One of AR rifle's most important parts is the charging handle. Learning and mastering how to use it are essential in operating your AR rifle. At first glance, you might think it’s just a piece of T-shaped slender metal.
However, it's designed that way to work with the other parts inside. Matter of fact, shooting experts say that upgrading your charging handle will undoubtedly improve your rifle's performance!
In this article, we will guide you in choosing the best AR 15 charging handle. We also put together a list of some of the charging handles worth checking out.
Best AR 15 Charging Handle Review
Here are the best choices you can consider. Feel free to browse and get to know each one of them!
1.Badger Ordnance AR 15/M16 - Left-Hand Charging Handle
Though this is not an ambidextrous charging handle, many rifle shooters still buy this because they like to make things simple.
One of the advantages of having the latch placed on one side is the easiness.
We know that other people aren't comfortable with the flexibility offered by the ambidextrous charging handles.
Of course, the Badger Ordnance aims to cater different types of customers.
The left-handed shooters use their right to operate the right handle. The latch of this charging handle is located on the right side.
It can also be operated by the right hand. It has an extended form to enable fast and positive operation. Its size is ideal for the gloved hand in cold weather or having large optics.
As you should know, large optic size makes the charging handle inaccessible. Also, because the latch has a large grasping area, it shall necessitate fast and smooth operation to the charging handle.
If you’d like a spare latch, you can buy it separately from the charging handle.
The charging handle except for the extended latch is made of hard anodized aluminum. Its finishing is matte black.
The material is Military Specified (or Mil-Spec). When a charging handle is described as Mil-Spec, you can rely on that specific charging handle to take a beating for you.
The extended latch, on the other hand, is made from ordnance-grade steel. It has a square contact pad measuring 5/8 inch. Its distance from the handle is only ¾ inch.
Badger Ordnance has no other drawbacks but its high price.
Badger Ordnance has an ambidextrous version you might want to try sometime later. All of their charging handles fit AR 15, M16, and M14 rifles.
- For different shooting conditions
- Durable construction
- Snag-resistant latch
- Allows right-hand use
- Price starts at $100
Many veteran shooters approvein owning a charging handler by BCM. Due to its popularity, the BCM Gunfighter has appeared on many review lists from time to time.
BCM Gunfighter has an excellent reputation, and you should see for yourself its wonders. This charging handle has varying latch lengths to cater many customers.
Flexibility is one of the things that you would like in this charging handle. It’s for both left-handed and right-handed shooters, in short, it is ambidextrous.
BCM Gunfighter included a design enhancement in which the stress is redirected from the roll pin that holds the latch.
The stress is then transferred to the body of the charging handle. In this manner, the durability of the charging handle is exponentially improved. You can count on it to last for a long time.
BCM Gunfighter serves as a great upgrade to your stock charging handle or a replacement to your broken charging handle.
Either way works great because BCM Gunfighter’s body material is 7075 T6 aluminum and hard coat anodized (Mil-Spec, Type III, and Class 2).
This heavy-duty charging handle has different sizes for its latches. You can choose between small, medium, and largely based on what's good for your grip.
This charging handle has sharp edges due to its rigid construction. These edges aren’t very gentle to bare and tired hands.
If you don't make it a habit of wearing gloves when shooting an AR 15, you must do so when you use this product.
This charging handle not only fits AR 15 but also to M16 rifles.
- Wide option on latch size
- For different applications
- Durable construction
- Special redesign
- Sharp edges
If you want to keep things simpler, this product is definitely for you.
Mega Arms incorporated a new design in their charging handle. It is completely “latchless" which means that they are unique from their competitors.
Since the charging handle doesn't have a latch, it's fully ambidextrous and can be fully operated without getting confused.
The reason behind their latchless design is to minimize moving parts. You won’t have any need to depress any buttons or levers to pull the bolt to the rear.
Instead, you can pull the handle straight back. This makes things simpler and flexible. The charging handle has a spring pressure to keep it in place.
The handle has serrated edges on both sides. These necessitates good grip and won’t slide back. The width of the handle has a large surface area enough to fit a gloved hand.
You can expect Mega Slide Lock Charging Handle to last a long time because it uses a premium material. It is made from 7075 T6 hard anodized aluminum (Mil-Spec, Type III, and Class 2).
Upon installing it to your upper, it won't come loose on its own. It operates just like an ordinary yet dependable charging handle (just without the latch).
As we tested out this charging handle, we observed that it could cause wearing on the upper receiver.
The upper receiver is not used to that one moving part to incline backward and the handle to be pulled back to overcome the tension.
This charging handle is compatible with AR 15 and M16 rifles.
