Some people, myself included, have an irrational love for all things Kalashnikov. Between its Cold War vibes, reputation for unstoppable reliability, and - at least a few short years ago - extraordinarily inexpensive ammunition and magazines.
But as much as I love the AK, I’m not blind to its shortfalls. And no, it’s not an issue with accuracy; AKM carbines and rifles are plenty accurate. No, the real limiting factor on the AK is two fold: rough ergonomics, and difficulty mounting optics.
With enough training, a shooter can become proficient enough to negate the non-Western style ergos. But the AK’s high optics mounting, makes running anything magnified a chore. Often ruining any semblance of accuracy by forcing the shooter to adopt a “chin weld” as opposed to a cheekweld.
This is because of the dog-leg style scope mount first pioneered by the Soviet military on their AKMN rifles. The modified dovetail was developed in response to the Soviets needing a stable mounting platform for heavy, somewhat fragile early night vision optics.
Commonly referred to as a side rail, the tension-locked mount is rock solid, but off center. This means when mounting an optic, the zero has a point of convergence on both the Y and Z axis. So any shots beyond or before the zero will have horizontal and vertical shift in point of impact.
For years, American companies introducing their own AK optics mounts, just attempted to redesign the originals but lighter and cheaper. It wasn’t until 2009 when Scot Hoskisson, the future founder of RS Regulate, decided to mount an ACOG on his Bulgarian 5.45 caliber AK, that anyone attempted to build a better mousetrap - and truly improve the mount’s core design.
His solution was to separate the scope mount into two sections, an upper and lower. The two portions are connected with a few hex screws set between miniature Picatinny rail segments that interlock. This allows shooters to buy multiple uppers to their lower to mount a wide variety of optics to their AK.
Another benefit of the two-part design, is that shooters can purchase the perfect lower for their AK to attain the best mounting solution for their given optic and rifle combination. So if they’re running a Yugoslavian N-PAP whose side rail is different height, or an AKSU which has a shorter dust cover, they don’t have to worry about clearance.
For shooters who want a more permanent solution, RS Regulate includes a set of roll pins to pin the mount in place. Effectively making it a solid, single piece. Whichever setup a shooter chooses, the result is the same: an optics mount that not only mounts extra low, but also can be adjusted along the Z axis. Allowing optics to be mounted parallel to the bore.
This all seems well and good, but how does it actually hold up the violent action of the AK, and rigors of hard use?
I’ve ran various versions of the RS regulate mount on everything from Saiga 12 shotguns and Polish mini Beryls to Yugoslavian N-PAP .223 AKs and Bulgarian 5.45 Krinkovs, and they have always held zero and never come loose.
Those of you familiar with how I run my AKs can attest that they almost always receive the “rented mule” treatment. In other words, I run like hard like a soldier issued one would. Meaning, drop it, run it until it smokes, drop it again, change ammo types and expect it to hold zero.
The RS Regulate AKOG mount is still rock solid. To be honest, when I first heard about the mounts, I was skeptical. But after having used them for a few years, I can’t imagine utilizing anything else for serious use. Especially when the RS system of optic mounts aren’t much more expensive than traditional ones.
These advancements in optics mounting are extremely important, and critical to keeping the AK relevant in modern times. Which isn’t to say the AK isn’t an effective firearm, but with most militaries adopting optics, older mounts were in many ways holding the Kalashnikov back.
After all, the AK is known for its durability and reliability, not accuracy. Not because the system isn’t accurate per se, but the ballistics of the original cartridge and the three to five MOA average accuracy doesn’t compare well to an AR-15 in 5.56mm.
If a shooter wants to use their AK for anything other than showing off at the range, they owe it to themselves to invest in both a quality optic, and solid mount. As far as I’m concerned, a better mount than the RS Regulate series, doesn’t exist.