Gear Review: ELF ASS

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I double-checked and, indeed, Elftmann Tactical, makers of my favorite AR-15 drop-in trigger, have named their newest product the ASS. That’s short for Ambidextrous Speed Safety and, believe it or not, it’s a cross-bolt safety for your AR-15 or AR-10. While this seems absurd and everybody I’ve spoken to immediately imagines how difficult it would be to push back onto “safe” with your trigger finger, that really isn’t the case at all and this thing lives up to the “speed” part of its name in spades . . .

The push-type ambi speed safety is a replacement for the AR platform’s rotating safety selector. It uses the same type of detent — slightly rounded for smoother operation — in the same location, and on “safe” it physically blocks the rear of the trigger bar in the same manner.

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A rotating selector makes perfect sense with three firing modes — safe, semi-automatic, and full-auto — but the ol’ cross-bolt has been a staple on rifles for generations due to its simple on/off function. That said, I’ve never been much of a fan of cross-bolt safeties and I’m quite used to the AR selector and I like it. For those reasons, I wasn’t expecting to like this product.

So color me surprised that it won me over. I dig it. The thing is crazy fast and highly intuitive. It functions properly and it even looks kind of cool.

For a right-handed shooter, pushing it from “safe” to “fire” is easily accomplished with a thumb tap. It doesn’t even have to be the pad of your thumb; just flick your thumb up from where it sits naturally and smack the ASS with the side of your digit. The safety will snick across easily on a clean, smooth detent.

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Now that it’s on “fire,” it’s protruding from the right side of the firearm and the red indicator ring is visible (it’s a nitrile-like o-ring and can be removed if that’s your preference). To put it back on “safe,” once again it is not necessary to push it with the pad of your finger. Simply indexing one’s trigger finger a bit higher than usual and pushing it against the side of the receiver so it’s a bit more flush than usual is enough to send the selector back across and into “safe.”

Since indexing my trigger finger along the side of the receiver — pad of finger near or on the mag release — is subconscious second nature at this point, engaging the safety by just indexing with a little more gusto and a little higher up is about as intuitive as it can possibly get. It hits between my first and second knuckle and snicks right across.

It’s a bit hard to explain how quick, easy, and intuitive it actually is. Probably best off seeing it, so there’s plenty of rapid on-off happening in this video (close-up action at 2:45 in):

Potential Downside

The AR-15 wasn’t designed for a cross-bolt safety and, as such, the safety location isn’t recessed or otherwise sufficiently protected by raised parts. Anything bumping the left side of the receiver could fairly easily pop the safety over into “fire” position. For this reason I wouldn’t recommend putting your ASS on a rifle — if there’s going to be a round in the chamber — that’s carried on a sling (especially if it’s the left side of the gun that’s against your body) or in a vehicle, whether on your person or bouncing around on a ruck in the back (e.g. military transport), etc.

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Otherwise, I’ll go on record and say that the ASS is faster, easier, and more intuitive than the normal AR safety selector. It would be awesome for 3-Gun or other competition use, range and fun use, target shooting, hunting from a blind or tree stand (chambering the gun once there), etc.

If ELF makes a Ti version of this, I think it’s fair to say it could well be the lightest AR safety selector, ambi or not, ever made. For those looking to shave weight anywhere possible, at only 10.680 grams on my digital powder scale it’s already about as light as it gets.

Specifications (ELF AR-15/AR-10 Ambidextrous Speed Safety):

MSRP: $39.95
Finish: Black Oxide or Polished Stainless Steel
Compatibility: All mil-spec AR-15/AR-10 receivers. Not compatible with Hiperfire triggers.
Weight: 10.680 grams (0.377 oz)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Overall: * * * *
I really didn’t expect this, but now that I’ve tried it I’m proud to say that I love me some ELF ASS. And I don’t think it’s just the Christmas spirit. It’s super fast, super easy, and super simple. Still, I have to dock it a star because it isn’t as safe as the standard selector in some cases.

comments

  1. avatar Craig says:

    …indeed.

    1. avatar Nat says:

      Just like the old M1Carbine Safety. The issue was that it was easy to get it confused with the push button mag release

  2. avatar DaveR says:

    Interesting. And for $40 that’s not bad for an aftermarket ambi safety.

  3. avatar Pete says:

    Push side of the receiver to go back to “safe”?!

