Smith Tactics Battle-Bar: Ar15 Bolt Catch Extended to the Pistol Grip

A company called Smith Tactics manufactures an AR-15 bolt catch accessory – the Battle-Bar. It mounts on the lower receiver over the AR-15 bolt catch/release button extending it to the rear, to an area above the safety selector. The idea behind this accessory is to make bolt catch button manipulations faster and easier using the thumb of your primary/shooting hand.

Battle-bar 1

Battle-Bar is made of 6061 aluminum and has a black anodized finish. It mounts on the rifle using two stainless steel anti-rotation pins, which replace the trigger and hammer pins of AR-15 rifles. It is compatible with any milspec upper and lower receivers. Some custom or proprietary AR receivers have different dimensions than the milspec, so they may not work with the Battle-Bar. Another good feature of this device is that it does not protrude past the normal dimensions of the rifle.

Battle-Bar (2)

Battle-Bar (1)

Image from and Smith Tactics

This is a drop-in accessory, which requires no more skills than the ability to disassemble and reassemble the AR-15 trigger mechanism. It also does not interfere and works with 3 position safety selectors.

Battle-Bar is available through Brownells at $77.99. It comes with a thread locking compound and an installation wrench. Here is a video from Brownells about this accessory:

I think this is a pretty good implementation of the idea of making bolt catch/release button reachable for the primary hand. As you know, earlier Magpul and several other companies offered their solutions to this need. Nonetheless, Battle-Bar is a different approach.



Hrachya H

Being a lifelong firearms enthusiast, Hrachya always enjoys studying design, technology and history of guns and ammunition. His knowledge of Russian allows him to translate and make Russian/Soviet/Combloc small arms related information available for the English speaking audience.
Should you need to contact him, feel free to shoot him a message at


  • MrBrassporkchop

    I like the idea, looks more sturdy than the ones that extends down to the trigger. I got the magpul one that extends and it just feels flimsy, I don’t like it.

  • Ranger Rick

    I’m very intrigued by this, would love to see how it fits my hand.

  • guest

    B.A.D. Lever > this thing

    • glasswolf

      PDQ > BAD lever

      • noob

        dremel your receiver for the PDQ slot? no going back after that.

        • Gary Kirk

          80%.. #WGAF?

        • Sunshine_Shooter

          Making a non-structural change to a pert that can be replaced for $40? Not too concerned.

        • Ebby123

          Having done it (best done with a mill, btw) its SO worth it.
          The receiver has plenty of meat in that area. Its not a structural issue.

      • Grindstone50k

        EBRV2 >all

        • guest

          ERVB is over-machines, but does the exact same thing.

          • Grindstone50k

            … what?

      • Ebby123

        I have both, and I have to agree.

        PDQ>BAD>this thing. The EBRV2 is essentially the same as the BAD lever.

      • guest

        BAD along with similar designs allow for fewer movements. The whole idea is that the trigger finger can do stuff without moving out of the trigger guard.
        Neither does the BAD require any machining of the lower, which PQD does.

    • Twilight sparkle

      Apperently you’ve had more luck than I have, tried the bad lever on three different guns and it only worked properly on one… None of those three have it anymore

      • guest

        That’s very unfortunate. I have a BAD on my XM-15 and it fits and works like a charm, another one (brand name escapes me) on an LR-308. The latter fits a bit too loosely, but works very well none the less.

        How exactly did it not work on 3 different rifles, or lowers?

        • Twilight sparkle

          Actually they worked properly on one of the guns. On my 6920 it wouldn’t lock back with milspec mags which was probably due to the extra mass it added, it worked fine with pmags so I left it there for awhile, the second gun was one I built and it worked fine on it so I left it on that one, the third one was on a gun with a forged Anderson upper I had thrown together that had enough tolerance stacking so that the bad lever was pushing against the upper and causing the bolt release to be slightly up which caused the bolt to not properly cycle. I played with the gas block a lot trying to get that one to work but it wasn’t until the bad lever was off that it properly functioned.

