View Full Version : Battle Arms Development Ambi Safety Selector

12 November 2010, 17:21
I had the honor of being able to test and evaluate the Battle Arms Development's Ambi Safety Selector. Roger (aka Duffy) was kind enough to send me the 90 degree semi-auto ambi safety selector kit (including hybrid lever) for my own evaluation. Some time later he let me borrow their prototype 45 degree ambi safety selector to test out.

Some of you might be wondering why I'm calling the levers 90 degree and 45 degree. This is because each axial core rotates a specific amount to engage the SAFE and the FIRE modes. The 90 degree lever rotates 90 degrees, which is standard for an AR-15/M-16. The 45 degree lever rotates 45 degrees which is non-standard to the AR world, but not as unusual on other weapon systems. Here are some photos.

90 Degree Lever:

45 Degree Lever:

Timing couldn't be perfect when I received these safety selectors. The following week I had a Magpul Dynamics Carbine 2 training class I was attending in which I could test them out with reasonable amounts of round counts. I'll get into that part later.

I'm going to break the review into 3 parts. First part will be about the levers themselves, next part would be the cores, and lastly KNS Precision detents

There are currently 5 different levers available for the cores. Standard, Thin, Thin Short, Short, and Hybrid.


I tried each of them on the 90 degree core. Each of the levers have grooves cut into the sides. I found the grooves easy to maintain positive grip for my finger whether I was using gloves or not.

Note: These are my opinions of the different lever styles, and may not match your views.

Standard: I found I liked to use this as my thumb switch. As for it being used on the other side of the selector, it was pretty much takes the same type of real estate as other ambi safety selectors.

Short: This is one of my favorites due to the ability to easily flick it with my finger, and not be in the way. On the 45 degree core, it's the only way to go.

Thin: I found that it was a little more effort to get my finger to catch on to it. It's not hard, but more memory muscle training required. I found I liked this one best on AR rifles with the thin pistol grips because it was less obtrusive against my finger.

Thin Short: Still a good lever, but very out of the way and harder to manipulate. These are for the people who want to have the option to use it, but really want it out of the way.

Hybrid: This one was good compromise between the short and the thin levers, but the aesthetics wasn't to my liking.

Production 90 degree Core:
Upon receiving I can look and see that the workmanship of the levers and the core were outstanding. The KNS Precision stainless steel safety detent that came with the kit looked good, but wasn't as excited about it since.. well it was another detent, or so I thought. I installed the kit into my Tom Sawyer Pirate lower. The first thing I noticed was that the safety selector was extremely light to flick between SAFE to FIRE. At the time it was in my opinion too light, and I thought I installed it wrong. After evaluating it a little more I determined I did install it correctly. It was very light while my LMT Ambi Safety Selector that was in this particular lower was much more stiff. Looking at the design and the precision BAD placed in to the milling of the core's groove and comparing it to the LMT's groove, I immediately noticed that the valley that the detent slides against was more shallow on the BAD version, meaning there would be less resistance. The grip I was using was a Ergo Suregrip which is a soft material. I believe this had some effect to the engagement, which I proved by swapping it out for a Magpul MIAD. Though the engagement was still light, but it was much more "comfortable" for me. Don't get me wrong, the engagement of the BAD was light, but not so loose where it would move around everywhere on it's own.

Any case I talked with Roger about the looseness. He listened intently and very adamant on getting to the bottom of the reason for the difference. This gave me the impression that Battle Arms Development takes people's comments seriously and wanted to improve the product, if they can. Based on discussions with him, and doing my own experimenting, the following reasons why anybody's engagement being overly light would be:

1. Out of spec lower:
The lower may be out of spec, meaning the hole for the detent may have not been drilled properly, whether it's diameter, or angle of the drill. This problem will effect all safety selectors, but for the BAD-ASS, it's a little more sensitive since it was designed with more precision in mind. When comparing the channel V groove, the BAD-ASS is a lot more precise, and most of the others are with sloppy tolerances. Note that sloppy tolerance are a bit more forgiving with out of spec lower, but at a cost of being more stiff. I believe BAD will be making a slight change to help combat this issue with out of spec lowers.

