Side-Cocker ARs -- Good, bad, Ugly?


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Dannix
August 18, 2010, 12:10 PM
Side-Cocker ARs. Pros/cons to going this route? Stronger? Cheaper? More accurate? Less reliable?

http://6mmar.com/images/side_charging_handle_upper__close_up_.jpg
http://6mmar.com/Pictures.html

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Justin
August 18, 2010, 12:39 PM
I think that's probably not the best way to go about it, because now you've got a reciprocating bolt handle on the side of the gun, which could conceivably impede shooting for a left-handed shooter, or shooting left-handed or from awkward positions like rollover prone.

JP has done a left-sided, non-reciprocating bolt handle on their LRP-07 rifles, and it's a very well done execution of the concept.

Dannix
August 18, 2010, 12:44 PM
Is the AK's charging handle reciprocating? I know that's a right-sider. The FN iirc is left, but I have a hunch it's not reciprocating. Not sure on both fronts.

I just curious why make such a beast. All the rifles on that site are setup for long range action, so perhaps it's an accuracy thing. Maybe cheaper too.

Zerodefect
August 18, 2010, 12:50 PM
I'd rather someone just came up with an ambi charging handle. And I like haveing a dust cover.

Reciprocating handles really stink for improvised shooting positions. But that above setup probally works great, that rifle looks like a SPR or target queen, not a battle rifle or CQB rifle.

benEzra
August 18, 2010, 01:09 PM
I just curious why make such a beast. All the rifles on that site are setup for long range action, so perhaps it's an accuracy thing. Maybe cheaper too.
If I had to guess, I'd say it's so a benchrest or position shooter can cycle the action without having to unsling or break position, but that is just speculation on my part.

I would think it would be less reliable on a non-target gun due to the increased susceptibility to dirt and debris getting into the action.

Hatterasguy
August 18, 2010, 02:41 PM
I prefer them, but than again everything I shoot has the charging handle on the right side so when I pick up an AR it takes me a second to remember and I find it awkward.

Its whatever you get used to. Still I always feel like I'm going to break it, I prefer a nice steel handle on the right I can rack, seems more positive to me.

1858
August 18, 2010, 02:47 PM
I'd rather someone just came up with an ambi charging handle.

They're available. A friend has one on his Noveske.

Added in edit: Friend's charging handle is made by Armadynamics.

http://www.mountsplus.com/AR-15_Accessories/AR-15_Scope_Rings/ACLMACH-001.html

:)

Teapot
August 18, 2010, 02:54 PM
I have an ambi charging handle on my C-7 and it really can get in the way when you sling the weapon. I prefer the ordinary handle even though I am a lefty.
As to the side cocking handle, it would be fine if it is for single shot at a time with the gas disengaged. If it is still semi then what a bad idea. the SLR (FN, FAL) is not reciprocating and it is on the left.

zoom6zoom
August 18, 2010, 02:56 PM
Is the AK's charging handle reciprocating?
Yes, it's just a protrusion from the bolt carrier.
http://www.floridagunworks.com/Merchant2/graphics/00000001/ROM002.jpg

TonyAngel
August 18, 2010, 02:59 PM
I think it looks cool. The only things I don't like about it are that you will need tools to remove the bolt/carrier in the field and all of that exposed aluminum on that particular rifle. It looks like they milled the receiver (to accommodate the handle) and didn't have it re-coated, anodized, whatever. That's going to get dinged up pretty quickly.

briansmithwins
August 18, 2010, 03:31 PM
Side-Cocker ARs. Pros/cons to going this route? Stronger? Cheaper? More accurate? Less reliable?

Stronger? Nope. There ain't a lot of 'meat' in the bolt carrier where that CH is attached.
Cheaper? Nope. Specialty items cost $s.
More accurate? Let's hang a off axis load off the bolt carrier and see what happens.
Less reliable? Yep. You've lost the dust cover and opened up extra space for crap to get into the rifle. Plus now you can't field strip the rifle w/o tools.

OTOH, it's not as silly as guys adding non-reciprocating LH charging handles to their AKs.

BSW

chrissmallwood
August 18, 2010, 03:48 PM
Are the tight tolerances on an AR the main reason that dirt getting into the action is why some dont like reciprocating charging handles? The Garand type rifles, AK type rifles and a few others have reciprocating charging handles with open actions but most dont say theyre a bad idea on them. Im just trying to figure out why some people say that not having a dustcover is bad when some rifles dont have them yet its ok on them. I figured that it was due to the tolerances but I thought I should ask. I personally prefer a side charging handle to the style on the AR.

Zerodefect
August 18, 2010, 03:56 PM
I don't like dirt getting into Ak's or M1's either. Deos't the AK's safety lever cover it up some?

All my "go to" rifles have dust shields of some sort.

chrissmallwood
August 18, 2010, 03:59 PM
Yes the AKs safety does cover up the ejection port only when on safe but not when its on fire.