          • Ebby123

            I have noticed that not all upper receivers (especially billet designs) don’t have enough clearance to let the BAD lever function properly.

            I’m not complaining for a $20 part, but its something to be aware of.

          • Twilight sparkle

            I’m well aware of issues with billet receivers but it was a forged receiver that had just enough of a clearance issue to cause a problem.

            That issue plus the issue it gave the 6920 with gi mags was enough to leave a bad taste for me.

            I’m sure there’s plenty of other issues that have been associated with bad levers that are available on the internet

  • Ark

    I think it’s more productive to take that $80, buy some ammo, and learn to use the regular bolt release.

    • Bradley

      Unfortunately you can’t learn to manipulate the stock control without taking your hand off the pistol grip.

      • Gary Kirk

        You’re an AK guy aren’t you???

        • Bradley

          I have never owned an AK type rifle. I’m not even sure how that’s relevant considering they don’t have this particular control. My primary weapon is an ar15. In my opinion the bolt release is the one control that is not completely optimized. You have to move one hand or another from its normal position to operate it. I haven’t tried this product, but I have my doubts that it is the best solution. However, in my humble opinion, maintaining that having to move your hand several inches to complete a reload is perfectly acceptable is absurd. I find it to be the most substantial weak point of the weapon’s operation. I have noticed that some people seem to read these articles exclusively for the pleasure of explaining how stupid each and every new product is. Personally I would rather examine the potential merits of a possible improvement, wait and see what experience those who have used it have, and then try it myself if it seems worthwhile to do so.

          • Gary Kirk

            Soooo.. Moving your hand down to your magazine pouch instead of the mag automatically uncovering itself, jumping out and inserting itself in the magwell is absurd??

          • Gary Kirk

            Or are all of your mags kept within a couple inches of your mags well to keep you from having to reach a “few” inches??

          • Twilight sparkle

            This device really doesn’t offer anything extra other than making it easier to lock the bolt open though? I mean if you’re complaining about letting go of the pistol grip then use your other hand, you should already be using that hand to stick the mag in.

            I mean for malfunctions maybe this has some merit, but considering how these things have been in the past I would think it might end up causing malfunctions…

          • Bradley

            Like I said before I doubt this product provides much practical advantage. Yes during a magazine change your off hand is in the general area of the bolt release. I just personally would find it more intuitive to be able to release it with the other hand just after inserting the magazine. I’ve not yet tried a product that solves this issue on a mil spec receiver without causing other problems which is why I still use the original release.

          • Twilight sparkle

            I see a lot of potential for accidentally releasing the bolt too early if you’re using your shooting thumb to drop the bolt, that’s not as easy to do if you use the same hand you just stuck the magazine in with.

      • Ark

        Insert magazine with left hand. Thumb lands right next to bolt release. Press bolt release with thumb. There’s no reason to take your right hand off the pistol grip.

        Besides, there are plenty of rifles in service that don’t have a bolt release button, and their operators simply practice and learn to deal with it.

        • JumpIf NotZero

          Don’t bother. These products are for people that think you’ll need to (ever) lock the bolt back intentionally. The ONLY time that happens is with bad malfunctions in which case you aren’t shooting anyway.

          These products are 100% for the range where locking back happens often. None of them have a place on real use guns.

      • Bradley

        Could I possibly move on from mentioning taking my hand off the pistol grip? I think I’ve explained myself enough ways to make it clear that’s not what I meant. I can use it well enough that way, but it does not feel instinctual or natural no matter how much I do it. If it is for you then that’s great.

  • M

    Looking at that reminds me of a [new] car’s steering wheel….lots of buttons for no reason

    • Five

      Can I get something with more buttons?

      “Uh sure, which buttons did you want?”

      Oh it doesn’t really matter what they do . . .