2. Grip (detent seats too low, or grip very compressible)
This issue will effect all safety selectors, but it will have more of an effect with the BAD-ASS since it's channel cuts for the detent are deeper than some of the other safety selectors on the market. The more depth of the drill into the safety selector (core), the less tension the detent places on the safety selector locking positions. It gives the BAD-ASS a smoother feel than most of the other safety selectors, but when combined with a soft material grip (ie Ergo grip), it causes the locking position of the safety selector to feel light. Only way I could think of combating this is to add something the base of the grip to take up some of the compression. If you plan to do this to help with tension, be sure to use something that has a diameter that's wide enough to fit in the hole, and not slip out and bind with the spring. It might be good to glue it in, but remember that this is permanent if you do.. I am not recommending this to everyone.. this is what I'm going to do for my setup and test it out. For my Ergo Suregrip a height of 1/32 to 1/16 seems about right since the material compresses about that much.

3. Detent spring being shorter than normal
Read #2, the effect is similar since it effect tension against the safety selector.

4. BAD ASS core design of the V groove channel
The BAD-ASS design was designed to give a smoother, lighter, and crisp feel for the safety selector. I believe the acheived their goal, but one of the goals they made a deeper V groove channel. If you compare a BAD-ASS against a MIM safety selector, you will see the height difference in the V channel groove. You would also see the BAD-ASS groves are more precisely cut and the most other safety selectors have a sloppy cut. As mention in #1, the sloppy cut is more forgiving with out of spec lowers, but much more stiff feel.

Note that item #4 was added because when testing with a different core (45 degree) with my compressible Ergo grip, the engagement improved, hence meaning the grooves in the 45 degree and the 90 degree were different, but I am unsure whether the differences was due to the 45 degree core not being hard plated or due to the grove's milled depth/shape. (Both the prototype and the production of the 45 degree core have better engagement than the 90 degree core.)

Here you can see the groove depth differences:

Prototype 45 degree Core:
As mentioned, Roger was kind enough to lend me the 45 degree lever to test out. After installing the core, I was wondering why the prototype came with 2 short levers instead of 2 standard or standard lever combo. I found out very quickly by installing one of my Standard levers and flicking the safety to FIRE. The Standard levers were way too long and would dig into your finger, no matter what size of an pistol grip you were using on your AR. I then proceeded to install the short lever, as it was intended for. Hybrid, Thin and Short Thin would be a acceptable, but I prefer the Short levers.

My first impressions with the 45 degree safety selector was a mixture of wonder and curiosity. I can say that the 45 degree lever is very good design, but it's not going to be for everybody. The safety was very easy and quick to flip between SAFE & FIRE. The thing I specifically noticed, and liked, was the ability to easily flip the selector from FIRE to SAFE using my thumb. Typically that's a unusual movement for me since I use my pointing finger to do the flipping to SAFE mode. It did take some use to getting into the feel of it, hence some people who are set to the 90 degree levers are not going to like it. However in my case I liked it, but had some doubts. That was until I took it to a Magpul Dynamics Carbine 2 class to try it out. After 1000 rounds of fire using the 45 degree core, I have to say I like it, but doubt I will change all my rifles to it. I haven't decided how many I will install in my lowers, but I'm guessing one or two of them. Reasons for not having them in every AR I own is cost. I believe the 45 degree cores will cost more than the 90 degree cores. Also the roll marks of the standard lower will not match the location of where the selector is pointing at. The AR's that I would select to use the 45 degree levers are rifles used for patrol or CQB.

Note that the production level will have a nub built into them which will prevent the usage of the 45 degree cores on normal lowers. Currently only lowers that will accept the 45 degree levers is the Spike's Tactical. Spike's doesn't have a exclusive right to it so if another brand wishes to make a lower with the roll marks in the right location, and a cut out for the nub, they are allowed to. The only difference between the 45 and 90 degree cores (as in fit into the lower) is the nub. If the user removes the nub they void any warranties and risk personal injury, at least that's what I expect the attorneys will say. Without the nub, the 45 degree may have never been given the approval to be built by the insurance attorneys.

KNS Precision Safety Detent:
These are made by KNS Precision out of stainless steel. After shooting over 1000 rounds through 2 different cores, I noticed that the detent retained it's shape better than the standard detent that I had in my AR's. Here's a photo of the detent compared to 2 other detents.

After firing couple of thousands of rounds using the Battle Arms Development ambi safety selectors, I have to say it's one of the best designs I've ever used and surprise nobody ever thought of making these type of improvements. I do know all my AR's will have BAD ASS in them.

