When Eugene Stoner invented the AR15 – he placed the selector lever in the PERFECT location, especially considering that in the early 1960’s no one was shooting from both shoulders. In fact, shooting the original AR15 left handed resulted in hot brass on your cheek, neck or down the shirt. It wasn’t until the M16A2 in the middle 90’s that the integral brass deflector was added to the upper receiver allowing left handed use without getting burn marks on your chest.
In the middle 90’s mirror image selector levers started appearing as aftermarket accessories for the AR pattern of rifles. Since I practice and train to shoot from both shoulders, I employed these mirror image selector levers on my AR rifles. However I noticed that the levers were too long on both sides. When I was shooting right handed, the right trigger finger contacted the lever on the right side and it felt “wierd”. Not uncomfortable, didn’t hurt, it just felt “weird”. Exact same thing occurred when shooting left handed, my left trigger finger would feel the left side selector lever. Felt weird.
Battle Arms Development and the AR15 Selector Lever
A few years ago a company called Battle Arms Development (BAD) came out with some ambidextrous selector levers, as well as some mirror image selector levers. What is the difference? Ambidextrous means it can be operated just as easily whether it be right or left side. Mirror image means that both sides are EXACTLY the same. They have a smorgasboard of options regarding selector levers. You can get them thinner, shorter, taller, wider, with nubs, without nubs, etc. And nearly any combination you desire.
I am a huge fan of mirror image. If I could wave my magic wand, I would want all of my longarms operating controls to be mirror image, i.e. the controls would be on both sides and would be in the exact same place and look and operate in the exact same manner. In other words, as far as I am concerned, being able to operate a longarm with both hands is mandatory, ambi is good, mirror image is better and mirror image that doesn’t feel weird is best. So even though BAD had lots of options with regards to selector levers, since the selector stop is at 6 o’clock it always felt weird with one or both sides. In other words, mirror image that still felt weird.
BAD ST AR15 Selector Lever
Enter the 45 degree ST “Short Throw” AR15 Selector Lever. As its name implies, it doesn’t rotate 90 degrees like other selector levers, it only rotates 45 degrees. See the picture below.
Note where the selector stops and that it is in the Fire position. Below is a picture of a regular mirror image OEM type AR15 selector lever in the fire position.
You might be able to tell that the OEM selector lever can get in the way of the trigger finger, at least it does for me and many others.
Battle Arms Development ST AR15 Selector Lever Benefits
The biggest benefit for the BAD ST is NOT being able to get the selector from the Safe to the Fire position faster. It is no faster to get from Safe to Fire with the BAD ST vs any other AR15 selector lever. Yeah the ST travels half the distance but there is only an academic difference, not a practical one. It is like the difference between a full blink and a half a blink. They are both so fast it doesn’t really matter.
Where the BAD ST really shines is in the areas of actually firing, and rotating the selector from Fire to Safe. While shooting, since the selector lever stops at the 4:30 position (on the left side) and 8:30 position (on the right side) it is clear of my firing hand. No weird feeling under my trigger finger. The other real benefit is when I want to go from Fire to Safe. With any OEM type (meaning 90 degree rotation) I have to do some thumb or finger gymnastics to move the lever the first 45 degrees. Taking the selector lever from 45 to 0 is very easy and natural, even ergonomic. Taking the selector lever from 90 to 45 is not ergonomic. Sure, it is done every day by thousands of people around the world, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement. The difference reminds me of the M9 safety vs the 1911 safety. The M9 is workable, but I don’t know anyone that would call it natural or ergonomic, whereas the 1911 is very natural and ergonomic. Same story here, the BAD ST is like the 1911, all other AR15 selector levers are like the Beretta M9.
Bottom line – the BAD ST gives me mirror image with superior ergonomic operation – which is a combination for me that means total WIN! Highly recommended.