Personally, I find that the AK platform points much more naturally than an AR platform. Point shooting is real easy, and bringing the sights up is just as much of a breeze. However, AK sights are designed specifically for closer range engagements, as I can recall – meaning that they aren’t the easiest of iron sight pictures out there to shoot when it comes to trying to send a single well placed shot way out there. Honestly, I generally like to go the much lazier way of just slapping on an optic; optics themselves present a whole pile of benefits that are hard to turn down. Now, take the natural point of aim for the AK and add an optical sight at roughly that height (lower 1/3 with an Aimpoint T-1 or comparable dot sight, to be exact) – what do you get?
What I call the ultimate AK optic mount, that’s what.
Ultimak is the “real steel” company that patented and produces this style of rail solution, but at $100 USD + ship and duties (provided that I could even get it across the border into Canada) per railed gas tube, I just can’t justify throwing one of those onto a toy gun that’s only a little bit more of that cost. Clones of course offer a much less expensive solution, albeit one that pretty much just takes the exact same idea and makes it in a different factory. I just happened across this in the VFC dealer catalog while browsing through it to see what cool items we could order in at work, and to my surprise the label on the package does actually say “UltiMAK” within the product description (but no such markings on the product itself). Many of the airsoft-specific reproduction Ultimak series of AK Optics Mounts are of the M1-B – for AK’s with original length gas tubes, without side gas ports – though Dynamic Star offers other models for the Hungarian AMD and Krinkov styles.
Installation is unfortunately not nearly as simple as just popping out the old gas tube and popping in the new one… Ultimak’s design features 2 barrel clamps that fit around the barrel under the lower hand guard and heat shield, and come up to get bolted down onto the optic mount gas tube. Incredibly sturdy once installed onto my LCT, and will hold a zero no problem until taken apart again.
Of course, there are other repro options out there – King Arms, CYMA and Dynamic Star are the ones I’ve come across. The King Arms I personally watched a completely failed install of that one as it’s designed specifically for the TM-spec AK platform, which is assembled in an entirely different manner than the VFC/LCT. The CYMA I currently own and have now replaced just didn’t fit right at all in my LCT AK104 – inferior softer metal material (hence price, I guess) and incorrect dimensions on just about everything resulted in a terrible fit. Dynamic Star is something I myself haven’t worked with, but as I understand it, they are somehow supplier to or supplied by LCT for various parts – they are directly advertised as being designed for the LCT AK platform.
As to my experience with the CYMA and trying to get that onto my LCT (same went for a later attempt to install it on my GHK, but the wobble was so bad that it was actually grinding on my bolt carrier piston as it bounced back and forth):
Despite a terrible fit, the CYMA would have been a passable option if the barrel clamps would have at least fit over the LCT outer barrel. Nope, they certainly did not. Absolute rubbish since this allowed the optic mount to wobble all over the place when I shook the gun around a bit – impossible to hold a zero on any sight this way. I even attempted to shim it using rubber elastic bands, but to no avail. Lesson learned – CYMA fits for CYMA (which fit amazing on the 2 CYMA AK’s of varying body styles prior to my LCT AK’s) and not for other guns.
But, let’s not dawdle on the worst of a cheaply made China clone product. The good news is that this much higher quality VFC repro rail fits absolutely flawlessly on LCT/GHK AK platforms, and I’m very happy with it for half the price of the “real steel” Ultimak product. After all, the “real assembly” LCT AK platform uses similarly sized components as to the real steel AK platform (and VFC does the same) – heck, it would probably even fit the VFC-style CYMA AIMS that I pulled my old CYMA gas tube rail out from in the first place. I do wonder how close to these dimensions would be to the E&L AK platform, but I guess that’ll have to wait…
But for the time being, this is for reference of what VFC calls this item: