An AK Iron Sight Rant – Courtesy of AKOU

“OK Guys, today we are going to talk about AK and i-ron sights…” in Rob Ski’s accent is a great start to what I will label a classic schooling in the efficacy of an AK’s iron sights. Replete with cut-tos of Mr. Ski himself shooting long range and a rather opportune Shia Lebouf moment, Rob rants (rather coherently) on the failure of most to fully utilize the AK’s stock sighting equipment.

Best nugget: “Stop blaming your equipment for your personal failures”

I agree.

Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


  • Tyler McCommon

    I went to the range recently and let a guy shoot my Mosin and Lee Enfield and he could not hit the target with either rifle. (The Lee has aperture sights snd Mosin has your traditional sights). I would discover he has an AR15 and multiple other weapons. Apparently he has almost zero experience using iron sights…..

    • Raven

      Not totally his fault. The only rifles you’ll get irons on from the factory now are lever-actions and some tactical guns, or historic replicas. Most modern bolt-actions don’t have iron sights, or even any capability to mount them (Remington makes one variant each of the 700 and Model 7 with irons, Savage has three, and Ruger has the most with five). And out of all those, the only ones with aperture sights are the two scout rifles from Ruger and Savage. Most shooters, and especially hunters, just don’t want iron sights now (even dangerous-game guys are starting to use red-dot optics).

      • billyoblivion

        Admittedly the newest rifle I own is 3 years old, but both it (PTR 91), the Sig 556 (bought in 2010) and the CX4 Storm (again 2010, that was a good year) have iron sights.

  • 11B

    AK is fine out to 300m, which is further than most combat distance (save Afghanistan), anyways. I think the bad rap comes from untrained conscript armies and guerillas using the AK platform which naturally leads to ‘bad accuracy’.

    • Bear The Grizzly

      Right on. “Pray and spray” wouldn’t work even if they had a match grade AR. Most people who comment on such things have no first hand experience and only parrot those who have little skills in such things. It’s a lot like me getting on a bike, falling off, then blaming the bike because I’m too stupid to use it right.

      • Anonymoose
        You mean there are other ways too shoot an AK besides waving it over your head on full-auto? 😮

        • Mike

          Aloha snackbar!

        • Xaun Loc

          At least the VC (and ARVN) had the good sense to use that position from inside a hole in the ground

        • gunsandrockets

          Oh god, that name! … a whole new connotation to ‘mag dump’!

        • BattleshipGrey

          Don’t forget your life vest “armor”.

    • USMC03Vet

      That only for the 7.62 or for the 5.45 as well?

      • Frank

        Both. Training is the biggest variable.

  • guest

    And there you go!
    Different sight require different training. Peep sights are fine, and so are “pistol type” sights.
    I could land a 2-3″ group with an old worn out K98, and with a modern LR-308 I can do 1″ groups with a red dot that has a dot size equal to around 8-10″ at 100 yards, and STILL center all shots perfectly even though the dot itself appears to be gigantic (in comparison to the target)

    It always was and will be about traing. Sure, red dots, peep sights and whatever else is more complex and gives the shooter the “instant joy” of shooting precisely, but nothing beats knowing how to shoot with iron sights… no matter the design. You learn that first and you will ace the rest, as by that time you master the “hardest” part of shooting.

  • USMC03Vet

    Somebody buy Mr. Ski a beer.

  • Manny Fal

    Yeah but some just have problems with their eyes.

  • Texas-Roll-Over

    Like many things practice makes perfect.

    Do a walk back drill with John McPhee at any of his courses and watch him shoot an 8×8 plate with his glock 17, at 150 yards…pistol sights are just fine.

    AK’s are great weapons. I have an Arsenal SGL31-61, and have had no problems ranging out to 300 meters consistently hitting a man size plate.

    There is no substitute for great training.

  • Zugunder

    Just have an optical sight that will allow you to use irons.

    • Kivaari

      Many AKs do not have scope rails. Until recently no one made good mounts, Now there are several mounts making it more useful. The iron sights should still be zeroed, and serve as BUIS.

      • iksnilol

        The siderail… the siderail for crying out loud.

        • tts

          Lots don’t even have that though. Its really irritating.

