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Thread: Looking at Three Ambi Magazine Releases

  1. #1
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    Looking at Three Ambi Magazine Releases

    I’m left handed and several years ago I installed a Troy ambi mag release on one of my first builds. After some original fitment issues which I believe were receiver related and cured with a stone, the Troy worked flawlessly. Well enough that I have used the Troy Ambidextrous Magazine Release on several subsequent builds.

    Recently I came across the Knight’s Ambidextrous Magazine Release Assembly on the Brownell’s site. It seemed too inexpensive to be an actual KAC product (LOL) but after checking the Knight’s website and confirming the price, I gladly ordered one.

    Shortly after that I read a thread concerning ambidextrous magazine releases and decided I’d get a Norgon Ambi-Catch and do a comparative review. The Norgon’s are pretty pricey, so I picked up a Battle Steel clone from Botach.

    Installation of all three of these ambi mag releases is the same as installing a standard mag release.

    First let’s see them uninstalled:

    Troy Ambi Release.jpgKAC Ambi Release.jpgBattle Steel Ambi Mag Release - Norgon Clone.jpg

    Installed into weapons:

    IMG_4016.jpg

    Troy: The Troy was the first ambi mag release I’d ever installed or used. I found it to be well constructed and easy to manipulate. The easiest way to explain function is that the back of the release lever is wedge shaped on the bottom half, forming a fulcrum. Pushing down/in on the bottom portion of the lever moves the mag catch outward releasing the magazine. The lower you get on the grooved portion of the lever the easier it is to manipulate.

    In my normal FOT position the tip of my finger rests just below the bottom of the bolt catch. The tip of my finger touches the ambi-release lever near the top. In this location it is not possible for me to release the magazine because my finger tip is above the wedge on the back of the ambi-release lever. By lowering and straightening my finger I can contact the lever low enough to release the magazine without shifting my grip although I generally shift enough to place the entire pad of my finger on the ambi-release lever. I wear XL gloves, shooters with shorter fingers will have to shift their grip to activate this release.

    There is a slight chance that a piece of webbing or other piece of kit could become wedged underneath the Troy release lever. If that occurred it would prevent the ambi release from functioning as long as the webbing remained in place. The standard mag release button would still be functional. I did not do destructive testing to see whether the release lever would separate from the assembly before bending the actual catch itself.

    Additionally, the Troy ambi release pivots on the surface of the lower receiver, so you should expect to see some wear marks in that location. These are not apparent while the Troy ambi release is installed.

    Knight’s: The Knight’s was the second ambi mag release I tried. The release lever of the Knight’s uses the same fulcrum/pivot principle as the Troy to move the magazine catch outward. The Knight’s lever has the longest extension past the pivot point and, therefore, is by far the easiest of the three samples evaluated to manipulate. The Knight’s also rides against the surface of the receiver so a wear mark is to be expected.

    In my normal FOT position my finger is resting on the release lever of the Knight’s. My fingers are long enough that the distal phalanges is beyond the pivot point of the lever and therefore cannot activate the release without bending the finger. Shooters with shorter fingers may not find this to be the case.

    There is a greater likelihood of a piece of webbing sliding under the Knight’s release lever. Because of the length of the release lever it is also more likely this could result in damage to the assembly. Once again, I have not done destructive testing to see the likelihood of damage to the actual magazine catch.

    IMG_4027.jpg

    The Knight’s ambi mag release comes with an oversized, round magazine release button to replace the standard button. Initially I installed the assembly with the ODIN Works EMR I already had on the rifle, but later I installed the round Knight’s button. I like it. It doesn’t come back as far as the ODIN Works EMR does but it has more area than the standard release and is as large as most other oversized buttons.

    Norgon as cloned by Battle Steel: The internet says that Norgon’s patent has expired on their Ambi-Catch. Botach has produced a copy under the Battle Steel label. At $25.00 for the clone and $82.00 for the original the choice was easy for me to make, especially since I was merely purchasing the item for this review. For purposes of this review I’ll refer to it as the Norgon.

    The Norgon differs from the Knight’s and the Troy insofar as the ambi release lever is actually the bolt catch. The lever is attached to the base (shaft which extends through rifle) and as the shooter presses down on the serrated depression surface, the lever pivots on the pivot boss and disengages the engagement surface.

    Since the release lever is actually the magazine catch, if the release lever of the Norgon breaks away or comes loose from the base, the rifle no longer has a functional magazine release. The good news is, this is highly unlikely to occur.

    When installed on my rifle, the bottom of the release is slightly below the corresponding portion of the receiver. Thus, it is virtually impossible for any portion of a shooter’s equipment to snag the catch and render it inoperable.

    In my normal FOT position, the tip of my finger falls naturally onto the serrated surface of the lever. I was not comfortable with this, however after reading this on the Norgon site....By design, the Ambi-Catch™ requires more force to release the magazine when it is fully loaded. The engagement tooth has increased surface area which resists releasing the magazine if the serrated depressing surface is “bumped” slightly......I paid attention and did observe that it requires more pressure to release a loaded magazine using the Norgon clone than with the other releases. This did alleviate my concerns in this area somewhat, other folks may feel differently.

