When it comes to customizing your AR-15, sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference. In my case, the small change of swapping out my safety selector granted me the ability to switch from safe to fire quicker, the ability to customize they way my safety looks, and the ability to engage and disengage my safety selector from either side of my rifle. How was this possible? All I did was install a selector called the BAD-ASS ST by Battle Arms Development. Let me tell you about it.
When I first obtained my BAD-ASS ST (Battle Arms Development Ambidextrous Safety Selector – Short Throw), I immediately went downstairs to my shop to install it. I was basically like a kid on Christmas morning. I sat down and ripped open the package to find the selector, a new detent, a new spring, a torx head wrench, and a couple of extra screws.
On the back of the package were the installation instructions. I found them to be descriptive and easy to follow. Installing the BAD-ASS ST was a pretty simple process and only required me to have a screwdriver to remove my pistol grip, and a Dremel to grind off a small metal pin. I was unable to put the safety into my lower receiver with the pin installed. Grinding off this small pin was not explained in the instructions and I had to do some online research before installing it. I found out that a pin like this was unique to a “short throw” style of safety and I decided to contact Battle Arms Development and ask them about it.
Upon contacting Battle Arms Development, I actually had the honor of speaking with the owner, Mr. Roger Wang. He was nice, personable, and took the time to discuss the liability behind what he called the “lawyer pin.”
Roger explained that the process of grinding the pin away had to be done to properly install the BAD-ASS ST on my rifle. Unlike other lower receivers on the market that are already specifically set up for a short throw safety, my AR-15 lower receiver was not engraved or “notched” to receive one. So, in my case, when switching from safe to fire, the indicator on the lever would not exactly line up with the fire position on my receiver. Roger also told me that Battle Arms Development does not condone doing this process and it will void the warranty.
Along with having a 45 degree engagement/disengagement angle, the BAD-ASS ST is also ambidextrous. This means that I could use the safety from either side of my AR-15. Personally, I like this feature and find it useful. More on that later. If, however, I had decided not to use the ambidextrous feature or wanted my safety to appear more traditional, Battle Arms Development makes an “end cap” to install instead of a lever.
That brings me to my ability to customize my selector to my liking. Each BAD-ASS ST (and the original BAD-ASS) allows for the removal and installation of a variety of different lever sizes, shapes and thicknesses. This is done by unscrewing the torx screw, removing the lever, replacing it with the lever of my choice, and then screwing it back together. On my AR-15, I chose to use the long “crank” lever on my strong side (thumb side) and the short “crank” lever on my weak side (trigger finger side). I found that the short lever on the weak side allowed for the safety to still be operated but was short enough as to not interfere with my tigger finger when gripping and shooting my rifle.
I would have never thought that making such a small modification would have made my whole AR-15 shooting experience that much different, but it has. It has allowed me to engage and disengage my rifle’s safety noticeably faster (see it in action here). As a guy with shorter thumbs, it was also easier to manipulate the safety with my thumb vs. a 90 degree angled selector. After a short time of shooting, I found myself naturally using my trigger finger to switch my rifle back into the safe position. I also noticed that there was a much more positive “click” to the lever when moving it between positions. Although, when I installed a BAD-ASS ST for a friend on his AR-15, there was a slight difference in “feel” between his and mine (his had an even firmer “click” than mine). This was probably due to the slight variation in tolerances between lower receivers and pistol grips. For reference, my AR-15 is built on a MEGA lower and I have a Magpul MOE+ grip. His was on a Spike’s Tactical lower and he had a mil-spec A2 style of grip.
Overall, my experience with my BAD-ASS ST has been positive and I continue to use it to this day. I personally like the change from the 90 degree to the 45 degree angle and enjoy the ability to switch out levers and customize it to my liking. Aesthetics are important to me when it comes to my firearms and I appreciate the attention to detail and look of these levers on my rifle. Specifically, I can tell that the machining is well done and at a price point of around $85, I feel that I got what I paid for.