Best AR-15 Charging Handles [2019 Review] – GunPros.com

Best AR-15 Charging Handle

Upgrading your AR-15’s charging handle can be an easy and affordable way to improve your rifle’s performance and feel. Below you’ll find our picks for the best AR-15 charging handles.

The Best AR-15 Charging Handles

Radian — Our Top Pick

Radian is one of the oldest and most trusted manufacturers in the market, and their Raptor charging handle series is ubiquitously praised for its top-notch quality and performance. Raptors are made from USA aircraft grade 7075 aluminum and are mil-spec anodized. They come in colors like black, brown, FDE (aka flat dark earth), NP3 coated silver, and tungsten grey/black.

Raptor charging handles are known for having wide, easy-to-grip, deep-textured handles that are designed to optimize the "blading technique"—a process in which a shooter turns his hand so that his palm faces him and pulls the charging handle back rapidly with mostly his pinky. This requires both hand strength from the shooter and stability and gripping from the handle.

(Continue Reading About The Raptor Charging Handles Below)

Radian Raptor LT

$61.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Radian Raptor SD

$99.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Radian Raptor

$80.99 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Radian Raptors come in three main variants: the original Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle, the Raptor-LT, and the Raptor-SD for suppressed fire. The original Raptor comes with the design features listed above and is the core design the other modified versions are based upon.

The Raptor-LT is Radian’s new product, which, along with 7075 aluminum, uses an over-molded high-strength fiberglass-reinforced polymer that cuts down on the handle's weight while maintaining strength and durability. As with all Radian products, the Raptor-LT comes with a lifetime warranty.

Then there’s the Raptor-SD, which features a ported shaft design that redirects gasses away from the shooter’s face when shooting suppressed.

Raptor series charging handles look great and are among the most trusted on the market today. They are also some of the more expensive products, but if you are looking for the very best, check out Raptor.

Editors Note: I'm a huge fan of the Raptor-LT and it's a staple of my AR-15 builds. It's my personal choice for the best AR-15 Charging Handle.

Radian Raptor LT on Custom AR Pistol

BCM — Market Favorite

Bravo Company is another elite manufacturer in the space, and they have been refining their charging handles for over a decade.

The BCM Gunfighter charging handle comes in four variants: Mod 3x3 (Large), Mod 4x4 (Medium), Mod 3B (Large), and Mod 4B (Medium). All handles are made from 7075 T6 aluminum and are military-spec hard coat anodized.

The Mod 3x3 and Mod4x4 are ambidextrous, while the Mod 3B and Mod4B are not.

BCM Gun Fighter Mod 3x3

$79.95 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

BCMGUNFIGHTER Mod 4x4 Charging Handle

$79.95 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

There are some obvious features that set the BCM Gunfighter charging handle apart from the competition: The handles have well-crafted contours with a snag-free profile that makes them very easy to handle. The Mod 3B latch has a .29” extended reach from traditional USGI latch handles, and the Mod 4B has a .6” extended reach.

What’s more, you really come to appreciate Bravo Company’s attention to detail when you use one of these charging handles first hand. You immediately notice how heavy-duty the handles feel, while at the same time appreciating how they balance the force of the pull-away from the roll pins so that the pull is smooth and doesn't wear down the handle.

While we still prefer the Raptor series, BCM’s charging handles are widely considered the best on the market today—and for good reason.

BCMGUNFIGHTER MOD 3B

$49.95 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

BCMGUNFIGHTER MOD 4B

$49.95 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Geissele

If you've ever looked into getting a top-quality AR-15 trigger, you've almost certainly heard of Geissele. Triggers aren't the only thing they do well though; they also make some incredible charging handles.

Geissele offers two variants of AR-15 charging handles: the Airborne Charging Handle (ACH) and the Super Charging Handle (SCH) 5.56.

Geissele ACH

$89.00 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Geissele Airborne Charging Handle (ACH)

The ACH is reported to have been developed at the request of an elite, but unnamed, organization known for its expertise in aerial insertion. It comes in black or in ‘DDC’ (Desert Dirt Color).

The ACH’s handle is designed with a low-profile lever specifically intended to reduce the chances of snagging.

This low-profile design can also be helpful when using a red dot or other low-profile optic system, as the charging handle won’t block your point of view.

The ACH, like the BCM Gunfighter, is made from 7075-T6 aluminum and is Type 3 Hardcoat anodized. It features ambidextrous levers, dual contoured with gently concaved radius cuts, and the handling surfaces on the levers have checkered texturing for added grip. The tall fence at the rear of the handle is designed to redirect gas blowback when shooting suppressed fire, which is a nice touch.

Geissele Super Charging Handle

$89.00 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Geissele SCH

The SCH 5.56, meanwhile, is made from the same materials and features similar ambidextrous levers as the ACH. The handles are also dual-contoured, feature both vertical and horizontal radius cuts, and checkered texturing. The handles of the SCH 5.56 extend out and around further than the ACH, which provides for an easier-to-handle grip, while perhaps introducing possible snagging.

 

Strike Industries ARCH-EL (red)

From $31.79 at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Strike Industries ARCH-EL — Best Budget Charging Handle

We picked the Strike Industries charging handle as our best option for those of you who are on a budget. SI’s extended latch ARCH-EL charging handle is built from 7075-T6 aluminum and is also anodized. Numerous color options are available, including blue, gold, silver, red, and black.

What makes SI’s charging handle unique is the ergonomic extended latch. It provides an extended textured grasping surface that’s easy to handle and is built for durability. The ARCH-EL is one of the few latches on the market that are made from steel and not aluminum. This has the advantage of not wearing out the receiver as quickly.

All of this for under $40 makes the SI ARCH-EL a great alternative to higher-end products that are double and sometimes even triple the cost.

Phase 5 Battle Latch

$80.00 at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of publishing

Phase 5 Battle Latch Charging Handle

Phase 5’s Ambidextrous Battle Latch Charging Handle series features a unique design. The Battle Latch handles are made from 7075 aluminum and feature upgraded stainless steel coiled spring pins. They also have increased sidewall thickness to provide exceptional performance under extreme working and environmental conditions.

The handles themselves feature a fully ambidextrous design with broad contact-grooved push points along the front and back of the handle, which are squeezed to meet at the center of the handle to engage. The Battle Latch breaks from the more common handle designs in this respect, but I actually prefer the feel of it over traditional stylings.

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