        • Kivaari

          Well, Yes on those rifles having scope rails, there were very few usable mounts. Almost every arrangement I used could not be zeroes Americans have come up with superior hardware for AKs.
          I’d buy another one, except after having 2 dozen of them, I find the AR-type rifles and carbines to be much superior.

          • iksnilol

            There are plenty of good scopes made for the siderail. Sure, if you want to use Picattiny mounted optics on an AK then you’re going to have a bit of trouble. Other than that, it’s all good.

            Eh, AR vs AK is personal taste IMO. I like the AK better because I can have it more compact (20-25 cm barrel + a folding stock is a nice combo).

          • Kivaari

            As I pointed out TODAY we have MUCH BETTER SCOPE/OPTIC mounts. Better than when I owned around 25 variants. As with the SKS, of which I had around 25 variants. It was a nice collection of Soviet pattern self-loaders. At one point I had near 25 M91 variants. I kept 15 until a re-broken neck decided they kicked too much.
            Today, I use ARs, since they kick less, and I can perform every thing that may need doing to them on my own.
            After retiring and selling my gun store I thinned the heard to a very small number of 5.56mm rifles and a few .38-.357 and 9mm handguns. As I ride towards the big gun show in the clouds, I don’t want to burden my wife with having to dispose of hundreds of guns. I have already arranged with a friend and dealer to move them for her.
            If my health were better, I’d like to stick around for when the UN blue helmet boys show up.

          • iksnilol

            That sounds like a lovely collection, would love to see something like that. I have always just used the siderail and whatever “Commie” optics I can get (I am partial to Zrak optics since they are made in my hometown). 4x magnification works well on an AKM.

            Can’t blame ya, just gotta ask what are you doing that causes a “re-broken” neck? Sounds kinda dangerous.

            You don’t like the UN? Man, you would be right at home in the Balkans.

          • Kivaari

            The re-broken neck, is a real pain. It was first broken as I tried to arrest a couple guys. They won the match. The first surgery failed. The neck two surgeries worked. Then I slipped on the ice on my steps, and really screwed it up. Two more surgeries with extra plates, grafts, bars and cables helped.
            In April I had low back work, fusing L4-L5-S1, and it failed. I am set to have that fixed on July 17.
            I had a wonderful collection of Soviet designed rifles and pre-Soviet M91s. My grandfather served in the Imperial Russian Army. He used to show off for the kids, marching around with his long rifle and bayonet shouting commands in Russian. I never saw it, I just had to go with mom talking about it.

          • iksnilol

            Regarding old rifles: I should really check the attic of the old house. My great grandfather served in WW1 under Austria-Hungary. Wonder if he kept his rifle and if so where it is and what it is.

        • Kivaari

          What about the side rails? All the Soviet style scopes and sights I tried would not zero.

          • iksnilol

            No offense but if you can’t get something to work that half the world has gotten to work then either the problem is you or you have massive bad luck. I’ve been there (massive bad luck part).

          • Kivaari

            Ah yes. Except what most people find are items that were rejected by the end users. Every scope or sight I bought, mostly Bellerush, would not properly zero. Is the sight a reject or is the rail attached improperly? The typical optics are unsuitable for use compared to how well our stuff works on the AR-pattern rifles. Except for junk Colt scopes 40 years ago, I find the current crop of American mounts and scopes to be great. I use GG&G 30mm QD mounts and an EOTech EXPS2-0 QD. The things seem to work on ARs.

  • That was a pretty big 100 meter group, and the gun was even resting on the mag.
    I wish he would enter our mad minute contest with an Enfield 🙂

    • Tassiebush

      It never even occurred to me that you can use a magazine as a monopod! That’s the poverty of mind from a life of only low capacity magazine experience right there!

  • Pete Sheppard

    The most fun I’ve had all day! 😀

  • Lance

    Out too 100 maybe 200 meter the AK sight is fine. I think the M-16A2 sight is a better system but so is the AR platform. AK sights are fine all the AKs I did shoot had just iron sights and apart from precision shooting they did the job just fine. The real addition to accuracy is using a proper ammo 5.45mm is still more accurate than 7.62×39 and so it you want a AK that shoots tightest groups always recommend a good AK-74.

