AR Charging Handles


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unlimited4x4
March 8, 2013, 10:53 AM
The charging handle is one of the last items I need for my AR. I am wondering what is useful and what is a gimmick. There are ones like BCM that are Mod 1,2 etc, others with "combat" latches and ambidextrous doo dads. Does anyone have an article to explain these minor differences from handle to handle? Will the $20 PSA handle operate as well as the $79.95. I don't mind paying for a good handle, I believe you get what you pay for. I just don't want to pay for useless gimmicks.

Thanks

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GCMkc
March 8, 2013, 11:06 AM
$20 PSA charging handle + $18 Badger tac-latch

http://www.jsesurplus.com/tacticallatchforcharginghandlegen2.aspx

I've got the older Badger gen I latch and it makes manipulation a breeze. The extra leverage really helps. The only gripe is if you are using a sling and the rifle is resting on your chest the latch can dig in a little.

I've had no experience with the BCM Gunfighters but they look like they are nice and they get excellent reviews. I guess your looking at about the same price if you combined the PSA and Badger Tac-Latch (after shipping costs) as the BCM Gunfighter.

Creature
March 8, 2013, 11:08 AM
I have the BCM mod1 for a while now and it is very well made. I have no complaints.

rcmodel
March 8, 2013, 11:16 AM
Most all of the cheap charge handles are cast aluminum.

The more expensive mil-spec ones will be forged & milled billet aluminum.

They won't snap off in the heat of the moment.
They will bend before they break.

Well worth the extra money IMO:

As for latches?
I have got by quite nicely with mil-spec charge handles & latches on my Colts for about 45 years.

If you have optics in the way, the extended 'tactical' latches are worth the extra money.

rc

41magsnub
March 8, 2013, 11:38 AM
I've switched to the medium sized BCM charging handles. They are just more comfortable.

unlimited4x4
March 8, 2013, 12:18 PM
Thankyou all, this is the kind of input I'm looking for.

rbernie
March 8, 2013, 12:25 PM
I have found that the extra large paddle-style latches get all grabby and noisy in the field, and I tend to avoid them these days.

adelbridge
March 8, 2013, 12:35 PM
I would only select an extended charging handle if you are mounting a scope that inhibits reach to stock charging handle. The extended charging handles tend to snag on clothes when carried with a sling. The other issue is that some of the extended charging handles put more leverage on the stock tiny roll pin but I have not had any breakage issues and I hunt my AR's pretty hard.

Okiegunner
March 8, 2013, 01:10 PM
To each his own I guess.

I have the large latch BCM ch. It is really (to me) convenient if you are wearing gloves. For shooting outdoors on a cold winter day, it does come in handy.

The one handed manipulation is another plus.

rugerdude
March 8, 2013, 02:14 PM
Extended latch is a definite plus. The proper technique with these is to use the palm of your hand to move the charging handle to the rear. It is much faster and relies less on fine motor skills (which deteriorate under stress).

As others have said it's an even bigger advantage when you have optics mounted.

It will dig in a bit if you have it slung but since it's a 8lb or so rifle (depending on optics, etc.)and it's just sort of hanging off of you there's really not much force behind the protrusion. It doesn't bother me.

Skylerbone
March 8, 2013, 02:23 PM
Agreed with post #4&#7. Larger/extended isn't necessarily gimmicky but simply aren't ideal for every situation. I say if the optic makes use of the charging handle difficult then move that optic!

Welding Rod
March 8, 2013, 08:45 PM
I like the BCM medium. I would like to try the small as well.

If the AR just had bolt release that could be easily manipulated with the right hand while maintaining a firing grip the gun would have perfect ergonomics IMO.

taliv
March 8, 2013, 08:52 PM
I run the bcm medium. I am left handed and it definItely helps.

The combination of a cheap extruded charging handle and a large latch is suboptimal. The expensive ones are stronger. And the bcm and rainier and some others have redesigned the hinge mechanism. The original wasn't designed to handle the leverage.

rugerdude
March 8, 2013, 10:11 PM
Welding rod, you need to take a look at the Magpul BAD lever. It is basically cheating for AR-15's.

rcmodel
March 8, 2013, 10:19 PM
It is basically cheating for AR-15's. IMO: An old solders take on the BAD Lever?

It is basically an ingenious solution to a non-extent problem.

That adds more linkage that will break, not work, or get bound up in the mud or the blood.

At the exact time you need it not too, most.

If the AR just had bolt release that could be easily manipulated with the right hand while maintaining a firing gripUnless you are left handed?
Your left hand is already up there sticking in a loaded mag.

Release the bolt release with your left thumb like God & Eugene Stoner intended you to do.

rc

TCBPATRIOT
March 8, 2013, 10:29 PM
I have short fingers and am a lefty and I just forward with my trigger finger. I have tried that BAD lever and I like it but I don't think I'd have it on a combat rifle. I've always wanted to figure out how to make an AR have a mag flap like various other rifles have.

CSC_Saint
March 8, 2013, 10:40 PM
Carried m4`s with and without them in two deployments. If you spend alot of time with the rifle on or around you i wouldn`t get it. If its just a range baby or HD gun, then it would definitely have its uses. Having the rifle on you all the time it digs into your chest and if you have to chow sling it(across your back) it digs in something awful. Also be aware that anything that snags it will pop the latch and partially charge the rifle and when it releases its definitely audible.

surfinUSA
March 8, 2013, 11:37 PM
I like the factory standard. Some folks like to pay a lot of money for an aftermarket part. Good for them it's their money.