Here are some photos side by side with a LMT Ambi Safety Selector

After testing the Battle Arms Development Ambi Safety Selector, I've decided that all my AR's are going to have a make over. If you have some spare cash lying around, I highly recommend this upgrade.

13 November 2010, 02:09
Great review.

9 January 2011, 17:10
I just finished installing a 45 ST on one of my carbines and I will agree that it is a great piece of kit to add to your gun. Pretty simple to install and very solid design. I will hopefully have my install article up in the next couple of days.

4 February 2011, 14:33
Hard to follow Ryo's review. Let me cut to the chase. The BAD ASS ST is incredible.

As a left handed shooter I've been annoyed by the standard safety's bulk, and the "dig" in my trigger hand. I'm not one for modification of parts, but I seriously gave thought to grinding it down. So the BAD ASS was the solution. I use the short lever on my shooting hand and the long thin lever on the opposing side. Great feel and function.

And then there's BAD ASS ST. I have to tell you that at first I thought the 45 degree lever would be nice, but not really that big of a deal. Even after I gave it more thought and took into consideration that there were some real advantages to having the 45 degree throw, I just didn't imagine it would be that big of a deal. Well I was wrong. It really is that big of a deal. If you're building a new AR and you don't install a BAD ASS ST, you're making a mistake.

Just my two cents.

4 February 2011, 14:54
Thank you guys!

5 February 2011, 15:43
Several days ago I placed an order with Battle Arms Development for and end cap for my selector. I received my tracking number the next morning. I live in Oklahoma, and while watching the tracking number I was surprised when I saw my package was delivered to Loveland Colorado. That was... less than a half hour ago. I called Battle Arms Development and left a message. LITERALLY less then ten minutes later I was called back by a gentleman named Roger (Don't know if that's you or not Duffy), anyways my package had gone out to another person with the same first and last name as me! The other me, so to speak, had already emailed B.A.D. and by the time I even knew something was wrong Roger had already repacked and shipped me a new package, in which he said he had also included a few extra detents and some patches.

THAT is awesome CS!!! [:D]

5 February 2011, 15:50
Great customer service story Aragorn, it doesn't get much better than that does it!

5 February 2011, 16:03
Great customer service story Aragorn, it doesn't get much better than that does it!

Not that I can fathom!

5 February 2011, 17:17
Another Aragorn? We are screwed. LOL.

6 February 2011, 02:39
Duffy and Roger are one in the same. Definitely from my experience with Roger, he definitely is very responsive, which is much appreciated.

Also thanks Rodman24. That 45 took some growing on me. Very nice. Im planning to run mine in my competition rig since it scary fast.

6 February 2011, 09:41
Another Aragorn? We are screwed. LOL.

I know I'm worried! :P

7 February 2011, 20:17
Got my package today. CRAZY fast considering its Monday, and the wrong delivery fiasco happened two days ago (on a SATURDAY!)

13 February 2011, 02:54
Nice review. I know after I bought my first BAD I bought two more to replace two old style ambi's I had. I'm wanting a 45* now.

13 February 2011, 03:23
Nice review. I know after I bought my first BAD I bought two more to replace two old style ambi's I had. I'm wanting a 45* now.

Thanks. The 45's are definitely worth trying. I like them and will be using it, but don't plan to replace all my selectors with them.

30 March 2011, 09:53
It looks like they now offer these with Cerakote FDE, OD and gun metal grey. Wishing I had picked up the FDE now. [BD]

*edit* I sent an email to Battle Arms Development regarding the purchase of the FDE levers individually because it looks like they don't offer that on their site yet. Roger replied back almost right away. They do plan on offering the cerakoted lever in the future but are working to stock up on the full matching sets first. I have a set on the way. Kudos for their customer service! Roger went above and beyond anything he needed to do to make me happy.

I will certainly recommend them for their CS as much as their product quality moving forward.

30 March 2011, 14:46
Hi guys, sorry I didn't find this thread sooner :)
Aragorn, sorry about the mix up, I think the other gentleman by the same name got a free set of selector, which makes us happy all the same, we are trying to get our selectors to users any way we can lol :)

There are half a dozen companies that will be offering 45/90 degree compatible receivers this year, which has evolved from a 45 degree only receiver, and better than what we had planned, as the new Fire engraving at 68 degrees allows either to be used, customers have a choice and are free to go from one to the other without liability or compatibility issues. Originally the 45 degree compatible receiver would not be suitable for 90 degree selectors (due to the 45 degree marking), though a 90 degree could still be used, the Fire marking would not line up for the 90 degree selector.

