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Ambidextrous AR 15 – How to Build Your Own

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Most modern pistol designs feature ambidextrous controls and it makes them easier to use. Having a similar set of controls on your AR 15 can also make it easier to use, but the major question is “How do you make an Ambidextrous AR 15?”

Here at Guntology, we love a good ambi AR 15. So we are going to go over what you need to do to make your AR 15 ambidextrous and some of our preferred options.

Let’s go over how to convert your AR 15 to ambidextrous use.


Setting Up an Ambidextrous AR 15

Close up of an ambidextrous AR 15 conversion.

Making an AR 15 ambidextrous is a straightforward process. Everything that needs to be changed will be located on the central upper and lower receiver. This is where the safety selector, the charging handle, the bolt release, and the magazine catch are located.

These four parts/sections are the only necessary changes needed to make an AR 15 full-ambidextrous.

Safety Selector

If you’re going to slowly convert your AR 15 to ambidextrous, one of the easiest and most useful changes is the safety selector. Making the safety selector ambidextrous is a great way to make the rifle handier in different shooting positions. It also makes it easier to shoot left-handed.

Since the safety selector hole is milled all the way through on AR 15s, putting an extra paddle on the other side of the gun is relatively easy. Just strip the gun enough to remove the base safety selector and install its replacement.

Our Choice:

While there are a number of ambi-selectors on the market, we prefer the Forward Controls 50 Degree Ambidextrous Safety. We find the design keeps the safety out of the way of the shooting handing while being more durable than the standard safety and helps prevent irritation over hundreds of uses.

Charging Handle

Another easy change is the charging handle. This one is even simpler since it only involves pulling the bolt carrier out of the gun. Having an ambidextrous charging handle allows for the full manual of arms for the AR 15 to be transferred to a left-hand dominant stance.

This makes it easier for left-handed shooters to use the gun and allows right-handed shooters to remediate the rifle from their off-hand. All of this combines into saved time which can add up on the clock or other stressful situations.

Our Choice:

Since charging handles are relatively the same when it comes to ambidextrous offerings almost any one will do. However we do prefer the Geissele 42 Ambi Charging Handle, it’s a solid choice but isn’t as much of a “Must have” compared to the Forward Controls safety.

Bolt Release

The bolt release is one of the first items that people overlook when shopping for ambi parts. This is because the options available for ambi releases are either less than stellar or require some light modification to your rifle’s receiver.

However, once you experience being able to easily lock back your bolt and control most of your rifle’s functions with one hand, the benefits will be clear. Especially when clearing a malfunction. To install the ambi release, some sort of cutting tool will need to be used to cut into the receiver if you are not using a drop in option.

Our Choice:

Even though it requires a small access cut into the receiver, we like the PDQ ambidextrous bolt release. It provides one of the sturdiest solutions for the ambi-bolt release problem and does not interfere with the trigger area.

Magazine Catch

Ambidextrous magazine catches are not the major focus of an ambi build, but if you are trying for fully ambidextrous controls they have to be addressed. An ambi magazine catch allows you to have complete control of the rifle’s functions with one hand (barring the actual magazine swap). This allows you to be more efficient with your movements during reloading.

This is another easily replaced part. Just remove the previous magazine catch and replace it with the ambidextrous version.

Our Choice:

Our choice for ambi magazine releases is another Forward Controls product, specifically the Enhanced Ambi Magazine Release. The lower profile of the magazine release on the right side of the gun makes it less likely to drop the mag by accident.

Make your Ambidextrous AR 15 with Guntology

Now our preferences are not the end all be all when it comes to setting up an ambidextrous rifle. But hopefully it gives you a good idea of what is out there and what parts you need to swap out to get your rifle to be fully ambidextrous.

We are full believers that ambidextrous rifles are the most versatile options for the AR 15. It will improve your life regarding the full operation of your rifle.

Shop our great selection of ambidextrous AR 15 upgrades.

Samuel Vester
Samuel Vester
Samuel, or "Sammy", is the Founder of Guntology and is the co-owner of several other businesses in the firearms industry. He is an avid shooter and enjoys sharing cool, new, and hard-to-find products with others through Guntology.

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