CHARGING HANDLE BUYERS GUIDE
Everything you need to know to select the best charging handle for your AR 15. From extended latch handles, Ambidextrous charging handles, how they're made and which application each type is best for.
What is a Charging Handle?
The AR 15 charging handle is a small but very important piece of hardware to consider when building or upgrading your rifle. For people looking to save money on a new build, it can often be a part that gets overlooked.
resulting in builders and shooters settling for “good enough” when what they’d prefer is some serious performance and reliability.
Other people prefer the simple, low profile, and affordable standard MIL SPEC charging handle – and there’s nothing wrong with that either. However, it wasn’t too long ago that a basic aluminum handle was the only option to choose from.
That is certainly no longer the case. More and more manufacturers are redesigning and optimizing the performance of their products to make them stronger, last longer, and perform better under the most strenuous of conditions.
With all the options, configurations, and brands to choose from, how do you know what is the best charging handle for you and your AR-15? Let’s talk about what makes one product different from another and how to choose one based on what you need.
AR 15 CHARGING HANDLE CONSTRUCTION
The vast majority of these products you will find on the market today are constructed (and will operate) in much the same way. Made from the same types of aluminum as AR 15 rifle receivers, these parts can be forged from heated aluminum or machined entirely from a solid billet aluminium.
A billet handle is almost certainly going to be more expensive, because of the extra manufacturing time it takes to make the part, and the relatively small size of the part compared to the aluminum billet it is machined from.
– more wasted material means more cost to account for in the manufacturing process. Forged handles will do the job just fine, however it is important to understand that the harder you run your rifle, the stronger of a part you’ll need.
Under strenuous and forceful use like frequent one-sided operation, some weaker handles can be prone to twisting or warping over time.
Leaving you with a part that puts extra stress on your rifle as you charge it. Most standard MIL SPEC latches snap to the receiver from the same side – the shooter’s left.
The standard MIL SPEC assembly features a low-profile latch, which is great for anyone who is using their rifle in an application where you can be prone to snagging issues as you move through the environment. However, the small latch can be hard to manipulate when it’s buried underneath optical systems or if thick gloves slow you down.
A Single-sided extended latch handle works to alleviate this issue by attaching a larger surface to the shooter’s left side, bringing the manipulation latch further out from the body of the rifle so it’s more easily accessible. Still, the charging can only be done from the shooter’s left-hand side.
Many people opt to pay a little extra for the ability to manipulate the handle from either side on its own and upgrade to an ambidextrous handle.
These still only latch to the receiver on one side, but the wings of the handle -- or the cross of the “T” shape -- are optimized with latches on each side which allow the shooter to rack the bolt back with an open, rear-facing palm or a single finger on either side of the firearm.
This added flexibility usually comes with the addition of large-faced latch handles as well, making it the easiest model to operate under any conditions.
The large majority of the handles and parts you’ll see on the market today will feature the same hardcoat anodized finish as the rest of your AR’s aluminum components.
CUSTOMIZING YOUR AR 15 CHARGING HANDLE
Part of the enjoyment of owning an AR-15 is the ability to customize every part of the platform should you so choose.
- It’s part of what makes the AR-15 America’s gun.
the freedom to make it unique to you. Long gone are the days when all that was available was a simple MIL SPEC handle, as brands now manufacture these parts with superior functionality, as well as an extra measure of badass. *Cue explosions and the guitar solo from "Freebird".*
An aggressive-looking, oversized handle can not only serve the purpose of making it easier to charge your rifle, but the color, design, and form factor can go a long way to complete your desired look for your rifle.
Popular models like the Radian Weapons Raptor feature large, talon-like latches, skeletonized for looks and for weight reduction.
Then there's the Strike Industries ARCH which features enlarged latch faces and an extended latch on one side for quicker manipulation.
The line of Geissele Super 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 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. So there really is umlimited customizability. BCM charging handles are billet aluminium, MIL SPEC compatible, and type III Class 2 hardcoated anodized aluminium.
Beyond the design and features that these parts can have, many color options are available from a variety of manufacturers. Strike Industries offers theirs in Blue, Red, and Flat Dark Earth in addition to anodized black. Other options include Desert Dirt, Olive Green, Silver, and Tungsten Grey.
GET THE BEST CHARGING HANDLE FROM THE BEST BRANDS
At Primary Arms, we carry the products from the top manufacturers in the firearms industry. When you buy from brands like these, so you know you’re getting a quality product. When you shop Primary Arms, you know you’re getting the best price and super-fast shipping. Check out custom handles from these top brands:
Primary Arms carries some of the highest quality AR 15 charging handles from the most trusted manufacturers in the world. No matter the mission, we have the charging handle to get the job done. Shop today and find the best prices, get fast shipping, and enjoy our world-class customer service.