Custom AR-15 Charging Handles
When it comes to building or using an AR-15, the charging handle may not seem like an important piece of machinery, but it is. The AR-15 charging handle is what moves the AR's trigger into the ready position, “charging” the rifle and making it ready for use. The charging handle is also what a shooter uses if they need to clear a jam or manually cycle another round. Aside from these two primary functions, a shooter needs to cycle the charging handle to ensure that the rifle is clear of rounds before they put it on safe, which is one of the key steps (and arguably the first step) that one needs to take when they strip their AR-15 rifle down for cleaning.
These and other tasks make the AR-15 charging handles vitally important for the use of the rifle. Unfortunately, since a charging handle often comes as part of an upper receiver parts kit, they are overlooked by the person who’s building the rifle, especially if they’re new to building AR-15s or rifles in the first place.
However, swapping out or upgrading your AR-15’s charging handle can significantly improve your shooting performance in many ways, including:
- Enabling you to get a better grip on the handle
- Allowing you to get a better grip angle
- Accommodating a gloved hand
- Deflecting gas, oil and dirt from the shooter’s face
In addition to the performance enhancers mentioned above, a custom AR-15 charging handle also has other features that a stock AR-15 charging handle doesn’t have.
Features of Custom AR-15 Charging Handles
There are three big features that shooters look for when they consider buying a custom AR-15 charging handle for their rifle. Those features are:
- Ambidextrous Handles: AR-15 ambidextrous charging handles make great charging handles when it comes to dealing with tactical situations like home defense because they allow the shooter to cock the rifle with either hand, compared to a stock AR-15’s forced right-handedness. Ambidextrous charging handles also have a much larger surface area than their stock cousins, giving the shooter easy access from either side.
- Extended Latches: AR-15 charging handles with extended latches are great for shooters that use gloves. These charging handles have an enlarged latch, making it easier to engage the charging handle in areas where the shooter might not be using their bare hands or where they might not be able to see the charging handle very well, such as nighttime operations or other high-stress activities. A larger surface area also means that the shooter can engage the rifle with their foot if they so desire.
- Gas Buster: A “gas buster” style AR-15 charging handle is primarily designed to prevent gas, dirt and dust from ricocheting back against the shooter’s face — hence the name.
Now that we’ve explained some of the basic characteristics that some shooters look for in their custom AR-15 charging handles, let’s review them in a little more depth below.
Benefits of AR-15 Ambidextrous Charging Handles
You could have any number of explanations for wanting a customized AR-15 rifle — or a number of them. Just as people own them for a wide variety of applications, owners have a number of reasons they prefer ambidextrous charging handles. These components add countless advantages to your shooting experience, whether you anticipate using the piece for a shooting competition, fun at the shooting range, protection against home invaders or career applications in the military or on the police force.
Besides the benefits mentioned above, you'll gain a range of other advantages by choosing to go with this kind of charging handle for the gun you build, no matter what application you have in mind. What are the reasons you should get an ambidextrous charging handle for your AR-15? Here are just a few of the most critical benefits you stand to gain by using these components:
- Ease of Sharing: Sharing your rifle is probably one of the more common reasons you might get an ambidextrous AR-15 charging handle. After all, the AR-15 is, at its core, a right-handed shooter’s rifle. However, roughly 10 percent of the population is left-handed, meaning that if you want to share your rifle with your left-handed friends or family members, you’ll have to swap out the charging handle. Making an ambidextrous rifle build also means that anyone who comes to the range with you or is in a home defense situation can use your rifle just as well as you can.
- Accessibility: Ambidextrous charging handles give you an incredible level of convenience when it comes to the accessibility of your rifle in a combat situation or on the range. Being able to operate your rifle from either side of the charging handle is an incredible convenience anytime, but it becomes crucial when the shooter is dealing with competition or tactical situations. In these situations, being able to operate your rifle with either hand is a huge advantage. After all, you don’t want to drop out of the fight just because you’ve sprained your wrist.
