Blackhawk’s AR-15 Offset Safety Selector: Don’t Be All Thumbs

If you’re right-handed, operating the safety lever on an AR-15 is a pain in the butt.

If you’re left-handed (using a standard AR-15), operating the safety lever on an AR-15 is a pain in the butt.

If you’re either right or left-handed, operating the safety lever on an AR-15 is a pain in the butt.

If you’re right-handed, you really have to alter your grip to work the lever with your thumb. Or you can work it with your left hand. Or you can phone a friend. If you’re left-handed, things get really interesting. You can de-joint your thumb and reach around the back of the grip. Maybe.

Now that topic is settled, let’s look at potential solutions.

  • You could try a self-imposed “assault weapon” ban. Be sure to email Dianne “Vengeful Hissing Cockroach” Feinstein. It will make her day.
  • You could duct tape a spent .223 cartridge onto the selector to provide more leverage. And slather the whole mess with WD-40 to slick up the action. You can fix anything with duct tape and WD-40 right?
  • You could avoid the problem altogether and switch to a double-barrel shotgun. Hey, if it’s good enough for Uncle Joe…
  • Or, you could try the new Blackhawk! AR-15 Safety Selector.

The last options brings us to the next step in the custom Blackhawk! AR-15 project.

Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector

Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector

Blackhawk’s AR-15 Offset Safety Selector is one of the nifty AR-15 accessories introduced at the 2013 SHOT Show and they are now shipping. It’s a drop-in part that only requires a screwdriver to install.

It works well for two reasons:

  1. The lever is offset 45 degrees so the range of motion is altered in a more favorable way.
  2. The whole lever is not as flat to the receiver as the standard safety lever, so it’s easier to manipulate.

Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Safety Selector Installation

Installation is easy. Just follow these steps:

Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector The Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector kit is pretty straightforward. It consists of the new selector lever and the package card with instructions on the back. If you finish this upgrade with parts left over, please step away from the margarita…
Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector remove upper Go ahead and remove the upper from the lower by pushing the front and rear receiver pins from left to right.
Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector loosen grip OK, here is one of two steps where you get to use actual tools! You want to loosen, not remove, the hand grip.
Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector selector detent spring Here’s why you want to just loosen it. See that little spring peeking out between the grip and the receiver? You want to take some pressure off that as it is the detent spring for the selector lever. You know this is a serious gunsmithing project when we’re using words like “detent.”
Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector remove selector If you loosen the grip enough, you’ll be able to pull the existing selector lever out. See that little detent pin? That’s what was holding it in place. Of course you can remove the grip entirely, but then that spring tends to launch into low earth orbit, facilitating a call to Brownells to order a new one. This will slow down your installation considerably.
Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector remove selector (1) Just lift the existing selector lever out from the left side of the receiver.
Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector installation This is the BEST PART! Remember when I said this was a drop-in upgrade? Here’s where you literally drop in the new Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector lever.
Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector installation detent pin You may need to push the detent pin down a bit with a small screwdriver or your favorite pocket knife to seat the new selector lever.
Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector tighten grip Here’s part two that requires intimate knowledge of tools. Tighten that hand grip back up. Not too much though as over-tightening could interfere with operation of the selector lever. Remember that the grip houses the detent spring. If you crush it, things may not work too well.
Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Selector (1) Voila! Take a break. Tell your significant other that you just completed a delicate and complicated machining project.

How it works

While moving a standard safety lever from SAFE to FIRE is fairly easy for righties, requiring a downward sweep of the thumb, the Blackhawk! AR-15 Offset Safety Selector makes it a bit easier. To move to fire, the offset lever moves from about a 1:30 to a 4:30 position. Your thumb does not have to stretch to push the lever all the way to 6:00.

Moving back to safe is even better. The “taller” lever and offset allow you to use the top of your thumb to move the selector back to SAFE.

The benefits apply to lefties as well. Your index / trigger finger can easily sweep the selector to FIRE and you can use the top of your trigger finger to move it back to SAFE.

All in all, a nifty little upgrade.

