Many users don't think about upgrading their charging handles when they upgrade their AR-15 rifles. This is unfortunate because an upgraded charging handle can significantly improve your AR-15 shooting experience.
And what are the best upgrades for AR-15 charging handles? That's what I'll discuss today.
In the following review, I'll explain why you should consider upgrading your AR-15 rifle's charging handle and share my top 5 recommendations based on my own testing.
Rest assured, each of these charging handles serves its purpose for tactical shooters. So, here are my top choices for upgraded AR-15 charging handles.
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AR-15 Charging Handle Upgrade Guide
Before I go through my top picks, I'd like to spare a moment to tell you why I think upgrading your AR-15 charging handle is worth the money.
Most AR-15s use a standard, Mil-Spec charging handle. That can work fine for casual shooters. However, if you use your AR-15 for some serious training, you'll soon realize that your standard charging handle might not offer the best ergonomics.
- Intended Use: Do you use a surpassed gun? Are you a left or right-handed shooter? These two questions are vital to answer. If the answer to the first one is yes, ensure the charging handle you want to purchase comes with a system to reduce gas blowback. As for the latter, the best idea is to look for an ambidextrous charging handle, suitable for charging the bolt carrier grouo from both sides.
- Manufacturer: Always opt for well-known and reputable brands when looking for gun accessories. They might be pricier, but they are the most durable and safest options. That said, choose any of the brands you see above. There are also several brands I didn't mention, such as Strike Industries or Fortis.
- Price: Finally, consider how much you're willing to spend on your charging handle upgrades. In most instances, you should expect to pay around $80-100 for a top-quality charging handle for an AR-15.
Best AR-15 Charging Handles - Overview of My Top Picks
Radian Raptor Ambi Charging Handle - Best Overall
To start off this review with a standout choice in ambidextrous charging handles, let's talk about the Radian Raptor Ambi. In my opinion, the Radian Raptor stands as the top-notch AR-15 charging handle upgrade available. It boasts a sleek appearance, provides a robust feel, and caters to both left and right-handed shooters.
Why Radian Raptor?
When I unpacked the Radian Raptor, the first thing that caught my attention was its impressive lightweight design. Crafted from 075-T6 aircraft-grade aluminum and coated with a Mil-Spec Type 3 hard coat anodized finish, the Radian Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle strikes a perfect balance between being lightweight and durable, and this is just the beginning.
The installation of the Radian Raptor onto my AR-15 was remarkably straightforward. With it in place, I headed out for some shooting, and I must say it surpassed all my expectations.
One of the standout features is its ambidextrous design, achieved through the use of double latches. This meant I could easily operate it with either hand. Additionally, being an extended latch charging handle, the Radian Raptor offers a comfortable and secure grip, ensuring a fatigue-free shooting experience when charging the bolt carrier group.
Fluid And Fast - Smooth BCG pulling motion from the strong or support side. Even better when using a slick-surfaced nickel boron BCG7075 T6 Construction - Stronger than 6061 T6 aluminum and it can withstand high-volume BCG charging cycles
Various Color Offerings - Available for:
- Clear Anodized
- Radian Brown, Grey, OD
- Tungsten Grey
Suppressor Optimized (RAPTOR SD) - Ported shaft can redirect hot gas down and forward away from the shooter's face when the weapon is suppressed.
Pros and Cons
So yes, for me, the Radian Raptor is the best charging handle for the AR-15. It's ergonomic, lightweight, easy to install, durable, and comes with a sleek and aggressive design. In other words, it has everything you want from a charging handle. Sure, it is a bit expensive, but it's worth every single buck.
For Sig MCX, get it here
Aero Precision Breach - Best For The Money
The Aero Precision Breach is the newest AR15 charging handle on the market, featuring large ambidextrous extended latches and beefy 7075 T6 with a tight sealing design to block gas blowback for suppressor users.
Why Aero Precision breach?
I've always regarded Aero Precision as one of the most forward-thinking brands in the industry, and their latest addition, the Breach model, is no exception.
