18 June 12

Magpul, and several other companies, are currently marketing a “Battery Assist” Device for ARs. It is an aftermarket add-on that is touted to make reloading the AR faster and easier than is the case with the rifle in its original configuration. It is a small appliance that attaches to the rifle’s bolt-lock lever on the left side of the receiver, with the other end protruding into the trigger-guard, ahead of the trigger. It allows the shooter to close a locked-open bolt by pushing the lever with his trigger-finger.

With ARs, the conventional way of closing a locked-open bolt (after a magazine exchange) is to either manually depress the bolt-lock lever/button with the heel of the support-side hand, or pull back on the charging handle and then release it. As a default procedure, I recommend the latter, as it will work when the bolt is closed on an empty chamber, or locked open.

As a company, Magpul enjoys an excellent reputation. I love their AR magazines, and most other things they make. It is all top quality. But, I don’t recommend this Device be installed on any serious rifle!

We’ve had a number of students show up at our Urban Rifle Courses with these attached to their ARs. Of course there is a learning-curve, but too often I’ve seen students become confused with two different controls, performing two completely different tasks, both within the trigger-guard. In order to use this device, a shooter’s trigger-finger must enter the trigger-guard for a purpose other than to manipulate the trigger. We’ve seen several ADs as a result!

It is my opinion that only one control, the trigger itself, should reside within the trigger-guard. Of course, the Garand-style manual safety has this same issue. But, although it has been around for a long time, it has not been emulated with modern, military rifles, and for good reason.

We tell students, as part of our safety procedure, to keep trigger-fingers in the register position and out of the trigger-guard, until simultaneously (1) sights are on target, and (2) the decision has been made, and they are in the process of firing. Naturally, with the Garand-style manual safety, we have to make an exception to that rule. Now, we must make a similar exception with this battery-assist device.

My general advice to students is that they learn to run their rifles as they come from the factory, with all “flaws.” That way, when compelled to use someone else’s rifle, they’ll be no surprises! Be flexible enough to bend yourself around the universe, as it comes at you, instead of expecting the universe to bend itself around you!

I think it is wonderful that design engineers continue to research new ways to design and build rifles. But, for better or worse, there are certain existing “standards” with which, in the interim, the rest of us must make ourselves familiar.

Competition shooters, shooting on known courses and under ideal conditions, will continue to explore and test new ways of doing things, and some, years hence, may even become “standard.”
Meanwhile, the rifle I keep in my car, and next to my bed at night, will be plain-vanilla, the way it came from the factory, they way I’m accustomed to running it, just like every other copy I’m ever likely to get my hands on!

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently what need not be done at all”