There are many benefits to owning an AR-15, but one of the biggest is that it’s a highly modular firearm that can be customized to be exactly how you want it. One of the most replaceable components of the AR-15 as well is the AR-15 charging handle, though it’s also one of the most overlooked customizable parts as people tend to instead focus on the furniture, trigger, and barrel.
But since the charging handle serves as a vitally important role in the overall function of the AR-15, it simply cannot be ignored.
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What Is an AR-15 Charging Handle?
The charging handle is simply the component of the AR-15 that moves the bolt into the ‘ready’ position so the rifle can be fired.
It also allows you to eject spent shells, to clear a stoppage, and to confirm that the weapon is either empty or loaded. Needless to say, an AR-15 simply would not be able to function correctly without one.
The AR-15 is also not the only firearm with a charging handle; far from it. Practically all other semi-automatic rifles have charging handles as well. In the case of rifles such as the AK-47 or Ruger Mini-14, however, the charging handle is located on the right-hand side of the weapon. The AR-15, it’s located on the rear of the receiver and is unique in that regard.
What’s Wrong With Using The Mil-Spec AR 15 Charging Handle?
What’s wrong with using the mil-spec charging handle that already comes installed on your AR-15 when you buy it?
In short, nothing. A basic mil-spec charging handle is more than sufficient for the needs of most civilians. If you’re someone who just likes to casually target shoot once in a while, a mil-spec charging handle will work just fine.
Durability is a Must
That being said, if you’re someone who shoots more often (as in you shoot regularly) and you also engage in tactical training and what not repeatedly to the point that your AR is constantly being abused in adverse environments, then upgrading to a more durable charging handle is something you should seriously consider.
Furthermore, if you’re a lefty, it can be very awkward to use a right handed charging handle, especially if you have an optic mounted to the top of the weapon.
What Do You Need In an AR 15 Charging Handle?
Basically, you need a charging handle that works! And almost all AR-15s come with mil-spec charging handles that do work.
As was noted above, the only times you really need to replace your charging handle is A. If you need a more durable model for constant shooting scenarios in adverse conditions, and B. If you need a left handed or ambidextrous charging handle.
An ambidextrous charging handle in particular would be highly versatile, and it is often preferred even by right handed tactical operators for this very reason so they can become proficient with either hand.
An alternative would be an extended charging handle, with a larger latch to make it easier for the shooter to engage with a gloved hand.
Meanwhile, if you need a more durable charging handle, then you can get one that is made out of heavy duty steel over aluminum.
3 of the Best AR 15 Charging Handle Upgrades
Here are three examples of charging handle upgrades that you can go with:
1. BRAVO COMPANY AR-15 BCM GUNFIGHTER CHARGING HANDLE
You may have heard of Bravo Company before; they make AR-15s of their own, and have developed a truly astounding reputation.
The BCM Gunfighter charging handle that they offer is built out of a heavy duty and high quality T6 aluminum that has been further finished with a hard coat anodized finish for superior rust and corrosion resistance in contrast to many standard mil-spec charging handles that come installed on AR-15s these days.
It’s also slightly larger than other charging handles on the market so shooters wearing gloved hands will be able to get a better grip over the handle as well.
Nexgen Charging Handle – AR15 (Best Ambidextrous Charging Handle)
The attention to detail on the Tyrant CNC NexGen Charging Handle is second to none. My favorite feature is the ambidextrous aspect of the handle. Tyrant doesn’t skimp when it comes to the materials they use. The charging handle is machined from aircraft-grade aluminum.
I have not taken mine to the range at the time of writing this article, but the handle has an integrated gas key and snag-resistant technology. Like all the 3 upgrades we will review, the charging handle comes in 5 different colors. I chose red.
Are you looking to buy the most durable charging handle on the market, one that stand up to the worst kind of abuse and still work?
If so, your answer is the Power Custom AR-15 Charging Handle. This charging handle is built out of steel instead of the forged aluminum that most other charging handles comes with. Other than that, it’s basically the same type of handle as as any other on the market, only with much improved durability for rough environments and conditions.
AR 15 Charging Handle – Conclusion
Again, upgrading your AR 15 charging handle is not truly necessary in all cases. Because the handle that comes installed on your AR-15 out of the box should work just fine.
The only exception to this rule is if you need a charging handle that’s more durable than normal. Or if you want an ambidextrous AR 15 charging handle for both right and left handed operation. In those cases, the three charging handles we’ve covered here today will serve you well. If you’re interested in finding the best AR15 scope on the market read our retailed guide.
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