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.

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.