AR-15 Charging Handles: Should You Upgrade Yours?

AR-15 Charging Handles: Should You Upgrade Yours?

Posted by STNGR USA on Jan 13th 2023

AR-15 Charging Handles: Should You Upgrade Yours?

Hey folks, it's Rick Barrett and in this video we're going to talk about charging handles.


Some Reasons To Upgrade a Charging Handle

When people are looking to upgrade their AR-15s the first thing they look at is something like the charging handle. There are two reasons for this.

The first reason it's a relatively easy upgrade. The second reason is there are so many different options from types of grip to color that you will find one that perfectly fits your style.

Where on the AR-15 is the Charging Handle Located?

First question is, where is the charging handle? The charging handle is in the upper of the AR-15 on top of your bolt carrier group.

The charging handle is non reciprocal meaning that it does not move unless you actively engage it or you fire the actual gun which makes the bolt push it back. So unless you actively engage it, you pull it back or use it to unload around, it will not move.

For an overview of the components of the AR-15 upper receiver, check out this ultimate AR-15 resource.

What Does the Charging Handle Do?

You may have the question, what does the charging handle actually do? It's very simple.

When an AR-15 charging handle is pulled, the weapon's bolt is pulled to the rear. This puts the striker or the hammer into the cocked position, allowing you to pop the breach and remove spent or unwanted shells from the chamber. The operator can then load new rounds from the magazine if needed.

There are also many secondary functions that a charging handle can have - Everything from clearing stoppages to acting like a forward assist can also fall under the use of a charging handle.

Do I have to upgrade my Charging Handle?

So some of you may be asking, do I have to upgrade my charging handle? No, you don't. Like everything else that you get when you buy an AR-15 from a big box store or your local gun store, it's going to be ready to run as soon as you take it out of the box.

The only reason people ever talk about upgrades, such as for charging handles or bolt carrier groups, is because they want it to run a little bit smoother or they're looking to put a little extra flair of uniqueness on their guns.

Why would you want to upgrade your Charging Handle?

Some will say that investing in a high-quality mil-spec charging handle will help make it a little smoother. One of the reasons people decide to upgrade their charging handles on their AR-15s is they're looking for a more durable version that tends to be less stiff.

Now just as an aside when we're talking about a stiff AR-15 charging handle or bolt carrier group, there are a couple reasons for that. The issues could come from anything from being not broken in, to simple cleaning and polishing of those parts.

The most cited reason people swap their basic AR-15 charging handle with an upgraded AR-15 charging handle is that it leads to smoother firing cycles, potentially making it more reliable and easier to use.