    PS buying over priced AK optics is over blown buy rich tacti coolers AK irons will always get the job done.

    • Grump

      AK sights are great for relatively close, fast, both eyes open shooting, vs the “busy” vision obstructing peep sight picture of the AR.
      As the range increases AK sights start lacking but by then you’re getting to the point where you’re better served by a magnified optic anyway.

  • Esh325

    I’ve hit targets out to 300m’s with AK’s, but here’s some food for thought. If the default sights on AK were good enough, then why do rifles like the AN-94,AK-12, and AEK have peep sights that were intending to replace the AK?

    • iksnilol

      Eh, the replacements are chambered for 5.45 which has better range which can make use of the improved sights more.

    • guest

      Eh… because peep sights are easier to use and faster to aquire?
      If you also pay attention the AN-94 does not have the rear sights in the “middle” (on the trunnion), but in the correct location.

      What the video was speaking of is PROPER USE of sights.

  • Kivaari

    He missed an opportunity to discus zeroing the rifle. Except for a Yugo AK and a NIB Yugo SKS, every AK and SKS I’ve shot needs to have the sights adjusted. Thirty years ago the only sight tool available was the elevation tool that came as part of the butt stock kit. Fine you could get the right elevation – but it was near impossible to adjust windage. Some AK rifles simply refused to allow windage adjustment using hammers and punches. It took creating a C-clamp style tool, which work very well. Every AK shooter needs to get the rifle zeroed. Once it is done, the AK will perform simply OK. Without doing so leaves people claiming how inaccurate they are. Thankfully most of the terrorists don’t under stand how to do it. Like the SW Africa CTs, they elevated the rear sight to 2000m, “To increase the power”. Going toe-to-toe with them usually resulted in the CTs bullets passing over the heads of S. African troops.

    • Giolli Joker

      He has already done an interesting video on AK zeroing, it was linked on TFB as well.

  • wetcorps

    Nice RIFLE IS FINE moment.

    • sauerquint

      I suppose but this guy is such a sneering jerk about it. I can’t understand why anyone watches him more than once. His idea of ‘testing’ gear is to drive over it and pronounce it a failure, with a ‘come on guys’ afterwards. If people don’t know how to take care of their gear better than this clown they can’t be helped.

      • Bear The Grizzly

        But it was hilarious when he threw the Sig Russian into the creek, got it frozen, then broke the ice with a Saiga 12. All the Sig boys had massive meltdowns at how “unfair” it was.

  • gunsandrockets

    A brightly illuminated white target is about as ideal a condition as you can ask for with AK type iron sights.

    My own personal experience with a big open peep replacement rear sight on an SKS sporter was very positive, and I would say key to my surprisingly good outcome in a rifle speed shooting contest of most targets hit.

  • iksnilol

    If I remember my holdovers correctly you have to aim a bit more than 2 meters above the target at 400 meters (this is presuming you have zeroed at 50 meters. For shortbarreled AK (20 cm barrel) then you have to add about half a meter (so about 2.6 meters at 400 meters).

    AK sights are decent I guess, but if you can get your hands on Tech-Sights then do it. Best bet is to get a decent scope and zero the iron sights well (keep them as backup sights), if you add an adjustable cheek rest then cheek weld is no problem for both irons and scope.

    • Zebra Dun

      We call that Kentucky windage and elevation around here.
      Why hold over when you can adjust the sights?
      Oh Right…AK sights.

      • iksnilol


        Silly American, when you adjust sight you aren’t shooting*. It is easier and much faster to just hold over than it is to bother with adjusting the sight (which is really fast on an AK, just press down the button thingy and slide the sight back or forward). Same reason I like scopes with wide field of view.

        *shooting is preferable to messing around if you are getting shot at.

        • Kivaari

          Windage = side to side, which an AK doesn’t do fast. Therefor Kentucky windage.

          • Iksnilol

            He mentioned elevation and holding over. Besides, windage isn’t much harder.

            Who actually bothers to adjust their sights during a firefight?

          • Zebra Dun

            United States Marines do.
            See the Creed, The Rifle Creed.

          • iksnilol

            “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
            My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
            My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will…
            My rifle and I know that what counts in war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit…
            My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will…
            Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
            So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy, but peace!”