Carl N. Brown
August 18, 2010, 04:56 PM
Actually the AK safety just covers the cutout for the operating handle: the AK ejection port and right side of the bolt carrier are exposed in all safety positions, safe or fire.

cougar1717
August 18, 2010, 05:05 PM
I really think the reciprocating side cocking feature is a gimmick "extra" for manufacturers to make some extra profit. Not that making a profit is a bad thing, but as others have stated, this feature that is integral to other gun systems that has been tacked on to AR-15 style rifles. I do not compete in 3 gun matches, but I would suspect that the JP left side non-reciprocating feature has to do with the speed of reloading the rifle in competition.

AK103K
August 18, 2010, 06:48 PM
All my AR's have the standard side charging handle. I just hook my left finger on the left side while holding the gun, and charge the gun. Works great as a press check too. Mine all came with them, didnt yours? :)

desidog
August 18, 2010, 07:04 PM
The AR's charging handle being separate from the BCG is one of the design's strengths and unique qualities: the charging handle was a pretty static design until Stoner (the inventor/designer of the AR) came up with the AR; if he thought that this was a better method, he would have incorporated it in the design.

Most every other rifle system that is not AR-derived or AR-influenced has an external/off axis charging handle (speaking broadly, of course). They were part of the design since inception, and because of this i'd go with one of them first. The options are too numerous to list; but i'd imagine for the same money you could get some great rigs.

The AR has really taken the lion's share of the civilian market in the past few years, but don't be sucked in by all the fan-boys...the other major designs out there like the AK and the M1A can hold their own too. I've had all three types, and of the three, the AR is my least favorite to operate (disclaimer, i'm lefty too).

Justin
August 18, 2010, 07:20 PM
I do not compete in 3 gun matches, but I would suspect that the JP left side non-reciprocating feature has to do with the speed of reloading the rifle in competition.

It conceivably makes it easier to run the gun if you have an optic mounted such that it's over the area where a traditional charging handle is placed.

I was lucky enough to put a few rounds through an LRP-07 a couple months ago, and the charging handle is nicely designed, however, due to it's placement it seemed a bit inconvenient to be able to pull the bolt back and then hit the button to lock it open.

killchain
August 19, 2010, 05:03 AM
I'll say this...

If you ever have a case stick in the chamber, you'll wish you had that charging handle you showed in the picture.

But otherwise, I'd rather have the ambi handle and the dust cover.

rskent
August 19, 2010, 05:45 AM
The only advantage that I can see, is that if you are shooting slow prone, you can load your rounds through the ejection port without coming out of position. I donít shoot a match rifle but thatís what I hear.

Tirod
August 19, 2010, 09:39 AM
That is a precision rifle for long range competitive shooting. A shooter in jacket slung up can't use their left hand well, it's easier in prone to work the bolt with the right. It's not combat, and it works well in competition.

Left sided chargers, like the FNFAL, have different reasoning. Look at the ASA, it has a non reciprocating handle that engages a small cut out on an otherwise issue BCG. There's no loss of strength there. The small slot down the left side is open. Issues with "tight tolerances" and dust are moot - the BCG rattles around quite nicely in the upper, and DI blows out the dust. ( I find it hard to repress a DOH at this point.) If anything, those running a suppressor don't have crap blown back in there face by the ambi charging handle. It should be mentioned the AR needs lube more than trash talk about what's in the action, as course instructors have gone out of their way to report their class carbines shoot thousands of rounds without cleaning.

The side charger allows the shooter, prone, standing, or moving, to keep their hand on the grip and finger near the trigger while the bolt is being moved. If it's a stoppage, nice to be able to kick out the round and put more downrange quicker. You don't break cheek weld or drop the gun off the shoulder.

Is that really necessary for the average non combat shooter, not so much. For a hunter the advantage is really moot, but one thing is clearer, more combat and civilian guns do have a bolt handle on one side or the other than designs with a center mounted charging handle. It's important to note the earlier Stoner designs used a handle on top, with a full slot, and it's only on the M16 that the center handle was used. Nice try, it has it's disadvantages. It's important to note: how many big latch charging handles are marketed now just to work the bolt left handed? If it's a bad idea, then they are all crap. They still force the user to break cheek weld.

On a money note, it's probably not going to be cheap to get a side charger, GI uppers can be had for a lot less. The individual has to really want it - like me - and won't be able to justify it for casual use. BWTH, if you own more than one gun, you already ignore that argument anyway, just ask your significant other.

Look closely, all the newer designs use side charging handles. If anything, the next issue carbine is quite likely to have one. Obviously some serious thought on the tradeoffs has concluded it should be there. On some designs slots are on on BOTH sides and it's switchable to either side, as is the ejection port. Apparently some worry less about the dirt to help you operate the gun better.

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