PDQ Ambi Bolt Release Review

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I’ve always been an extremely big fan of any AR15 extended right side bolt release, whether it was Magpuls BAD lever, or Knight’s Armament’s integrated design. The sheer simplicity and difference in operation these devices make can cut down reloading time by seconds when used correctly. But not only reloading, but also general weapons manipulation and malfunction clearing makes much more of a difference after an extended bolt release is installed.

However, one of my gripes with the after market extended bolt releases are that they appear to have three weak points. The first one being whatever mounting system to the actual bolt release is, if those screws come loose, the entire mount could be easily lost. Second, the long lever is an issue when wearing a plate carrier and having a number of objects that could snag on it with the left side of the rifle always facing and being up against your chest. This is less of an issue if a shooter is left handed. And third, operating BAD lever style bolt releases puts your trigger finger in an uncomfortably close position to the trigger when manipulating the release. Of course your rifle should always be on safe until ready to fire, but I can easily foresee a situation wherein a shooter could slip on the device, and fire the rifle inadvertently if it was on Fire.

Therefore when I first saw the PDQ (Pretty Damn Quick, Patent No. 8,359,966 B1) lever installed on a friend’s AR15, I knew I had to have one for myself. It allows for a very minimal outside footprint, activating the device has a very small chance of slipping a trigger finger where it shouldn’t be, and there is very little that could malfunction with it unless the right side of the rifle is butting up against an object. Putting together an Areo Precision carbine length AR, I included the PDQ on the build. These are my observations on the device.

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First of all, for something that makes such a difference on the weapon system, the PDQ is almost impossible to find these days. Several companies and distributers have stocked it in the past, but nowadays you probably won’t find any of these companies with the device currently in store. Buying a used one doesn’t crop up much either because many owners of it tend to leave it on their lower receivers because you have to mill and file down a section of your lower for it to fit. Thus I had to go directly to the source and purchase one for $59.99 from Team Blue Bravo, the manufacturer in Florida.

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Installing the PDQ does involve some minimal gunsmithing. If you can have a machinist or gunsmith do this for you, all the better, but it can be done at home with a file and a drill, provided you are willing to accept the results of your work. Bare in mind that with the PDQ on, you probably won’t be able to use that lower receiver with a standard bolt release again because of the open space that could invite dirt and debris directly into the action. Functionally it should work fine, but opening up more pores into any receiver is really probably not in anyone’s best interests. You will also have to find some Aluminum Black or equivalent finishing agent to cover up the raw aluminum that you had to cut through. Unfortunately the PDQ itself is made of Nickel Boron, so you have to get a separate finishing agent to color the shiny device flat black or any other color you want.

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When filing down the slot that it fits into, you’ll need to carefully not file too much, and fit the part into the slot until it functions perfectly. It uses the existing roll pin, spring, and plunger that come with your standard AR15 bolt release. Before hammering all this into place, I’d recommend you use a punch or nail to hold the PDQ in while testing whether or not the fit is right. Once that is completed, take it out, and use that Aluminum Black to coat the now exposed aluminum of the lower receiver before finally installed the PDQ.

Upon successful installation, I took the rifle to the range to test fire it. At first I was disappointed as the PDQ wasn’t locking back the bolt upon the last round being fired. Hand charging the rifle resulted in a lock back but not while participating in the cycle of operations. However, after a number of rounds through the rifle, it appears that the PDQ fell in place through the fit and eventually it began to work flawlessly with all my magazines, polymer or aluminum. Except for a Vietnam era 20 round magazine, that still doesn’t seem to lock back.

When I first saw the device I had concerns that a shooter could inadvertently go for the PDQ with the trigger finger when instead they would want to engage the magazine release and vice versa. However, upon actual operation, this turned out not to be the case at all, and I’ve not found a situation where I did go for one or the other.

In conclusion I feel that the device is absolutely worth it on the back end, considering that the installation is correctly done. Fitting and filing the slot in which the PDQ is emplaced will be the headache of putting it together. In addition, for $59.99 I believe the product should at least come with a dark finish and not a shiny one, as well as coming with some of that Aluminum Black to cover up the raw aluminum from the receiver.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Mike

    geez. people bash the BAD lever, but at least you don’t have to take a dremel to the serial’d lower…. which is a good thing for all the people who ended up changing their minds about it.

    • glasswolf

      Aero offers a pre-cut lower receiver, as did Sadow Ops for a while, if you want the PDQ pre-installed, or a receiver cut and ready to drop in the PDQ. As for changing your mind, I don;t really see a reason why you would. For us lefties, this device is a God-send, and works perfectly. The BAD lever gets a lot of criticism for good reason. It has a lot of issues. For one thing, it’s not ambi. It’s designed to make things easier for right-handed shooters only. Lefties can’t use a lever-type “ambi” bolt release at all. The PDQ is the only truly “ambi” release I’ve seen.