Bartholomew Roberts
March 9, 2013, 12:41 AM
Military charging handles are forged T7075 aluminium. However, many commercial manufacturers use extruded T6061 aluminium because a charging handle is typically not a high stress part - at least not until some guy goes to a training class and learns a new manual of arms (or mortaring a rifle to clear a stuck case).

When you add an extended latch to a charging handle, you are increasing your leverage on the handle and adding stress at points it was not designed to handle. A common point of failure, even with forged T7075 handles is the roll pin that holds the extended latch in the handle. Charging handles like the BCM have been redesigned from the ground up to handle this new manual if arms (where it looks like you are slapping yourself in the face with your weak hand to charge the rifle) instead of just replacing the GI latch with a different latch.

Welding Rod
March 9, 2013, 01:05 AM
Release the bolt release with your left thumb like God & Eugene Stoner intended you to do.

rc

Works fine when loading a mag, but not too elegant when the left arm is slung up during a high power match and you must single load each round during slow fire prone.

Or when you want to just lock the bolt back without a mag in the well.

B!ngo
March 9, 2013, 01:07 AM
As a left-hander, I have not been satisfied with any of the stock handles that ship with a complete upper or a completed AR. Even my Stag 3GL came with a CH designed for right-handers (the latch requires operation with the left hand which, for me, is the strong hand). I've surveyed a number of ambi- or left-handers and just received and installed the one from Ranier Arms which has an elegant control on both sides. Fully symmetric. It is a beautiful and perfectly operating piece of machinery that seems perfect for left- or right-handers in that it offers complete control from either or both sides.
Of course, it's still new so only time will tell if it's durable, but other than that unknown, we have a winner.
B

TCBPATRIOT
March 9, 2013, 12:58 PM
I would like to try one of those ambi charging handles.

MachIVshooter
March 9, 2013, 01:17 PM
If you have optics in the way, the extended 'tactical' latches are worth the extra money.

This is the only use I can see for extended latches. That said, I don't mount optics that far back.

Ehtereon11B
March 9, 2013, 11:38 PM
The Raptor charging handle is a bit pricier than normal but worth the money if an importance on ambidextrous controls is the goal.

http://www.rainierarms.com/?page=shop/detail&product_id=3172

rugerdude
March 10, 2013, 01:10 AM
IMO: An old solders take on the BAD Lever?

It is basically an ingenious solution to a non-extent problem.

That adds more linkage that will break, not work, or get bound up in the mud or the blood.

At the exact time you need it not too, most.

Clearing double-feeds is a MAJOR PROBLEM with an AR-15 and the BAD lever makes the process of clearing one take about a third of the time. Speed reloads are also sped up slightly. The BAD lever replaces nothing, and bolts onto your existing bolt release. If it broke off you'd still have your original release. The argument that "it's just one more thing to break" is puzzling to me considering this it literally a curved piece of metal.

Using your thumb to push the bolt release is also not recommended. Fine motor skills deteriorate under stress and you wind up having to search for that tiny button. With the BAD lever you can just sweep your finger along the front side of the trigger guard.

FWIW I was a Recon Marine, and have plenty of combat experience with an M4A1 in my hands so I'm not just blowing smoke. Eugene Stoner made a great rifle, but that doesn't mean it's perfect.

unlimited4x4
March 10, 2013, 11:39 AM
Thanks again to everyone responding. I definitely have a better idea of what I need to look for in a charging handle. From the responses there seems to be a lot of situational preference, meaning how and under what conditions the rifle will be used. I think I may start with just a good quality mil spec handle and then explore some of the options you all have discussed as I shoot and train.

WinThePennant
March 10, 2013, 11:46 AM
Mod 4 BCM is my preferred charging handle. Mod 5 works, too.

Don't over think it - BCM makes theirs with 7075 aluminum. BCM definitely makes one of the best.

http://www.bravocompanyusa.com/BCM-GUNFIGHTER-Charging-Handle-GFH-Mod-4-p/bcm%20gfh%20mod%204%20556.htm

taliv
March 10, 2013, 10:45 PM
Carried m4`s with and without them in two deployments. If you spend alot of time with the rifle on or around you i wouldn`t get it. If its just a range baby or HD gun, then it would definitely have its uses. Having the rifle on you all the time it digs into your chest and if you have to chow sling it(across your back) it digs in something awful. Also be aware that anything that snags it will pop the latch and partially charge the rifle and when it releases its definitely audible.

wait... your unit's TTP was to carry on your back with bolt open on a loaded magazine??

(hopefully i'm reading too much into your statement... maybe you meant those things were happening not all at the same time)

LiquidTension
March 11, 2013, 02:01 PM
The argument that "it's just one more thing to break" is puzzling to me considering this it literally a curved piece of metal.

There are many documented cases of the BAD lever causing the bolt to fail to lock to the rear on empty. It works fine on my M&P15 but does not work on my SBR. Since it does not work on all of my rifles, it goes on none of them.

As for charging handles, I've moved to using nothing but the BCM Gunfighter with medium latch.

unlimited4x4
March 12, 2013, 12:53 PM
Based on everyone's responses I just ordered a BCM charging handle with the medium latch. As always BCM comes with high reccomendations from most of you. Thanks for everyones input.

holdencm9
March 12, 2013, 02:41 PM
wait... your unit's TTP was to carry on your back with bolt open on a loaded magazine??

I think he meant that extended latch can get caught on something and partially pull the bolt back (out of battery)

taliv
March 12, 2013, 02:42 PM
ok duh... that makes a lot more sense :)

VegasAR15
March 13, 2013, 09:25 AM
I recently got the BCM ambi. I have not had a chance to shoot it with it but I do like it a lot better than the stock one. I wanted one because I have had issues with stuck cases before and this gives me more area to grab onto when I am trying to clear a jam.

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