    A common concern voiced by other Norgon Ambi-Catch users is the possibility of inadvertently releasing a magazine when locking the bolt to the rear due to the unit’s proximity to the bolt catch. This is a possibility, but to me, taken in context it is not a war stopper.

    In my view you lock the bolt to the rear to unload and clear the weapon, in which case the magazine should already be removed. You also lock the bolt to the rear during remedial action, generally removing the magazine is part of the remedial process.

    Using the releases: Prior to writing this I had used the Troy release for over a year with no problems, because of that I did not do a dedicated range session with the Troy. I tested/used the Norgon and the Knight’s during two separate range sessions using the same 90 to 100 round drills.

    I took two mags of 28 rounds, fired at one target, speed reloaded, came up on the same target then transitioned to the second target and fired the second round (trying to work something aside from reloads). Repeated until empty. I then loaded with a magazine of one round and prepped several magazines with two rounds. Fired one, emergency reload, came up on the same target, transitioned to the next target and fired. Repeated about 12-15 times.

    Both the Knight’s and the Norgon worked flawlessly. I didn’t fumble around with either one. As mentioned earlier, I had observed the same results with the Troy.

    So what are my conclusions? First of all, emotionally, my favorite release is the Knight’s. I just liked using it the best. Having said that, I would hesitate to recommend putting the Knight’s on a general issue patrol or battle rifle simply because of the possibility of disabling the release by snagging webbing. Another concern would be short fingers laying on top of the release lever in the FOT position. However, as I’ve mentioned, that is probably the area most of our fingers ride when FOT as we are shooting right handed.

    As far as I’m concerned the Knight’s is THE 3-gun ambi-mag release

    I liked that the Norgon’s release pad is located pretty much exactly opposite of the standard release button. Of the three, IMO, the Norgon is the least likely to be rendered inoperable by outside forces. It also will cause no marring of the receiver’s surface. I felt the Norgon’s weakest point was its close proximity to the bolt catch.

    Although I did not test either the Norgon or the Knight’s with BAD levers, it is readily apparent that the Knight’s release is not compatible with a BAD lever. The Norgon release does not cause any mechanical interference, as in rubbing against the lever, but the close proximity of the BAD lever to the Norgon release pad would make using the mag release more difficult. See photo of Norgon with BAD lever installed in next post)

    If I was equipping a police department’s patrol rifles with an ambi-release it would be the Troy. Simply because if your finger finds the Troy release it was looking for it. The Troy is also the only one of the three releases I believe would be fully compatible with a BAD lever.

    If you asked me which magazine ambi mag release to put on a rifle you were carrying in harm’s way, I would have to recommend the Troy.
    Last edited by 26 Inf; 03-14-17 at 18:31.

  2. #2
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    I could not add this picture to the above post. I shows the Norgon Ambi-Catch with a BAD lever also installed on the rifle. I feel they are too close for reliable operation.

    Norgon with BAD lever.jpg

  3. #3
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    Excellent post.
    "I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing." - Kim du Toit

  4. #4
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    Great post and exactly the choice I made for all of my rifles. Much more articulate as to why then I could have written. I tried all 3 and with medium sized hands the Norgon was not as fast for me or as easy to hit. I also put them my rifles while deployed downrange. The only issue I had with Troy was loosing a roll pin on one, which still allowed it to work as a right hander. Troy had me a replacement and the button and roll pin replacements to me in a week. That was one out of probably 8 I've had over the years.
    For you have armed me with strength for the
    battle, you have subdued under me those who rose up against me. I have pursued
    my enemies and overtaken them. Neither did I turn back again till they were
    destroyed.

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    Excellent write up. Here's how I would solve your issues with the Norgon. Ditch the BAD. Too many reasons why to list here. Use an ABC/R http://forwardcontrolsdesign.com/ABC...5M16_p_24.html as it was designed from the ground up to play well with the Norgon. My rifles are set up this way, and run great.

    Written by a right hander. YMMV
    "Guns are like neurosurgeons. When you need one, you need one badly."

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    Sig Sauer also does a nice ambi that I got on my M400 Enhanced rifle. They don't list heaps of parts on their website, but you can call them directly and order them. I can post pics of the installation on my rifle if anyone would like.

    ABT

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  8. #8
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    Here's their ambi installed on my M400 with the BAD lever alongside it.


  9. #9
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    Great post.

    Always been a Norgon ambi, I have a few but the price limits me from putting them on all my guns. I have a troy, it works, but I would not buy another.

    What really has me interested in your post is cheap Norgons. I can see the Sig knock off is made in India, I would assume same or china for the Botach one. I like the idea of made in AMerica, but not at over three times the price. I'll pay double for made in USA, not triple.

    I'm going to get one Sig, one Botach and compare to my Norgon.

    ETA:I now realize the Sig one is not a Norgon clone, I'll just try a Botach one.
    Last edited by TMS951; 03-15-17 at 11:38.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by TMS951 View Post
    What really has me interested in your post is cheap Norgons. I can see the Sig knock off is made in India, I would assume same or china for the Botach one. I like the idea of made in AMerica, but not at over three times the price. I'll pay double for made in USA, not triple.
    The Battle Steel has a 'Made in the USA' logo prominently displayed in their photo on the Botach sight.

    FWIW Botach shipped quickly on the last two orders I made from them.

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