      • Mike

        Nonsense. This is just as “ambidextrous” as the BAD lever. For lefties, with both options, the traditional paddle is the only option on the left side of the firearm. I mean, with this PDQ, it literally changes nothing on the left side of the firearm in terms of accessibility. It just leaves the standard paddle release. So unless you have freakishly long thumbs to reach the right side lever, as a lefty, you simply arent using a lever at all…. which is fine since as a lefty, the standard release works just fine since you can activate it with your trigger finger.

        And I speak as a lifetime southpaw who taught myself to shoot right handed once I joined the military so I wasn’t always the opposite of everyone else. I still shoot lefty, though, and what you’re saying makes no sense.

        • Twilight sparkle

          I’ve had the bad lever fail on two separate rifles, I avoid them at all cost now.

    • Richard

      I bought a BAD lever for my bushmaster because I thought it sounds cool to have something called a BAD lever on the rifle and I ended up really liking it. I can use my trigger finger to manipulate the lever to lock it open without breaking my hold on the pistol grip.

  • Heartbreaker

    Can you activate it without changing your firing hand grip? If not then it’s not really an upgrade, I’d still rather have a BAD lever that is about half the price and no modification needed.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      That is the whole point of the device. You can lock the bolt back as easily as dropping a mag, not grip breaking/modifying required.

  • thedonn007

    I just buy lowers with the ambi bolt release already built in.

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      Who do you recommend? I have a hard time finding one that isn’t (what I consider) overly expensive.

      • Paladin

        Aero Precision makes receivers with the PDQ built in. I used one for my AR build and I’m quite happy with it. They’re essentially basic forged lowers with a few extra features machined in so they’re not particularly pricy.

        In addition, the PDQ lets you lock the bolt back from a standard firing grip, which most ambi bolt releases don’t.

    • ExMachina1

      I had a KAC ambi lower and I still wanted a BAD lever. Malf clearance are more important than dropping the bolt and the KAC design did not make locking the bolt open any easier.

    • Aaron

      The PDQ is not just a bolt release this also works to allow you to quickly lock the bolt open with the right hand. This allows you to clear jams and malfunctions quicker than if it was just a bolt release.

  • mig1nc

    I might have to put one of these on a Tennessee Arms Company poly receiver I have sitting around. It won’t lose color and will be easier to cut. Plus it was pretty cheap if I screw up.

    • Twilight sparkle

      What kind of upper is sitting on that lower?

      • mig1nc

        Nothing yet. It’s just a spare I have laying around.

        • Twilight sparkle

          Ah okay, I was thinking about doing a designated 22 build and I figured if they held up well to something larger they’d probably be fine, I used to avoid poly lowers

  • ExMachina1

    Love the concept. Hate the idea of having to hack on my SBR.

    • glasswolf

      I hate that this wasn’t a part of Stoner’s original design, myself.

  • valorius

    Honestly i think these sorts of devices are stupid.

    • Steve

      Agreed – you should really reconsider your choice of firearm if you think this is a good idea…

      I don’t even like non-standard lowers that include this for the reason that I don’t really want to build habits that don’t apply to 99% of the AR-15 lowers out in the world.

  • 1 With A Bullet

    Using the precut Aero lower and PDQ lever, I had some LRBHO issues. The fix is… (a 1wB secret) install the ejection port spring reversed. After that, I’ve found that it locks back everytime with every upper so configured.

  • glasswolf

    Right. When I spoke with the owner of TBB, he stated that the PDQ is available in raw uncoated metal, a nitride (black) finish, or Cerakoted (anodized?) in colors. I don’t recall the coloring method as this was a couple of years ago when they first started offering the nitride finish and I was talking to them for my company to make pre-cut lowers for their PDQ.

  • Bradley

    How close is it to the open ejection port cover? By the way the website lists an available black finish as well as nickel boron. Also nickel boron is a surface treatment. Nothing is “made of” it. I’m sure that was probably just an oversight, but it struck me as odd.

  • John Daniels

    I’ve had one of these on a rifle for over a year. I used to use a BAD Lever. Used to. The PDQ or something like it, is what the AR15 should’ve had all along.

    Installing it is extremely easy, as long as you’re handy and have some basic tools.

  • Vuddha Tran

    Tactical Link makes a product similar to the Magpul BAD lever (EBAL: Enhanced Battery Assist Lever, not as catchy), and I prefer it because it sits a little higher in the trigger area, and the end is a little longer, so it’s easier to use. You can engage/disengage it by maintaining your proper grip and keeping your finger straight. easier than the BAD (in my opinion).

    If you go dry and your bolt locks back, keep your finger straight and sweep up to drop your magazine, just like normal. After inserting the magazine, sweep your finger down and you will trip the lever to return the bolt to battery.