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In March of 2008 I attended a “Mindset Handgun” class taught by Travis Haley just before he dissolved his previous company, Simply Dynamic, Inc. (or SDI), and took up with the training arm of Magpul Industries, Magpul Dynamics.
Several times during that class Travis and I discussed carbines and all things related to same. One of the items he showed me was his BAD Lever. BAD stands for Battery Assist Device, and consists of an L-shaped piece of aluminum with lightening slots cut into it.
The BAD bolts on to the bolt catch and extends down the side of the lower receiver before turning 90 degrees through the trigger guard and protruding from the ejection port side. This allows the shooter to operate the bolt catch with the trigger finger of the right hand, both for releasing the bolt into battery and for locking the bolt back and out of battery.
When combined with a Redi-Mag (especially the no-longer-available Gen I that releases both magazines with the press of the stock magazine release button) the BAD becomes a very effective device for speeding up ones out-of-batter (or bolt-hold-open) reloads. However, what Travis stressed to me over and over again was that this increase in speed, while desirable, was secondary to the true benefit of the BAD, which is clearing doublefeeds in the AR.
Clearance of a doublefeed requires one to lock the bolt to the rear, strip the magazine and discard (since doublefeeds are usual magazine induced), running the bolt three times, locking the bolt to the rear again, “visually and digitally inspect” the chamber, insert a fresh magazine, and release the bolt. Anyone familiar with the AR platform and doublefeed clearance realizes that this requires quite the hand dance to accomplish.
Whether you use your right hand to reach under the trigger guard and push the bottom of the bolt catch while operating the charging handle with the left hand (my preferred method, for what it’s worth), or using the thumb of the left hand to press the bolt catch while pulling on the charging handle with the right hand, the hands are in constant motion and the process takes a considerable amount of time.
If, however, you give the shooter the ability to lock the bolt to the rear without ever removing their right hand from the pistol grip you have greatly reduced the amount of time required to clear this type of malfunction.
To say that I did not understand the stir this lever would cause on the various interweb forums is an understatement. Travis initially asked me not to publish any photographs of the lever but when I saw other recipients beginning to post pictures of theirs it appeared that the secret was out. Since posting a few pictures of the lever on my website at www.tacticalyellowvisor.net I have gotten more emails than I can count from people looking for the lever (please stop. I don’t know where you can get a BAD, and no you can’t have mine!). Unfortunately most think that it is going to cure all that ails their emergency reloads, and the malfunction clearance benefit is lost on them.
Since Travis has now taken up with Magpul, the obvious assumption is that Magpul will be producing the lever. This is both good and bad. Good in that it means that they will not release a product that is not 100%, bad in that it means who knows when they will get around to releasing them. In this day and age it should come as no surprise to anyone that other companies moved in where Magpul left off and filled the void.
I had mixed feelings about purchasing one of these levers due to concerns about rewarding those that didn’t development their own idea, by buying their products. Since Travis and Magpul appear to have no interest in taking any action against these manufacturers I decided to pick up one of each of the two most popular copies and test them out for myself and compare them to what I consider the “original.”
I keep hearing that these types of levers have been around for years, yet for some reason nobody can show me one, so to me the Magpul/SDI BAD will remain the “original” in my mind. On a side note, if you think that levers like this one available from Brownells are the same thing, you’ve missed the point entirely.
There are two prominent companies making and selling their own versions of this lever. The first is Tango 5 Tactical, which has told me they are 2-3 weeks away from catching up on production and to check back at that time. He has been selling them through various Internet forums like AR15.com for $42/ea. This version appears to have a thinner armature and attaches to the stock bolt catch by clamping down on it with two screws.
The other is Phase 5 Tactical, which makes two versions of the lever. The first, the EBRv1, is made from aluminum and bolts on to the stock bolt catch by clamping down with three screws and is the subject of this article. The second, the EBRv2, is made of steel and comes with a bolt catch to which it is welded. The EBRv1 sells for $46 while the EBRv2 sells for $56. Both prices include shipping.