It is our hope that more manufacturers will join the 45/90 movement, the short throw arrangement is, in our opinion, an idea and implementation that's long over due :)

Thank you Denver45 and Aragorn for your kind words! Customer satisfaction is at the very top of our priorities, as important as quality and engineering :)

30 March 2011, 15:30
Thank you Denver45 and Aragorn for your kind words! Customer satisfaction is at the very top of our priorities, as important as quality and engineering :)

Not at all. You guys earned it. [:D]

30 March 2011, 23:08
Shucks! [BD]

5 April 2011, 16:53
Just got the levers in FDE and they do match the existing FDE on the rifle very well. Fit and finish is still excellent, of course. Love these levers! Dare I say? They are B.A.D.A.S.S! [:D]

5 April 2011, 19:32
Thanks Denver, pics? :)

5 April 2011, 22:02
I'll try to get some up tomorrow. My camera sucks especially in the house at night with the lighting I have. My wife and I were "entertaining" guests all night so I didn't get a chance to take pictures while I still had good light. I work from home tomorrow so I'll get a chance to post some up pretty early tomorrow. [BD]

6 April 2011, 13:45
Well it looks like my camera is hosed. I'll have to borrow one form someone to get some decent pictures. [bash]

6 April 2011, 18:21

6 April 2011, 19:15
Apparently I have to have a full charge to get this camera to work for a couple of minutes. Hehe. Anyway, here are the ones that turned out before it went down again.


Anyway, very happy with the feel of the selectors on both sides and, while black was very nice, I really like the FDE. The bonus is that it's impossible now to mistake what position it's in even at a quick glance.

7 April 2011, 05:42
Looks great! It matches Magpul's FDE pretty well :)

7 April 2011, 06:52
Looks great! It matches Magpul's FDE pretty well :)

It is also spot on for the Troy FDE BUIS as well.

7 April 2011, 08:44
Are you going to color fill the position indicator grooves? :)

7 April 2011, 08:49
Are you going to color fill the position indicator grooves? :)

With the time and effort you guys clearly put into these I figured you had a good reason for not coloring it in yourselves. Who am I to change that? [:D]

And thanks.... now I have to go get some new paint. Hehe.

7 April 2011, 13:45
I fill the smaller groove with white paint, I think it'll look great :)

7 April 2011, 14:19
I fill the smaller groove with white paint, I think it'll look great :)

My wife says I better start spending time with her or this rifle and I will be sleeping on the couch together. [BD]

I usually do as she says... mostly because she is also armed.

7 April 2011, 18:38
Lol you should ask her if she wants a pink set :D

8 April 2011, 11:57
Lol you should ask her if she wants a pink set :D

Can you do red? Pink isn't her color. Of course, my next AR build will be for her because she doesn't have one yet (and I'm not giving mine up).

Just kidding about the red of course. I think she is an EBR kind of girl. [:D]

12 April 2011, 14:39
I go out with an attorney (she's a partner in her firm) but she has no idea about guns, well at least she doesn't object to them [BD]

13 April 2011, 20:00
I go out with an attorney (she's a partner in her firm) but she has no idea about guns, well at least she doesn't object to them [BD]

I have a feeling that might change over time. [:)]

13 April 2011, 20:02
So I finally got a couple of decent pics to throw up on here. Certainly not anything like some of the other photos you see on this forum but it gets the point across.



14 April 2011, 07:35
Looks great! I like the black and tan contrast, though these days I just paint the whole thing :) The only unpainted AR I have is an AR10, I have to keep it black to use for taking pics :P

14 April 2011, 07:44
Looks great! I like the black and tan contrast, though these days I just paint the whole thing :) The only unpainted AR I have is an AR10, I have to keep it black to use for taking pics :P

Thanks! Everything else I own is black on black so I thought I'd try something different. I've been looking at paint jobs but I think I need to put some money into home repairs and whatnot (ammo) before spending any more on the rifle. I really splurged on this thing anyway. Now I need to get out to some classes and find come competitions and justify the cost. [BD]

14 April 2011, 19:34
Nah who needs to justify anything as long as it makes you happy[:D]