Soup It Up For Soldiers Step 2: Bull the Barrel

Soup-it-up-for-Soldiers_custom_ruger_10-22_Step-2

Last Week…

Last week in Step 1: Sportify the Stock, we replaced the standard stock on our Ruger 10/22 with a custom Revolution Extreme one, graciously donated by Brownells. This week, we’re going to replace the barrel with a sporty competition model from Tactical Solutions – also graciously donated by Brownells.

Remember, at the end of this series, we’re going to end up with one heck of a rifle. And we’re going to auction it on GunBroker.com so 100% of the proceeds will be donated to Project Valour-IT of Soldiers Angels.

Step 2 Objectives

  1. Take a perfectly good barrel off a perfectly good Ruger 10/22 carbine. Because we can.
  2. Do NOT butch up the receiver. “Butching up” is a techincal gunsmithing term that loosely translates to “gouging metal.”
  3. Do NOT butch up the shiny new Tactical Solutions barrel.
  4. Try to avoid the use of large sledgehammers and/or blowtorches. This might cause the Brownells GunTech Team to resign en-masse and we wouldn’t want that to happen. Who would we call for advice about Step 3?
  5. Make sure that the rifle still feeds and shoots. In a forward direction. Preferably .22LR ammunition.

The Custom Ruger 10/22 Project Parts

Tactical Solutions Silver X Ring Barrel fluted

Tactical Solutions Silver X Ring Barrel (fluted)

Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel

The Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel upgrade adds the “bull” part of this step

  • .920” diameter, 6061-T6 billet aluminum construction
  • Threaded end with included matching thread protector
  • Oversized shank (more about this below)
  • 1 in 16” twist 4140 button rifled steel liner with 11° target crown
  • This one is silver. And quite sporty looking.

Tactical Solutions Compensator

Given the massive power and recoil of the .22LR rifle, we opted to include a thread-attached Tactical Solutions Compensator. Ok, to come clean, we didn’t really add this to help reduce recoil, because it’s pretty much non-existent anyway. It just looks cool, OK? Isn’t that a good enough reason?

tactical_solutions_ruger_compensator

The Tactical Solutions Compensator – more genuine coolnesss

  • 360° gas ports allow for even distribution of gasses for optimum accuracy
  • Machined from solid billet of 6061-T6 aluminum
  • No indexing or gunsmithing required to fit on Tactical Solutions ½ x 28 TPI Threaded end barrels
  • 0.920” Outside diameter so it fits exactly flush with the X-Ring barrel

How To Install The Tactical Solutions Bull Barrel

Admittedly, we were more than a little nervous going into this step as our previous gunsmithing experience has been limited to advanced techniques like ordering extra magazines from Brownells.com and replacing the factory grips on a Beretta 92-FS with Hogue Rubber Grips . That one was kind of hairy – we had to remove at least 4 different screws. And put them back.

However, Larry Weeks from Brownells talked us off the ledge and convinced us we could do this without professional assistance. While psychiatric services might be required, there would be no need for professional gunsmithing.

The Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel includes a very easy-to-follow set of instructions. And, as it turns out, swapping a barrel on a Ruger 10/22 couldn’t be easier. Apparently this rifle was designed with interchangeability in mind. As for the compensator, we were able to do without detailed instructions – you just screw it on.

Here goes…

Installing a Tactical Solutions barrel on the Ruger 20/22

The Tactical Solutions X-Ring barrel comes with a great set of easy to follow instructions. Between this article and the included directions, you’ll be fine!

remove receiver and barrel from ruger 10/22

First, remove the stock by loosening the screw just in front of the magazine well. Lift the barrel from the front to remove the receiver assembly. Seems like deja-vu no?

Ruger barrel to receiver mount v block

Just under the barrel, you’ll see two allen screws holding a barrel retainer v-block. Now would be a great time to find an allen wrench that fits these.

ruger 10/22 magazine release

We found that the magazine release lever and it’s corresponding pin like to fall out fairly easily when not contained by the insides of the stock. No biggie, just be aware of this so you don’t lose the pieces. If your magazine is out during these steps, you might also want to keep an eye on the magazine latch plunger.

ruger 10/22 v block removal

Loosen the allen screws and remove them completely. The barrel retainer v-block will come right off.

ruger 10/22 barrel removal

The Ruger 10/22 barrel will pull right out with hand pressure. If you have an older rifle, or things are crudded up, be gentle – this is probably not a great place to use impact tools or recreational explosives.

