Ruger American Pistol – Very Left Handed Friendly

As I recall, FN Herstal was the one of the first manufacturers to make full ambidextrous controls for there pistols.  The FNX, FNS, and FNP series of pistols all have fully ambidextrous controls: Slide Stop, Magazine Release, and safety (if equipped).

All these are now available on the new Ruger American Pistol. This looks to be a great pistol for all folks.  Chambered for both 9mm and .45 ACP, each pistol is available in the standard 4.2″ duty size or the 3.55″ compact.   You also have a choice with the pro models offering no safety catch, or the models with an ambidextrous thumb safety catch.

Speaking of compact, these feature a narrow grip width of 1.19″across all models. For personal fit, they come with 3 different backstraps, to fit most hand sizes. Other features are the Novak LoMount Carry 3 dot sights and a Picatinny rail.

I like the more aggressive slide serrations over the SR series, but may miss the lack of the striker cocked indicator.  And for whatever reason, Ruger still won’t make .45 magazine hold more than 10 rounds.

Some will be disappointed that there is no .40SW version, however, I feel they really missed the boat by not adding a threaded barrel version. Suppressors are making a lot of progress in the shooting world, and it’s just a pain in the ass to buy a new pistol, only having to spend a few hundred more on a threaded drop in barrel if they are to be found.

Left Handed Resources

I will be updating a list of left handed friendly rifle companies and their offerings on my Left Handed Rifle Page.
I’ll be trying to keep up with all the offerings from complete rifles, rifle actions, and AR-15 uppers and enhanced lowers.

The other page is my Left Handed Friendly Pistol page.  This page will focused on finding the manufactures that offer ambidextrous controls, left handed switching options, or both.  My focus will be on the mag catch since it’s the most important left handed obstacle that we encounter.

Left Hand your Glock

The most prolific pistol in the world, The Glock, can now be easily handled by lefties thanks to the MARS from Rainier Arms.  This drop in magazine catch will take your right handed only release, and not just convert it to left handed friendly, but also make it fully ambidextrous.

The Magazine Advanced Release System is a drop in solution that allows full ambi control with no gunsmithing, a first for lefties that I am aware of. Not made of plastic, but 6061 aluminum with type III hard coat, this should be a durable addition to the durable Glock.

Looks like I will need to get a Glock now.

Forged Lower? You need an ambidextrous mag release

HVA Mag CatchI’m loving the ambi mag release on 2 of my billet lowers, the CMT TAC, and the San Tan Tactical.  Both put the button in the right spot and both are easily manipulated.  But I’ve got a few forged lowers with no accommodations for the left of hand. There are few good ambi catch out there:

I skipped the Norgon, because it looked like there is little mechanical advantage to the system, and would require more effort use with one finger.  I also passed on the KAC, since it seemed to busy, and likely to catch on something.

I put the Troy ambi on my Aero lower.  And it does just what you want it to do.  It’s out of the way, but accessible.  There isn’t a lot of extra effort needed to drop the magazine, and it doesn’t look too prone to accidental drops either.  It’s lower profile than the HVA, and doesn’t get in the way of a standard bolt catch. The only thing problem I can see is that it may mark, or start digging into your lower for it’s leverage.

I put the HVA AMR on my Stag lower.  It’s bulkier than the Troy, and it is quite close to the bolt catch.  It has a very smooth action, and doesn’t require too much effort to drop the magazine.  If you’re smart, and already replaced the bolt catch with Forward Controls ABC/R, then you’re also in luck.  While it sits close to the bolt catch, it’s not in the way, and easily accessible.

It’s tough to pick between these 2 bolt catch’s, and I haven’t decided which one fits my hand best, but both work well enough to stay on both hosts.

Forward Control Designs ABC/R-F

dsc_3372I’m a lefty, and as a lefty, I have the need for ambidextrous controls. I don’t want them, I need them. With some Ambi Mag catches, the lower paddle is obscured from easy access. This is why I bought the Forward Controls Augmented Bolt Catch/Release, Forged or ABC/R-F for short. It’s a really nice piece of work. It’s a well made drop in replacement, but better. With the added material for the oversized control, they have removed some interior metal to bring it down close to the mil spec weight. It’s an easy drop in replacement. Nothing needed to be modified, it was pin out, pin in, and done.

Once in, the new tactile feel is great. It’s an easy hit, and when handled left handed, a simple index finger push to the improved lower paddle is all that you need. I’d even install it for other lowers that don’t have an ambi mag catch, or have one that doesn’t obscure the catch like a Troy. The additional angle to the over sized upper paddle is a nice touch too. Even with thick gloves, it’s a cinch.

This is the kind of improvement that should just be spec’d from now on. I didn’t know I needed this, and now I’ve put it on all my rifles.

Cross Machine Tool UHP15A

dsc_3364I’ve been shooting a left handed Stag AR-15 for a few years now, and wanted to build a new true left-handed rifle from the lower up.  The Stag is great, but it still rides on a standard right handed, non-ambidextrous lower.  Thanks to the fine folks at CMT-TAC, the’ve come to the rescue with a great full ambi lower.