    D:

  4. avatar ANdrew Lias says:

    As a south paw for it to be truly “ambidextrous” you should be able to disengage the safety from the fire side with minimal effort; you have to do a partial grip break in order to actually disengage the safety if you’re shooting it with your opposing hand; I think I’d just stick with my traditional double sided rotational safety.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      I don’t have to break my grip for that. It just requires sticking my index finger up a little higher than the normal safe-index position and pushing inwards a bit. It isn’t as fast as it is for a right-handed shooter because it’s using your trigger finger to disengage, whereas for a righty you can have your trigger finger actually on the trigger while flipping the safety off with your thumb. But it’s still easy and doesn’t require breaking my shooting grip.

      I suppose it might be possible for them to create a left hand model that’s on safe when protruding from the right side of the gun and on fire when protruding from the left.

  5. avatar Shire-man says:

    Doesn’t seem to really be ambi. Just reversible.
    Regardless, I loathe cross bolt safeties.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      No it’s not reversible. It’s ambi because it’s accessible from both sides of the receiver. A non-ambi one lives only on one side and there is no control on the other side whatsoever. The fact that it’s a cross bolt makes it ambi. And yeah, I fairly strongly dislike cross bolt safeties also. This thing is a massive exception to that for me.

  6. avatar pres stone says:

    elf ass? sounds amazing

    1. avatar tsbhoA.P.jr says:

      “…their eyes get all big and wide…”
      fish karma, “big daddy”

    2. avatar Joe Liberty says:

      And just in time for Christmas!

  7. avatar pres stone says:

    so basically, its a range additive only.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      In my opinion. “Safe” or “safe enough” is definitely a subjective thing. I’m not rucking my ARs on a sling and they aren’t bumping around chambered in the back of my rig, so I’m not concerned here. I wouldn’t put one on my Tavor, though, which is basically my “battle rifle” and does ride, chambered, on a sling with its left side against my body.

      1. avatar Timmy! says:

        Would it work on a Tavor? I’m mentally disassembling mine to see why it would or wouldn’t… and have no idea either way.

        1. avatar Jeremy S says:

          No. Different internals.

  8. avatar marco says:

    Does this make an AR your “elf weapon”?

    1. avatar Felix says:

      It’s NOT an “off-the-elf” accessory.

  9. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

    If you’ve never shot an AR before, and plan to only shoot one with this addition, I could see this being useful.

    However, I can see myself bringing the rifle up, putting my sights on the target, and then fumbling around for the safety for a few seconds before realizing the selector isn’t there.

    At times, I find myself looking for a clutch or stick shift, though I haven’t owned a manual in yrs. Likely due to learning on a manual and my first 3 vehicles being manuals.

    It’s hard to make those brain groves go away.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Reaching for the normal selector location with your thumb is going to put you in contact with this selector, too. It’ll snick across with the amount of inward pressure that you normally put on the standard selector anyway. Putting it back on safe is something different for sure. But taking it off is fairly likely to happen even with your normal thumb motion. I’ll double check all this when I’m back home this evening, but this was my impression of it — just snapping my thumb up to reach for the normal selector lever contacted this one sufficiently to pop it over.

      1. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

        Seems like a solution looking for a problem, to me.

        1. avatar Jeremy S says:

          Ehhh, I think it’s just a different option and a different method of doing the same thing. I definitely don’t see any problem with the normal selector or any solution this is providing. But I do find this to be simpler and faster. Likewise, I don’t find any problem with the standard A2 grip but I sure as heck prefer a rifle with an ERGO on it. Different strokes and all. Options are good. America.

  10. avatar Vitsaus says:

    Everything about this suggests it a joke, or the result of some one trying to win a bet.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Funny you say that, because that was exactly my first thought when I saw the press release about this upcoming new product! I thought I’d get my hands on one and write a scathing review haha. It was a big surprise to me that it not only works really well but I actually like the dang thing.

  11. avatar Anonymous says:

    Nice. I need to get me some of that ASS too.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      I think I need a safe space.

  12. avatar Ralph says:

    If they made an automatic, electronic safety, would they call it the Smart ASS? How about a smaller safety called the Half ASS? And what do they call the hole that the gizmo fits in?

    1. avatar Joe Liberty says:

      Nice.

  13. avatar Ryan says:

    It would be perfect on the Ares SCR!

  14. avatar Chris says:

    I really dislike cross bolt safeties, especially on a carbine like that where its not recessed and potentially could get knocked unsafe in a vehicle/brush. No thanks that standard AR15 safety works just fine.

    Also if you have a lot of rifles or shoot a lot of guns its just another battery of arms to learn, a large number of rifles use the standard AR15 safety which is really nice.

    This product is a problem in search of a solution.