On the left is the Phase 5 Tactical Extended Bolt Release and on the right is what I’m going to call the SDI BAD. Several differences immediately jump out, and will be discussed later in more detail, but the most evident difference between the two is the lightening treatment. The EBR has scallops along one edge that frankly appear to be there for nothing more than decoration, while the BAD has actual cuts made into the lever. We’ll discuss why this is important later on.
In profile you can see that the BAD makes a 90 degree turn while the EBR instead angles slightly through the trigger guard. I have not found any benefit or detriment to either approach so far, but I was skeptical at first that the angle of the EBR would put it too low in the trigger guard. More on this when we get to pictures of both levers installed.
As you can see from the above photo, the EBR weighs in at 0.7 oz. while the BAD weighs in at 0.3 oz. That means the EBR weighs twice what the BAD does. While this is clearly not going to be a load and fatigue issue on the shooter, when you figure that the magazine spring has to push up on the follower, which in turn has to push up on the bolt catch, which now has an eccentric load on it that it wasn’t designed to handle, you can see where light weight is critical in this application. Too much weight on the bolt catch could slow the catch down just enough that it may not raise up in time to catch the carrier as is moves back and forth in the upper.
The EBR and the BAD mount in completely different ways. The EBR relies on three phillips-head screws, while the BAD relies on a single allen-head bolt. The EBR relies entirely on the clamping force of these three screws on the steel back plate while the BAD uses the notch cut out in the aluminum back plate, and the lever itself to surround the paddle of the bolt catch. It is specifically designed so that it does not clamp down and instead is a looser fit on the paddle than the EBR. This looseness means that BAD wobbles considerably more than the EBR, but it also may aid in allowing the stock bolt catch to move more freely to catch the carrier.
I encountered a few issues when attempting to install the EBR. I already had the BAD and had it installed on a rifle which also wore the Blue Force Gear Redi-Mod version of the Redi-mag mentioned above. I had to remove the BAD for the photographs above, and I wanted to take pictures of the EBR mounted the same way that I mount my BAD. The problem, as outlined in the pictures below, is that the EBRv1 is not compatible with the Redi-Mag.
As described above, one of the advantages to these types of levers is the added emergency reload speed, which is also increased by using a Redi-Mag. However one of the un-mentioned advantages is that without one of these levers the addition of a Redi-Mag makes accessing the stock paddle difficult. By making their EBRv1 non-compatible with this device they have removes 1/3 of the usefulness of the lever. In fairness, the welded-on EBRv2 would appear to have no trouble clearing the Redi-Mag.
The solution to all of the above was to drag out another lower that does not have wear a Redi-Mag so that the EBR could be installed and the comparison could continue. Please note that both lowers are registered Short Barreled Rifles (SBRs) so there are no legal issues with the same 11.5″ barreled upper being on both lowers.
Another issue with the EBR is that due to not having the cut-out rear like the BAD installation, elevation is entirely subjective. While it may seem nice to
have the flexibility, there is a potential for the lever to bind if installed too high on the paddle as shown on the left.
Furthermore, the soft metal of both the backing plate and the screws leaves something to be desired. The stripped screws and bent plate were not
the result of any lever but instead came from using a “stubby” phillips-head screwdriver with a blade that fit the slots perfectly.
From this angle you can see that the screws on the EBR extend past the backing plate, in part because the plate bent. This does not appear to
negatively impact the function of the device.
The outside face of both levers once installed. Note the Redi-Mag is installed with the BAD which is not possible with the EBRv1.
The stock bolt catch will wobble back and forth slightly in it’s groove if pushed. Most people will never realize this since the catch is a very short lever and therefore the perceived wobble is very small. Attach a longer lever, however, and the wobble becomes more pronounced at the tip and therefore more evident.
