Whether it's the versatility of its modular design, enabling nearly infinite degrees of customization, or the ability to swap a variety of accessories and parts to the ballistic and economic advantages of a multicaliber conversion, there's no need for a degree in mechanical engineering to understand why AR-platform rifles have captured the attention and hearts of so many firearm enthusiasts. That's not to say the AR platform isn't without its faults. Case in point, whether you're right or left handed, the simple act of deactivating the safety/selector requires altering your grip. Thankfully, there's a cure to this minute, but potentially critical compromise to shooter readiness in the form of the Blackhawk Offset Safety Selector.
Originally introduced at the 2013 SHOT Show, the component is a drop-in part that requires only a screwdriver to install. Its advantages are twofold:
1) It contains a built-in 45-degree offset, which translates to a shorter travel and lessens the range of motion required for actuation, which keeps your hand wrapped around the pistol grip where it suppose to be.
2) The paddles (yes this component is ambidextrous) feature a larger profile to offer easier access and purchase.
While the instructions are easy to comprehend (and include comprehensive illustrations), the installation process can be broken down into a few easy steps:
1) After visually and tactilely confirming your rifle is unloaded, remove the upper receiver from the lower receiver and set it aside.
2) Instead of completely removing the pistol grip from the lower receiver, simply loosen the grip screw a few turns, (enough to expose a few coils of the safety/selector-detent spring sandwiched between the pistol grip and the underside of the lower receiver) Relieving the tension not only enable you to remove the original safety/selector lever, it lessens the likelihood of losing the small, aforementioned parts.
3) Lift the original safety/selector from the left side of the receiver.
4) Replace it with the Blackhawk Offset Safety Selector. (You may need to depress the exposed detent with the edge of a flat-head screwdriver when installing the new part.)
5) With the Blackhawk upgrade in place, simply tighten the screw that retains the pistol grip until it is snug.
6) Replace the upper receiver.
To ensure the Blackhawk Offset Safety Selector was installed correctly, perform a function check to make sure it operates correctly:
1) Making sure the muzzle is pointed in a safe direction, cock the hammer and pull the trigger . The hammer should fall freely.
2) Holding the trigger down, cycle the charging handle to cock the hammer again and slowly allow the trigger to return forward, listening for the sear to reset. (The hammer should remain in the cocked position.)
3) Place the Blackhawk Offset Safety Selector in the "safe" position and attempt to pull the trigger. The hammer should not move.
4) Rotate the safety/selector in the "fire" position and pull the trigger. The hammer should fall freely.
From the moment you shoulder the rifle and actuate the safety/selector, the benefit of the larger offset paddle should be realized instantaneously.
In addition to facilitating easier movement, paddle rotation is shorter (from roughly the 1:30 to the 4:30 position), and your thumb doesn't have as far to move.