- Accuracy: Ambidextrous shooting handles aren't set up just so you can use either hand to shoot — you'll be able to do so while maintaining equal precision and accuracy. Without this reliable level of shooting accuracy, owning an AR-15 wouldn't get you far, whether you're using it for protection or fun. These charging handles are the solution to accuracy in a wide range of circumstances. Even if you're in a situation where you have to shoot from odd angles or around barriers, you'll be able to manage accurate shots with either hand using an AR-15 ambidextrous charging handle.
- Safety: Scenarios can often arise that mean you need to get accurate shots around obstacles quickly and without changing hands, especially in combat situations when it comes to military personnel and police officers. You need to know you can protect yourself in any kind of situation that arises. If you bought your gun for home protection, you need to be able to use it quickly without readjusting. If you're not home and an invasion occurs, your family will be able to protect themselves using these handles — no matter which of their hands is dominant.
- Appearance: It's no secret that the way an AR-15 looks is crucial. Even if it doesn't affect shooting itself, you want your piece to look like your own — the way you envisioned and designed it — at every component. When you choose ambidextrous charging handles from Wing Tactical, you'll get boosted functionality without sacrificing the look and feel of your entire gun. You'll also still be able to choose from a variety of quality manufacturers, styles and prices, which means you won't give up customizability by selecting an ambidextrous handle.
Benefits of AR-15 Charging Handles with Extended Latch
There are multiple reasons to buy an AR-15 charging handle with an extended latch, but probably the biggest is ease of engagement. What this means is that an extended-latch charging handle is great for situations where a standard latch charging handle might not work well, such as nighttime or tactical operations. AR-15 charging handles with extended latches also allow the shooter to use his foot, palm or another body part to charge the rifle, making it easier for the shooter to use the rifle in unorthodox situations. An AR-15 charging handle with an extended latch is also great if you plan to use a scope or other form of large optic. This is because the enlarged latch ends of the extended charging handle usually protrude past the back of the scope, making them easier to when you’re using a scope.
Charging handles with "gas buster" feature are also great when you’re using a suppressor or have chambered your AR-15 to fire pistol-caliber rounds such as 9x19 Parabellum. These characteristics help prevent blow-back through the charging handle itself, something that can be especially common in these two scenarios. “Gas buster” charging handles are designed primarily to divert the gas, dirt and other harmful particles from the shooter’s face as he or she discharges the rifle.
Benefits of an AR-15 Coated Charging Handle
The NP3 or nickel-boron coating is especially great if you’re looking to get a custom AR-15 charging handle that can better withstand the rigors of extended use.
Nickel-boron or NP3 coatings on custom AR-15 charging handles provide some of the following benefits:
- Increased resistance to corrosion.
- Increased resistance to wear and tear.
- Increased lubricity — too little lubricant will result in a reduction in the amount of friction and wear on the charging handle.
- Less cleaning required due to less wear.
However, just because there’s less cleaning needed in your AR-15 due to its custom charging handle, you should never neglect to clean and care for it. In fact, cleaning and caring for the custom charging handle on your AR-15 is one of the best ways to ensure that your rifle shoots better and lasts longer than a rifle using only stock parts.
So how do you clean and care for an AR-15 charging handle?
How to Clean and Care for AR-15 Charging Handles
The first step to cleaning and caring for your custom AR-15 charging handle is to separate it from the gun so that you can deal with it and it alone. To do this, you first need to disassemble your upper receiver. The steps for this are as follows:
- Get a cleaning kit and some cleaning solution. Usually, gun cleaning kits contain, at the bare minimum, synthetic gun cleaner, gun oil, barrel rods and cleaning brushes. Additional supplies that you might want to stock up on include cotton rags (such as the ones you might have hiding under your sink), copper solvent and bore gel.
- Clear the firearm and set the AR-15’s fire selector to “safe.” More than anything else you do, this is going to be the most important step. Even if you clear the firearm, failing to put your rifle on safe can be a recipe for disaster, especially if you make the rookie mistake of looking down the barrel while it’s still attached to the rifle. Remember to treat every rifle as if it’s loaded, even if you know that it’s not.