tactical solutions fluted barrel threaded thread protector

Since the Tactical Solutions X-Ring barrel on this particular rifle is threaded, we went ahead and put the thread protector on so we wouldn’t butch up the threads during the next few steps.

tactical solutions barrel installation ruger 10/22

Using your hands only (no large metal hammers or other tools substituting as hammers! This includes screwdrivers, pliers, and heavy flashlights) insert the new barrel into the receiver.Oh, it probably won’t fit. That’s OK – it’s slightly oversized by design. Tactical Solutions makes the shank just a hair on the large side so you can custom fit this barrel to a variety of Ruger or aftermarket receivers and create a perfect fit for your particular gun.

tactical solutions barrel installation custom fit

Here’s a great time to be really, really patient. If you have to, pretend that you’re in an old 007 movie tinkering with an atomic bomb fuse – except that the clock is not ticking down while the co-star looks concerned. This is an easy step that will have major impact on the accuracy of the rifle. Using some emery cloth, gently sand down the barrel shank. Wipe off the crud, and try the fit. The barrel should eventually fit in the receiver very tightly, but with hand pressure only. Take your time and repeat the sanding, wiping, and test fitting as necessary. Remember, this part is made of aluminum, so it will sand down fairly easily.To the future buyer of this rifle: We were very patient with this step. The fit is rock solid.

tactical solutions custom barrel installed ruger 10/22

If you look closely at this photo, you’ll see that hand pressure has gotten the barrel to fit in the receiver except for the last 1/16th of an inch or so. Leave the hammers in the drawer!

install v block with new tactical solutions barrel ruger 10/22

Place the barrel retainer v-block back in position and tighten the allen screws alternately. This will snug the barrel right up to the receiver.

tactical solutions fluted barrel fit ruger 10/22

Look at that fit. Perfect!

tactical solutions compensator installation

This would be a swell time to screw on the new Tactical Solutions Compensator!

ruger 10/22 rail installation

Now it’s time to put the new barreled receiver back in the stock. See Step 1 if you need a refresher on that.This would be a great time to add the rail that Ruger includes with the 10/22. Simply remove the four screws in the top of the receiver, and fasten the rail using the included screws. Remember to use proper gunsmith screwdrivers here so these very visible screws stay nice and tidy. You can get a set at Brownells.

bushnell red dot ruger 10/22

Since Step 2 resulted in the loss of our factory iron sights (The Tactical Solutions X-Ring Barrel does not have them) we popped a nearby Red / Blue / Green Dot sight from BSA on the newly mounted rail just to test things out. During a future step, we’ll decide what optic should live on this rifle permanently. Let us know if you have ideas!

Voila!

Custom Ruger 10/22 Tactical Solutions Barrel and Compensator

The custom Ruger 10/22 is starting to look somewhat nifty

Purely as a quality control measure, we took the completed rifle with it’s shiny new barrel to the range to make sure it still worked. After all, one of our Step 2 objectives was to make sure that the rifle still was able to fire .22LR ammunition in a mostly forward direction. We tried a small variety of ammo types and experienced not a single problem with ejection or feeding. Considering we just put a whole new barrel on the Ruger 10/22, that was some very good news.

22LR_ammo_eley_remington_CCI_aguila

The custom Ruger 10/22 worked just fine with a variety of ammunition

Yes, this rifle is already more fun to shoot than should be legal. Golf balls will be at your mercy at most any reasonable distance.

Next Steps For The Custom Ruger 10/22 Project…

Join us next week when things get really hairy. Hairy and triggery. We’re taking apart the receiver to install a new trigger group. Be on the lookout for explosions originating from an undisclosed location somewhere in South Carolina.

Stay tuned!

Corn Guns, Dentures, and Parrots: A Chat with Brownells Tech Team Leader Dave Bennetts

Today’s featured “interesting gun person” is Dave Bennetts, who leads the world-famous Brownells Gun Tech Team. In between helping us regular folks reassemble guns that we’ve, umm, fixed, helping customers find the right accessories and parts, and providing generally helpful advice, they produce an extensive library of videos. No, not that kind! We’re talking about videos that feature new products, demonstrations, and how-to videos for do-it-yourself projects. In between calls, we caught up with Dave to answer a few of our more pressing questions.

