Did you know that an AR-15 charging handle is one of the easiest and cheapest parts you can upgrade on your rifle? If you want peace of mind when it comes to loading and cocking your rifle or clearing malfunctions, this is the device you need to master and upgrade.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to choose the best AR-15 charging handle. We’ll also go over why it’s an important investment that can’t be ignored for your rifle.
What is the Importance of Charging Handles?
Before we go into how to choose an AR-15 charging, it’s important that you know why it’s a necessary purchase for your rifle. The charging handle manually loads and unloads bolt groups.
At the same time, it clears malfunctions and any kind of stoppages. These malfunctions can include double feeds, stovepipes, and failure to fire. You’ll also use the handle for chamber checks to ensure that there are no obstructions or that a round is chambered.
You can see how this simple-looking mechanism performs tasks that are critical for the functionality of your rifle.
Charging Handle Technique
If you refuse to upgrade your charging handle or don’t know how to properly use it, you can experience these issues:
- Torquing the handle out of shape
- Breaking the latch
- Increased friction and wear
You’ll use your dominant hand to maintain a firm group on your rifle while your support hand operates the charging handle. Use the index finger of your support hand to unlatch. You’ll want to use an aggressive, firm movement as you pull the handle back with your thumb on the rear center.
Once the handle is fully extended, completely release the handle and don’t let your hand block the bolt group’s movement forward. You can see how it’s important to keep this critical component upgraded so that your rifle is fully functional and ready to use at all times.
For a chamber check, you’ll use the opposite hands so that you have better control over the handle.
AR-15 Charging Handle Types
Now that you know the importance of charging handles and how to properly use one, here’s our simple guide on how to choose the best AR 15 charging handle. Upgrading your charging handle will vastly improve the performance and comfort of your AR-15.
AR-15 Ambidextrous Charging Handle
This kind of charging handle can be used easily by either hand. Its advantage comes in tactical, high-pressure situations such as home defense when you want an easy way to access your charging handle during conditions you can’t control. It has a large surface area and can be used by left-handed or right-handed shooters.
Another common reason why people choose to upgrade to ambidextrous charging handles is that it makes it easier to share their rifles. Your left-handed family members and friends will be able to borrow your rifle without struggling with using their weaker hand for operation.
Aero Precision AR-15 Ambidextrous Charging Handle
This handle is made of 7075-T6 aluminum with a Mil-Spec Type III Class 2 hard coat anodized finish. It’s laser engraved with the brand’s logo and also includes a serrated latch surface. It’s usable for both left and right-handed shooters with its extended latch design. At $68, you’re paying for a premium product without breaking the bank.
AR-15 Extended Charging Handle
Extended charging handles feature an extended latch that makes it easy to find and use in low-light situations. Shooters that like to use thick gloves while holding their rifle can also benefit from the englarged latch, as the extended surface area makes it easier to grip.
The extended charging handle also gives shooters the option to engage it with their foot or palm in unorthodox or home protection situations. Extended latches are also a great investment if you have a larger scope, as they’ll be able to extend past the scope so that you have easier access to the handle.
Anderson Manufacturing AR-15 Charging Handle
This charging handle has a black finish and is made from 7075-T6 aluminum, making it a budget build at $30 that’s an affordable replacement for worn out parts. It has a large and extended tactical latch. Every employee of Anderson Tactics is from the United States while 40% of the workforce are American veterans.
Gas Buster Handles
Gas buster charging handles are great for normal firing situations. They help keep gas, oil, dirt, and debris from blowing back into the shooter’s face and obstructing their vision.
Coated Charging Handles
You’ll also find that no matter what type of handle you choose, you can also get them coated. NP3 or nickel-boron coating is important if your rifle gets a lot of extended use. Your charging handle will benefit from increased:
- Resistance to corrosion
- Resistance to daily wear and tear
- Time of use without needing to clean
This is a great investment if you find yourself going out to the range a few times a week. You can think of it as insurance for your charging handle.
Standard Charging Handles
When you first purchase your AR-15, a standard charging handle is what your rifle is typically equipped with. It’s able to perform its functions well, but if you’re left-handed, have a large scope on your gun, or need a latch that’s easy to reach during high-pressure situations, then it’s worth it to invest in an upgraded handle.
How to Clean Your Charging Handle
Even if you’re investing in a coated charging handle, it’s important that you know how to properly clean your handle to ensure its smooth operation for years to come. The more you clean your rifle, the better. You can also aim to plan cleaning your gun every time it’s gone through heavy use.
If this seems like it would take too much time, here are a few dangers if you neglect your firearms:
- Rusting of mechanical parts
- Pitting and fouling leads to reduced accuracy
- Fouling can make the rifle jam
- Loose gun due to wear of mechanical parts
With this in mind, here’s a quick guide to get you started when it comes to cleaning your charging handle.
Safety comes first. You want to check the chamber and make sure there isn’t a round in the chamber. You also want to set the fire selector to “safe.”
Make sure that you have the right supplies before you begin taking your rifle apart. You’ll typically want a synthetic gun cleaner, gun oil, barrel rods, cleaning brushes, and a cotton rag. They’re often bundled together in a gun cleaning kit.
3. Remove Upper Receiver
In order to get started, you need to separate the upper receiver from the lower receiver of the rifle. Pop open the forward pivot pin and the rear takedown pin that is located on the lower receiver.
4. Remove Charging Handle
Once the upper receiver is separated from the lower receiver, it’s time to remove the charging handle. Since it’s not held in place by the lower receiver pins, all you need to do is pull it out.
5. Clean the Charging Handle
This is the easiest part of the process. Take your cotton rag and lightly oil it. Then, make sure that the entire charging handle is lightly coated and rubbed with the oil. Once you’re done and you’re putting everything back together, take your time to lightly oil the other parts of the rifle.
If you clean your rifle regularly, this process will quickly become a part of your daily routine and muscle memory. After making sure that the fire selector is set to “safe,” you can even clean your gun while watching TV or listening to a podcast.
Investing in Your Rifle for Optimal Performance
Choosing to upgrade your AR-15 charging handle is an investment in its performance and ease of use. For instance, if you regularly let your left-handed friends or family borrow your rifle, you’ll find that an ambidextrous charging handle will greatly improve how easy it is for them to use.
Investing in an extended charging handle is great for home protection scenarios or if you’re wearing gloves or shooting at night. The extended surface area of the latch will make it easier to access when you need your gun during situations you can’t control. You can even use your foot or palm to use the charging handle if you have an extended latch.
Want to learn more about being a responsible and knowledgable rifle owner? Keep reading our blog for more informative articles!