- Separate the AR-15’s upper receiver, which contains the charging handle, barrel, bolt carrier group, and firing pin (among other parts), from its lower receiver, which has things like the trigger and the safety. The nice thing about the AR series of rifles is that they’re designed for modularity, which makes cleaning it a breeze. This is a necessity because you might end up with a rifle that has very few (or none) of the original stock parts it came with when you got it. To remove the upper receiver from the lower receiver, you need to pop the two pins that run through the lower receiver: the forward pin is called the pivot pin, and the one in the rear is called the takedown pin. Once you detach those two pins, the upper receiver can be removed, allowing you to get to the charging handle.
- To remove the charging handle, simply pull it the whole way back. Now that it’s not held in place by the pins from the lower receiver, it and the bolt carrier can be pulled out the back of the upper receiver. Set the bolt carrier and bolt carrier group aside — you can clean them later if you need to. Now you need to focus on the charging handle. Much like the barrel, it’s one of the major components of your gun that you should clean frequently. It requires so much attention because it absorbs most of the damage to the gun, especially if you operate in areas where gas, oil, dirt and dust can get into the chamber, fouling up the charging handle itself and making it hard to pull back.
- Now that you’ve removed the charging handle, you can clean it. Ironically, this is probably the simplest part of the whole process — all you’re going to need is a lightly oiled rag here. Oil up the rag and pull it up and down the charging handle, making sure you get off any caked-on dirt or oil. After cleaning your charging handle, it should be able to move effortlessly in the upper receiver. You shouldn’t have to put any undue force into trying to charge the rifle. If you do, take the rifle down and clean it again. Specific things to look for include an action that sounds or feels like it’s gritty or as though something is lodged in it. If those problems don’t manifest, you should still always check if your action is otherwise dirty or under-lubricated, since both issues that can rapidly lead to part failure.
As you’re putting the whole rifle back together, you should lightly oil everything. This ensures that all of your gun’s parts — including the charging handle — move smoothly within the rifle. If you happen to over-lubricate the parts of your rifle, simply wipe each of the parts down with a clean rag to remove the excess gun oil.
Now that you know how to clean your charging handle, you’re probably wondering when you should clean it. The answer varies, but the simplest response is that you can clean it whenever you like. Had a heavy day of shooting at the range? Clean it. Used corrosive ammo (such as 7.62×39)? Clean it. Any day where you put your rifle through its paces and you know you ended up getting it dirty, you should clean it when you’re done shooting.
Just like cleaning your gun, cleaning the charging handle on your rifle isn’t something that you need to do every day. Still, getting into the rhythm of cleaning your rifle at regular intervals is a practice that can indirectly save your life, whether you’re using a nickel-boron coated custom charging handle or the stock part that came with your rifle when you bought it.
Need A New AR-15 Charging Handle? Look No Further Than Wing Tactical
First founded in 2013, Wing Tactical is a veteran-owned business that has striven to cater to the needs of anyone that finds themselves in need of top-quality parts and equipment, or even a whole new weapon. We serve law enforcement personnel, the military, hunters, competitive shooters and even civilian gun enthusiasts. If you’re looking to get good-quality parts at unbeatable prices, look no further than Wing Tactical. Since we opened, we’ve done our best to provide our customers with some of the best gun parts and accessories available at some of the lowest prices possible, all wrapped up in one convenient shopping experience.
We offer a variety of custom AR-15 charging handles, including ambidextrous charging handles and charging handles with extended latches. Companies that distribute their parts through us include:
- Strike Industries
- Radian Weapons
- Fortis MFG
- Bravo Company
- Next Level Armament
- Seekins Precision
- Phase 5 Tactical
So if you’re looking for a new custom AR-15 charging handle to up the performance of your rifle or give you an edge in unforeseen situations, consider choosing from one of the many manufacturers that we offer. Take a look at our website of custom charging handles today.