The Kali Key: Breaking it to Fix it

A solution to a potential problem.

Why would you ever want to turn an otherwise functioning semiautomatic AR-15/AR-10 patterned rifle into a bolt action rifle? Believe it or not, there are a few compelling reasons. And if you need to do that, the Kali Key will help.

Let us start with what the Kali Key is. It is basically a drop-in replacement bolt carrier group for your rifle with a removable oversized ambidextrous charging handle. The charging handle indexes into a cutout in the gas key of the bolt carrier. This ensures the charging handles stay put, locked in the top channel of your rifles upper receiver, but allows it to be removed for disassembly and cleaning.

The Charging Handle stays indexed in the Gas Key of the Bolt Carrier Group while inside the rifle. But can be easily removed for cleaning and disassembly.

So how does the Kali Key function? Rather than allowing gas from the rifle to travel down the gas tube, into the gas key, and around the bolt so that it can unlock the action and cycle the rifle…it just deflects that gas down over the top of the bolt carrier. Does this mean that the rifle won’t cycle when you fire it?  Yes.

When fired, the rifle will not cycle on its own.

Why is the charging handle so large? This is to aid in you manually charging the rifle. As I mentioned above, the rifle won’t cycle when you fire it. The Kali Key effectively makes it a bolt action rifle. Requiring you to manually remove the spent round and load a new round every time you want to fire the gun. This is accomplished, and aided, by pulling the oversized charging handle to the rear, ejecting the spent casing, releasing it the charging handle and letting the bolt carrier, under the tension of the buffer spring, sent the bolt forward stripping a new round and loading the rifle once again.

The oversized charging handle makes the Kali Key easy to cycle, right or left-handed.

Yes, we just “broke” an otherwise functioning semi-automatic rifle and made it a single shot. I’ll be honest, when I first saw this, I thought it was ridiculous. Why would someone ever want to do this to their rifle? Well, as it turns out, there are some compelling reasons which make this a pretty genius piece of gear depending on where you live.

Let’s start with the birthplace of the Kali Key, California. They have some ridiculous gun laws in that state, to include all kinds of “Assault Weapon” laws. Well, the Kali Key eloquently side steps these because it turns your rifle into a “Bolt Action” rifle in a matter of seconds.

A simple BCG swap turns your semi-automatic rifle into a bolt action rifle.

Or let’s look at another use case. In certain states, due to hunting regulations, you can’t hunt with a semi-automatic rifle. So now, rather than having to purchase a separate rifle for hunting, you can take your already zeroed, ergonomic and familiar rifle, drop in the Kali Key and be legal to hunt in the aforementioned states.

Here is the magic to all of it though, it is a drop-in part. There is no requirement for fitting, milling or anything else. You literally separate the upper and lower receiver, remove the bolt carrier group and charging handle, replace it with the Kali Key, and now you’ve gone form a semi-automatic rifle to a bolt action rifle. To go back to the other way, simply reverse the process.

The Kali Key is made up of two parts, the Bolt Carrier Group and the Charging Handle.

All of this being said, how is it to shoot the Kali Key? It is interesting. Being used to your rifles cycle of operation and recoil impulse, it takes a second. After that, easy as day. Every time you fire, you just grab the oversized charging handle, slingshot it and fire again. It takes a couple of shots and then it is second nature. Almost like doing an immediate action drill.  🙂

An easy to operate straight-pull bolt action rifle.

While I definitely don’t think this is something for everyone, I do think it is a lifesaver if you happen to live in a Freedom-Reduced State. The ability to own a legitimate rifle, that simply requires a bolt swap is huge. More and more people’s gun rights are eroded, the Kali Key offers an easy way to comply with them and not put yourself at risk.

For more information visit KaliKey website.

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About the author: Ivan Loomis has spent a lot of time outdoors, backpacking and camping as well as extensive international travel. Eventually, he landed in the Marine Corps in the late 90’s. After a hiatus from the service to race the Baja 1000 a couple times, he reenlisted with the Air Force. Departing that he wound up in a large metropolitan Police Department for a spell before landing in the Security Contracting world.One constant through these experiences was gear and weapons. Having spent time in a lot of environments and with the opportunity to field a lot of equipment, he’s grown fond of well-made gear.He now shares those experiences, adventures, and knowledge through contributing articles and videos to various publications, including his own site: www.kitbadger.com

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Adam Jeppson March 9, 2020, 5:10 pm

    This whole thing makes my ass itch. This is still banning all cars to punish drunk drivers. Name me ONE criminal that will be in compliance with any of the laws…

    Flush the toilet in D.C. and start over.

  • Ziggy March 9, 2020, 11:10 am

    Interesting but I don’t think this will pass legal muster in the various “no assault weapons” states. Just as you cannot legally possess a drop-in full auto sear or a firearm that can be easily converted to full auto under the NFA.

    • Dr Motown March 10, 2020, 7:42 am

      My concern also….try explaining this to a befuddled conservation officer who wants to arrest you for hunting with “an assault weapon” that he/she doesn’t understand

  • PB- dave March 9, 2020, 10:27 am

    Interesting how necessity breeds innovation….. every time the law is written to target the object instead of the criminal, the law-abiding come up with a work-around to comply. Box mags to replace detachable ones, .460 bullets to replace .50’s, reduced capacity mags, Bolt action uppers for AR lowers, now these bolts.
    The problem with these is some lawmaker with an IQ above room temp will rewrite their state law to exclude drop in’s like this….. which will require removal of the gas tube from the barrel. But someone will just come up with another work-around….. 🙂
    TOO BAD lawmakers just don’t target crime and criminals.

  • Trevor Teague March 9, 2020, 10:06 am

    Lame. How about “shall not be infringed”? If we started shooting tyrants, soon there’d be no more tyrants.
    There’s also 18 USC 241 that nobody seems to know about…

  • Tom In Tally March 9, 2020, 7:02 am

    It’s also ambidextrous. It should include a detachable cap for the gas tube to keep all the carbon out of the receiver. It is also less stressful on brass. You can load brass to fit the chamber for accuracy. You don’t need all the slop for violent extraction. You don’t need slop for all the carbon that blows by the neck and onto the case after a few rounds of semi-auto. I can see this as a fast, accurate, straight-pull bolt gun For across-the-course competition. Really needs the gas tube blocked.

  • Tom C March 9, 2020, 6:17 am

    Makes a lot of sense to me on a number of levels. I’d work on that handle which I personally find ugly. What’s the cost?

    • Jim smith March 9, 2020, 1:35 pm

      Yeah this would be nice for use with a can when wanting it to be a bit quieter.

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