- Unique design
- Durable construction
- Easy installation
- Can cause wearing on the upper receiver
4. Phase 5 Tactical AR 15/M16 - Best Ambidextrous Charging Handle
The Phase 5 Charging Handle is another good charging handle that doesn't restrict the left-handed shooters.
Both hands can operate it without being confused especially when you're in a tight situation.
Phase 5 Charging Handle is specifically designed for those in the law enforcement and military, and so, it's the charging handle you can depend on when you need it most.
This charging handle features a more rugged construction with its increased sidewall thickness. This can take heavy abuse and would still function properly.
Aside from that, Phase 5 also integrated broader contact points for easier operation even if you're wearing gloves.
There are oversized grooves located on the right side of the handle and the latch for non-slip grip. These grooves help weapon retention and assist in the positive charging operation of the rifle.
Phase 5 improved their coiled spring pin by increasing the diameter. It now measures .1875 inch.
Because of this, the charging handle ensures to absorb shock, equal stress distribution and flexes even under heavy use.
We can attest it’s the best tactical charging handle you can buy as it’s made from 6061 T6 hard anodized aluminum (Mil-Spec, Type III, and Class 2).
The latch of this charging handle is a little too long for our liking. From the previous section on how to choose AR 15 charging handles, we said that if the latch is extended and enlarged, it can cause some minor problems.
The latch may be easily caught in other rifle parts which can cause wearing on both sides.
This charging handle fits AR 15 and M16 rifles.
- Can take a beating
- For tactical situations
- Absorbs shock
- Equal stress distribution
- Latch is too long
Why Replace the Stock Charging Handle?
For the beginners, it is vital for them to know how the charging handle works. Simply put, its main function is to lock the bolt to the rear.
The charging handle cocks the hammer to be moved in the ready position. This is by retracting the bolt to the rear.
This same scenario happens when you have fired the last round of the magazine.
Another function of the charging handle is to ensure that there are no malfunctions such as jamming, double feed or misfire. It shall also eject unfired cartridges from the chamber.
When you load a fresh magazine into the AR rifle, the charging handle helps in feeding the first round when you put the bolt to the rear.
The bolt will pick it up and load into the chamber. The rifle is then ready to fire.
If you have an AR rifle fresh out of the box, you see that it’s already equipped with a stock charging handle.
The durability of this charging handle is good for casual range shooting. But if you’re into more intense activities such as engaging in tactical situations, the charging handle may not be up for the challenge.
Also, if you’re left-handed, the charging handle that comes with your rifle purchase may not be for you because it’s for the right-handed.
Because of these potential disadvantages, this is where the upgrading your charging handle becomes a necessity.
Tips in Operating A Charging Handle
There are three general steps to follow in operating the installed charging handle. First is to position your thumb on the back of the charging handle.
Your thumb must be at the center of the device’s rear. Next step is to unlock the handle with your index finger.
After that, cycle the handle forcibly by drawing your thumb straight to the rear. It should be in line with the top centerline of the handle.
Lastly, pull the charging handle to the rear until the handle disengages from your grip and the handle flies forward.
The actions that you shouldn’t do are the following: pulling up and twisting the handle as you cycle it.
They create more friction and could cause premature wear. Worst cases are the torquing of the handle out of shape, and actual breaking of the charging handle into pieces.
AR 15 Charging Handles Buying Guide
In an AR 15 rifle, one of the easiest parts to upgrade is the charging handle. They are relatively affordable, but the price may depend on the brand and its quality. The prices of charging handles range from $50 to $100.
Here are the other factors to consider in choosing the best AR 15 charging handle:
An ambidextrous charging handle has more benefits than both left-handed and right-handed charging handles.
In fact, more and more people prefer to buy this type because it offers equal proficiency with both hands.
You can lock the bolt to the rear and feed the first round to the chamber in faster speeds.
A charging handle that has an enlarged and extended latch is easier for shooters to use when they’re wearing gloves.
As it has a larger surface area, it’s advantageous for those guys who are into tactical operations.
The size of a charging handle’s latch does not only affect your grip. It can also mean the metal fatigue and possible wear to your gas key.
Enlarged and extended latches are more affected by these symptoms. There’s more lateral pressure placed on them than the smaller latches.
Most of us can agree that an AR charging handle with a curved forward is easier to operate than a flat and level charging handle. You can operate the handle in any hand position even if you have your gloves on.
On the other hand, a flat and level AR charging handle has a slippery grip because it slants backward when you pull it.
The best AR 15 charging handle is the one that will work best for your situation.
Be it in tactical operation or just casual range shooting, the charging handle you're going to buy is something you can feel comfortable and would bring out a greater performance out of your rifle.