Shooting an AK, or any gun for that matter, is only fun if you hit your targets. And to hit intended targets, one must know how to properly sight in the AK.
- The AK's aiming system has an adjustable front sight and a fixed rear that has a provision for range adjustment.
- The rear sight ranging system consists of a spring-loaded cylinder that slides on a sight leaf and can be positioned on pre-set marks representing 100-meter adjustments.
- All sighting-in procedures are performed on the front sight only with a sight adjustment tool.
- Elevation is adjusted by screwing the front post in or out; windage is adjusted by shifting the cylinder in which the sight post is screwed.
- Elevation is adjusted first, moving the post up for a POI that is high and down for POI that is low.
The AK aiming system contains an adjustable front sight and a non-adjustable rear sight that has a provision for range adjustment. If one takes a look at the front sight of an AK, it appears like a straightforward post sight with protective hood. The post is screwed into the cylinder that is pressed into the front sight block. Both the threads on the sight post and the cylinder will come into play a bit later.
The rear AK sight is a conventional “U” slot type and made out of a solid piece of steel. It is hinged on the rear sight block of the rifle and has gradations representing 100-meter range adjustments. A spring-loaded cylinder slides on the rear sight leaf and can be positioned at any of the pre-set marks, elevating the sight to adjust for the desired range.
For example, if the target is set at 400 meters, the rear sight cylinder is moved to the position marked “4.” There is also a setting marked “П” or “P” for some of the European AK models or “D” for some Chinese. This represents the “Permanent” or “Battle” setting that falls somewhere between 300-400 meters, which is considered to be an average engagement range.
To aim an AK rifle one simply shoulders it and sights the aiming eye over the top of the gun. The shooter can close or squint the other eye. Most advanced shooters keep both eyes open during firing. In the case of novice shooters, the idle eye should be taken out of action by closing it or squinting.
Using a small and smooth movement with cheek firmly resting on the gun’s stock and the stock itself firmly pressed into the shooter’s shoulder, the front and rear sight have to be positioned in such a way that the front sight post is even with the rear sight’s upper edge and is centered in the middle of the “U” slot.
All that’s left to do is position the aligned sights over a clearly visible target. The proper way to aim with the AK is to position the sights or point of aim (POA) at the lower edge of the 12-inch round target set at 100 meters. This should produce hits or point of impact (POI) at the center of target. If the deviation between POA and POI is more then 6 inches vertically, i.e., it is less or more than 6 inches or any distance away from the vertical centerline, the AK rifle needs to be sighted in.
All of the sighting-in procedures are performed on the front sight only. Elevation or vertical adjustment is done by screwing the front post in or out using a sight adjustment tool provided in the gun’s tool kit.
The windage, or horizontal adjustment, is done by shifting the cylinder into which the front sight post is screwed. Note that all of the front sight adjustments for the purpose of sighting in a rifle are done in the direction of deviations. i.e., if the gun shoots low, the front sight needs to be lowered or screwed in, and it needs to be raised or unscrewed if the POI is high.
It is the same with the windage adjustments. If all of the hits impact too far left, the post must be moved left to bring POI to the center. The sighting of the AK can be done without any special tool except those provided with the gun.
First, the elevation is adjusted by installing a target at the 100-meter range and moving the rear sight elevation adjustment cylinder to the setting “1.” After a series of shots, the vertical POI deviation from POA is established. If it is outside of prescribed parameters, the adjustment is made by screwing in or lowering the front sight post for low impacts, and unscrewing or lifting the post for high impacts.
All the adjustments should be made in very small increments and remembering the geometrical progression effect. Each time the adjustment is made, it has to be verified by a series of shots to check the proper adjustment.
With elevation set, it is now time to adjust the windage, or make horizontal corrections. This is achieved by moving a cylinder side-to-side, depending on the desired result. The cylinder is press-fitted into the front sight block and does move freely. There are special AK front sight adjustment tools that can be purchased relatively cheaply.
However the front sight windage adjustment can be done in the field using a spent casing as a ramrod and heavy object (rock, piece of wood) as a hammer.
For that, the rifle is laid on a flat and hard surface in such a way that the tip of the muzzle and hood of the front sight are resting on the surface. With the bottom (primer side) of the spent casing placed on the side of the adjustment cylinder, the casing is tapped with a hammer (rock or wood) until the cylinder moves.
All of the windage adjustments should be done in very small increments. After each adjustment, the accuracy of the rifle should be checked. Most AK rifles have scale markings in the front side (muzzle side) of the front sight block and windage cylinder. The front sight block is marked with centerline and the cylinder with a series of vertical lines. After the sighting is complete, the position of the cylinder markings in relation to the block centerline is noted and should be memorized.
Now the AK rifle is ready for regular operation as described in its Military Training Manual.
This article is an excerpt from the Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to AKs.