Zeroing your AK’s iron sights, otherwise known as “sighting in”, is the process by which you ensure that your rounds are impacting your target at a specific distance or within certain parameters at various distances (e.g., 100 to 300 yards). There are various ways to do this, and several good videos exist on the web that can visually walk you through the process. We’ll cover some of the basics in this article, focusing specifically on the 7.62x39mm KR-103 and then the 9x19mm KR-9 Rifle.
First Things First
When zeroing in any rifle, certain things should be kept in mind:
- Have a stable firing position, preferably seated from a bench or from a supported prone position. You want your rifle as steady as possible. Avoid windy days.
- You want to zero your rifle with the type of ammo that you will use most often. There is not a great deal of variability when it comes to bullet weights in either 7.62x39mm or 9x19mm so this makes things easier.
- Ideally you will have access to a 100-meter range but a good zero can also be established at 100 or even shorter distances.
- High contrast targets are helpful. A spotting scope saves you having to walk back and forth to your targets.
- A variety of tools are available to adjust your sights, but we recommend our AKSFT model for our 7.62x39mm rifles and pistols. A traditional AK clamp tool is better suited for the KR-9. These will make your adjustments both easy and precise. The AK’s short sight radius makes correct adjustments important.
- Take your time when sighting in. Control your breathing and squeeze the trigger slowly. Shoot at least a five-shot group before checking your target. Maintain the same point of aim (POA) each time. You adjust your iron sights to change the Point of Impact (POI). For example, if you are hitting low, you thread-in the sight post. If you are hitting to the left, you drift the drum to the left. Make sure to keep your sight picture steady. You want the groupings to move to where you are viewing your rifle’s front sight post centered on the target.
- The elevation and windage adjustments on an AK are made on the front sight only. The rear blade is only for gross adjustments to distance at 100-meter increments.
- Be safe. Clear your weapon before going downrange to check your target.
The AKSFT front sight tool, featured here, is especially helpful for adjusting the sights on our 7.62×39 MM platform.
The practical effective range of a properly sighted-in 7.62mm AK is 300 meters (328 yards). At 300 meters the bullet drop will be close to a full meter. Yes, you can hit targets beyond that range but the probability of hitting them consistently greatly decreases, especially when wind and other environmental factors come into play. The round, however, remains deadly past 1000 yards. Exercise caution. Be cognizant of what may lie far beyond your intended target.
The AK rifle was designed primarily for reliability and not precision accuracy. The Soviet AKM manual considered 15-centimeter (5.9 inch) groups at 100 meters (109.4 yards) to be acceptable. Kalashnikov-USA rifles, built to a higher quality standard with modern manufacturing techniques, are capable of being much more accurate. Still, the reciprocating mass of the long stroke gas piston will introduce barrel harmonics and the short sight radius will limit practical accuracy to 300 meters. The addition of an optical sight and other modifications an increase your maximum range to a certain extent. Zeroing in your rifle’s iron sights properly allows you to know and understand your rifle’s capabilities…as well as its limitations.
Zeroing in your KR-103
The traditional way to zero a 7.62x39mm AKM rifle is as follows:
- Set a plain 36” x 18” carboard target at 100 meters (or use an Official USPA Carboard Target)
- Paint or tape a BLACK surface measuring 14” tall by 10” wide in the center.
- Set your AK’s rear sight for 300 meters
- Align your sights such that the top of your front sight post is flush with the bottom of the black rectangle and the front sight post is centered in your rear sight notch
- Aim carefully from a stable position and fire a five-shot group.
- The resulting group should be 25 centimeters (@9.8”) above the bottom edge of the black rectangle. If you are shooting at 100 yards instead of 100 meters, your group should be 23 centimeters (9”) above the bottom edge of the black rectangle.
- If the group does not impact at that height, adjust your front sight post accordingly using your AKSFT sight tool.
- Adjust your windage using the same sight tool if your group is too far right or left
- Once your group is at the proper height over your aiming point–and it is properly centered–your rifle is zeroed.
- Move your rear sight notch to the 100-meter setting. Your AK rifle should now consistently hit man-sized targets out to 300 meters.
Zeroing in your KR-9
While zeroing your KR-9, it should be set at the 100 mark.
The rear sight blade of the KR-9 is marked in 50-, 100-, 150- and 200-meter increments. However, the practical effective range is 100 meters. The 9x19mm cartridge, being a pistol round, has a trajectory that drops quickly, and muzzle velocity and energy also dissipate at extended distances. However, the round can still kill or maim. Exercise caution. Follow these steps:
- Zeroing at 100 meters (or 100 yards) with the rear sight blade set at 100 meters is perhaps the easiest and most practical setting for this firearm. Set your high contrast target at that range.
- Adjust your rear sight blade to the 100 notch and fire a five-shot group with your front sight post flush with the bottom the target’s bullseye.
- Adjust your sights so that your point of aim and your point of impact are the same. Don’t expect pinpoint accuracy. Remember: it is a pistol round. A traditional AK clamp tool can be used to adjust elevation and windage. Having some pin punches and a hammer can be useful.
- Maintain a stable firing position as your fire your shots
- Once you have achieved a proper grouping in the bullseye your KR-9 is properly zeroed.