We recently profiled the Battle Arms Development Ambidextrous Safety Selector (B.A.D.-A.S.S.) right here on Jerking the Trigger. At the time I was impressed by the unique concept but was apprehensive about the added complexity. The folks at Battle Arms Development were eager to prove that the BAD-ASS is good gear and provided me a sample to put through its paces.
What is it?
The BAD-ASS is a unique ambi selector (safety) for the AR-15 and AR-10. It allows the user to customize the selector levers on both sides. At this time there are 5 different lever options to suit the individual needs of the user. The selector can be purchased with any 3 levers that the user chooses and other levers will eventually be available for purchase separately. The kit comes with 3 levers, the cross bar/axis, 2 screws, an excellent KNS stainless steel selector detent, and a Torx driver to mount the levers.
The parts are beautifully machined from bar stock (not cast like most safeties) and finished with an attractive manganese phosphate finish. The Torx screws are the perfect choice for this application. Small screws lack the material to make deep, durable slots for flat head screw drivers. They end up stripped and beveled much too easily. The Torx screws are an “internal drive” screw that pack a lot of contact area for the driver into a small space which makes them very hard to strip. This is especially important because the addition of a thread locker (like Loc-Tite) will make the screws very hard to turn.
The care that went into the design and manufacture of this selector is obvious.
Let me address my apprehensions up front. Shooters should always be cautious about adding complexity to their weapons. Every piece and part that you add is another opportunity for something to break. The BAD-ASS, like most or all ambi selectors, requires a screw to fasten the left side lever.The BAD-ASS also allows the user to customize the right side lever which requires another screw. So it requires 1 additional screw versus other ambi safety designs.
While the BAD-ASS does add some complexity, it is obvious that the designers took great care to mitigate any potential failure points. The levers have a thick lug that mates with a slot in the cross bar portion of the selector. This lug is locked into the slot with a screw. This means that all the normal rotational forces are transferred to the lug, not to the screw. This design all but eliminates the screw as a breakage point. The user should also apply a thread locker like Loc-Tite to the threads of the screws to prevent them from backing out, further mitigating a screw as a failure point. You might also consider witness marking the screw and lever with a paint pen so that any rotation is immediately apparent.
What’s the Point?
Even if a part is bullet-proof, it may not be worth adding to your rifle unless it adds significant functionality. The BAD-ASS does just that. Not only does it add the ability to operate the selector with the thumb of the weak side hand, but it can significantly enhance the ability of the strong hand thumb to operate the safety thanks to the well designed levers. The levers are what makes the BAD-ASS excellent.
The lever that is most like the standard mil-spec lever is what Battle Arms Development refers to as “Standard”. This lever is as long as the mil-spec lever but wider and more squared. It, like all the levers, has shallow grooves to increase purchase. I dare you to miss or slip off this lever with your thumb.
One of the problems with all other ambi selectors on the market is that they abrade the trigger finger and , worse, they can actually have their movement impeded by the trigger finger. This is not a good situation. Battle Arms Development deals with this issue by offering an array of levers that are designed to stay out of the way of the trigger finger.
In addition to the “Standard” lever, my sample kit came with a “Short” and a “Thin” lever. The “Short” lever gives a wide, square target for your thumb, while the “Thin” lever gives a narrower target that slips under the trigger finger without being noticed. Both levers are relatively easy to work with the weak side thumb. I found it easier for my comparatively clumsy left hand thumb to operate the “Short” lever but found that the “Thin” lever interfered less with my right hand trigger finger.
Battle Arms Development also offers new “Short+Thin” levers and “Hybrid” levers. The “Short+Thin” is pretty self explanatory – it is short and thin. It is the lowest profile lever that they offer.It would basically be impossible for this lever to get in the way of your trigger finger. The “Hybrid” lever is a very slick design. The leading edge is wide and square like the “Short” lever but the trailing edge is thin to prevent interference with the trigger finger. It is the best of all worlds and, based on my experience with the above levers, it should be the perfect lever for your weak side. Pictures of these levers can be seen at the end of the review.
Putting it to the Test
Most AR-15 lower parts kits come with selectors that feel somewhat sloppy or mushy. I prefer my selectors to click positively into position and move freely between positions. The BAD-ASS is precision machined and comes with the hardened stainless selector detent from KNS which creates the most crisp and positive selector that you have ever felt on an AR-15. The level of precision and consistency that can be achieved by machining a part versus casting virtually guarantees that every BAD-ASS will be as crisp and positive as the one I reviewed. It really has to be felt to be believed.
I have been able to run this selector through several drills. I have found it to be the easiest to hit and most crisp selector that I have used. Many people like to constantly work the selector as they shoot from around barricades/cover. The well designed levers make it easy to activate the selector as your rock your upper body out around cover and back again. The “Standard” lever is so smooth and well shaped that it almost seems to leap out of the way on its own when you are doing snap shot drills from the low ready. The increased surface area, squared shape, and subtle texture combine to make the safety nearly impossible to miss even with gloves.
Both the “Thin” and “Short” levers do a pretty good job of staying out of the way of the trigger finger. They also provide large enough targets to ensure positive function with your less dexterous weak side thumb during weak side drills. That is really key. A weak side lever must do two things: stay out of the way of the trigger finger and be easily activated with your less dexterous hand. Both of these levers proved to be successful at this in my drills.
The “Short” works better with gloves than the “Thin” but I was surprised that even the “Thin” lever wasn’t difficult to hit with gloves.
This thing flat out rocks.
The Selector to End All Selectors
If you have ever trained on cornering or the use of cover you will know the value in being able to use your rifle with either hand. Given the fact that you may have limited or no use of your strong hand in an actual fight, it might be a good policy for every serious fighting rifle to have ambidextrous selectors. If you can see that wisdom in that, then the BAD-ASS is definitely for you. The clever design, quality construction, customization potential, and increased functionality of the BAD-ASS help to mitigate any additional complexity. The BAD-ASS is attractive and functional. It might just be the selector to end all selectors.
You can check out and purchase the Ambidextrous Safety Selector on the Battle Arms Development website.
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Thank you Matt for the thorough review, we appreciate the time and effort you put into it.
The PIP (product improvement program) for our ambidextrous selector is a living project. The first PIP included the KNS selector detent, a reduced trigger interface diameter for better compatibility, and two new levers.
The October production PIP will have a widened trigger interface (flat part of the selector center) to accommodate installation of certain triggers in receivers that are slightly out of spec.
Many of the modifications are our effort to mitigate the ills of out of spec receivers, and triggers that are sensitive to such receivers.
Again thank you Matt for the wonderful review!