Kalashnikov bolt hold open technique

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So this video came out on Youtube recently, and it shows a fellow demonstrating a technique to hold open the bolt of a Kalashnikov operating system to the rear. In the way that he describes it, this technique would really only be applicable to keeping the bolt to the rear for demonstrating that the firearm is clear and that the chamber is empty. This is especially beneficial to a range safety officer on a firing line, but could also be useful when handing the firearm off to another person, and showing that it is clear to begin with. This would not be very applicable for actually clearing a malfunction while firing, as it is entirely dependent on the hammer catching the bolt in position at the rear most point of bolt travel, and essentially inadvertently locking it there. Furthermore, this technique WILL NOT, I repeat WILL NOT work with all makes and models of the Kalashnikov. I tried it out on my AKS74U parts build, and it didn’t work, while some other guys tried it out on their Saigas and it didn’t work for them. So you have an AK, might as well give it a try, and if it works, it works, and if it doesn’t, oh well… I would not chalk this up to a beneficial tool in the AK toolbox, more like a useful trick instead. See if it works with your AK, and comment on what brands work and which ones don’t!

The poster seemed to have gotten alot of feedback on his original video, so he made another one to clarify.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • thedonn007

    If I had an AK I would try it out.

  • I tend to just remove the magazine and use a zip-tie as a makeshift chamber flag if I ever want to show clear on a weapon that doesn’t allow the working parts to be locked back, but whatever works for you!

  • Kitsuneki

    I think his hammer just has a lip that latches with the groove in bolt carrier

  • George

    I had a semi AK (Maadi) at one point and I think that I saw this happen. Hammer caught on the gap between bottom extension of the carrier and the bolt proper’s cylinder, I think, but no way to test right now.

    I would be worried about scratching the cylinder of the bolt; that part has to slide back into the carrier to rotate the bolt on chambering and lockup. Seems like that could cause unusual wear.

  • Major Tom

    Or instead of making for unnecessary wear on the action of the firearm you can simply engage that little lever right next to the charging handle. That right there is the AK’s safety switch.

    There is pretty much no real scenario or proper reason why you’d need to hold open the bolt on an AK.

    • zardoz711

      Like he said in the first video, some ranges require the bolt open to check for clear.

      Kind of moot when the Krebs Safety has a cutout for holding the bolt open, or, even cheaper, just cut a notch in the standard safety.

      • Major Tom

        Ever heard of chamber flags? Or the classic hold-the-charging-handle-manually-during-inspection? Hell, you can get away with an intentional stovepipe using an expended shell casing or a stick or some plastic stuff like zip ties to show the weapon is in unfireable and/or clear state.

        What kind of ranges require you to break an AK or other non-AR style weapon into having a bolt hold open like an AR? “California-compliant” ones?

  • sephy

    Chamber flags exist.

  • Pete Sheppard

    From reading on the AK sites, this friction is actually considered a sign of a lower quality AK and undesirable–My WASR does it, BTW. It is NOT reliable, as a bump can send the bolt home.
    If you WANT a hold open feature, just cut a notch in the safety (I used a Dremel on mine) or buy a safety with the notch.
    As for desirability, many see no use, but I like it; as a way to hold the bolt open if clearing a stubborn stoppage–yes, they can happen, even with AK pattern rifles–if nothing else. With some military training, I like to be able to lock open to show clear; YMMV.

  • Ebyy123

    This “Hold open” becomes impossible if your internals are properly polished. If you can do this, consider spending a little time on the hammer ride surface and bolt rails with a dremel polishing wheel – your gun will run much, much smoother.

  • Theo Braunohler

    Only the shittiest and least broken in AK’s can do this.

  • Carl

    No Need, I have a Century AK. It already does this every time I pull the carrier all the way to the rear, and I dont have to press anything.

  • SMH

    This seems like an unnecessary risk when you can spend no money and just cut a notch into the stock safety lever or buy a Krebs safety.

    • Phillip Cooper

      Concur. Exactly what I did. It took all of 2 minutes.

      Problem solved, problem stayin’ solved.

  • BrandonAKsALot

    So are we just now discovering hammer hang or is he actually picking up the right side of the carrier off the rail because it was improperly cut? I have no sound.

    If it’s hammer hang, it wouldn’t exist it the auto sear were in the gun. Otherwise, this stops once the gun is no longer new and has some wear in. If the bolt is coming off the rail at the rear, it shouldn’t. I’ve built a couple that did this before I knew better. Either way this is not something to be relied on in any way at all.

  • Nathanusername

    There is something sexy about the worn out look of that AK. I can’t put my finger on it but I kind of want one.

  • Vhyrus

    Does not work on my yugo M70. It will stay back but only as long as the trigger is held. As soon as you release the trigger it goes home again. My old underfolder yugo had hammer hang that was just strong enough to hold the bolt open if I let it down very gently and I would use it to show clear at the range, but my newer standard M70 won’t do it.

  • tonylai

    It is never designed to hold open on last round; so why bother? Chamber flags exist for good reasons.
    And please stay away from those safety levers that has a cutout; dirt will get through that hole.
    The original design acts as a dust cover when closed.

  • USMC03Vet

    The bolt hold open requirement used by RSO’s is beyond stupid and just a sign that they don’t trust you or their peers to actually have cleared a chamber of ammunition, but also don’t trust the users to abide by any of the 4 weapon safety rules either.

    Basically it’s purely an action to harass shooters rather than anything to due with safety. You follow the 4 firearm safety rules the entirety of bolt hold open is purely theatrics.

    • George

      As someone who’s done RSO and found loaded weapons on the bench with people downrange doing targets stuff, I like flags.

      I do enough engineering to know that if it’s just sitting there discharge is unlikely and enough fault analysis not to trust that a damn bit.

      • USMC03Vet

        loaded weapons on a bench? HOLY COW!!!

        Again, follow any of the 4 weapon safety rules, still a non issue. Either you trust people to hold a loaded firearm or have one around or you don’t. Bolt hold open safety sallies are obnoxious.

  • Hensley Beuron Garlington

    Old hat. My PAP M92 did this as well. Not a very surefire hold open technique. Good say to smash a finger if you trust it, honestly.

  • CJS3

    Or just buy a Krebs safety.