This is the second installment of my series on updating the AK. We started with muzzle devices and now we are working our way back to the iron sights.
There are a couple of complaints that most users have with the standard AK sights. The rear sight notch is too narrow and the sight radius (the distance between the sights) is too short. The sight notch is easy to fix but the sight radius issues are a little more difficult.
Many shooters like to use a tritium front sight so that they can see it in low light. I have used the front sight from XS Sights and it is definitely easy to see but, like most AK tritium front sights, it is very thick which makes it more difficult to use at longer distances.
When you are sighting in your AK, you adjust the elevation by turning the front sight. You can orient the standard AK front sight with any of the four sides facing the shooter. Tritium front sights can only be oriented in one direction. This means that you loose quite a bit of precision in your elevation adjustment. This will likely be a non-issue in actual use considering the AK is not an extremely precise weapon to begin with.
Tritium front sights have a clear upside – their ability to be seen in low light. However, they are not without downsides – decreased precision at longer distances and decreased precision in elevation adjustment.
The cheapest and easiest way to vastly improve the rear sight is to use a small file to open up the notch. Some people open it up as far as 3/16” but I find that about 1/8” is fine for me.
You might also consider purchasing a peep style rear sight. Krebs Custom makes an excellent rear sight that has a peep aperture instead of the typical notch. It retains the ability to use the BDC feature of the standard rear sight. MOJO also makes excellent peep style rear sights. The MicroClick rear sights from MOJO are even adjustable for bullet drop at various ranges.
There are two ways that I know of to increase the sight radius of your AK. The first is to use a quality rail that mounts over the receiver cover like those from Krebs Custom with an integral rear sight or Texas Weapon Systems with the accessory rear sight. These will allow you to use rail mounted rear sight. You can also use the rear sight from Tech Sights. It mounts at the rear of the receiver cover which increases sight radius and places the rear sight very close to your eye.
If you plan to use the iron sights on your AK as you primary sighting system, I highly recommend that you do something to improve them. Opening up the standard rear sight with a file is very effective and very inexpensive. Even if you plan on mounting an optic, I suggest that the rear sight notch be opened up so you have an effective back up to your optic.