Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Left Handed AR Manipulations

Although the ergonomics of the AR platform are designed for a right hand shooter, with the proper techniques it’s no problem for a left-handed shooter to operate. The manipulation techniques to operate the AR left-handed are easy to learn. If you’re a right-handed shooter it might come in handy to know how to manipulate the weapon on your other side, and for an instructor these skills are necessary to teach others.

For a lefty the trigger finger operates the trigger, and also the bolt release. Remember the AR is designed with a bolt release, so use it, not the charging handle, to release the bolt when it’s locked to the rear. The right thumb operates the mag release. With the hand on the handguard you simply slide it to the rear so the right thumb can press the mag release.

To manipulate the safety there are a couple of options. The left thumb can rest on top of the safety, ready to depress it immediately, and then you shift the thumb to the other side to complete the left hand’s grip. To engage the safety you can normally bump it up with the trigger finger. The other choice is to use the trigger finger to depress and engage the safety. The technique you pick should be dictated by what provides the quickest response time to get hits, starting from a ready position with safety on.

To operate the charging handle you also have a couple of options. One school of thought is to cycle it with the support hand, maintaining your firing grip on the weapon whenever possible. For a left-handed shooter this means using the first two fingers on the right hand to form “snake fangs” and coming over the top of the rifle to grasp the handle. The other choice is to cycle with the left hand, which does take your hand off the grip, but if you’re cycling the charging handle then the weapon can’t be shot anyway.

When you have a choice to make in technique you choose the one that works best for you as an individual. In a fight best usually means quickest, and not quick during perfect range conditions, but under actual fighting conditions such as moving, using cover and in a low-light environment.

As for modifying your weapon for left-handed operation I would vote no. Remember there’s no golden rule that says you’ll always have your personal weapon. Being use to working with a modified rifle but then having to fight with a standard weapon could lead to time consuming problems.

Once you’ve decided how to operate your weapon strive for consistency. Your manipulations are performed the same way, every time, unless certain circumstances such as injuries prevent you from using the standard technique. This way you get in proper repetitions every time you perform an action, you’re operating the weapon safely, and insuring that when lives are at stake your actions will be automatic. Consistency, both mental and physical, is the key to victory.


September 19, 2010 - Posted by | AR-15

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