Best-Rated AR-15 Charging Handles

Updated January 14, 2021

In this article, we will review the top 10 rated AR-15 charging handles. We will equip you with the information you’ll need to choose a charging handle that delivers the best performance and experience for your AR-15 firearm. But first, let’s cover the basics.

Table of Contents

What Is A Charging Handle?

A charging handle (also known as a cocking handle, or, on bolt-action rifles, a bolt handle) is the part of the gun that, when operated, moves the hammer, striker or bolt into the ready position, allowing the gun to be fired. In addition, the charging handle also has a number of other functions, including:

  • Ejecting spent shells or unfired rounds
  • Clearing stoppages such as jams, misfires, or double feeds
  • Verifying that the weapon is clear of rounds or other obstructions
  • Releasing a bolt that has locked to the rear in a weapon that has fired its last round

A charging handle can take many forms: on most firearms, it occurs as a hook from the side of the bolt, such as on AK-pattern rifles. On AR-pattern rifles, the charging handle is located forward of the stock and underneath the carrying handle/optic mount.

Why You Should Upgrade Your AR-15 Charging Handle

Most AR-15s come standard with a Mil-Spec charging handle, which is fine if you just use your rifle for a casual day of shooting at the range. However, if you do more prolonged shooting activities, a regular charging handle may not be up to snuff.

If you’re one of the many left-handed shooters that’s taken a liking to the AR-15 platform, you should consider changing your charging handle, because the AR-15’s standard charging handle, having been designed for right-handed shooters, is hard to use when behind a scope or other large optic.

BEST-RATED AR-15 Charging Handle

  • Charging Handles

    Price

  • Strike Industries Extended Latch Charging Handle

    $39.95

  • Radian Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle

    $85.45

  • Strike Industries T-Bone Charging Handle

    $34.95

  • Fortis Hammer Charging Handle

    $66.45

  • RISE Armament Extended-Latch Charging Handle

    $34.99

  • Aero Precision AR-15 BREACH Ambidextrous Charging Handle

    $71.99

  • Radian Silencer-Optimized Raptor-SD Ambidextrous Charging Handle

    $113.95

  • Armaspec Victory AR15 Ambidextrous Charging Handle

    $62.69

  • V Seven Ultra-Light 7075 Charging Handle With Extended Latch

    $48.50

  • Fortis Clutch Charging Handle for AR-15

    $42.70

2022 PRODUCT REVIEW: BEST AR-15 Charging Handles

 

Strike Industries Extended Latch Charging Handle
  • Price:

    $39.95

  • Features:

    Extended Latch, Available in Multiple Color

Machined out of 7075 T6 aluminum and finished with a layer of anodized hardcoat, Strike Industries’ Extended Latch Charging Handle is designed for smooth operation under even the most stressful conditions. The charging handle is compatible with all standard AR-15 upper receivers.

The Strike Industries Charging Handle with Extended Latch currently enjoys a 5-star customer rating. Customers praised several different aspects, including: its fitment, finish, price, function, and grip.

Radian Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle
  • Price:

    $85.45

  • Features:

    Ambidextrous, Extended Latches, Available in Multiple Color

Built out of aircraft-grade 7075 aluminum and finished with Mil-Spec Type III anodized hardcoat, Radian’s Raptor ambidextrous charging handle is built with double latches on either side of the handle, enabling you to operate it equally as easily with either hand. The deep serrations and forward angling of the charging handle ensure that you’ve got a secure grip when you need it.

As part of its quality testing, Radian runs the Raptor charging handle through more than a million cycles, ensuring that it’s one of the best AR-15 charging handles out there, designed to serve you well, whether on the range or in the middle of the most stressful tactical situation.

The Raptor charging handle has a 5-star rating based on customer reviews, with several of those customers mentioning specific things that they liked about the Radian Raptor such as the heavy-duty axis pins, the true ambidexterity offered by the Raptor and even the color matching.

Strike Industries T-Bone Charging Handle
  • Price:

    $34.95

  • Features:

    Ambidextrous, Extended Grip, Latchless, Gas Venting, Available in Multiple Color

The Strike Industries T-Bone Charging Handle provides exceptional durability and a sure grip. Its 7000-series aluminum construction keeps it lightweight and provides exceptional strength to withstand hard work in the field. It also has a latchless, SI PolyFlex polymer handle component that puts minimal wear and tear on your upper receiver compared to other traditional handles on the market. 

This handle has a patented gas vent design that allows you to flip the gas exhaust to the right or left to best suit your rifle's configuration, keeping the gas away from your face.

