AR15s are beloved for their customizability, and the charging handle offers yet another avenue for individualism. Not every upgrade has to be strictly practical. Sometimes, people want an upgrade for aesthetics—and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, your rifle reflects your own style, so you shouldn’t be afraid to add some personality.
The aggressive styles of an extended-latch handle will certainly enhance your rifle’s ergonomics, but the color, design, and form factor can also make an appreciable difference in the aesthetic of your rifle. We won’t recommend you sacrifice functionality for appearances, but in this case, appearances often coincide with performance characteristics.
Popular models like the Radian Weapons Raptor feature large, talon-like latches, skeletonized for both aesthetics and for weight reduction. Then there's the Strike Industries ARCH, which features enlarged latch faces and an extended latch on one side for agile manipulation. Geissele Super and Airborne Charging Handles are machined from a solid aluminum billet, feature similarly oversized latches, and have a knurled texture on the latch faces to maximize grip even with gloves on. Geissele charging handles also feature a large, gas-busting lip where the handle meets the upper receiver to keep you from taking blasts of gas to the face when shooting suppressed.
BCM charging handles are popular because they offer 2 different latch sizes: medium and large. For tactical use, the medium charging handles have less risk of snagging against your gear, but for competition and target shooting, the large latches offer more grip space for quick controls.
Like most AR parts, charging handles come in a variety of color options as well. Strike Industries offers their charging handles in blue, red, and FDE alongside the standard anodized black. Other options include Desert Dirt, Olive Green, Silver, and Tungsten Grey.