Indeed, this ambidextrous charging handle ranks among the best choices for your AR-15. To start, it's impressively lightweight, crafted from 7075-T6 aluminum, ensuring feather-lightness without compromising on durability. The handle also boasts a reinforced bar to prevent rotational flex and breakage.
Now, onto its performance during my testing—it excelled.
The ambidextrous design enhances its ergonomic usability, providing a reliable grip and smooth operation. What I particularly appreciate is the gas deflection shelf integrated into this Aero Precision handle, which effectively redirects gas blowback away from your face during shooting.
Ergonomic Design - Aero Precision Breach is a low-profile ambidextrous charging handle that offers an ergonomic design for more straightforward use.
Durable and Lightweight Construction - Made of incredibly lightweight yet extremely durable aircraft-grade 7075-T6 aluminum.
Gas-Deflection Shelf - Comes with a gas-deflection shelf that redirects gas blowback when shooting.
Comes In Two Sizes:
- Small Latch Breach - a low-profile handle that offers enhanced grip.
- Large Latch Breach - offers a larger operating surface for shooters with bigger hands.
Pros and Cons
While it's not as advanced as Radian Raptor, Aero Precision Breach is still a fantastic charging handle. And don't let its lower price fool you. It's a top-quality handle that will serve you well for years to come.
BCM Gunfighter Large MOD 3B - Classic
The BCM Gunfighter charging handle looks like a standard charging handle, but it's much stronger with structural improvements. This is a great MADE IN USA upgrade piece for any AR-15 rifle.
Why BCM Gunfighter Large Mod 3B?
BCM is renowned for crafting exceptional charging handles, and if you're in the market for a larger extended latch charging handle, the BCM Gunfighter might just be your best bet.
Surprisingly, despite its larger size, it maintains a commendable lightweight profile. Similar to the Radian Raptor and Aero Precision Breach handles, it's constructed from robust 7075-T6 aluminum, ensuring durability.
Where this charging handle truly shines is in its ergonomic design. It features a substantial latch, delivering a firm and comfortable grip, whether you prefer the finger or thumb method.
The BCM handle is tailored for right-handed shooters and lacks ambidextrous functionality. Left-handed shooters may not find it suitable, but for right-handed individuals, it offers an excellent and ergonomic choice.
Increased Durability - 7075 T6 forged aluminum construction, just like the Radian Raptor.
Large Latch - Extends 1.14" past the main body and should give (even when wearing gloves) finger clearance to any scope or offset rear iron sight that gets in the way.
Better Leverage - Clear jams and other BCG problems with much better latch gripping leverage.
Pros and Cons
BCM Gunfighter Large Mod 3B is one of the most ergonomic extended charging handles I've had the pleasure of using. However, while larger than other charging handles on this list, it's as lightweight and durable, offering an almost perfect mix of features and durability. However, with the handle not suitable for left-handed shooters, it lacks the flexibility the ambidextrous charging handles offer.
Geissele Super Charging Handle - Best Durability
The Geissele charging handle feels beefy and has similar quality as the Radian Raptor for ambidextrous and suppressor use. Coming with the heightened rear lip to reduce gas blowback, this charging handle is a fantastic upgrade for your AR-15 rifle.
Why the Geissele Super Charging handle?
Upon unpacking the Geissele charging handle, the first thing that struck me was its robust construction. It's the type of handle that earns your approval the moment you hold it in your hand. However, its durability comes at the cost of added weight, which means it may not be the most ergonomic option on my list.
Does this make it difficult to use? Not at all. For instance, its checkered surface provides excellent texture, ensuring a secure grip on the latch, whether you're wearing gloves or not.
What's more, its dual contoured levers accommodate both right and left-handed users with ease. Another feature I appreciated was the raised rear lip, which effectively diverted gas blowback away from my face during shooting.
Minimize Gas Blow Back - Heightened rear lip mitigates gas blowback to the shooter with SBRs or suppressor use.