The handle's ambidextrous design makes training easy even when you're using your off hand or wearing gloves. You can also add personalized style to your rifle since the T-Bone has various size, style and color options to choose from.

The Strike Industries T-Bone Charing Handle comes with two hex tools and two set screws for assembly and adjustments.

Fortis Hammer Charging Handle
  • Price:

    $66.45

  • Features:

    Extended Latch, Aggressive Serrations, Available in Multiple Color

Machined out of solid billets of 7075 aluminum with a smooth finish, the Hammer charging handle by Fortis is one of the most reliable charging handles on the market.

Because of its smooth anodize finish, the Hammer has a natural lubricity, meaning that charging the handle will feel incredibly smooth, while the deep knurling on the latch will ensure that you can get a solid grip on the handle exactly when you need it. The anodize finish also staves off rust and corrosion in addition to reducing friction wear, meaning that the Fortis Hammer charging handle will keep working even under the most grueling conditions.

Fortis’ products have long had a reputation for excellence and the Hammer backs that up with a 5-star rating, with customers specifically noting how smooth the pull-back on the Hammer handles was. At least one user said that they’d run thousands of rounds through their AR with a Hammer mounted and had yet to see a sign of wear.

RISE Armament Extended-Latch Charging Handle
  • Price:

    $34.99

  • Features:

    Extended Latch

The RISE Armament Extended-Latch Charging Handle makes a big difference when you're dealing with field grit or carbon fouling. Its extended latch provides more surface area for faster and easier charging. In a high-pressure situation, you'll be glad you have the RISE Armament Extended-Latch Charging Handle to make things move. This charging handle is precision-machined from 7075-T6 aluminum and finished with hardcoat anodizing, making it a lightweight, durable and long-lasting handle option. It is also ergonomically designed to ensure smooth, efficient operation even in tough conditions. What's more, the textured latch provides a more comfortable, solid grip than your factory charging handle, even if you're wearing gloves or have large hands. The RISE Armament Extended-Latch Charging Handle is compatible with all Mil-Spec AR-15 upper receivers, giving you maximum flexibility. It is also American-made and backed by RISE Armament's lifetime warranty.

Aero Precision AR-15 BREACH Ambidextrous Charging Handle
  • Price:

    $71.99

  • Features:

    Ambidextrous, Extended Latches, Gas Venting, Available in Multiple Latch Size and Color

Upgrade to the Aero Precision AR-15 BREACH Ambidextrous Charging Handle to improve your rifle's handling and achieve the next level of defense readiness. This low-profile handle has an ambidextrous, ergonomic design, allowing quick, effortless rifle operation with either hand and making it ideal for defending yourself through an injury. 

The BREACH Ambidextrous Charging Handle is manufactured from 7075-T6 aluminum for exceptional durability. It includes a reinforced bar to prevent rotational flex and breakage. It also features a lever that transfers force from the roll pins to the top of the reinforced bar, safeguarding the charging handle in harsh conditions. What's more, its gas deflection shelf redirects gas away from your face when you shoot.

This charging handle offers essential tactical benefits and a high-end look with a practical yet aesthetically pleasing design. It features stylish cuts on the handle to help keep the upper receiver clear of debris and carbon and a spacer to protect the lever mechanism from debris.

The BREACH Ambidextrous Charging Handle comes in two sizes:

  1. Small Latch BREACH: Has a low-profile, easy-to-grip surface. It can be easily actuated from either side of your rifle and is comfortable when slung.
  2. Large Latch BREACH: Has an extended operating surface ideal for operators with larger hands.
Radian Silencer-Optimized Raptor-SD Ambidextrous Charging Handle
  • Price:

    $113.95

  • Features:

    Ambidextrous, Extended Latches, Gas Venting, Available in Multiple Color

Built out of aircraft-grade 7075 aluminum and finished with a coat of Mil-Spec Type III anodized hardcoat, the Radian Raptor-SD ambidextrous charging handle looks like most other ambidextrous charging handles on the market. However, one look at the ported holes cut into the shaft will show that this charging handle is designed with suppressed rifles in mind.

The ported holes cut into the shaft redirect the gasses from the upper receiver forward, away from the shooter, meaning that you don’t have to deal with powder burns or the soot marks of repeated blow-back. Instead, you can shoot comfortably and clearly without having to worry.

If you already own Radian’s earlier Raptor charging handle, worry not: the Raptor-SD is designed to fit in the same builds that accept the original Raptor charging handles. And just like the original Raptor, the Raptor-SD is run through a test of a million cycles to ensure that it will hold up where it counts.

