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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Beyond The Wall

    Default The Bolt Hold Open Device

    This is one of the areas where the anti-kalashnikov crowd jumps up and down waving their arms, yelling, "ergonomics...ergonomics". And this applies to all AK weapons platforms of all nations including the Saiga.

    I have done some research on this questionable feature. While the actual history of the bolt hold-open feature (BHO) is murky, I believe it was first seen in American weapons with the the M1 Garand. It is conspicuosly missing in the entire Heckler and Koch family of weapons (until the most recent "made for Americans" weapons), the Galil, the Valmet, the Inch Pattern FALs, the CETME, even the lowly and often forgotten M1 carbine, and of course the Kalashnikov.

    One would think that if it was such a crucial bit of equipment, it would have been added to all these weapons in the proto-type stage. That is, unless it was a feature that was not so much of an actual advantage. Perhaps arms designers considered it irrelevant. The BHO was not unknown in Russia, for example the Simonov Rifle sports a very Garand-like BHO, yet the newer and better Kalashnikov does not. One can only conclude that it is an unimportant feature.

    What does the BHO do for you? And before I answer, I will make a distinction between gun games on a shooting range, and fighting. On a shooting range, in a match, the ability to open and lock may be an arbitrary requirement of those running the show. That hardly makes it an operational requirement.

    A typical BHO is a device of some sort that is activated by the follower of an empty magazine. The last round is fired, and the follower devoid of any more rounds hits the BHO and in essence locks open the bolt. It is automatic. There are manual BHOs not activated by an empty magazine, but that is another issue altogether.

    Shooters may think that a BHO is an asset. I disagree. Lets look at the problem from a fighting perspective and from the very real fact that running out of ammo is only one possibility.

    You are in a firefight. The need for gunfire exceds the capacity of your magazine and the gun stops. You are trying to keep shooting, but find your trigger is no longer causing the gun to fire. This realization happens in the blink of an eye...literally.

    And the thing to note is that without the characteristic "ping" of the ejecting clip of the Garand, you will not have any information to tell you that your bolt has locked open via the BHO. Your first indication of a non-functional weapon will be an inoperative trigger, or a click on an empty chamber. The input and the results are the same. In a fight, unlike a lazy day at the range with friends, you will not realize the bolt has locked back until you try to shoot the next man. Now what??

    Many shooters will now assume that the weapon needs reloading. If they have a stoppage rather than an empty gun, they will compound the problem and significantly lower their survivability in the fight.

    This is where the AK family of weapons allows you a very nice short cut.
    If the AK stops, it is very likely that you have run out of ammo. This is the case regardless of BHO or no BHO.

    With the AK, here is what you do.

    If you are inside of pistol range, you transition to pistol. A transition to pistol while explosively getting off the x is much fatsre than any reload or speed load. AK (or Saiga) stops - go to pistol.

    If you are outside of pistol range (and what that is I leave to you), I will bet you are not standing tall-in-the-saddle like on a shooting range. Incoming gunfire tends to make everyone get low and behind stuff, so unless you are simply stupid or suicidal, I'll bet you are behind cover.

    Remove old magazine and stow. Grab new magazine. Insert - lock. Finally rack the bolt to reload. That will fix almost all stoppages as well as reload the gun. if that doesn't fix it, it is still caveman simple...unload the gun, and then reload the gun.

    Quickly on the reload. There will be those who will say their reload is faster because they simply drop the magazine and so on. Look at the movements of the hands from the time you decide to reload. The left hand movs to the left side magazine bag, then moves to the magazine well, and then moves to the bolt.

    We optimize those motions by taking the depleted magazine with us on the first trip rather than leaving it in the gun. Thus you not only reload, but you keep the empty magazine to reload later.

    All of this can be avoided by simply reloading at every opportunity during the fight proactively. If you keep the gun loaded up at every chance, it matters not whether you have a BHO or not.

    As for me, I don't have them on any of my Kalashnikovs, and plan to remove it from my Saiga-12s so they function the same as my Kalashnikov rifles.
    Gabriel Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    NAFTA Superhighway Central
    when i converted my saiga i found a way to spring load the BHO. i can't remember if it was spring loaded to begin with now or not. when you convert a saiga there are two sets of holes left over near the rear of the receiver where the rearset trigger group was. i had a spring laying around with long straight ends and after speaking much russian, i managed to install a bolt through one of the holes which holds the spring which pushes the BHO down. but watch the foreign parts count, you have to use the russian hammer.

    so now my saiga functions like any other ak as the BHO does nothing on its own. but if i want to hold the bolt open i push it up and work the bolt and it catches. to release i work the bolt again and we're back to normal. with the cons of a converted saiga this is one pro that you don't get with other AK's. its a nice range device that makes everyone feel better, but of course not necessary.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    When I was shooting double stack 1911 type pistols I always fixed them so the slide would not lock back on the last round. The reason was sometimes the slide would lock back before the mag was empty. I don't know if it was cause by a round bumping the slide stop or it was my hand neverless I wanted it to run without stopping while there was still ammo in the mag so I did away with a potential problem.

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