Variations in AR Charging Handles
Dr. John Woods 06.24.15
AR charging handles are a pretty innocuous thing, but they are like shooter’s opinions or other body parts–every AR has one. They are an essential part of the AR mechanism, however. Try running an AR without one.
Just in case you might happen to be one of those cave dwellers that has either not shot or owned an AR platform rifle, let me add just a couple sentences on what the charging handle is and does.
Located to the rear of the upper unit housed just over the top of the bolt carrier group is a T-handled device. When activated by unlatching and pulling, it moves the bolt group to the rear to open the action and pop open the dust door. Upon release, the bolt group springs forward, strips a round from the magazine, and inserts the round into the chamber. The “T” charging handle is then snapped back into its locked position.
The standard charging handle has one spring-loaded latch release most often on the left side of the handle for the finger to grab. The latch “wing” is usually a fairly small device that can be difficult to manipulate, especially while wearing thick winter gloves.
Accordingly the aftermarket development business has designed and created a host of charging handle alternatives. They all do the same basic job, but some of these newer charging handles offer easier to use release latches.
Some of these charging handles such as those offered by Bravo Company come in three release sizes like small, medium, and large, with finger grab releases on both sides of the handle. These are presumably to get a better purchase on the handle under all types of conditions, but they’re also for right and left hand operation.
Other aftermarket charging handles have enlarged latches for additional leverage to more easily open the bolt group. There are also replacement latches of all kinds, even “tactical latches” larger in size and easier to grasp.
New to the market is the Pro-Defense Tactical Fast Pul, which is a finger loop device that attaches to the charging handle. This permits the finger to grab the loop to release and pull the bolt open. The loop extends further back from the charging handle, which is quite useful if there is a full sized optical scope mounted on the AR.