Kalashnikov co-witness drama…

Rifles used by one of the Spetsanz groups. Note optics.

Rifles used by one of the Spetsanz groups

Once upon a time, some “internet warrior” declared that only correct way of using optics on Ak is, to have them installed in so called co-witness setup. Faithful crowd quickly followed his advise and very often, when reading many online forums, if operator has no co-witness option on his rifle, he is basically doomed by “co-witness police”. Now please don’t get me wrong, if you really like co-witness, there are options available for it. Go and knock yourself out. However if we will take a deeper look into this issue, we can quickly discover that co-witness isn’t that popular among the Special Forces operators at all. From my conversations with Russian, Polish or Serbian operators,  I know for sure that many of them just don’t care about co-witness. Please have a look at this picture on the left – this “hardware” belongs to Spetsnaz operators from FSB. You can clearly see how high optics are mounted and there is no chance for co-witness. Even with Russian made optics which were design to utilize original Ak side rail, optics still are sitting very high – clearly Russians didn’t care for co-witness. Going even farther, I have discussed this topic with Travis Haley, when attending one of his classes. He said that many times, in close combat engagements, because of all the adrenaline, he couldn’t even see red dot when moving gun from target to target to eliminate them…now one has to ask, how realistic is acquiring targets with co-witness in situation like this? Would you really pay attention to your iron sights alignment and red dot? Based on what I know and what I heard from others, chances are you wouldn’t.

Ak with EOTech red dot, used by member of Russian Anti Drug Unit "Grom". Photo by Михаил Михин

Ak with EOTech red dot, used by member of Russian Anti Narcotic Unit “Grom”. Photo by Михаил Михин

However, one of the big arguments from co-witness supporting crowd is believe that you need co-witness in case of red dot going down. When I have asked about it one of the Russian operators, he couldn’t compute at first what i was trying to tell him. This confusion came from the fact that he has been using his optic in many “combat zones” for years, and he never had a single problem with it. Worst case, he said, he would just remove the optic and switch to iron sights. Genius, right!? Another factor to remember is that optics made by reputable companies like Aimpoint or EOTech, have seen combat for years now and their quality really is outstanding. Chances of these going down in the fight are really slim and Special Forces units from both side of the ocean are relying heavily on using optics when conducting their operations, but somehow, most of casual Ak users are led to believe that only correct way to have red dots on their rifle is co-witness way…As i’m always saying, don’t let anyone to tell you how to setup your rifle. It is you, who is going to use it, when needed most. You must feel comfortable with equipment installed on it. This is your rifle and your tool! That being said, I will provide you with some very good co-witness mounting options in one of my next posts on this blog. Please don’t forget to vote in our pool below. Voice your opinion now!

– Rob Ski

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9 thoughts on “Kalashnikov co-witness drama…

  1. I’ve run Russian optics the Kobra being my favorite, and American optics out of them I found the EOtech XPS-02 to work best with a tws top rail.
    I tend to run my krinkov with just a tritium front post. I personally never saw the use for a a co-witness with any of my rifles.

    On a side note the kobra and EOtech sit at about the same hight over the barrel

  2. Love my PK-01v. Cheap, and yet so solid it’s outrageous. The co-witness feature is nice, but i got it ONLY because it mounts low enough to still have a good cheek-weld.

  3. Polish military require ability to use iron sights on issue weapon with optics mounted. But way to achieve this is not co-witness. Rails for our Beryl (AK style assault rifle) or UKM-2000 (PKM style machine gun) is made in way, that shooter can see iron sights by looking trough hollow rail (Beryl) or under rail (UKM-2000). I can not comment if there is any practical sense in that, but this is what brass wants and manufacturers deliver.

    On other hand our SOF guys migrated to HK416 platform (plus G36) and I know that lot of them do not even have iron sights mounted on their rifles.

  4. I like the cowitness for ease of sighting in and checking maintained zero thereafter without firing a shot. I place my dot in line with my irons and i’m done. Easily checked thereafter because I’m a bit paranoid of loosening or shifting especially after removing the Ultimak to clean the gasblock (rarely). I’m using a cheap bushnell trs 25 on an Ultimak. It been years and I never upgraded to the Aimpoint micro as I had planned since the trs 25 has been awesome. Lack of quick detach is a bit worrisome. Mud or blood fouling the lens would leave the rifle sightless. Toss a lever and rip it off is preferable to trying to wipe it off, I think. Consistency of cheek weld is a plus as well. Simple and consistent.

  5. Yes the argument about Co-witnessing is probably blown out of proportion, however if you can Co-witness, why wouldn’t you want to? There is a rail system made by Texas Weapon Systems called the Dog Leg gen 2 which replaces the dust cover. It allows red dots such as the Aimpoint Micro to get a Co-witness as well as other Aimpoints to get a lower 1/3 Co-witness. I’ve seen reviews and everyone says it holds a zero after testing. I would really like to see you review this product!!! Thanks

  6. Great article, thank you! I was wondering if I HAD TO co-witness my Bushnell TRS-25 or not, but I learned from your article that I don’t! I have mounted it on an Arsenal left mount with 1/2 inch rise (to give clearance for caps I’m using) on my Arsenal SAM-SF. It’s good to know that I won’t have to co-witness to hit the target.

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