  15. avatar Chris says:

    edit* is a solution in search of a problem. Sorry not enough coffee in the system today!

  16. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    Hmmm.
    As one who owns a few long guns with cross bolt safeties, (think Rugers, Remington shotguns, Benelli shotguns, older Winchester shotguns), I already don’t like it because it’s the opposite of all of those. I suppose for a left handed shooter, it would seem better.
    If they can engineer it the “correct” way, I’d be all over it. Especially at that price.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Actually I think the fact that it’s switched to “fire” with your thumb is the reason I like it, whereas I generally dislike cross-bolt safeties and prefer thumb safeties instead (AR selector, shotguns w/ thumb slide, 1911 & other pistols, etc). Having to use my trigger finger and pull it away from where it wants to be in order to switch a safety to “fire” before being able to return my trigger finger to its home and get it mentally prepared for a clean pull is somewhat burdensome. It’s an extra layer of safety, which is why basically all other cross bolts make it so you use your trigger finger to disengage.

      But imagine a carry pistol with a safety that had to be disengaged with the trigger finger! It would be shunned off the market. How quickly and reliably could you draw a defensive gun, reach up somewhere with your trigger finger to slide a safety off, then get back down to the trigger? No way. That’s why pistols have thumb safeties or no safeties. Anyway, since the sales pitch on this ELF ASS is speed, it makes sense that it can be easily and rapidly disengaged without breaking the firing grip and with the trigger finger already staged on the trigger. I bet it’s the biggest reason I like it while I can’t think of other exceptions to me disliking cross-bolt safeties otherwise.

  17. avatar Teleph0nes says:

    How much faster is it to engage/disengage this push-button than a well designed 45 degree, 60 degree, or even standard 90 degree ambi-safety? Is that few milliseconds worth the added risks associated with a cross-bolt safety? In my mind, the brilliance of the AR type safety is that the user is able to easily feel what firing status the gun is in, with very little risk of accidentally disengaging the safety. With the standard selector in the safe position, it just takes a quick upward twist of the thumb (or trigger finger/top of hand if its ambi) and you feel the position of the lever. The same goes when the lever is flipped down to the semi position, and flipped all the way over if you are so lucky to have an auto. Doing that same type of check with the cross-bolt safety is a pretty good way to accidentally move from safe to fire, or vice versa. This strikes me as a solution looking for a problem, but the solution has a much greater potential for problems.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      It’s easy to snap over when you want to, but it’s still on a functional detent and it requires pressure before an audible and tactile “SNICK” when it moves to the other setting. For a right-handed shooter, feeling it with your thumb to determine if it’s protruding (safe) or flush (fire) is easy as pie, without accidently moving it across.

      It’s marginally faster than a 45* and clearly faster than a 90*. There’s also an economy of motion. Thumb goes up and the safety is off. It’s less fine motor skill and less motions vs. up and then down. Or up, back, and down, as I feel like it’s in a more comfortable location since reaching the normal selector requires bringing the thumb rearwards a bit. I can feel that stretch when getting my thumb to where it’ll catch on the normal selector sufficiently to be able to pull it downwards. Smacking the pivot point is an easier spot to reach for me and since that’s all that’s required it’s at least one fewer motion.

      Again though, I really like the AR safety selector! I’m used to it and it’s great, which is why so many rifles have chosen to copy it (Tavor comes to mind, but lots of guns intentionally put a rotating selector right in the same relative location to your thumb). I just like how fast and simple this thing is better.

      Given an appropriate “use case,” because, no, it isn’t as safe. Although there are plenty of stories of AR selectors being disengaged accidently. I actually read of one just in the last month-ish that involved an M4 in the back of a military truck bouncing on top of gear bags. The selector was bumped to “fire” and the trigger was pulled while the gun slid around on the crap back there. Of course, I can’t remember where I read that. Soldier Systems blog or something? Not sure. But it happens.

  18. avatar Aerindel says:

    How about this, is there a way to make the AR safety harder to accidentally disengage? I carry mine slung all the time and its always taking itself off safe on me.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Actually, yeah. You can install a stronger safety detent spring. And have a look at your detent and safety barrel recesses to make sure they aren’t excessively worn. There are going to be some barrels out there with slightly deeper detent recesses as well. Anyway, it’s fair to say every AR isn’t the same and every aftermarket safety isn’t the same and every AR grip isn’t the same if the detent spring hole is bored to a different depth, etc.

  19. avatar Archangel187 says:

    So would the titanium version be the Titanium Toggle Safety?

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      LOL the TiTS? haha

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