When I first installed the BAD last year the first thing I noticed was that it moved fore and aft quite a bit. Subsequently I think this may be intentional in the design as it gives the stock paddle a little more room to move to do its job of holding the bolt open on an empty magazine. Let’s take a look at the two levers and the relative amount of movement.
The other question is one of projection. The Catch-22 is that if the lever extends too far out on the ejection port side of the gun then it’s more prone to catching on things, but if it doesn’t extend out far enough then it can’t work as it is supposed to. Both levers appear to be about equal in this regard.
Finally, pictures of the levers installed on a complete firearm.
EBR installed on Colt 6933 with Magpul MOE furniture, Aimpoint T-1 in Larue Tactical mount, Larue Tactical rear BUIS and Surefire X300 attached to the FSB via a Midwest Industries mount.
BAD installed on another 6933 lower wearing Magpul CTR stock and MIAD grip as well as Blue Force Gear Redi-Mod version of the Redi-Mag. Upper and parts remain from picture above.
Upon initial review of the two levers, I found aspects of both designs that I liked.
The steel backing plate of the EBR seems like a desirable feature given that no matter how many screws are used to hold it on, it still requires screws. Having a harder material than aluminum seems like a good idea when threading a steel screw into it. However, that steel either needs to be hard enough to resist bending, or needs to have a cutout like the BAD so that it bottoms out and stops at a certain point.
Therefore, based on initial impressions, what I’d really like to see is the design of the BAD, with a slightly thinner backing plate made of steel so that it can clamp more securely onto the paddle of the stock bolt catch.
The BAD weighs half as much as the EBR. Even if it had a steel backing plate it would still be considerably lighter. This just seems like a good idea to me.
In fact such a good idea that I’d like to cut slots into the EBR. The problem is that the otherwise function-less scallop cuts down the one side makes this a difficult proposition. I am, however, so committed to lightening the weight of the lever that I am going to be drilling lightening holes in it along it’s length in-between the scallops.
While both levers project out from the triggerguard far enough, the slightly longer projection of the BAD just seems to be easier to hit. It also is easier to raise up on for locking the bolt to the rear for admin functions or for malfunction clearance.
The BAD has a subtle notch cut into the bottom of the projection that also makes for a nice index point for the trigger finger when locking the bolt to the rear.
What it really comes down to is that the BAD comes across as the better designed piece. While I’d like to see a steel backing plate, I can’t argue with success and the BAD definitely is working well for those of us that were lucky enough to get our hands on one.
The use of one of these levers affects the manual of arms of the gun it’s mounted on. Period. That is a fact. It changes the way that you release the bolt after an emergency reload and it changes the way that you lock the bolt to the rear to clear a malfunction.
The good news is that if you revert to the old way of operating the gun, having one of these levers installed will not affect your ability to accomplish these tasks.
Typically when the shooter performs and emergency reload the following sequence occurs (when shooting right-handed):
The technique when one of these levers is utilized is slightly different:
One less step, yes, but it’s a pretty important step. If you use a Redi-Mag or Redi-Mod, step 7 in the first example can be pretty difficult. The Redi-Mag makes the bolt catch harder to access and eliminates using the heel of the hand from the list of possible options.
The real value, however, is in clearing a double-feed. One traditional method of which is (again when shooting right-handed):
The techniques when one of these levers is utilized is dramatically different:
Note that at no time does your right hand leave the firing grip. Additionally, you are using your left hand to run the charging handle every single time, just like you would for any other manipulations of the gun. You’re also using your right trigger finger to manipulate the bolt catch just like you would for any other manipulations of the gun.
Consistency is a good thing as it leads to increased speed. A double-feed at the wrong time, whether on the game clock or the life clock, can be a catastrophic event. Having a way to clear it that is not only faster but also more consistent with your other manipulations is a good thing.
The obvious problem, the consistency, goes both ways. Not having one of these levers on every gun that you run regularly could lead to issues.
Similarly if chances are good that you may wind up shooting someone else’s gun (whether a loaner, a pickup, or whatever) then being used to operating with one of these levers could pose a problem when you switch back.