Glove Use - Textured/curved grip angle works with or without gloves.
Ambidextrous Use - Equal length latch from both sides.
Pros and Cons
If you're looking for an ambidextrous extended latch charging handle that will survive anything you throw at it, this Geissele is an excellent pick. Built from aircraft-grade aluminum, this charging handle will serve you for years to come. However, it's not as ergonomic as some other models. It's also on the pricier side, but that's understandable, given its enhanced durability.
Precision Reflex (PRi) M84 Gas Buster - Best For Suppressor Use
And last but not least, we have the Precision Reflex (PRI) M84 Gas Buster charging handle. This is by far the best AR-15 charging handle for suppressor users, designed to divert hot gas blowback away from the shooter's eye. It has some other cool features, too, though.
Why Precision Reflex (PRI) M84 Gas Buster?
While it might not be my all-time favorite charging handle, Precision Reflex M84 is an excellent choice for suppressor rifle shooters. It features massive latches, which are wing-shaped to allow both right and left-handed shooters to use the handle with ease.
However, its most outstanding feature is the deeper-cut curved channel on the top and the bottom, designed to divert hot gas blowback away from the shooter's eye when using a suppressor can.
I have to say it worked brilliantly, preventing the gas from disrupting my shooting experience. The handle's latches are very ergonomic, too, which, combined with its sturdy and lightweight build, make it a great option for AR-15 shooters.
Clone SOPMOD - Use this to clone an MK12 or SOPMOD rifle even if you don't use a suppressor.
Gas Directed To The Right - Thicker charging handle curved channel cuts (top and bottom ) redirect hot gas from hitting the shooter's face (right-handed shooter).
Upgradable Steel Latch - Change to an oversized latch if needed for better grip and malfunction clearing.
Pros and Cons
If you're looking for the best charging handle for suppressed shooting, this Precision Reflex is one of the best options on the market. And while it might not be the most durable and affordable extended handle, it's definitely worth giving a go, especially if you're looking for more ergonomic and customizable latches.
How I Made My Picks?
Testing, testing, and more testing—there's simply no better way to ensure the quality of a charging handle. I understand that you might not have the time for extensive testing, which is why I've taken it upon myself to do the heavy lifting and provide you with a selection of the finest AR-15 charging handles on the market.
However, it's essential to note that the charging handles you see above represent only a shortlist of what, in my opinion, are the best options available. You might be wondering about the key criteria I used for my evaluations. Well, I focused on three crucial factors: design, quality, and performance.
- Design: The first thing I look at is how a charging handle is built. Is it ergonomic? What about the latches? Do they make the product suitable for left and right-handed shooters? Is the handle lightweight? These are simple criteria, but it's essential to look at the product from different angles to see whether it's designed according to my requirements.
- Quality: It's easy to see whether a charging handle is made of quality materials or not. Once I ensure the handle meets my design-related requirements, I take a closer look at the materials used and whether they will provide me with a high level of durability. You don't want a handle to fall apart or bend after several uses.
- Performance: Finally, after my initial inspection, I install the handle and fire several rounds to see how it performs. If the handle operates smoothly, providing me with a better performance than the standard charging handle, it means I've found what I've been looking for. I also look at several additional features and whether my hand gets tired after some time shooting. If they all perform well and my hand remains ready for another round, it means the charging handle is top-quality.
And there you have it. My top choices for the best AR-15 charging handles. All the options you see above are sure to meet all your expectations, providing you with a more comfortable and efficient shooting experience.
For me, the best choice is the Radian Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle. It comes with everything an AR-15 shooter might want from their charging handle, offering that perfect mix of durability, comfort, and quality.
If you're looking for a more affordable handle, go for Aero Precision Breach. It might not be as advanced as the Radian, but it's still a quality charging handle. And if it's the enhanced durability that you're looking for, go for Geissele Super Charging Handle.For more guides and tips, be sure to follow my blog. You'll find there all the information a shooting enthusiast needs.