AR 15’s are one of the most popular types of guns today. They are extremely fun to shoot at the range, increasing your marksmanship skills when practicing on targets. And they also double as self-defense tools at home.
One of the reasons that these rifles are so popular is that you can customize your AR 15 to a nearly infinite degree. Almost any part within a stock AR 15 can be swapped out with various after-market parts, providing you with a unique, custom gun that performs the way you want.
Choosing the best AR charging handle is just one way you can improve performance and add personality to your gun. But if you are new to making upgrades to your rifle, you might be wondering what an ar15 charging handle even is.
If so, keep reading to learn all about the AR charging handle, and how to choose the best charging handle for your gun.
What Is a Charging Handle?
Charging handles are to a AR 15 what bolt handles are on a bolt action rifle. They are responsible for moving the hammer or striker into the ready-to-fire position. You need to use this every time you prepare your AR 15 to actually fire rounds.
Because of this, the charging handle is used very often and directly affects the performance of the gun. It’s also what ejects spent rounds from the chamber and what removes jams or misfires.
Why You Need a New Charging Handle
Upgrading your AR 15 charging handle is one of the first changes to make to your new gun. It’s also easy and affordable compared to mn of the other upgrades you can make
There are many benefits to a new charging handle. For one, an aftermarket charging handle can offer a better grip and hand position when operating the charging handle. They can also better accommodate hands with gloves, whether a shooting glove, tactical glove, or cold weather glove.
They can also help deflect debris away from the face during the firing process, making for a more comfortable shooting session that allows you to retain focus for longer periods of time. They can help to redirect the flow of gas away from the face.
Plus, most charging handles are designed for right-handed shooters. If you are left-handed, you’ll want to upgrade to a left-handed charging handle, so that you have a gun that is actually designed for you. Or, an ambidextrous charging handle will accommodate any type of shooter.
A new charging handle can also extend the latch, giving you more space to grab on your gun if your optics come back really far on the gun.
A higher-quality charging handle can also ensure you have a smooth firing cycle with fewer jams and misfires. They will last a lot longer, resisting rust and damage during extended use. And a better charging handle will make your firearm easier to use all around.
What to Look for When Choosing an AR 15 Charging Handle
So what factors should you consider when looking for the best AR 15 charging handle for your gun? For one, consider the aesthetic.
Charging handles come in many different colors. You can easily find bright reds and blues if you need a little contrast on your gun. Or you can stick with a more neutral, tactical color like black, gray, or brown, depending on the design of your gun.
Also, consider the material. Most aftermarket charging handles are made of aluminum. It’s relatively strong and durable, and also very lightweight. The finish on the metal can also affect the appearance, ranging from an anodized hard coat to a nickelene coat, creating a smooth texture with a classic appearance.
The finish on the handle can protect it from rust and also ensure smooth performance as it cycles through the gun.
If using a rifle with a suppressor, you know that gas blowback can be an issue. Look for a handle with ported holes in the shaft, which redirects this gas away from the shooter’s face.
Also, consider serrations. Some handles are smooth, designed for use with bare hands. But when using gloves, or in humid conditions where hands may be sweaty, you’ll want a serrated handle that offers a better grip.
Planning to use gloves? Choose a handle with an extended latch, which allows for more room to grab the handle.
And lastly, consider your budget. Aftermarket handles range in price from around $30 to over $100. Serious shooters who cycle a lot of rounds through their AR will have no problem buying a higher-priced model. But even a cheaper handle will upgrade the performance of your gun if you aren’t too particular.
Choosing the Best AR Charging Handle
So what are the top charging handle options for your AR 15? Here are some of the most popular aftermarket handles to add to your gun.
Strike Industries Charging Handles
Some of the most popular, and most affordable charging handle you can get come from Strike Industries. They offer a selection of different handles and usually offer them in bright red or blue, unlike most other companies. Though you can also opt for neutral colors too if you don’t like the bright colors.
If you are looking for more real estate when grabbing your charging handle, you can choose their extended latch charging handle. Weighing just over an ounce, the handle is known to perform smoothly under extended periods of stress. And it’s compatible with all AR 15 uppers.
Don’t need the extended latch? You can also choose the ambidextrous handle from Strike Industries. These offer the same aircraft-grade aluminum with a smooth, polished finish which allows for reliable operation and easy removal of blockages. And it’s comfortable to operate from either side.
Handles from Strike Industries are some of the most popular in the under $50 category.
Radian Charging Handles
Another popular brand producing charging handles for the AR 15 is Radian. Multiple models frequent the top-buying lists, though they are priced at the higher end of charging handles.
One of the most popular is the Radian Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle, featuring double latches on both sides of the handle. This makes it easy and comfortable to use from either side and any angle. Deep serrations along the latches and shaft make it easy to get and keep a secure grip.
These are tested to fire over a million rounds, ensuring you have a handle that can stand the test of time. They won’t give out due to abuse.
The Radian Raptor NP3-Coated Ambidextrous Charging Handle is another popular option, using 7075 aluminum with a nickel-Teflon NP3 coating finish. This gives it a clean, polished, high-end look and feel.
And for those running a suppressor, looking for optimal performance, consider the Radian Silencer-Optimized Raptor-SD Ambidextrous Charging Handle. These feature ported holes along the shaft, helping to redirect those excess gases away from your face when firing. No more powder burns or soot build-up on your hands and face.
Aero Precision Ambidextrous Charging Handle
Another great option is the Aero Precision Ambidextrous Charging Handle. These are a bit heavier than most charging handles, weighing in near two ounces. But the large design and heavier weight actually make the handle easier to you and maneuver when dealing with large scopes.
You also have more leverage when grabbing the handle and trying to use it when your body is in different positions. They are easy to use and are praised among beginner AR 15 users. But they only come in a black finish, so there aren’t many options to select from.
Fortis Hammer Charging Handle
A mid-range charging handle, the Fortis Hammer offers one of the smoothest-performing handles you can get. Finished with a coat of nickelene, it operates with a natural lubricity. This means less friction and smooth, reliable performance.
The finish also fights off rust, and you likely won’t notice any signs of wear, even after firing thousands of rounds using this handle.
Phase 5 Tactical Ambidextrous Battle Latch Charging Handle
Lastly, the Phase 5 Tactical Ambidextrous Battle Latch Charging Handle is another higher-priced charging handle that is absolutely worth the cost.
This ambidextrous handle features a lever that extends to the right of the latches. This level makes the handle easy for left-handed shooters to use their right hand. It’s more comfortable and easy to use than you might think.
And the deep serrations along the entire handle make it easy to hold securely in any situation. This handle also replaces the normal roll pin with a steel coil spring pin, which distributes stress more evenly under constant use.
Feel the Difference
Now that you know how to find the best ar charging handle, it’s time to pull the trigger and grab a new one. Ambidextrous charging handles offer the most flexibility and are necessary if you are a left-handed shooter.
Find one in a color and finish that you like, at your preferred price point, and add it to your gun as soon as possible. You’ll feel the difference right away.
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