If you’re going to invest in an optic and don’t have a rail or handguard system that will allow you to place it on your rifle, you’re going to need a separate AK optics mount. These clamp onto a bracket located on the left-hand side of the receiver — assuming your AK has a bracket; most, but not all, do. There are a number of mounts on the market ranging from not-so-great stuff imported from China to well-made products from Russia or the U.S.
The engineering challenge for these devices has been to build something that will work with all — or at least a great majority — of the AK variants. This is a tall order.
As I outlined earlier, there are inevitable discrepancies in the specifications among manufacturers when it comes to positioning of the rail, thickness of the receiver, and so on. Thus, obtaining a one-mount-fits-all solution is impossible. The lesson is that before you purchase an optic, be certain that the item you acquire will operate correctly with the mount and model of your AK.
There are some decent scope mounts out there. One I’ve tested is the SM-13 from Arsenal. It’s a rock-steady unit that is slung low — close to the dust cover. It will work with the VEPR, Saiga and Arsenal. The only thing it won’t do is allow you to co-witness. The ability to co-witness (see below) is not a must-have, but is certainly desirable.
RS Regulate Mounting System
The system favored by all the professionals I’ve interviewed is manufactured by a company called RS Regulate. It permits you to mount your optic very low (close to the barrel) while centering it over the rifle’s bore.
RS Regulate has developed a mounting technology that accommodates some of the more popular optics brands and will generally, depending on the optic, allow you to co-witness. It’s modular so that you can pick and choose an adapter designed for a specific optic. One of their newest products is designed to work with a Yugo.
The RS Regulate products are a bit more expensive than the competition, but work the best.