Even in learning how to use the lever there may be a steep learning curve involved (see more on this under “Actual Use” below).
As mentioned, I actually received the BAD in early 2008. However, since I was working strictly with the AK that year I really didn’t get a chance to try the lever out until I moved back to the AR for 2009.
The first chance I had to run it was at our February South Florida Defensive Carbine match, and I specifically designed stages that I knew would give me the opportunity to try it out. Prior to the match I had performed hundreds of the reloads with the new lever at home in dryfire practice.
This video shows my first ever attempt at running the BAD during live-fire. Note the emergency reload at +/- the 12 second mark, and the growl of frustration that accompanied it. The issue I encountered had more to do with the Redi-Mag than it did with the lever, but you can see where adjusting one’s TTPs can take a lot of practice to settle into.
By Stage Three I had settled into the manipulations a bit better and had less trouble. Dryfire is good, but live-fire is really necessary to get this thing down.
What your hands are already in motion to do while your subconscious brain tries to communicate with your conscious brain makes a difference, and what your hands need to be doing is taking advantage of the tools in them in the most efficient way possible.
I continued to use the BAD in matches and drills nights that I run, and designing stages and drills to take advantage of the lever in the emergency reload capacity. I have had at least one occasion on which to use the lever while clearing what appeared to be a doublefeed. It was, in fact, a stuck case that required much more remedial action than anything I carry in my hands or on the gun.
I have never experienced a failure to lock the bolt back on an empty magazine, to include Bravo Company USA GI magazines (both with and without Magpul followers), Magpul Pmags, Lancer L5, and Tango Down ARC, and while I did not keep records I would estimate that all told I have fired to bolt-hold-open (BHO) at least 15 times with the BAD installed.
I ordered the Phase 5 Tactical EBRv1 in early July and received it promptly. After all of the above issues with installation I was finally ready to get it out to the range, but the South Florida weather was not cooperating and the July South Florida Defensive Carbine match on the 28th was the first opportunity I got to run it.
This video shows my first live-fire with the EBR which included two emergency reloads and one transition to pistol for a total of 3 BHO. The bolt locked back successfully every time. However, the second time I ran this stage (it was a head-to-head stage) the bolt failed to lock to the rear on the second reload, thereby costing me the win.
This video shows Stage Three from that night where again I performed two emergency reloads and the bolt locked back both times. This makes for a total of 8 BHO with one failure to lock back. Certainly not catastrophic, but not ideal either. More testing and more firing will be necessary to determine if that one time was a fluke or if the added weight of the Phase 5 EBRv1 is problematic.
In addition to this, I have also come to appreciate the looseness of the BAD over the EBR. Not only to I believe that the looseness of the BAD allows the bolt catch to operate more reliably because it has more freedom of movement, but I have also found that it cuts down on accidental closing of the bolt.
Contrary to the video above I typically transition to handgun with the ejection port facing in towards my body, and walk around slung up that way as well. This means that the protrusion of the lever is also facing my body.
We are required to run a cold range at the facility where we conduct drills and matches, which means that when walking around the carbines must be unloaded and preferably the bolt locked to the rear. I never once had an issue with the BAD causing the bolt to drop yet I have had to constantly fight with the EBR.
I can only assume that the looseness allows the BAD to have that little bit of extra wiggle room that lets it move rather than transfer the bump to the bolt catch.
Summed up in one sentence: The Phase 5 Tactical EBRv1 is exactly what it appears to be; a reverse-engineered and lesser copy of the original SDI/Magpul BAD.
It is clear that Travis knew exactly what he was doing when he designed the BAD and that he incorporated that knowledge very well into the design. The Phase 5 version looks, feels, and operates like a beta-test version of something where the kinks haven’t all been worked out and the base knowledge isn’t there.
However, the Phase 5 is available now, and the BAD is…. well it’s in the hands of Magpul, with all of the good and bad that goes along with that. In the good news department they had a plastic version at SHOT, although not available for photographs, that would indicate that they are making progress.