My Gun Culture: Tell us about the primary mission of Brownells Gun Tech team. I mean besides the obvious one of being the top-secret Q Branch supporting our special forces community. Ummm, should I not have mentioned that?

Dave: Wow! The primary mission of the Gun Tech Team, good question! Sometimes we’re not to sure what it actually is. On Monday, it’s to keep people from shooting themselves in the foot. They think of ways all weekend to do that! By Wednesday it’s changed to “how do I fit night vision onto my 2 1/2 inch barrel Taurus, without drilling and tapping?” Got to keep it original you know. But by Friday we are in development mode for stuff that your imagination can’t comprehend, so we won’t discuss it.

My Gun Culture: I don’t know Dave, I can comprehend a lot… For instance, and just hypothetically speaking, if I wanted to build a 2,000 foot per second potato gun, would the Brownells Gun Tech team be able to help me? Have you developed any supersonic spud lab data to share with your customers? I always thought that a sturdier vegetable like a radish might do better at super sonic speeds. Thoughts?

Dave: Come on Tom! Spud guns are so “like old”!! As you know, we are an Iowa company, so all of our R&D revolves around corn. We are developing a new cartridge made entirely of corn. Everything! The projectile, the propellant, the primer, and the case. One of the problems we have run into, is finding the proper thickness corn husk required for rolling the case. We always have the reloader in mind, and I’m sure you all remember rolling your own with a corn husk, right?

My Gun Culture: Wow! The ultimate in renewable green ballistics. I see a mini-Green Giant gun on the horizon – maybe 2,500 kernels per minute? I’m guessing the trick is avoiding a creamed-corn result. I bet there are some home gunsmiths out there who might be, let’s just say a little light when it comes to caution and safety. Have you ever heard any explosions on the other end of the phone line?

Dave: No explosions, just toilets flushing, showers running, dogs barking, and this damn parrot that screeched into the phone every 5 seconds. My favorite is the guy who has his wife call, and he’s in the background telling her what to say!

My Gun Culture: Hey I only did that once, and it was because, well, umm, I had laryngitis. Yep, laryngitis. Moving on… I see that Brownells carries some Zombie specific AR rifle custom parts including uppers, receivers, stocks, etc. What if you’re wrong and the world is overrun by some other type of undead – like vampires for instance. Will Brownells still stand behind the effectiveness of these products?

Dave: No guarantees on anything except zombies. We feel that if the customer is worried about vampires, werewolves, or any other un-dead, they better do a Google search, and do their own research. We can’t do everything.

My Gun Culture: Tell us more about the basic training program for prospective Brownells Gun Tech team members. After they complete the rigorous warehouse obstacle course, 200 hours of ‘Gears of War’ simulation, and blindfolded M249 SAW assembly and disassembly, what else must they do to become certified and join Brownells Team Six?

Dave: This is a pretty simple answer actually. If you don’t know everything, about everything. you just won’t cut it.

My Gun Culture: Recently we had an editorial examining whether the MK19 Automatic Grenade Launcher was appropriate for home defense. Would the experts of the Brownells Gun Tech team like to weigh in on this?

Dave: I don’t know about you, Tom, but my home is my castle. If all I had was a MK 19 Automatic Grenade Launcher, sitting in the corner, to defend myself with? You bet! Look out, it’s coming at ya! Kinda feel sorry for the neighbors, though.

My Gun Culture: Can you tell us about a couple of your more ‘interesting’ tech support calls? I can’t even begin to imagine some of the questions you get…

Dave: There was one phone call in mind, that really stands out. I was pretty new at Brownells, and took a call from a gentleman somewhere in the southern US, who proceeded to explain to me, that he had attempted to re-line his dentures with one of our premier rifle bedding products. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, as I think the pictures are starting to form in your head!

We would like to thank Dave and the great team over at Brownells for humoring us and telling us a bit more about what goes on behind the scenes. If you haven’t worked with Brownells before, check them out. When it comes to accessories, parts, gunsmithing supplies, and ammunition, if they don’t have it you probably don’t need it!

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