I am going to preface this by talking first about Magpul as a company. I am a fan boy for certain and they really are an innovative company. I don’t think anyone can argue to the contrary-Bringing us the all-powerful PMag, awesome furniture products, and things like the Hand-stop and steep-angled grips that truly revolutionized the way we think about operating a firearm. On the flip side, from the perspective of a new media producer, I am so tired of being treated like a second class citizen by this company that I don’t even visit their booth at trade shows like SHOT, NRA Convention, ect. To that end, most of their products I can’t lay a finger on because they are so solid. To the contrary, this one I can and I am going to enjoy dispelling some of that arrogance by writing this.
We have a condition; swiping our credit card on every new, hot thing that comes out for our guns that makes us feel relevant or “in the times” . In my travels, I have seen AR-15s that are so weighed down that the user can barely lift the thing for any extended period of time. I also see ALOT of added complexity that need not be there. Enter the MagPul Battery Assist Device (BAD lever); by far their worst product that was designed to solve a problem that does not exist.
To describe this thing to someone who may have missed it or may be new: This is a drop-in “upgrade” that extends your bolt release to be reached by your firing hand (pseudoambidextrous) . It also increases the surface area (doubles it) of the “ping pong paddle” for a more reliable “receiver slap”. The last “benefit” is the ability to lock the bolt to the rear without removing the firing hand from fire control. Does Magpul score some points on the intellectual aspect of this device? Yes, I give them check marks and gold stars for this all day. Execution, not so much (sad face emoticon).
That is all the nice stuff that I can say. Now to get down to business. Disclaimer; Every single thing that I am about to say comes directly from my own personal experience or the experience of my testing crew here at VSO. That experience is derived from countless hours across several guns and 10s of thousands of rounds through guns outfitted with this device. Your experience and opinion may vary, but if you are not playing at the same level then please, shut up, you don’t know what you are talking about.
Issue 1: The Magpul BAD lever increases the incidence of 3 specific malfunctions. 1.) Failure of last round bolt hold open.2.) premature bolt drop 3.) Premature bolt hold open.
We will start with number and progress
1.) Adding a BAD lever to a rifle does two things to the bolt release/stop- it increases its mass and it adds a lever arm to that mass. As a gun ages (through use) and/or gets dirty, the added mass and lever arm can cause a sluggish rise in the the internal bolt catch as he magazine follower must overcome a higher opposing force than designed. One of the favored features of an AR-style rifle is its last round bolt hold open feature. This prolific characteristic can even be used by the shooter to gauge when a reload is necessary. A sort of communication between user and implement that some have come to rely on. Making the bolt release more touchy by adding a BAD lever can upset this balance. Which brings me to my next point:
2.) Building off of the last point- As a rifle becomes worked (we are taking many, many rounds in), the slide stop lapps the port it rides in and the detent spring becomes more flexible. Both of these make it much more sensitive to external stimuli than when it was new. Everyone can check this on their guns, no matter the type, the more you use them the smoother they become. Adding a BAD lever can add just enough mass to prematurely drop the bolt during a reload sequence, giving the shooter the false impression that the firearm is hot and ready for work. This is especially true after a well worked gun has been thoroughly cleaned and if you actually train with your gun.
3.) Further building on the last two points this is something that I have only seen in .308 guns, call them AR-10s. Although I do not have sufficient trigger time on 300BLK guns to render and opinion, to date I have not observed this in a 300BLK rifle. Anyhoo, the increased inertia generated by a .308 impulse can cause a Bad lever equipped rifle that has been well broken in to prematurely go to bolt lock. Again, extra mass and distribution of that mass to a lever arm being wipped around by .308 recoil. This ESPECIALLY true when talking about running a suppressed gun, as the impulse can be substantially greater due to increased back pressure.
^^^^All of this stuff that I just said is all crap in comparison to my other issue with the BAD Lever:
Issue 2: The BAD lever is an Negligent Discharge (ND) Hazard.
One thing that I neglected to mention for those of you that are new to the BAD lever: That lever that allows you to operate the bolt release without coming out of the firing position? Yeah, it’s inside the trigger guard.
The focus of ALL the training I have ever taken has stated that your finger goes into the trigger guard for one purpose and only one purpose. When you have made the decision to shoot, the finger goes from the index point on the receiver, to the trigger. It stays there until the task is accomplished and then goes back to the index point until further instructed. The premise of teaching someone to do anything else besides this inside the trigger well is dangerous, stupid, and negligent. The brain is always on record; respect the trigger and give it its own room.
In closing I want to reference one of my opening thoughts. The BAD lever represents a manifestation of the human condition to shortcut. Sometimes we find the ourselves under the illusion that we can throw money at a problem. While this works in some instances more often than not its a band-aid for a more systemic issue. Recently one of my viewers asked why you wouldn’t gladly accept the advantage of a more ergonomic control like the BAD lever (paraphrasing). This is an exact example of throwing money at something rather than doing it right. To increase your competency with the firearm, you should train, not add complexity and cost to handicap yourself. Furthermore, you are doing yourself a disservice by not only making your gun less reliable, but also by making yourself less reliable through formation of training scars. In a critical situation you are reduced to the highest level of training you have mastered. The use of a crutch like a BAD lever will not enhance your training, but stifle it.
The last point that I would like to make is Magpul is a great company that has undoubtedly saved lives and advanced intellectual input on training doctrine through their inventions. It is my personal and professional opinion however that the BAD lever is simply a miss on their part. It does neither of these things nor does it promote safe practices that we have standardized in our industry. Think twice before you buy the new Wiz-bang5000 for your gun and invest more appropriately in training than gear.