The UHP15A lower has everything you’d expect for a great billet lower:

  • Full Ambi controls: Bolt catch and mag release:
  • Threaded bolt catch pin (no roll pin installation needed)
  • Integrated oversize trigger guard
  • Compatible markings for 45° safety selector
  • And generally great manufacturing

The Lower Controls

First we’ll start out with the ambi mag release.  It’s gated to help prevent unwanted mag drops, and is easily accessed and manipulated with your left index finger when holding left handed. The back side is conjured to the trigger guard, and has a bit of a point, so It may snag, but that hasn’t happened to me yet, as I’ve only bench shot this rifle. It’s also set up so you can use a standard LPK mag release.  No special parts are needed to build up this rifle.

The ambi bolt release on the side works just as well.  While operating left handed, I like to close the bolt with my right thumb, it just feels natural that way.  It’s also situated behind the dust cover if you have a standard wrong sided upper on the the rifle.  If you’re holding the rifle right handed, and have an extraordinarily strong index finger, you could close the bolt.  If not, two fingers will work.

These controls are the main reason to pick up this lower. The rest of the lower is a well made billet lower. The maxwell is flared, the integrated trigger guard will let you wear gloves, and it fits like a glove with my upper.

The only improvement I would add, is a threaded rear take down detent hole.  My Aero Precision forged lower has this, and it’s great for the build. Even better when you decide to take off your buffer tube and forget the dentent and spring are still behind the end plate.

Now that you’ve got this lower in hand, you can only make it better better by putting a UPUR-1LH atop this.

Raptor Charging Handle

First thing I changed on my Stag Model 2L was the charging handle.  I was kind of disappointed that with all the nice left handed features Stag puts on their rifles, a left handed charging handle wasn’t one of them.  I did some searching on line, and I found the Raptor by Rainier Arms and AXTS Weapon Systems.

This is a very nice charging handle.  It’s all aluminum, very sturdy, and the handles are just about the right size.  When pulling back the handle, the action moves both sides of the handle at the same time, kind of wing like.  Since This was probably designed for a right handed AR-15, the right side is longer to stick further than the forward assist, and the left side is about the same length as a standard charging handle.

So far, I’ve had no problems with the handle, and I like the size.  I like how it’s not as huge and oversize like the one from Badger Ordnance.  However, I think it would have been nice for both sides to be the same length.  On my right side, since there is no forward assist, it’s great.  However, on the left side where the forward assist has been relocated, it’s almost too short to be affective.  It works, but not as well as it could.

If you are a lefty, hell if you’re a righty, it’s a nice upgrade under $100, that’s actually useful.

Savage Mark II BTLVSS first shots

I’ve always wanted a nice left handed, bolt action .22LR rifle.  With the good experience I’ve had with my Savage 111 hunting rifle, I decided I needed to look no further than Savage again.  When it comes to left handed models, they have the best selection.  They have a good selection for the leftys, but only four in the .22 caliber.  The Rascal and the Mark II GL Youth were obviously out of the picture, leaving the Mark II BTVLSS and the Mark II GL.  I already have a Ruger 10/22, so I ruled out the standard Mark II, and went with the BTVLSS

BT – Laminate Thumbhole Stock

T – Target (Redundant with BT?)

V – Heavy Barrel

L – Left Hand

SS – Stainless Steel

This is a very nice looking rifle.  The stock is beautiful, and everything fits quite nicely together.  The barrel is free floated and of course, there is the Accu-Trigger.  This rifle does come with Weaver scope bases already installed, which was a big question I had when ordering it.  Some folks in the past had to order a separate set of scope bases for their rifle.  But I had mine.  I mounted my older Leupold VX-1 3-9×40 scope with an old set of UTG high detachable rings.  Since I already had the good scope, and mediocre rings, why waste the money right now.  I will be upgrading to a set of standard medium rings, but that’s a future purchase.  I also installed a Champion Bi-Pod for shooting from the bench.  I also ordered two 10 round magazines, since it only came with one 5 rounder (really, only one, and a five shot).

After a good cleaning and lube, the action worked pretty good.  Not as smooth as my .30-06 Savage 111, but that is a whole different beast.

For the first time, it shot pretty well. I tried various ammo at 50 and 100 yards:

 

 50 yds
50 Yards
100yds
100 Yards

Not too bad for a windy day, with not much of a wind break, and getting used to a new rifle.  I’m hoping I can find the right ammo combo for better grouping.  I also hope I can do a little more behind the rifle to improve that grouping.  This is the first time in a long time I’ve shot a bolt action more than 6 times a sitting, so the mechanics are still improving.  I am a left handed shooter, but right handed at everything else, and have been used to manipulating my right handed Ruger 10/22.  So time will tell how long it take me to get used to full left handed operations.

Looking forward to shooting this more often, and I’ve accumulated a nice stash of .22 ammo to test.

