GLOCK® Perfection perfected
I’ll oftentimes joke about "leftie shooter problems," and I’m always on the hunt for quality ambidextrous components that make shooting as a leftie in a rightie’s world more functional and ergonomic. All joking aside, there are definitely some advantages to being a left-handed shooter that most folks don’t think about until they are forced to train or fight with their non-dominant "Devil Hand." Yes. I’ve been called "Devil-handed" in a carbine class before…and I THINK Frank Proctor was joking. One can only guess.
As schools of thought evolved in the shooting sports, many right-hand dominant shooters saw the value of tricking out their weapon platforms for left-handed use; obvious reasons being the shooter’s dominant hand is out of commission in a firefight, support side barricade work, or situationally-dependent scenarios. This was a boon for us lefties for the AR platform; ambidextrous mag releases enabled us to finally perform tac reloads and mag-drop speed reloads. Ambidextrous charging handles allowed us to blade-hand the charging handle instead of having to rotate the AR inboard and hook-grip the charging handle. Ambidextrous safety levers allowed us to maintain a strong grip on the weapon platform while going from "safe" to "fire."
Efficiency, speed, and economy of movement improved for us. The only advantage that we had that DIDN’T change, was our ability to lock the bolt catch/release back with our trigger finger – which is why all you righties got BAD levers and accessories to hang off of your mag catch/release to enjoy the benefit of being able to lock the bolt back and keep your shooting hand on the pistol grip.
As far as handguns are concerned, with the notable exception of the 1911 platform, where a right-face external safety is a must for left-handed shooters, we pretty much just adapt and overcome. Due to our forced adaptability is why initially, when the folks at Rainier Arms wanted me to look at their Magazine Advanced Release System prototype (Patent Pending), I was less than impressed.
Before I get into the meat and potatoes of the Rainier Arms Magazine Advanced Release System (Patent Pending), I need to get into common methods and practices of left-hand dominant shooter pistol manipulations as well as advantages and disadvantages of being a left-handed shooter.
The first shooting fundamental is "grip." We put a ton of emphasis on sight alignment, sight picture, trigger press, and so on, but the master grip cannot be glossed over. Grip comes first for a reason. Now without getting into a fundamentals overview, we can mostly all agree that a high tang grip on the pistol with the dominant hand, and holding the pistol in-line with the bone structure of our arm is the basis for a good grip with our dominant hand.
Why is a strong high-tang, and inline grip important though? Much like a solid base in sports or a stand-up fight, a proper grip on the weapon is the foundation to apply the rest of your shooting fundamentals, and to assist recoil mitigation. If the grip is broken or altered, however, this can affect everything from sight picture to a smooth straight-back trigger press. This becomes an important factor to recognize, especially when it comes to reloads. If the master grip is broken during a reload, precious time is wasted (whether in competition or combat) having to re-acquire a proper master grip, and then apply the rest of the fundamentals.
Mag Release Mechanics
For left-handed shooters, having the mag release button on a pistol on the left face makes our reload mechanics pretty easy. We are able to maintain a strong master grip on the pistol and simply drop the mag using our middle or trigger finger. For my hand size and purposes, I personally prefer to use my middle finger, as I believe that the trigger finger should operate the trigger.
For right handed shooters, most can simply press the mag release with their thumb…but what about those with small hands, or stubby/chubby fingers?
For the one-size-fits most crowd, there are a few alternatives outside of buying an extended mag release:
- Break the Master Grip: Break the grip and rotate the pistol inboard to bring the mag release closer to the thumb.
- Break the Master Grip with Support: Use the support hand to physically break the grip and rotate the pistol inboard – a little more secure since two hands are still attached to the pistol before the mag release is depressed.
- Depress Mag Release with Support Hand Thumb: Maintain the master grip on the pistol and simply use the support hand thumb to depress the mag release prior to reaching for a fresh magazine. Maintains the master grip, but a little time may be sacrificed.
The Rainier Arms Magazine Advanced Release System (MARS)
Rainier Arms is poised to release their Rainier Arms Magazine Advanced Release System (Patent Pending), which is produced by Battleline Industries. The MARS is an alternative created to address the reload issues that I outlined above. Now, with a simple modification, end users can "shoot like a leftie" and not worry about breaking the master grip while performing reloads.
The MARS itself is constructed from 6061 T-6 aluminum and is Type III Class 2 MIL-A-8625 Hard coat anodized. The spring and screw that hold the unit together are both stainless steel. The left side rides a smidge higher than a stock Glock mag release, and is slightly radiused on the face. The right face curves ever-so-slightly inward and does not get in the way of a right-handed grip. The lower edge of the activation surface is also angled upwards, which is a smart modification in that the activation surface does not bite into the top side of the user’s middle finger while gripping the pistol. The unit that I was sent is one of the prototypes, and the activation surfaces are serrated. The production models will most likely be checkered.
I installed the MARS on my Gen3 Glock 19 like any other aftermarket mag release. Installation is straightforward, and unremarkable. I spent a bit of time, put myself in a right-hander’s shoes, and worked some speed and tac reloads mirroring my normal mechanics as a left-handed shooter. Even though I’m used to dropping mags with the middle finger of my left hand, mirroring with my right took some repetitions to get used to. There is definitely a learning curve involved, but with quality practice, the ability to maintain a strong, consistent master grip on the pistol while reloading definitely pays off.
In the past couple of months that I’ve been playing with the Rainier Arms MARS prototype, it has held up nicely. I have noted however that I do really have to slam the mag home on my Gen2 Glock mags to seat them securely, but not so much on the Gen3s. The mag catch surface area could be just a little worn down, but it doesn’t happen with the polymer factory mag catch, so I’ll keep an eye on this and as always, circle back around as things progress. Also keep in mind that my evaluation model is a prototype, so even though it’s a solid piece of kit, it’s probably not as finished as the production ones. The only other issue I noted was that the left face mag release surface was pretty high, and was an annoyance while shooting. I’ve been told that the height was reduced on the production models, so that issue should be resolved by the time the MARS hits the shelves.
I am told by the folks at Rainier Arms that the MARS should be released by June of 2016 and will initially be available for Glock Gens 1-3. Anticipated retail price should be $69.95.
I am also told that Rainier Arms APEX Members get a first crack at the MARS at an introductory price, so if you’re not an APEX member, it is something readers might want to consider.
Wait, you don’t know what the Rainier Arms APEX Membership Program is all about? Think of it as Amazon Prime® for firearms and accessories:
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