            That creed? Nothing about adjusting your sights while getting lit up. Also, according to that creed suppressive fire doesn’t count for anything. So I would take it with a grain of salt.

          • Kivaari

            A friend of mine while in the USMC boot camp, was doing poorly with running, He had an undiagnosed broken leg. But at the range, while using the M16A1 against all the pop up and moving targets, was hitting better than most others. His DI asked “How come you shoot so well, but can’t run worth a damn?”. Steve’s answer was, “If I can shoot, I don’t have to run”. The DI was impressed, and had the other recruits hand loaded magazines to Steve. Shortly thereafter he was diagnosed with a broken leg. He was sent to a casualty company, healed well. Then he was assigned to Quantico to teach EOD, respond to “bombs” and do riot duty in DC. He was at the Washington monument, when a protestor charged him, and kicked him, The response was a butt-stroke from an M14. The protestor was dragged away by the crowd, leaking blood from his eyes, ears nose and mouth. The sergeant leaned in quietly and said, “Next time kill the SOB”.

          • Kivaari

            Windage, for me has remained the most difficult task to over come. In long range shooting, beyond 500m, it is very hard to dope. Years ago while firing 7.62mm NATO tracers stiff winds showed how dramatic the wind can move a bullet. It’s easy to compensate for distance. Knowing the range and using a properly sighted rifle, the drop is not a big issue. That 20-30 mph crosswinds makes bullets go sideways. Shooting across a mountain “bowl” where winds circle, makes hitting hard. I remember when we did such things, and NO one could hit the 500m targets, with the allotted time and available rounds.

        • Zebra Dun

          Missin’ ain’t hittin’ and it gets you killed fast.
          That’s why it’s Kentucky windage and spray and pray AK. LOL

  • SirOliverHumperdink

    So is this guy even ‘foreign’? I’ll be he’s from Florida.

    • iksnilol

      From what I read he’s from Poland. At least he has a legit accent (similar to mine, I am also from Eastern Europe).

  • Wolfgar

    I have all the latest and best AR rifles yet I still always go back to my old Norinco AK from the 1980’s when I hike in the woods of Montana.I have always liked the AK sights and Mr. Ski is right on the money with his AK knowledge. I never understood the dislike of the AK and 7.62X39 cartridge that occurs from many directions. Hitting targets out to 300 yards is not that difficult with a good AK and the AK sights. Great video!

    • Kivaari

      Almost no one that owns an AK has ever sighted their rifle(s). Once zeroed they shoot well. Claiming the 7.62x39mm cartridge is inaccurate do not know how to shoot. The most consistent military rifle ammo I ever tested over a chronograph was Chinese military with the steel core. When fired from a NIB (one of only 65 in the nation at the time) Yugo (Mitchell arms) it was on the mark for velocity 2350 fps and grouped well.

      • Wolfgar

        You probably have a point about most people not sighting in their AK’s. That would explain a lot about all the the complaints about the AK’s accuracy.

      • iksnilol

        It might be consistent but the bullet is a bad design. Run of the mill M43 steel core (too stable IMO). If you can get M67 or 8M3 then it is much better.

        Have you tried “new” ammo from ex-Yugoslavia? I know Igman makes good ammo. Might be a bit expensive but it is non-corrosive, M67 bullet and brass case. So I consider it worth it. + I gotta mention them since they are local to me.

        • Kivaari

          You are correct. The M43 is very stable. That makes it a poor wound maker. The Yugo ammo, flat based, FMJ makes more severe wounds, more often that the M43. The Yugo ammo is fine stuff. I’ve shot a bunch of it.

  • Zebra Dun

    Some folks like AK’s some hate them.
    They are not tack drivers, but they are accurate enough for the job.
    Chill Bubba, and go shooting.

  • iksnilol

    Cyrillic P is for the battle setting. As far as I remember you are supposed to aim center mass with that setting (or was it the belt buckle?). If I remember my dope correctly it will drop a bit more than a meter at 300 meters if you zero at 50 meters.

    Would love to shoot with a Marine once, seem like my school of thought in regards to shooting (the old-school irons and sling kind of shooting).