Armaspec Victory AR15 Ambidextrous Charging Handle
  • Price:

    $62.69

  • Features:

    Ambidextrous, Extended Latch, Aggressive Serrations, Available in Multiple Color

Since a normal-sized AR-15 charging handle can be difficult to engage with gloves on, Armaspec developed the Victory Ambidextrous Extended Latch Charging Handle to help solve that problem. Built out of 7075 billet aluminum and finished with a coat of anodized hardcoat, the Extended Latch Charging Handle has an enlarged latch and serrations on the latch itself in order to improve grip – no more fumbling around.

The Victory Extended Latch Ambi Charging Handle is compatible with most AR-15 platforms, functioning simply as a drop-in upgrade to the regular charging handle. Not only is it easy to install and long-lasting thanks to the anodized hardcoat, but the Extended Latch Charging Handle also comes with a lifetime warranty from Armaspec, just in case.

Armaspec strives to put out excellent-quality gun parts, and they’ve hit it out of the park with the Large Latch Ambi Charging Handle, with customers praising everything from the fit of the handle to how the design offsets some of the stress and lateral tension exerted on the latch roll pin and the charging handle itself.

V Seven Ultra-Light 7075 Charging Handle With Extended Latch
  • Price:

    $48.50

  • Features:

    Extended Latch, Lightweight, Gas Venting, Available in Multiple Color

The V Seven Ultra-Light 7075 Charging Handle With Extended Latch is the perfect finishing touch for your AR-15 build. It's made from forged aircraft aluminum and available in an NP3 or Type III hardcoat anodized finish for maximum durability. It has an extended, combat-style latch for positive engagement. It also features a ported design to lessen blowback by reducing the amount of pressure in the upper receiver channel before it blows out around the latch.

This charging handle has a stylish look with sleek lines that appear to grow from the back of your rifle and a laser-engraved V Seven logo that indicates its quality. The handle is also machined to Mil-Spec standards, so you can rest assured it will mate properly with your upper receiver. 

The V Seven Ultra-Light 7075 Charging Handle With Extended Latch is American-made and comes with a lifetime warranty for quality you can trust for the long term.

Fortis Clutch Charging Handle for AR-15
  • Price:

    $42.70

  • Features:

    Extended Latch, Redesigned Cam System, Lightweight, Aggressive Serrations, Available in Left and Right-Handed Version

For palm-style operators, the Fortis Clutch Charging Handle is the strongest purpose-built option on the market. It has a large latch handle with no off-side protrusion, reducing the risk of getting snagged on other equipment or things in your operating environment. It also has a redesigned cam system instead of a standard roll pin for better strength and durability.

This charging handle is cut from 7075-T6 aluminum for highly accurate components and excellent fitment. The latch features aggressive serrations on the front and back, supporting use with or without gloves. 

The Fortis Clutch Charging Handle is available in right- and left-handed operating models. The right-handed version puts the latch on the bolt-catch side, while the left-handed version puts the latch on the forward-assist side. The left-handed version only works with upper receivers with an appropriate cutout for the latch to hook into, like the Fortis Billet Upper Receiver. The Wing Tactical customer service team can help you determine the best option.

Core Features of Aftermarket Charging Handles

The three most common features people look for in aftermarket charging handles are ambidexterity, an extended latch or a “gas buster” system:

  • Ambidextrous Charging Handles -Ambidextrous charging handles are set up in such a way that the shooter can engage them equally well with either hand, meaning that left-handed shooters no longer have to fire their weapons right-handed.
  • Extended Latches - An extended latch means that the latch piece of the charging handle is extended, allowing a shooter to more easily engage it while wearing gloves or during nighttime shooting or in stressful conditions. The extended latch also means that a shooter can engage their AR-15 with their foot, should the need arise.
  • Gas Venting- Gas venting charging handles are designed to enable an AR-15 to be cycled when the shooter is using a silencer or is firing rim-fire .223 or 5.56x45 ammunition. They also have the added benefit of preventing gas or dust blow-back into the shooter’s face when firing.

If You're In Need of A New Charging Handle, Look To Wing Tactical

Wing Tactical has worked to provide customers with the best gun parts and accessories at the lowest price points possible. If you’re looking to upgrade your regular mil-spec charging handle to one that more suits your needs, take a look at the large number of charging handles Wing Tactical has to offer and pick out the one that’s right for your needs today.