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.
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.
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):
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.
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):
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.