Some students of Magpul Dynamics are also reporting back seeing various versions in Travis’s hands at class, which is also encouraging.
I have a Morrigan Consulting Carbine CQC course with Bill Jeans coming up in September of 2009 at the Southern Exposure Training Facility in Lakeland, FL and I intend to run one or both of these levers for some or all of the class.
I will continue to evaluate and determine if, despite all of it’s seeming shortcomings, the Phase 5 delivers on it’s 2/3 functionality at least.
I am also hoping that the Tango 5 version mentioned in the beginning of this article will be available either by the time of that class or shortly thereafter to add to the mix and sort out. Time, and rounds downrange, will tell.
ITS Tactical would like to thank Rob Sloyer of TacticalYellowVisor.net for his in-depth and well researched guest-post.
Sloyer’s writing focuses on building, competing, and training with handguns and rifles as they pertain to self, family, and homeland defense. His articles have most recently been featured in S.W.A.T. Magazine.
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That is peculiar because I have a LMT upper and the magpul BAD fits with no modification period. I have several others such as YHM and a noveske and no problems with the BAD maybe you had an out of spec LMT.
I got done installing a Magpul BAD on a LMT MRP and a Colt 9620. And I am not impressed with the "easy" installation process. With the LMT, I had the mill top portion of the back plate to fit the upper. On the 9620, it was the opposite, i hand to flatten the entire back and trim back the lower part of the back plate. Its a great idea but the back plate does not fit all uppers. If your going to buy these, buy from someone that let you return them if they dont work.
Nothing first hand. A friend ran one, and I ran my v1 because my BAD hadn't come in yet, for three days. Neither of us had any issues. He had the lightened v2 on his gun which (style aside) I think is a good improvement.
Video of running the P5 tonight. Fired to bolt hold-open a total of 6 times tonight with zero failures to lock back.
Video of running the P5 tonight. Fired to bolt hold-open a total of 6 times tonight with zero failures to lock back. http://tinyurl.com/mqxvsw
I have been hounding and hounding over a BAD Lever for almost a year now... I finally three weeks ago purchased the EBR v2 from Phase 5. I got it used at 40.00. And now the "real" bad is out. I guess my credit card will be hurting soon as brownells get them in.
Hey Rob, Want to buy a used V2 EBR. I'll Make you a deal. PM me on Lightfighter same username.
I have been hounding and hounding over a BAD Lever for almost a year now... I finally three weeks ago purchased the EBR v2 from Phase 5. I got it used at 40.00. And now the "real" bad is out. I guess my credit card will be hurting soon as brownells get them in. Hey Rob, Want to buy a used V2 EBR. I'll Make you a deal. PM me on Lightfighter same username. KKJ-Out!
What I meant was that the bolt release has MORE to do with the double-feed than does even the mag design.
Actually, AR double-feeds are not mag-induced, but quite simply AR-induced. . .I mean the design. Anyone that knows anything about ARs, as opposed to other rifle designs will tell you exactly the same thing. The bolt release has even less to do with the double-feed than does the mag design.
Even AKs can induce double-feeds. The culprit in both designs is the frantic operation of the charging handle. In both designs a double-feed can result, more so with the AR. Charging MUST be a calm, concerted effort to rack a new round into the chamber. Nothing else. Frantic gets you problems with both.
Actually, AR double-feeds are not mag-induced, but quite simply AR-induced. . .I mean the design. Anyone that knows anything about ARs, as opposed to other rifle designs will tell you exactly the same thing. The bolt release has even less to do with the double-feed than does the mag design. Even AKs can induce double-feeds. The culprit in both designs is the frantic operation of the charging handle. In both designs a double-feed can result, more so with the AR. Charging MUST be a calm, concerted effort to rack a new round into the chamber. Nothing else. Frantic gets you problems with both.
