Forward Controls Design EMR-A Ambidextrous Magazine Release and EMR-H Review

In a previous review, I talked about my opinions on the Knight’s Armament Ambidextrous Magazine Release. Obviously, every person is going to have their own preferences, so today I’m going to talk about another option – Forward Controls Design’s (FCD) EMR-A ambi mag release and EMR-H magazine release button.

Forward Controls Design’s EMR-A ambi magazine release

EMR-A

The EMR-A comes in two different models – standard and extended reach. My model is the extended. FCD recommends the standard reach model for defensive rifles, but in my opinion, the difference between the two (0.09″) shouldn’t make a huge difference safety-wise.

As you can see, the EMR-A is significantly shorter than the Knight’s. For individuals who have big hands/long fingers, it might actually be easier to actuate the EMR-A than the Knight’s. For those with smaller hands/shorter fingers, the Knight’s might be easier to reach.

Even though the paddle is so much shorter, there is still plenty of leverage to actuate the release. The serrations on mine provide a great tactile point of contact when operating the release. They do offer a dimpled release as well, but the serrated is more my style.

FCD put a lot of thought into designing this release. There are a lot of subtle details in the paddle that make it stand out. Since I’m not an engineer, I’ll let them explain:

The placement of its lever is well thought out to closely mirror the magazine release button on the right side. The portion immediately below the bolt catch’s lower paddle has a lower profile to avoid interference, heretofore a common drawback of popular ambidextrous mag catches, it is also left smooth. The serrated length of the lever is split into a shallow V shaped serrations (80%) that conform to the curvature of the user’s finger, and straight serrations (20%) that form a natural index point, and provide additional traction.

That’s a lot of words to say that it fits your finger more naturally, allowing you to manipulate it easier.

FCD also packs an extra power magazine release spring with their EMR-As. At 10.9 lbs it is 2.6 lbs heavier than the stock spring and is intended to help prevent accidental magazine releases. Is it necessary? That’s really up to you, but I can tell you that using it won’t add any noticeable difficulty in manipulation. So if there’s no real downside, why not use it?

Now, as with any aftermarket accessory, it doesn’t play nice with all the other available accessories. FCD lets you know this right up front on their page:

Incompatibilities:

* Geissele’s Maritime Bolt Catch.  Material from either the top edge of EMR-A’s lever, or the bottom edge of Maritime Bolt Catch’s lower paddle may need to be removed for both to work together.  The close proximity of these two control surfaces makes this combination less than ideal.

* CMC’s anti walk pins

* KNS Gen 2 anti-rotation trigger/hammer pins.  KNS Gen2 Mod2 and Gen JJ, and Gen ST (Spikes Tactical) are compatible with EMR-A with standard lever, but not with extended lever. Gen2 Mod2’s pins connecting bar may require minor fitting on thicker receivers to create adequate clearance for the EMR-A’s lever when pressed.

* HK 7.62mm AR style rifles, MR762 series.* Hodge Defense Mod 2  lower receivers.* Battery assist device levers.

* Receivers with the left side fence around the bolt catch and mag catch, such as some CMT, Magpul and AR15.com billet receivers.  EMR-A requires the left side of the receiver to more or less adhere to TDP spcs.

* May not be compatible with Seekins SP223 and AR10 B receivers.

* Due to lack of standards for 308 ARs, EMR-A may not work with 80% 308 ARs.

EMR-H

The EMR-H magazine release button is the perfect companion to the EMR-A. It is probably my favorite mag release button, and I ended up replacing the mag button from my Knight’s with the EMR-H.

Why do I like it?

The EMR-H features a slightly curved button surface to fit the natural curvature of your finger. The form fitting curve, along with horizontal serrations, create a self centering surface that inhibits the finger’s vertical movements. The EMR-H has a milspec through hole for the magazine catch’s shaft, and is only 0.02″ taller than the factory magazine release button. When installed, the EMR-H has minimal protrusion above the mag release button fence on most forged receivers.

Basically, like the EMR-A, it simply fits your finger better, which makes manipulating it easier.

FCD does make a release button that protrudes a little further out (the EMR-C), but they do not recommend it for defensive rifles, as it protrudes above the “fence” of the receiver and may be accidentally activated with a bump. I feel that the EMR-H is perfect for what I need in a defensive accessory.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for an ambi mag release, the FCD EMR-A/EMR-H combo will only run you $85, which puts it in the middle to lower end of the ambi release cost range. It’s definitely worth looking at if you don’t need the length of the Knight’s, but maybe want more paddle (and less cost) than the Norgon.

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