Ratchet Charging System for AK Rifles

Ethan Dublin, a very innovative 18 year old college freshmen, has developed an interesting charging system for AK-type rifles.

Ratchet Charging System

The Ratchet Charging System comes with a replacement gas tube and a sleeve that bolts onto the end of the gas piston. The design offers quite a few advantages over the standard charging handle. Being on the left hand side it is faster to manipulate when doing magazine reloads (if you are right handed), it can be used as a manual bolt hold open and, if the standard charging handle is removed, the Ratchet system can cycle the bolt and chamber a round with the safety engaged. This video demonstrates it in action …

Mandatory dust test included ...

I asked Ethan if the cut out gas tube venting gas would affect the operation of the rifle. He said it would not.

The only major disadvantages that I can see is that the charging handle must be unscrewed when field stripping and that leaving the bolt locked back in the field could allow dirt to get into the gas block.

Bolt locked back.

The installation is gunsmith free and it is compatible with …

  • Romanian AK-47 (7.62×39)
  • Saiga (5.56)
  • Polish Under folder (7.62×39)
  • Bulgarian AK-74 (5.45)
  • Egyptian Maadi (7.62×39)
  • Russian Milled AK-47 (7.62×39)
  • ROB. Arms VEPR (7.62×39)

I wish Ethan the best of luck with his endeavor and future engineering studies. Maybe we have our next Eugene Stoner here? 🙂

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • CMathews

    Very ingenious. My question though, does the minimal weight added to the piston plus the material removed from the tube cause any more flex in the weapon or decrease the rof? But it is a nice addition, looking forward to some more cool stuff from your up coming comany

    ps try your system an a full auto, see how well it functions.

  • Fred

    Wonder how long till H&K sues him for slapping the handle down to chamber a round… (sorry, couldn’t help it.)

    Actually, if I didn’t have an Ultimak mount on my tactical style AK, I’d think about it. I wish the guy luck.

  • El Duderino

    Hmm kind of reminds me of my PTR-91F (HK91 clone) or any roller-locking HK pattern weapon for that matter. Being a left-handed shooter it takes some work, but the bolt always goes home — unlike some rifles I’ve used. Definitely looks like a plus for righties though, it’s been a problem to solve with AKs forever.

    Any way to design a non-reciprocating handled system a la the HKs?

  • Wally

    What happens if you forget to keep your left thumb tucked down when firing?

  • Edward

    Either he’s lying about only being 18… or I’ve wasted a good bit of my life. *Is jealous of younger people who go out and do big things* Kudos though to him on coming up with the idea of this MP5/UMP-like modification.

  • Thank you all for the great comments. i have designed a non-reciprocating model, it was included in the patent. however, i decided not to put it into production, at least not yet. there’s a line where ergonomics messes with reliability. having so many extra parts on a rifle decreases its simplicity and that’s what i dont want to do to the ak47. its true i’m only 18, i’v been around guns for a while now and read/studied almost everything there is to know. the Kalashniov has been my favorite, after building a few i decided to try new mods and this was one of them i came up with that i thought could be beneficial to others. you dont have to worry about debris getting in, unless you leave the handle in the locked position and throw mud all over the piston. that as almost the same effect as throwing mud in a chamber and trying to cycle the action. when the bolt is closed it is just as durable as a normal ak47 with the bolt closed, the inner sleeve is against the gas tubes ID which makes it impossible for dirt and debris to get in. i’ll be posting more videos when i go home this weekend. thank you all for the kind words.

    Very Respectfully,
    Ethan Dublin

  • I noticed someone asked about dangers.

    to answer that i have actually held on to the charging handle of an ak47 and fired before, it doesn’t have enough back force to do any serious injury. the charging handle was designed so its at an angle away from the shooters hands. unless the operator completely surrounds the gas tube with his hand when he shoots, there will be no problem. it was designed to give the operator more ease when reloading. instead of bringing your hand back under the rifle or bringing your hand close to your face and removing the rifle from the shoulder (if you have a left side charging system on the receiver) you can keep the rifle shouldered and charge the rifle without moving your hands all around the gun, you can keep them near the hand guard when charging and thats where they stay while firing. Thanks again for the questions.

    Very Respectfully,
    Ethan Dublin

    also, i put a new video up the other day:

  • How hot does the charging handle get?

  • It doesn’t get hot, its a lot cooler then the original charging handle due to the ventilation and greater wall thickness.

    i posted a video about the heat here:


    Very Respectfully,
    Ethan Dublin

  • Wolfwood

    Any chance this could be done in some way with a scope mount (perhaps in partnership with UltiMAK) in future models? The handle’s interesting, but I don’t want to give up my low-profile red-dot.

  • dogon1013

    How is this even patentable?

    the rod in sloted tube, with hold catch has been used for YEARS in firearms. MP-5, GSG-5, SUB-2K, and many more I’m sure.
    Seems like prior art to me.

  • Overload in CO

    A guy here in Colorado does a different modification that achieves the same results:
    The AK Lightning Bolt

  • prodromos


    I think that you could (and you should) upgrade the charging handle to a H&K G3 type flip-up .

    The way that charging handle mooves , looks dangerous to me .
    Otherwise congrats . Keep up the good work .

  • prodromos

    Also you could (and you should) design a railed forend that goes with that . We are talkin serious buck .

  • viper5552

    this is a truly fascinating idea, too bad you guys do not offer a model for my yugo(Yet, hopefully)

  • viper5552

    also i wonder if that helps balance the bolt carrier I.E. does it remove that jump to the right that accompanies the muzzle climb.