That's pretty much counter to conventional wisdom and anything anyone with any actual time spent with an AR will tell you. Doublefeeds are most typically caused by spread feedlips allowing two rounds to be stripped from the magazine. It has nothing to do with the gun, the design of the gun, or the bolt release. and you missed the point. This lever is an aid in CLEARING a doublefeed. not preventing one. Doublefeed clearance is done by first locking the bolt to the rear. These levers allow you to do that without removing your firing hand from the pistol grip.
Another link to Travis demonstrating
Another link to Travis demonstrating http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moas5mUD9yA
That's a good news! just in time, I was going to purchase the Phase 5 tactical ebr.
Pics show clearly that a ambi-mag catch is not a problem, great. Now I need to find a distributor :)
Thanks for the great report Rob!
By the way theeiirr heeerrreeee!!!!
Thanks for the great report Rob! By the way theeiirr heeerrreeee!!!! http://www.magpul.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=81&products_id=362
Okay, thanks for the reply,
I guess I'm going to purchase the EBR, and after try the Magpul, when it will be available.
I assume Magpul BAD will be made out of polymer...
I do not run any Redi mag on my weapon system, but I do have an ambidextrous mag catch, Do you know if those kind of lever could interfere?
Okay, thanks for the reply, I guess I'm going to purchase the EBR, and after try the Magpul, when it will be available. I assume Magpul BAD will be made out of polymer... I do not run any Redi mag on my weapon system, but I do have an ambidextrous mag catch, Do you know if those kind of lever could interfere?
Buakaw, No these are no longer available. You have the option of buying either the Phase 5 EBR, Tango 5 once it becomes available, or wait for Magpul to release their version of Travis' design.
While I wait to generate my own videos I wanted to post a link to a video from another guy that has one of the BAD levers from Travis showing how it works. There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what the trigger finger is doing and where it is going. Hopefully this helps explain that.
While I wait to generate my own videos I wanted to post a link to a video from another guy that has one of the BAD levers from Travis showing how it works. There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what the trigger finger is doing and where it is going. Hopefully this helps explain that. http://tinyurl.com/qnauuh
Another video, this one of Travis running it with a Gen I Redimag. http://tinyurl.com/kmvurh There's another video of Travis running the lever at an indoor range that's even better and has more slow motion in it. I'm trying to find that one now.
you mention several times something along the line that the EBRv2 has "function-less scallops" along the edge. Though I am not as much a fan of them as the I am the BAD's pretty milled out slots, you seem to miss that those "function-less scallops" are in fact the Phase5's attempt at weight savings. rather than mill out, they just shaved down. got to give them credit it for that.
I thank you for the write up! People need to hear independant opinions like this article. If I may add a few comments. The EBRv1 shown is an older model and has since been improved. Broader finger paddle, higher quality screws, are among the improvements. This item compared was not intended to be used with the Redi-Mag. We would have liked to see our EBRv2 compared; The(one piece)direct replacement unit that eliminates all of the screws, backing plate, and was made to be used with a Redi-Mag. For information on the EBRv1 and EBRv2 go to www.phase5tactcal.com Here is a picture of the EBRv2 one peice direct replacement unit
I thank you for the write up! People need to hear independant opinions like this article. If I may add a few comments. The EBRv1 shown is an older model and has since been improved. Broader finger paddle, higher quality screws, are among the improvements. This item compared was not intended to be used with the Redi-Mag. We would have liked to see our EBRv2 compared; The(one piece)direct replacement unit that eliminates all of the screws, backing plate, and was made to be used with a Redi-Mag. For information on the EBRv1 and EBRv2 go to www.phase5tactcal.com Here is a picture of the EBRv2 one peice direct replacement unit http://www.phase5tactical.com/press/EBRv2.jpg
It is my intention to add the EBRv2 and the Tango 5 to this review as soon as I can get them and get some trigger time with them. I would like to have the change to run all four in a class I am taking in three weeks. As to age, the EBRv1 in this article was purchased on 3 July 2009.
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