by Seth M. Blair
If you know me, you might be shocked to know that I have been running my AR as of late rather than the AK. I’m shocked myself. I started to run it due to demands from work. I’ll never tell anybody, but I’ve really enjoyed it. Particularly the ease of the reloads.
Reloads on the AR are like taking candy from a baby after running the AK for so long. In the hopes of making it even more of a walk in the park, I installed a BAD Lever from Magpul on my gun. The BAD Lever extends the bolt release down and through the trigger guard to the right side of the gun. This allows the bolt release to be manipulated without having to shift your hands. This means I can lock it open during a malfunction (although the Daniel gun hasn’t had a single one in close to 5,000 rounds) or drop the bolt with my trigger finger. Dropping the bolt for the reloads is nice, but the real draw I have to it is the ability to lock the bolt open with my trigger finger.
Reloads with the BAD, are quite smooth. By working the release of the bolt with my trigger finger, rather than my support side thumb, I am able to send my support hand back to the end of the gun a split second sooner. This may not seem like much, and it isn’t when it is looked at alone. We must remember that running a gun well is nothing more than faster times to good hits. Whether it is in competition, or combat. If I can shave a tenth of a second from my reload, I’ll take it, especially if I am able to shave a tenth off of other skills along with it. A tenth here, a tenth there and now you’re saving a second. Side note for the combative side of things: There are some instructors who say: There is no timer in a gunfight. I’ve gotta call bullshit on that one. There is absolutely a timer. Except instead of a beep/buzz for your par time, it’s the report of a gun. If his goes bang sooner than yours, you don’t make the par. Chances are, you’ve been shot. You were not accurate enough, fast enough. Okay rant over.
The first range session I did with my Daniel Defense, AJ encouraged me to activate the safety before I initiated the reload. I of course scoffed at this, and continued to not do it. It seemed like an unwanted step in an already relatively slow process. We discussed this idea at length over the next couple days, and I began to come around to the idea.
He pointed out the known issue of the AR sometimes slam-firing as the bolt drops onto a fresh round. I was aware of this, but figured it wasn’t that big of a deal because I follow gun safety laws. One of them being: Never point your weapon at anything you are not willing to destroy. He then brought up the idea of working in a multi-level structure. Let’s say I’m on the bottom floor, and I have unknowns upstairs. Or friendlies. I perform a reload, it slam fires! Or, more likely, during the reload my finger slips off the BAD lever and I land on the trigger. I just put a round through my ceiling, their floor. Oops. Sorry innocent bystander/buddy. Now, it is not a guarantee that the safety will prevent it from slam firing, but it sure can’t hurt. Even after all of this deliberation, and appeal to my sensibilities, I was still unsure.
I decided it was time to put it to the test under dry fire. I got set up for some rifle drills, and began my research to see if I could run the safety and still have a respectable time. After the warm up, I got the old timer fired up. First string on the timer, I rushed myself. Timers have a weird way of making it seem like the world depends on this one drill, and this is especially true when there is a par involved. In my rush, my finger slipped from the BAD Lever. Can you guess where it went? The trigger. The bolt had already closed by the time my booger hooker mashed the bang switch, and I heard the click of the hammer.
Boom. That settled it. I was a convert. Right then, right there. Since then, I have been running the safety when I perform a reload. Is it as fast as it would be without the safety? Probably not. But, I now have less concern about sending a round to a place it shouldn’t be. This is something I highly encourage all of you to incorporate into your skills. It isn’t easy to break old habits, but sometimes they are worth breaking.
Seth M. Blair