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It may or may not be the quickest or most ergonomic way to charge an autoloading rifle, but slapping down a Heckler & Koch side-charging handle makes you feel awesomely high-speed and low-drag. Foghorn and I independently fell in lust with the Parabellum Armament AK side-charger gas tube when we handled it at last year’s SHOT Show range day, and we’ve both been a little bummed that it got bogged down in development. If you’ve got the side-charging AK jones, the good news is that your fix will finally hit the shelves next month . . .

Here are my fifteen seconds of glory with Parabellum’s side-charger prototype last year. Note the triumphant “a-ha!” as I slap down the ratchet and go crazy on that steel silhouette. Charging an AK like an HK is pretty awesome, and so is the fact that this drop-in mod requires no gunsmithing. And did you notice that the side-charger also serves as a manual bolt hold-open? That’s pretty awesome too.

What might not be so awesome about all this? Opening up the AK’s time-tested and absolutely reliable gas tube to the possible infiltration of dirt and debris. Also potentially less than awesome? Burning your thumb on the 100% exposed gas tube, because you’ve got to ditch the upper handguard during installation.

Only testing (lots of it, performed by your humble editorial staff) will tell us if these hypothetical concerns are actual deal-breakers. Heat buildup might not be much of an issue after all: Ultimak gas tube rails are also fully exposed, and they don’t get scorching hot unless you’re firing so quickly that the whole gun is roasting.

We’ll definitely be hitting these guys up for a T&E kit next month. Wish us well!

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    • Regarding the RCS, Parabellum Armament Company has greatly enhanced the original, two-piece Dublin design. Included in this enhancement is a locking feature, improved internal mechanisms, improved air flow and a lower production cost which is passed on to the consumer. Now, the RCS can be field stripped and re-assembled in seconds.
      Note – Parabellum Armament is not a distributor, but an innovations company. We licensed this product because we saw a diamond in the rough, but one that needed polish. We believe that the market will greatly appreciate the final result of our involvement with this and other Dublin products.

  1. How about we make the AK easier to get dirty (and therefore possibly less reliable), and allow users to burn the hell out of themselves, just so they can look so f*cking tactical slapping their cool side-charging AKs. Which are, last I checked, already side-charging firearms.

    • Exactly what I was thinking. The inventor and sellers probably don’t have them on their own guns, but they laugh all the way to the bank at the idiots who buy them… Useless crap to waste money on all in the name of “Look at me!”

      • Long Beach and Dustin Eward:
        Actually, the RCS was designed to improve air flow and blow debris out of the weapon (through cut slots shown on underbelly), keeping it much cleaner. The other benefit is the massive cooling of the weapon. The experts/writers who shot this system at Media Day at SHOT last year can attest as they were free to touch the gas tube after firing a magazine through it. No burns were reported.
        The RCS was not created to be cool, it was created as a drop-in kit designed by operators for the operator (as there was an expressed requirement). The purpose being, the operator can stay on target during reload and not lose his sight picture, allows for true open arms inspection/range safety (bolt-hold-open feature for civilians), dissipation of heat and significant cooling feature to help operator control point of aim/point of impact.
        Come shoot with us – we would be happy to show all of the above features in person.

        • in sure they would love to come shoot with you guys but unfortunately you’ve got yourself a couple keyboard commandos. You’d need to show them how the AK works and how to shoot. Since call of duty really doesn’t cover this.

  2. It’s probably from watching action flicks as a kid in the 80’s, but side charging just seems right. I love it on my KRISS Vector. Maybe it’s because it’s easier to balance the firearm while charging from the left side?

    The charging handle size and placement on an AR, for example, always seemed awkward to me. Seems too small and requires fine motor skills and a third point of contact using the stock to do it. Wish there was some way to side charge an AR like this.

    • Initial AK prototypes actually had the charging handle on the left. It was moved to the right when it got to field testing, and soldiers complained that the reciprocating handle got in the way of firing the gun from the chest (with sling support) while moving.

  3. I’m usually one for modernizing the AK, or any gun for that matter… but this is a horrible design.

    The LINCH is so much better in every way..

  4. So, they took something that was simple and made it more complicated then took something that was very reliable and possibly made it less reliable… brilliant!

  5. It must be human nature. Hipoints are left-side charged and people wanted a right-side add-on. People want side-charging on their AR’s, now this for AK’s. I guess everyone has to find something to spend their money on.

  6. I have no idea what this product does, considering how I couldn’t stop concentrating on the fact that there was an ACOG on that AK during the whole video.

  7. They make a handguard that is meant to interface with the LSCH, so I think they’ve got the thumb busting/burning covered. Also, they made the CH non reciprocating.

  8. Yes. I am hearing “Klishinkoff” and “kalishnikoff” a LOT lately. WTF?

    Now how about the reverse favor? Come up with a way to grab the charging handle on an HK91 that doesn’t involve having to dig at that folded-down tab (around/amongst a bunch of accessory rails, depending on your build), which takes a ridiculous amount of force to pry off the handguard?

    (I realize the folding over is part of the locking mechanism. Doesn’t make it any less annoying to do.)

  9. Most of the points of how this can’t do a good thing for the AK have already been touched upon, except for the most obvious.

    Have you ever touched your gas tube or piston after dropping about 100 rounds downrange?

    Of all the things that are bad and stupid about this, I think the fact that it will burn the skin off your hand is probably the worst… And, uh, yeah, my AK is already side-charging, at a location that doesn’t baconize my booger hooks…

    But, my AK is .308 (Saiga .308), so it’s already way more HK tacticool in a way that actually matters and won’t disfigure me…

    Maybe we can duct-tape a picatinney rail to the magazine? No, even that idea is still less stupid than this. How about a gas-tube mounted waffle iron? Hrm, still less stupid than this.

  10. I didn’t have a particularly good experience with Parabellum Armament AKARS. Had to ditch it for TWS eventually, the thing just wouldn’t stay in place solid enough for optics mount.

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