Random Thoughts on Weak Sided Rifle Handling

Weak handed month was an interesting and rewarding experience.  I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some of the things I learned that didn’t apply directly to bolt guns.


I spent some time with the AR carbine left handed.  I was surprised as how well it works left handed.  I don’t think you really lose much.  The only things that weren’t as easy were dropping mags and charging the bolt with the forward hand.  Even those weren’t harder by much.  When changing mags, just use the right thumb as you pull the spent mag out.  It takes a little longer, yes, but it’s very positive.  Charging the bolt is just a matter of getting the fingers around and getting the face out of the way.  Just something to get used to.


What I was surprised of was how easy it was to operate the safety, and I don’t use an ambi.  When you’re indexed with the safety on, keep the trigger finger above the safety.  When you’re ready to fire, just sweep the finger down and the safety off.  To turn the safety on, just curl the finger back and use the tip.  It’s very easy with a little practice.  I think it’s easier than with the right hand.


The other thing you gain with the AR by using it left handed is the ability to lock the bolt to the rear and release it with the index finger.  No BAD lever needed.  Clearing double feeds just got a little faster.


I already had my flashlight mounted where I can use it with either hand.  It’s just a matter of enough practice so that it gets found automatically without any searching.


Like the AR, the M1A works beautifully left handed.  It really shines.  I consider the M1A a jack of all trades.  You’ve got more capacity, but not as much as some rifles.  You’ve got the capability for a fast, accurate rate of fire, but not as fast as, say, an AR carbine.  You’ve got decent accuracy, but not like a bolt gun.  The effective range is good, but not remarkable.  The iron sights are excellent, but mounting optics brings with it a lot of complicated changes that, in my opinion, aren’t worth it.  Take it for what it is, don’t expect anything more, and you’ll be happy with it.  The M1A looks better in person than on paper anyway, and it seems to add up to more than the sum of its attributes.


The op-rod handle being on the right works really well for using it left handed.  If you’re standing up, it’s in a great spot to bring the forward hand back to charge it.  If you can’t bring your hand back easily (say you’re slung up) then it’s not a big deal.  Say you ran the mag dry.  The mag release is ambidextrous, so no big deal.  Put in the new mag and release the bolt by rotating your left index finger around the stock.  Give the op-rod handle a little tug and home it goes.  Everything else on the rifle is already ambidextrous anyway.


Having an ambidextrous outlook on shooting requires a method to switch sides efficiently.  Regardless of the carry position, I’ve found that the same method seems to work the best to switch.  Move the butt over to the opposite side.  If the muzzle is up, then it’s kind of like swinging a pendulum.  Switch the rear hand forward, then bring the forward hand to the rear, and be careful to keep it out of the trigger guard until you’re actually ready to fire.  


One thing I haven’t come to terms with as far as the AR is concerned is what to do with the sling when I switch sides.  My preference is a 2 point sling on the AR.  The single point sling doesn’t offer enough control for me.  The only thing I’ve been able to come up with is to run the 2 point sling without my arm in it, just my neck.  I don’t like it, but what’s a guy to do?
I really hope that you’ve embraced this opportunity to spend some time on your weak side.  If you can’t deal with reality and still want to call it “non-dominant” that’s just fine to.  You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and dog-gone-it, people like you.

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