Stag Arms Model 2L+ AR-15

Before all the madness, before all the fear, I ordered a Modern Sporting rifle.  Why? They are great for target shooting, they have a ton of options for customization, then can be very accurate, and they can be used for a multitude of situations by law abiding citizens.  They also are a lot of fun to shoot.

But where does that leave lefty?  Well, we can go along and shoot a normal AR-15 left handed and hope all the brass gets deflected properly (I know, when is the last time the brass deflector not deflect brass away from you?).  Or you can look toward Rock River Arms or Stag Arms for a left handed version of the AR.  Both make great rifles, but there are a few big differences between the two companies philosophies on how to make a left handed rifle.  Rock River Arms makes a true left handed AR-15.  Left side ejection port and bolt carrier group, right side safety selector and bolt catch, and an ami mag release and charging handle.  I even believe the twist is opposite conventional barrels.  However, their uppers and lowers are only compatible with their LEF-T equipment.  This is why I chose to go with Stag instead (their wait time was months, as opposed to weeks with Stag Arms).

So I went with the Stag Model 2L+ (Plus Package)

Right out of the box, this looks like your standard AR-15, but a little different.  The lower is a standard Stag Arms lower, which is 7075 T6 aluminum with type2 hard coat anodizing, plastic A2 grip, standard charging handle, right side safety selector, but a left side bolt catch, right handed mag release, and a collapsible stock.

The upper is where all the left handed goodness comes into place.  You’ll notice the dust cover flips up and not down, that way it doesn’t interfere with the bolt catch (the lower is a standard right handed lower).  The RRA LEF-T flips down.  Anyhow, it has an A2 front sight, but with the sling attachment on the other side.  The bolt carrier group is reversed to eject the brass properly, but that is about where the different pieces end.

I went with the plus package to get the the following upgrades:

  • 4150 barrel steel chrome lined
  • 1 in 7″ twist rifling
  • HP/MP tested bolt and barrel
  • M-16 Bolt carrier
  • Heavy buffer assembly
  • M4 feed ramps
  • Extra USGI magazine

I really only wanted the 1 in 7 twist and the extra mag sure helped out at the time when there were no extra mags available.

As for shooting, I think it shoots pretty good.  I am new the AR platform, and don’t have much to compare it to.  So to sum up the shooting experience, I place a loaded magazine in the magwell, it stays in, I close the bolt, it loads, I pull the trigger, and it goes bang.  Repeat until empty.  So far I’ve put a couple hundred rounds through the rifle, and I’ve encountered no problems with the rifle.  It shot everything well, and I am learning to shoot it better.  The only malfunctions I’ve encountered have involved my brass catcher blocking the brass from full ejection.

As for it’s left handed ability, I am very pleased.  Since the bolt catch is on the left side, I can manipulate it with my left hand naturally.  I replaced the standard charging handle with an AXTS/Rainier Arms Raptor Charging handle.  So all of that is done on the left side.  I’ve heard that since the dust cover flips up, Magpul B.A.D. Lever will block the dust cover, and is not recommended. I think this is the same for The Troy ABR.

All in all, I have a lot to like about this rifle, with nothing to complain about.  It seems like Stag Arms makes a quality product, and the price is right.  They also do sell a left handed .22LR conversion kit.  But I took that money and bought a .22LR bolt rifle.

Savage 111 Left handed hunting rifle

I recently started hunting and needed a hunting rifle for the great Alaskan moose. Problem for me, I’m a left eye dominant shooter.  Thankfully, there are a lot of good hunting rifles out there that left left handed.  Here are a few left handed manufacturers I looked at:

I ended up purchasing a .30-06 blued Savage 111. It came with open sights, AccuTrigger, and a synthetic stock (The closest version now is the Trophy Hunter XP, but doesn’t have open sights, and has a detachable box, while mine doesn’t).

It is a great rifle.  Naturally what makes it good besides the left handed bolt action, but it also has a 3 position top tang safety for easy access. Aside from the left handed goodness, the rest of the rifle is really solid.  I am a big fan of the AccuTrigger.  It’s very smooth, and it feels like you took your rifle to a gunsmith for a trigger job. Very smooth with a clean break.  The barrel floats over the stock, so you don’t have to worry about moisture accumulating, or the stock affecting the barrel.  Also makes for cleaning the rifle a breeze.  The recoil pad is pretty good, but the top and bottom tips will get a bit crusty after you’ve taken it into the field a few times.

I did put a scope on it with Leupold hardware. I ran into a problem with it initially since my LGS didn’t have a left handed 1 piece base, so they sold me a right handed one, hoping that flipping it would work.  It really didn’t, the cutout for loading was on the wrong side, so it was a pain to load the rifle.  You can get the one piece, but I still don’t recomend this for any rifle (only 2 mounting screws, and it still partialy blocks the action. I’d go for the 2 piece.  And if you do have a rifle with open sights, go ahead and get the 2 piece QR version.  I’ve removed the scope multiple times and it always retains zero.

I am very happy with this rifle, and will look toward Savage for any future rifle.