  • Matt Groom

    The free market triumphs over socialism yet again! Bravo, Mr. Dublin, bravo!

  • “also i wonder if that helps balance the bolt carrier I.E. does it remove that jump to the right that accompanies the muzzle climb

    i had actually never thought of that but now that you mention it, it makes sense that it would if the old charging handle was removed. instead of putting pressure on one side of the bolt carrier when charging from the right side it now moves straight back when charging because the new charging handle is located on the front of the bolt carrier (piston)

    Very respectfully,
    Ethan Dublin

  • Matthew

    The The AK Lightning Bolt is incompatible with side-mounted optics. If you like your commie optics Ethan’s mod is much more interesting.

  • Nick Bull

    Wow Ethan, that’s pretty impressive. Way to go!

  • John K.

    Impressive. I certainly wasn’t doing anything nearly as productive when I was 18. Good for you, Ethan. I wish you good luck.

  • Ladies and Gents,
    I posted a few new videos on youtube. they mainly focus on how much faster you can reload the firearm with this modification.



    We also have a fan page on Facebook now, please join.

    Very Respectfully,
    Ethan Dublin

  • Dave M.

    “i have actually held on to the charging handle of an ak47 and fired before, it doesn’t have enough back force to do any serious injury”

    I don’t see that. Holding onto the charging handle is different than a charging handle at full speed whacking into your hand. Stick your thumb up there with your system and see what happens.

    I’m going to pass for several reasons:
    -It removes the ability to forward mount an optic (an aimpoint micro on an ultimak co-witnesses–not going to take away that advantage)
    -Removes ability to effective mount a white light
    -Reciprocating charging handle
    -Charging handle grip appears to be overly large. I’d prefer a FAL style knob
    -After viewing the youtube video that shows installation, I’d be concerned that the screw holding the handle in place would shear with any real use

    One similar product that has really caught my eye is this:

    It’s a drop-in replacement dust cover for the AK that has a non-reciprocating FAL charging handle on it. No idea when they’re coming out and I wouldn’t get one unless it’s produced with the FAL knob, not the terrible folding CH (it was a bad idea on the FAL and a bad idea on an AK).

    Regardless, kudos to you for coming out with a product at 18.

  • Sir,
    you can still mount lights if you get the correct hand guard. i understand this charging system eliminates the use of a forward site system, however, unlike every other charging system you can still mount optics on your side rail, where optics were meant to be mounted. There is no left sided charging handle on the market that allows the use of a left side optic mount other then this one. the one you listed will accept the mounting, but you will not be able to charge the firearm with it when optics are on. The only benefit i see to the charging system you listed is that is non reciprocating. as with all left side charging systems (other then mine) you will have a large gap for dirt and debris to get in the trigger assembly even when the bolt is forward and locked. You’ll be able to reload much faster with the ratchet charging system then the other left side charging systems, the reason being: you’ll have to take the rifle off your shoulder to charge it so you don’t hit yourself in the face and you have more hand manipulation. the ratchet charging system is in a natural location as i pointed out in the videos, with a quick flick of the wrist the firearm can be charged rather then taking the rifle off the shoulder and bring your hand close to your body then placing it on the hand guard. also, a FAL style knob is being designed. i hope this answers a few of your questions.

    Very Respectfully,
    Ethan Dublin

  • Ethan,

    if you want to solve the ergo questions/problems with the charging handle… offer an alternative.

    Shorter, triangular in Z profile with a convex arc in the forward surface. It would be grabbed with one finger, the arc prevents the finger from slipping off sideways. A steep forward angle in the rear section means that even if it slaps the shooter’s hand, it’s a glancing rather than direct blow. The shorter extension means that there’s less chance of it getting in the way of anything.

    If reference is an issue (since it screws in), have this as a casting (plastic OK, zinc/aluminum better) and put the bolt on an internal spring. Screw the handle in while pulling on it slightly, and when fully screwed in and indexed, releasing it lets the spring pull the handle against the operating rod, where surfaces on the inner surface of the handle engage in the slot and keep it indexed under firing.

    Rough ascii, but looking down at the handle with the muzzle pointed out:

  • Sir,
    I’m not completely certain i know all of your details but the goal of this modification was to update the Kalashnikov and keep its reputation as a reliable and durable firearm. we chose not to add more parts due to haveing more parts leaves more room for malfunction.

    Very Respectfully,
    Ethan Dublin

  • buster

    There’s nothing genius or new in this feature. Charging handle of that type is used in indian AK-style INSAS rifle.

  • Jordan Mathis

    Ever think of making it an ACr/Masada style charger? Non-reciprocating, but still able to forward (and ambidextrously) charge the weapon through the gas tube?

    Just a thought from a fellow young’n.

  • Sir,
    a non-recip style is in the works. thank you for the coomment.

    Very Respectfully,
    Ethan Dublin

  • Douglas Land

    Is there a version of the ratchet charging system for the SKS model rifle?

  • We have a few projects that were working on now and one of them is a system for the SKS.

    Very Respectfully,
    Ethan Dublin

  • JoeB

    You sir, are an inspiration! I can honestly say I never would of thought of a design like this. I, myself will be headed off to collage in a year and i have plans on becomming a gunsmith too, if i can think of something this ingenious, Ill die smiling!

    Keep kicking ass dude, though i dont think that will be much of a problem for you

  • Ladies and Gentleman! We will be introducing a 2nd Generation soon. It will feature a non-reciprocating charging handle.

    Ethan Dublin

  • Drew Baas

    Can this work for the Saiga 12?

  • Sir,

    It will not. We are working on a system. Check out our new generation at http://www.dublinaksystems.com. Thank you.