  • ??

    Certainly looks like a perfect way to induce unintentional malfunctions. I wonder if it comes with recommended firing positions? But on the plus side you do get 4 buttons to screw things up, instead of just 1.

    • Gary Kirk

      Whoops, closed my bolt during a mag change.. Can I get a do-over?..

      But I asked nicely Mr. Bad guy.. :'(

  • Garmanarnar

    Sounds like it’s going to rattle a lot. For $20 I would give it a shot. Not $80

  • RickH

    Let’s see, after dropping the mag with index finger of my primary/shooting hand, I have to insert a fresh mag with my other hand, (non-primary/shooting hand). Lucky for me, now I have two options on releasing the bolt carrier: my primary/shooting hand thumb, since I have a new handy dandy gizmo right there, or my non-primary/shooting hand which is still in the vicinity of the bolt carrier release, cuz I just used it to insert the fresh mag. Decisions, decisions…………

  • Treyh007

    Pretty cool idea, but I’m happy with my BAD lever for $28. Use them on all my AR’s!

  • Frank Grimes




    • Gary Kirk

      Guess WE finally agree on something.. LEARN to use the rifle that YOU use.. Don’t try to make the rifle work for you..

      Old (I guess proverb is the word I’m looking for here..) is, “Don’t try to work the tool, let the tool work for you”..

      • Ebby123

        I prefer “work smarter not harder”.

        Using your logic, wouldn’t we all still be using iron sights? Learn to use the rifle you use, right?

        Why are some performance upgrades OK, and others are somehow a betrayal of the rifle’s original design intent? 🙂

  • Gary Kirk

    Uuuuuhhh.. Think it works fine the way it is.. Buuut, shave off the part that COMPLETELY interferes with my selector switch.. And maybe.. BIG F¿©€¡#@ maybe.. I might have even been somewhat interested..

  • DataMatters

    Put a bit more metal on that bar and you can mount an AK scope off of it.

  • Ngefvert

    I don’t understand. I am a right handed shooter. It takes my left hand to put a new mag in the rifle, and once that mag is in there my hand is in the perfect place to allow my thumb to hit the bolt release? Is this what the bar lever is for too? Don’t get the purpose. Not being sarcastic, never used a bad lever before.

    • Squirreltakular

      You just unintentionally explained why none of the bolt catch add-ons are necessary. Thank you for using your head.

    • Ebby123

      You’re mostly right, but there are two factors that do make this product and the Magpul BAD lever worth considering.

      1- If you thump the bottom of your magazine after insertion (the merits of which are best left for another discussion, but a lot of people do it), your hand is no longer near the ping-pong paddle. However, while your support hand is returning to its firing position, your dominant hand can be dropping the bolt. Its a minor improvement in economy of motion for some. But more importantly…

      2 – Clearing double feeds and other malfunctions, showing clear.
      With the classic GI manual of arms, this is a 3 handed function requiring the multiple switching back and forth of your hands. First the firing hand comes of the controls to reach around and depress the bolt-lock-open nub on the left side of the rifle, then the support hand racks the charging handle. Then hands are switched again to clear the malfunction.

      With a BAD device, its all one motion. Trigger finger (or dominant hand thumb in this case) activates the bold-lock-open lever while the support hand racks the charging handle back. Now you can clear your malf while remaining on target, or least in the heads-up position instead of looking down in your lap.

      Its not necessary by any means, but it is a universal improvement in the number of motions needed to perform these functions.

  • Hellbilly

    The thing looks like a Rube Goldberg device for sending the bolt into battery. No, thanks.

    • Ebby123

      While it does add value, I can’t help but think there has to be a better way to accomplish this.

  • Rnasser Rnasser

    Triple meh…

  • Grindstone50k

    Phase 5 EBRV2; cheaper, works better.

  • I’ll stick with my Magpul B.A.D. lever for $29.95 thanks!