Airsoft FAQ: AK Rifle & Dragunov SVD Side Rail Guide
The SVD Side Rail
The SVD style side rail is present on VSS style rifles and Dragunov SVD rifles, both the AEG and spring powered varieties. While real world mount types are a minefield, in Airsoft terms it is rather simple. If your side rail has a groove running down the centre in line with the barrel you can fit SVD-style side rail mounts and optics to your gun.
SVD type mounts will have a small protrusion between the "jaws" of the mount which indexes with this groove, keeping the sight aligned and helping resist the higher recoil from the large and in charge Dragunov in 7.62x54R. This protrusion is known as the "stop pin", and is located at the front of SVD-type scopes and optics mounts.
SVD type mounts will not fit the AK rail due to the location of the stop pin. Some real AK rails have a groove running down the centre to allow for SVD mounts but as far as we know, no Airsoft AK has this style of side rail.
Notice the protrusion circled in red in the image above, this is the stop pin. All this confusing terminology can be a bit much to get your head around, so red ring to the rescue!
The AK Side Rail
The AK side rail lacks the indexing groove running down the centre, and as such will only accept mounts specifically for the AK style of rail. These are identified by their lack of a "stop pin", or having the stop pin located at the front of the mount instead of the back. Most Airsoft AK side rails simply do not have the stop pin, but we haven't seen them all!
AK side rails are generally present on AK74, AKM and more modern AK10x series AEGs and GBBRs, but make sure you check your AK has a side rail before you buy a mount or optic for it. Older AK variants, such as the original AK47 do not have side rails on them so you will be stuck with finding a 20mm Picatinny mount if you want some glass on this type of AK rifle.
AK type mounts may fit SVD rails but will likely wobble. The lack of a stop pin in the AK mount design means the optic will likely slide forwards and backwards, and if you manage to mount an AK scope or mount to an SVD rail keep an eye on your optic as there is potential it will fall off!
How to mount an AK or SVD side rail optic/mount
All AK and SVD mounts slide on from the rear and usually have a lever which secures them in place on the rail. When mounted, SVD optics will sit at the front of the longer SVD rail, but AK optics will fit in the centre of the AK rail.
If you are struggling to get the lever to lock due to a tight fit you can often loosen the screw around which the lever pivots to give you a bit more room and allow the lever to be returned to the locked position.
An important thing to note with AK and SVD mounts is that they often appear to be slightly off from central to the bore, usually being off to the left by a couple of CM. This is absolutely normal and was designed in to allow a lower height to the bore while not obstructing the iron sights and to allow the top cover to be removed for maintenance easily.
With the scope mounted firmly, you should have no problem getting a zero, even if your scope is mounted slightly to the left of the bore. The important thing is that the scope is mounted parallel to the bore which it should always be thanks to the design of the mounting rail.
Hopefully, this blog has cleared the fog surrounding AK and SVD side rail mounts and given you the intel to get the right optic for your Russian rifle. If you are after more information on the types of AK available to Airsofters, check out our Airsoft Basics guide on AKs right here, or if you are stuck selecting an optic for your AK you can check out our optical sights buying guide here!