININT have the Kalashnikovs equipped with the VILMA optic. The navy, such as it is has SKS rifles for snappy-looking close order drill.

  • RH

    According to some of the folks at military photos, it sounds like an occluded eye gunsight. The front of the sight is closed, and you have to use both eyes to aim. OEGs require a lot of training to be used effectively, need to be zeroed for individual users, and start to show rather extreme parallax beyond 50 yards. They are one of the best sights for very close combat, but choosing them for a standard issue sight is dubious at best. But, Cuban military tech seems to be stuck in the 70’s anyway, so it may have been the logical choice.

  • Although my intervention might seem unnecessary, as the scope has already been identified, I’d like to point out the fact that after the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba has relied mainly (or, better, SOLELY) on imports from Belarus for their military optics. Most, if not all, of the scopes and optics on their weaponry is of Belarusian provenience… the same found in the shelves of gun shops and sporting goods/supplies stores marked worldwide marked “Yukon” and “Barska”.

    By the way, the AK rifles in the hands of the Cuban soldiers are AKM rifles manufactured locally with Soviet-imported technology.

  • Lance

    Yeah Steve get us the number of the HOT woman in the center of the pic.

    Though She’ll kill you for being a imperialist ”pigdog”


    If these optics are made in Cuba then you can put them down as cheap and unreliable. Cuba has absolutely no manufacturing capability and is (still) a mainly agricultural society. I would speculate that these optics were contracted out to a Cuba friendly country, perhaps China or Iran.

  • charles222

    Steve-the easiest way to tell -47 from -74 is the funky muzzle brake the 74 has. None of the -47s have it-the barrel just ends after the front sight post. Also, I’m fairly certain the under-folding stock was only featured on the older rifle; I’ve only seen AK-74s with a fixed or a side-folding stock.

  • tj

    i hate to say it but screw the gun i want whats behind it!

  • cottage cheese

    Adding to charles222, Soviet era AKM and AKMS rifles are generally recognizable with these characteristics:
    1) Laminated stocks and hand guards with that distinct shade as in the picture
    2) Flat black enamel over phosphate/park.
    3) Chocolate brown plastic pistol grip
    4) The angled muzzle compensator in the AKM, while appearing in many variants and clones from other manufacturers, is curiously absent in the AKMS
    5) The ribbed receiver cover originally appeared in the AKM but was carried over to the 74 and now an numerous clones and variants. So it’s not a positive identifier.
    6) Rather oddly, all of them seem to be decked up with that horrid brick red magazine. Ribbed steel magazines were more common.

  • Looks a little like the old Aimpoint Mark III with a riser underneath. I wonder if the Cubans borrowed the design?

  • Lcon

    Okay I did my best with google on this so it should make some sense.
    [quote]”In July this year could see the famous sight IR”Vilma. “It is plastic, for attaching to the AKM you need a screwdriver and runs on a battery. For my taste, it is very uncomfortable, it is marked with an eye where the objective and the other IR focus the of the viewfinder point is, you must operate with both eyes and at least I, when I wield the weapon am winking instinctively.

    -to use it you need to use both eyes, with one seen in direction of the target and the other focuses on the IR red dot at the target, well, very uncomfortable for my taste. The sight is plastic and has a battery.

    “The viewer Vilma is a first-generation Red Dot. The eye receives the red dot director and the other looks white when binocular vision matched the red dot on the target open fire. Experts say this increases the probability of impact by 95%.
    a friend of mine recently conducted a firing exercise. Using targets up to 400 meters without difficulty.[/quote]
    Basically it works like the old occluded eye sight OES You keep both eyes open one on the sight with a Red dot in the center on a white back ground well the other looks at the target the brain tries too blend these images together and in the process removes the white of the sight but leaves the red dot floating on the target. a simple optical illusion.

  • Looking forward to reading more. Great blog article.Really thank you! Much obliged.