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The idea for an article on Russian optics was born when I received one strapped on one of my new rifles and had no idea what it was. Searching around on the internet, I found very little information—and what little I could find was mostly about WWII Russian scopes, not the newer optics. But as I continued to dig, I was surprised to find KalinkaOptics.com. They sell the biggest variety of Russian optics I have ever seen, and even more surprisingly, they have an office less than thirty minutes away from me.
After a few emails, I arranged to meet with Jay, Kalinka Optics’ head U.S.-based representative. Kalinka Optics is owned by a Navy veteran who lives in Russia and is run stateside by Jay, another U.S. Navy veteran. While most sales come through the website, Jay is more than happy to invite local customers into his shop so they can examine the optics up close and personal. When I arrived, Jay immediently went to work showing me the vast amount of optics Kalinka sells. I was honestly stunned; I had never known the amount of modern day optics that came out of Russia.
You may wonder why someone would choose Russian over American. I know some purists who would never scope their AK, SVT, Mosin, or SKS with anything besides Russian. However, the biggest advantage is price. Some American sights can cost as much as your rifle. With Russian optics, you’re getting modern optics at a fraction of the price. These optics are like everything out of Russia— tough and dependable.
First, Jay showed me some of the hunting rifle scopes that have come out of Russia. The Pilade series of scopes are perfect for hunting deer. Now, the first time you down a Russian optic will be a change for you, but trust me, you’ll adapt quickly. This scope features the simple Dragunov metering grid and an independent focus to gain the greater clarity you need on your target. This scope is the perfect alternative to the Leupold, and best of all, it won’t break the bank. It delivers what you expect from a high-quality optic; you’ll find no grid floating when your eyes move. The Dragunov metering grid is simpler than ours and is easy to learn. The reticles are illuminated for a perfect sight picture in low light. The Pilade series comes in different degrees of magnification, from 4×32 to 8×56 to 2-10×52.
Next he showed me the POSP series of rifle and carbine scopes. Let me tell you, I could write an entire article on this series of scopes alone. First off, every scope has three different mounts: the AK side mount, the SVD mount, and the Weaver mount. Next you get levels of magnification running from 4x, 6x, and 8x, so you can outfit your carbine, battle rifle, or sniper rifle with one of these.
The POSP scopes are the current military issue for the Russian army and are built to be tough as nails. These scopes are waterproof and feature a mil-spec finish. You have the choice between the Dragunov 1000 meter grid or the Simonov 400 meter. When using the Simonov, the height-based gradient rangefinder has aiming marks for 100 to 300 meters using 7.62 x 39 ammo. The 4x POSP is my chosen optic for my AK-47.
These reticles are also illuminated and use watch batteries. The controls are simple: the illumination knob is numbered from zero, which is off, to five, which is the brightest. The brightness goes higher on some models. Adjustments are made with a top knob for up and down, and a knob on the right for left and right.
The POSP Pro series is where it gets really interesting; the adjustment dials are made to provide the smallest of adjustments. Your dials are considerably larger but allow such fine adjustments to your shooting. How much would this cost on an American optic? More than I want to spend, but less than three hundred from Kalinka Optics. The Pro series also offers laser-equipped models, featuring a red tactical laser sight built in to the scope, with a quick switch to flip it on.
For the biggest of rifles, the POSP has a scope designed for .50 BMG rifles, and let me tell you this thing is tough. Should you run out of ammo, feel free to take the scope off and beat the zombies to death.
Now, if you’re looking for the perfect optic for your close-quarters weapon, Kalinka has you covered with a large variety of different close quarters optics, my favorite being the PK-AS. This optic is used by the Spetznaz and elite Russian police forces. It’s very similar to your traditional red-dot CQB sight and facilitates easy long-range shooting up to 400 meters with an AK-74. The weapon features a black dot for daylight shooting, and with the flip of a switch, it goes to an illuminated red dot for low-light situations. The scope is non-magnified, so you shoot with your eyes open, giving yourself a huge field of view for rapid target registering. This sight is available in the Weaver/AK/SVD mounting options.
Also available is a variety of mounts for weapons like the Mosin-Nagent and SVT 40. Kalinka Optics has the largest stock of WWII PU sniper scopes in the U.S. They also offer side mounts for rifles like the AK-47, so you have the choice to mount your own American optics if you choose.
Kalinka doesn’t just sell optics; they sell a number of accessories for Russian weapons, from the old-school magazine carriers to brand-new mag pouches featuring the PALS or MOLLE ladder systems. They sell modern chest rigs and tactical load-bearing vests. They offer a one year, no questions asked warranty on all their products.
Honestly, I am just scratching the surface of the optics offered by Kalinka; I could go on and on about Russian optics. Russian optics are the way to go for tactical military grade optics that won’t empty your bank account. You’re not buying cheap optics; you’re buying optics cheap.
I want to thank Jay at Kalinka Optics for enthusiastically providing me with the optics to examine and answering all my questions.