Welcome back to another Friday Night Lights. This one is brought to you by Rifle Dynamics from their Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship. On Saturday night after the last match shooters finished for the day, we ran Red Oktober After Dark, night vision and AKs with lasers. Like previous installments of Friday Night Lights, this series is sponsored by ATN Corp, manufacturers of night vision and thermal optics like the THOR LT. As with all of our sponsored series, Friday Night Lights will continue to bring you unbiased news and reviews from a variety of companies.
AKs and Night Vision @ TFB:
Night Vision And Aks
Last year I met up with Rifle Dynamics. While I was there we decided to do an impromptu night vision shoot. Rifle Dynamics brought out some of their AKs and a PKM while I brought my night vision. Some of the employees already had their own night vision. See the video above.
Well, it has been a year and Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship match was held after a Covid break last year. They invited me out to the match and I asked if we could revisit the night shoot we did last year. It would be better since now we have a match full of stages to run and gun with Ads and night vision. Not something you see often content-wise. So Rifle Dynamics and the match director Brian Nelson gave me the green light.
Red Oktober After Dark
Firearms that are set up for night vision are typically AR-style guns. AKs are their own special category and equipping them for night vision can be a bit tricky especially if you try setting something up last minute.
Due to the long day, a lot of the match staff were too tired to shoot Red Oktober After Dark. A few staff hung around, two of them participated and two of my local friends, Ethan and Austin, came out to shoot. Corey from SupDef was planning to join as he is local but he had an accident with his motorcycle and he hands do not have the strength to hold a gun.
For the Red Oktober After Dark shoot, Ethan used his Zastava M70. We mounted my Vortex UH-1 Gen 2 onto his Texas Weapon Systems Dog Leg railed dust cover. For active IR aiming he mounted his PEQ-15 LA5 onto the side with a tape switch mounted on the left side of his handguard. He has a Modlite mounted at the 6 o’clock position for white light but we never needed that during the Red Oktober After Dark shoot.
Austin went a slightly different route. He used an Arsenal SLR106F in 5.56.
Due to Austin’s work, he was not sure if he could make the night shoot. So the day of the shoot he whipped this up. His SLR106F has been upgraded with a Khyber Custom vented gas tube cover. He bolted a short rail to the cover so he could mount his Steiner DBAL-D2. For passive aiming, you can see his Trijicon MRO. His SLR106F is rocking an ALG AKT-UL trigger.
I ran my Zastava M90. I chose this over my Century Arms RAS-47 for obvious reasons – reliability and ammo. The M90 is chambered in 5.56. I used an RS Regulate rail mount which I used for the Primary Arms SLx 1x MicroPrism. For active aiming I added a Picatinny rail, included from Zastava, to mount on the Hogue over-molded handguard.
Shooting Red Oktober After Dark
The Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship match consisted of 8 stages. Some of them required crawling in the dirt or were not as exciting to shoot. I decided to keep the night shoot relatively simple and I chose three stages – stage 5, 6 and 8. All of these stages had barricades and require the shooter to swing and move their gun from one side of the bay to the other. It is more fun than shooting at a single target downrange without having to switch targets and move. The last stage was a bit more challenging since you had to clear the gun and run to the next bay and engage three steel targets at about 75 yards.
There was a surprising amount of ambient light even though there was not a lot at Pro Gun Club but in some cases, it was necessary to throw IR light downrange to create contrast with the targets. Most of the time I tried shooting passively through the SLx 1x MicroPrism while my friends shot with lasers.
The only hiccup in shooting Red Oktober After Dark was mag changes. But that has to do with my lack of practice performing reloads in the dark. An AR or MP5? No problem. But an AK? Not my forte. My friends did better at reloading than I did.
The match staffer that was assigned to RO us had a golf cart so we decided to do a little vehicle shooting from the golf cart on stage 4. The stage has the shooter zig-zag along a path engaging four pairs of targets on each side of the left and right berms and a final set of 8 targets at the end at the back berm. Well with the golf cart we simply drove past the right berm, had the shooter engage targets, turn the golf cart 90 degrees and drive past the back set of targets. Engaging the left side targets would mean the shooter would be facing up range so for the sake of safety we did not have them shoot.
The Gun That Stole Our Hearts And Minds
Gary Hughes Jr brought out his father’s StG44 out to the Red Oktober After Dark night shoot. Match Director Brian Nelson got to shoot it in one of the stages. The stage’s targets had hard cover so you had to either shoot the target in the torso four times or once in the head. Since 8mm Kurz is not that common, he opted to shoot the targets once in the head. How did he fair? Not well. It is almost impossible to aim with the StG44 without some sort of aiming device. Brian only has a PVS-14. He only has a single tube and night vision is very shallow depth of field. So he could focus at the targets or adjust the objective lens to focus on the front sight. If he had binos, it might be possible to focus his dominant eye on the front sight and keep the other eye focused at infinity.
Red Oktober After Dark After Thoughts
This little event was fun limiting ourselves to use AK-style firearms. I did not really see any significant hindrances other than practice and familiarization with the weapon system like mag reloads. But as long as you can mount a laser or have a zeroed red dot you are good to go. The last stage had some small steel set at a reasonable distance requiring you to shoot from an unsupported position which was fun and challenging. In one of the stages, they had targets with two camouflage patterns printed on them – tiger stripe and desert camp. You are supposed to shoot the tiger stripe camo. I wish we had put up fresh targets to really challenge ourselves but we were lazy. It was easy to see the targets since it had a bunch of posters on it even under night vision.
I wish more people were willing to participate but it would have made the night shoot even longer and the staff were definitely waning on energy toward the end of our little fun shoot. Huge thanks to the staff, Brian Nelson the match director, and of course Rifle Dynamics for letting us play in their playground.