AK-47 was first manufactured in 1947 (hence the name AK47) by Mikhail Kalashnikov, a russian soldier and a weapon engineer. Since then, it has been favored by military and many others because of its high reliability, low cost and effectiveness. A 2007 study suggested that AK-47 accounted for 15% of firearms worldwide.
Being a combat gun with deadly effective range under 200 yards, a suitable upgrade is to make faster target acquisition system with little to none diminishing FOV. That way, you can keep your eyes on surrounding threats and shoot with speed and accuracy. Magnifying is not needed as shooting is likely done at closer range.
From reasons outlined above, red dot sights become the best optics for AK-47.
Here’s a summary list for my Best AK47 Red Dot.
Best AK47 Red Dot
What to look for in a red dot?
Type of red dots
There are 3 types of red dot in the market :
Reflex Sight – low power LED is reflected on the objective lens to create the red dot. Due to simpler construction, it’s generally lighter and less bulky than holographic sights. An example of this is the Aimpoint model.
Holographic Sight – A more powerful laser is bounced on mirrors to generate the red dot. Due to its structure, parallax error is less than reflex sights. However, it consumes batteries much faster. EOTech products are examples of this model.
Laser Sight – This is just a laser pointer attached to your firearms. The dot is placed on your target instead of the glass.
As the name suggests, a single dot is the most common reticle for a red dot sight. Its size is measured in MOAs. Basically you want a red dot that is large enough for you to see but not too large that it obscures your target or make shooting inaccurate
As a rule of thumb, 1 MOA equals to 1 inch at 100 yards, 2 inches at 200 yards, 3 inches at 300 yards and so on. Small MOA like 1-3 is good for accuracy shooting while larger MOA is good for fast target acquisition. Imagine placing a shot at 50 yards away with 3 MOAs red dot. Your dot will have 1.5 inches in diameter, which should be good enough in most cases.
Reticle Shapes and Color
Other than a plain dot, some red dots offer shapes like crosshairs, dot with circle, dot with semi-circle and many others. There are many colors apart from red such as green or blue. But in my opinion, red is the easiest to spot on most occasions.
This is mostly up to you. Just pick the one you like.
Reticle Intensity and Night Vision Compatibility
An ideal red dot must be easily seen both in bright daylight and close quarter rooms with few lightings.
Another useful feature is red dot’s compatibility with night vision optics. When turned on, night vision brightness settings should be faint enough that it will not blind you while using night vision optics. This will gives you the edge when shooting in the dark, but normally comes with higher price tag.
As with any optics, quality lens coating help with image quality and reduces glare from looking in the direction of or away from the sun.
Tube shapes and sizes
There are 2 style of shapes to consider
- Tube Sight – This looks similar to a scope. It’s advantage is durability. And in case of very bright sunny days, you can use filters to make red dot more visible.
- Open Sight – This features a square screen you can look through. It is generally lighter and less bulky. But doesn’t go along with filters.
A quick mention on field of view (FOV), even though open sights generally give more FOV, it isn’t much of a plus as you probably would be using both your eyes and see surrounding areas without having to look through the glass.
A crucial factor for red dots, as no dot is visible if you run out of power. Since battery technology has improved so much over the years, some red dots can be turned on for 3-5 years straight (albeit not the highest power). Thus many people turned it on all the time, even though firearm may be sitting in a storage.
Holographic sights use lasers not LED as normal red dots. They tend to consume lots of energy. Thus Holographic sights have shorter battery life.
One thing to note, cold weather drains more battery power. So if you live in colder areas, you need to prepare backup or check your battery frequently.
Some optics employs alternative ways to lighten up the reticle. The Trijicon AccuPoint uses Tritium while some other models use solar panels to help generate power. These tend to have longer life but lower brightness.
For battery life, reliability is key. No one wants to have dead batteries in the middle of an operation.
Durability and Warranty
A practical red dot needs to be waterproof, fogproof and shockproof. The optic must be able to withstand lots of abuse and the recoil of AK-47.
Note that the highest durable red dots are made by Aimpoint. If you are going on a military operations, it’s a good choice to look at. Note that super durable optics also come with higher price tag.
Lastly, if all else fails, one needs a good warranty and customer service from the manufacturer. Defects and accidents do happen. And there’s the matter of transferability warranty, which normally makes reselling value higher.
Co-witnessing is about mounting red dot sights while retaining iron sights to serve as a backup. This is not a necessary thing to do, but it can help you when the red dot fails.
There are 2 popular setup for this :
- Absolute co-witness – Aligning rear sight, red dot sight and front sight on a same line
- Lower ⅓ – Aligning the red dot sight higher while iron sights are at about ⅓ of overall red dot sight picture
It’s a matter of preference and mostly comes down to tube size and mount. With a bigger tube, one might be forced to use the Lower ⅓. Other than that, you can line up whichever way you want with the right mount.
