What’s the Best AR-15 Charging Handle?

As AR-15s have grown in popularity, so have the number of parts made for them. It used to be there was a basic component sheet and that was that, but today there are practically endless options for everything right down to the takedown pins and trigger pins. In a recent video, Classic Firearms talks about charging handles. At this point there are so many different options out there it’s not an easy matter to choose an AR-15 charging handle anymore, and these guys are here to help.

Classic Firearms talks about what to look for in a charging handle. (Photo credit: Classic Firearms)

What is a charging handle?

The charging handle is a removable part in the upper receiver of an AR-platform rifle or pistol. It’s an elongated, T-shaped piece that drops in above the bolt carrier group. Its purpose is to pull the bolt back to charge the gun, clear a malfunction, or lock open the bolt for storage. The charging handle might not look like much, but it’s an important part of your gun. Without it, the gun won’t run at all.

Does the type matter?

The type of charging handle you use depends on use and personal preference. Some issues you might face with certain designs include an inability to grab the uppermost portion of the handle because the optic overhangs too far, it’s not ambidextrous and you are left-handed, or it isn’t well made and gets hung up when you try to use it. Also, if the handle portion of it is massively oversized you might end up snagging it on everything. Not all charging handles are created equally and you’ll have to find one that fits your hands and needs.

Check out the video to see what Classic Firearms has to say about AR-15 charging handles:

Your choice of charging handle is unique to your situation, but tips from other shooters can be very helpful.

 In the video comments section, YouTuber Scott talks about his personal experiences: “You know, I’m pretty happy with adding an extended lock lever on a standard handle. Just need a drift punch and drift block. I do that because I’m left handed and it just simply makes it a tiny bit easier. Steel part Part costs about 7 dollars from Brownell’s. Very small part. Also, my AR is only lightly updated.”

AR-15 charging handle
Does it matter what charging handle you use on your AR-15? That’s what Classic Firearms is going to find out. (Photo credit: Classic Firearms)

Gregory Hamilton has a few thoughts on the topic as well. He says he’s always bought Radian charging handles because he’s left-handed and their vents help. However, he bough a Noveske with a Geissele charging handle, and “not only did it help with the gas it doesn’t poke me in the chest and it doesn’t get caught on stuff.” He says he was surprised with how much better it was than the Radian, that he’ll run Geissele on everything now. 

And GW left a hack that might be interesting to try out: You can put a bead of silicone on a MIL-SPEC charging handle and it basically does the same as the more expensive ones.”

What’s your favorite AR-15 charging handle? Tell us in the comments below.