Colorado Shooting Sports AK Lightning Bolt and AK Lightning Lever Review

Colorado Shooting Sports AK Lightning Bolt Generation 2 conversion performed on an Arsenal converted Saiga.

The biggest downfalls of the AK are the safety lever design and charging handle location.  A stiff factory safety lever is hard to quickly manipulate on the AK, and while acceptable results may be had with practice, the lever tends to be noticeably slower then the selector on an AR.  Additionally, the location of the charging handle on the AK requires the right handed shooter to reach underneath or over the rifle to charge the bolt during reloads wasting precious time.

Colorado Shooting Sports has answered the call with two proprietary improvements that can enhance the functionality of your rifle.

The AK Lightning Bolt Generation 2 adds an additional charging handle on the left side of the bolt carrier.  Available either as a modification to your existing rifle (what we did) or for purchase as a replacement part, the Lightning Bolt also requires the top cover to be inletted to allow the bolt to reciprocate.

The addition of a left side charging handle provides increased ease of use.  Since it is an AK, we weren’t concerned about the material removed from the dust cover.

Besides the readily apparent increased ergonomics of the left sided charging handle,  we decided to compare reload times using the Lightning Bolt as well as traditional techniques.  With a magazine and one round, we started at low ready, rifle on safe, facing a target at 7 yards.  When the timer sounded, the rifle was taken off safe, one round was fired, a second sight picture was aquired and a dry fire shot was taken initiating the reload sequence at which time the empty magazine was removed and a spare magazine was inserted.  We conducted this drill 5 times charging the rifle from the top, and 5 times using the Lightning Bolt and found average reload times were 1.5 seconds faster.

Close up of the AK Lightning Bolt Generation 2 conversion. The workmanship is exemplary.  The ceramic coating provides corrosions resistance, adds lubricity and helps improve function.
Colorado Shooting Sports AK Lightning Bolt Generation 2 conversion performed on an Arsenal converted Saiga. Note how the Lightning Bolt and converted cover both have logos and matching serial numbers assigned by Colorado Shooting Sports.
Top view of the AK Lightning Bolt Generation 2.  The Generation 1 Lightning Bolt is also available.  The Generation 1 unit removes the right side charging handles allowing a round to be chambered with the safety on.
The Lightning Bolt can also work with dust cover mounted optics as shown here with the Parabellum Armament AKARS system. The AKARS still held its zero and functioned well with the clearance cut for the new reciprocating charging handle.

The AK Lightning Lever, provides the shooter with a small shelf that can be accessed with the firing hand still on the pistol grip.  This means you no longer have to move your hand from the pistol grip, or bend your safety so it is loose enough to manipulate with poor finger traction.  Since we sent our safety in to have it converted, it fit well when reinstalled, with no additional fitting required unlike some other aftermarket devices.

The AK lightning Lever adds a small shelf to your preexisting selector lever, allowing the shooter to maintain a firing grip while taking the rifle off safe.
Top view of the Lightning Lever installed. Note, the dust cover, bolt carrier and drive spring have been removed for clarity.

In the past, we have struggled to pass Paul Howe’s CSAT standard 1, one round from low ready inside an IPSC A-zone at 7 yards in 1 second.  With the Lightning Lever in place, we recorded the following times: 1.07, .84, .99, .81, .92 and .91 seconds.  With the exception of the first round, we passed the standard everytime.  It should be noted that the first round, was the first live round we fired with the system.  Similarly, CSAT Standard 2, 2 rounds inside an IPSC A-zone in at 7 yards in 1.5 seconds was now a breeze, with times of 1.07, 1.32 and 1.05 seconds recorded right out of the gate.

To purchase the AK Lightning Bolt and Lever, or to have your your rifle retrofitted like we did, contact Colorado Shooting Sports.