Objective Lens Diameter
A larger objective lens doesn’t mean much for a red dot as you tend to use it with both eyes open. Your field of view should be unlimited. Larger objective lens tends to be heavier and might make it difficult for absolute co-witness.
Some red dots offer a parallax free feature which is favorable. However, no optic is truly parallax free. Note that the term “parallax free” in industry standard is parallax free from 30 yards onward.
Best AK47 red dot Recommendation
With the criteria of “What to look for” as a guideline, here’s the selection.
1. Bushnell Trophy TRS-25 Red Dot Sight Riflescope, 1x25mm
Super affordable red dot, only about $50 at the time of this writing.
The TRS-25 holds zero very well on my AK47, even with eight hundred rounds something down the range.
Bushnell claims 3,000 hours of battery life. But it also depends on how you actually use it, at what brightness settings, etc. For typical use it’s more like 1,000 hours of battery life. Battery can also be changed without removing the red dot.
A fine red dot, even though I suggest you do not use it on home defense gun as it is not that reliable. Warranty is only 1 year. But for the price, you can just buy a new one when it fails.
|✓ Low price||✗ Not very durable|
|✓ Ok Glass||✗ Short battery life|
|✓ 3 MOA dot, fast target acquisition||✗ 1 year warranty|
Price : $
2. Primary Arms 2 MOA Advanced Micro Red Dot (MD-ADS)
This red dot features 2 MOA dot with 12 brightness settings, 2 of which are night vision compatible.
The Primary Arms MD-ADS boasts 50,000 hour of battery life which is likely an overstatement. But half of that is a pretty decent duration. When the battery is running low, brightness will stay at low power, that’s time to change battery.
The optics can hold zero from the recoil of an AK-47. It’s also waterproof for 72 hours under 2 meters depth, fogproof and shockproof. Plus Primary Arms offer 3 years warranty.
|✓ 12 brightness settings (2 night vision)||✗ Not as durable as high end red dot|
|✓ Long battery life|
|✓ 3 years warranty|
Price : $$
3. Holosun HS510C 2 MOA Open Reflex Red Dot Sight
The Holosun HS510C has 3 reticle choices that you can switch between with ease :
- 2 MOA Dot
- 2 MOA Dot with 65 MOA Ring
- 65 MOA Ring
To prolong battery life, this red dot has 2 battery source, normal battery and solar cells. The solar power is supplementary, as it cannot turn on the highest brightness level on its own. That said, it can power lower brightness settings and help lengthen battery life.
Auto on-off feature is present. When it is put down and not used for 10 minutes, it goes into sleep mode. Once you move it, it comes back on again. No need to fumble that switch in emergency situation and further saving battery life.
Auto-brightness feature is available to detect surrounding light ambient and choose the appropriate brightness. But I personally feel that the brightness chosen is a oftentimes a bit dark.
However due to its many features, the Holosun HS510c is not as light as it should be (8.3 oz).
|✓ 3 reticle choices||✗ Auto brightness a bit dim|
|✓ 2 source of power||✗ A bit heavy|
|✓ Auto on-off and auto brightness features||✗ Higher priced|
|✓ Clear, bright and night vision compatible|
|✓ Durable with 3 years warranty|
Price : $$$
4. Aimpoint PRO Patrol Rifle Optic
Aimpoint Patrol Rifle Optic is the red dot that you can depend your life on, whether it’s home defense or Afghanistan. Aimpoint products are favoured by the military.
It can withstand a lot of shock (40 +/- 4 g in y and z axis, 500 g in x axis) and is waterproof up to 150 ft. The warranty is 2 years for professional or competition use and 10 years for personal use.
Battery life is the weakest link for red dots, because electronics tend to fail much faster than glass and metal frame.
But with Aimpoint efficient energy design on the Aimpoint PRO, you get 30,000 hours of battery life with no need for any battery saving tricks. Because those tricks can fail when you need the red dot most. For this Aimpoint PRO, you always leave it on and it will not fail you.
The downside is that even though Aimpoint PRO is a cheaper model in Aimpoint’s arsenal, it’s still higher priced than other optics mentioned above.
|✓ Your life depends on it red dot||✗ No additional features|
|✓ Long life battery||✗ Higher priced|
|✓ Clear, bright and night vision compatible|
|✓ Decent warranty|
Price : $$$$$
The important thing for AK-47 is how fast you can aim and shoot your close range target (within 200 yards). If your intend use for AK is home defense, the Aimpoint Pro becomes the most reliable red dot of choice. With this you’ll have a peace of mind, knowing that it’ll never fail you in the time of need. If you have enough budget, this is one of the best red dot to have.
However, not everyone has lots of money to spend. If you’re rather tight on budget, go for Primary Arms 2 MOA Advanced Micro Red Dot (MD-ADS). It offers good quality at a very affordable price. Daylight bright, clear dots, night vision brightness and lightweight.