A more effective rifle makes a more effective rifleman. Seeing as how the U.S. Army has decided against fielding a new service rifle, anyone deploying with the U.S. Military is going to have to make do with what they have. While special operations troops often have leeway as to what they use and access to the best Gucci gear, the average grunt is on their own if they want to improve the function of their weapon, as they may have cause to use it. This is the first piece in a series of modifications to the M-4 and M-16 service rifle. These mods take less than five minutes to install and cost less than $100 a piece. Should a hyper-attentive officer get upset by a weapon not appearing the same as all the others … they can be removed without leaving a scratch.
During my time as a rifleman, I saw a great deal of modifications added to the average M4 or M16. During that time, the usual modifications consisted of a polymer magazine or two that were fairly new, magazine couplers, or possibly bi-pods. The best of these were Magpul’s PMAGs, which with their durability and reliability, eventually worked their way into service. The worst was the Beta C-Mag two-sided 100 round drum. It was expensive, big, bulky, malfunctioned often, and made the weapon decidedly heavier.
Anymore, the question of magazines is essentially over before it starts. Magpul has been accepted by the U.S. Military all around, and has since produced additional 40 round magazines and 60 round drums. While Surefire has produced some high-capacity magazines, it’s not worth bumping into the chain of command or an errant officer who may get stupid over it.
Images courtesy of Magpul
Magazine couplers are fine if they work for the individual. There’s no need to reach for a magazine pouch when the magazine is already on the weapon. Securing two magazines together does make storing them a bit trickier, and adds the weight of another magazine to the overall weight of the weapon. While it may not seem like much, a grunt making daily 10 hour patrols isn’t going to look at it fondly. However, if the extra weight isn’t a concern, Magpul makes one for less than $20.
The serious improvement however, comes from in the form of the battery assist device or B.A.D. Lever, courtesy again, of Magpul. The B.A.D. Lever attaches to the bolt release with the use of one torx screw and allows the user to release the bolt with their trigger finger. It’s worth recommending to keep the torx wrench in one’s cleaning kit, in the event that the lever needs to be removed in order to satisfy a chain of command.
Again, installation takes less than five minutes. The normal function of the bolt release continues. If the user would rather slap the bolt release with their non-shooting hand, it still works fine, perhaps better with an increased striking surface. If attempting to lock the bolt to the rear, it’s still possible to use the lower portion of the bolt release to do so. However, pressing the long side of the B.A.D. Lever is an unreliable way to lock the bolt to the rear. It does a lot, but it doesn’t do everything.
The downside is that the B.A.D. Lever does stick out a little from the left side of the weapon, so getting hung up on one’s gear could be an issue. It sticks out less than the average charging handle extension, so if the user is comfortable with an extended charging handle then it shouldn’t be a problem. Like everything when it comes to gear and weapons, it’s worth testing to make sure the benefits outweigh the costs. For $30, it’s worth a try. It’s also worth mentioning that the biggest endorsement of the B.A.D. Lever came to me from a member of 1st Force Recon, who said it was their S.O.P. Using the trigger finger to access the bolt release once the magazine is inserted after reload without having to move the shooting hand is decidedly more intuitive than using the non-shooting hand and frequently having to try more than once, or look down at the weapon to find the bolt release.
As a grunt, how to reload quickly and effectively was a big deal. Discussions were had regarding everything from using your thumb to the meaty portion of your hand to hit the bolt release. Speed reload pouches and their placement were scrutinized heavily. With the length of those discussions in my back pocket, the B.A.D. Lever seems to be an answer to that question.
Below is a video comparison of the B.A.D. Lever vs the standard bolt release.
Featured image courtesy of Magpul.