Top 5 AR-15 Charging Handles

The AR-15 platform has numerous parts, each of which plays an important role in its function. Parts like the bolt carrier group (BCG) are often seen as the heart of the rifle, while others are dismissed as less important. However, every component of your AR-15 matters to its function. And while some upper receiver parts, like the charging handle, aren’t viewed as vital to the gun’s proper function as the BCG, they’re still important. Your gun’s charging handle must be durable, reliable, and well-made. After all, the last thing you need is your gun going down at the worst possible moment. This is our list of the Top 5 AR-15 Charging Handles to consider as an upgrade to your existing rifle or as a part for your next build.

geissele charging handle
This charging handle is fantastic for short-barreled rifles. (Photo: Geissele)

Geissele Super Charging Handle

It comes as no surprise that Geissele manufactures fantastic charging handles. Geissele is known for stellar designs and high-quality products, and the Super Charging Handle is no exception. Specifically designed for AR-15 platform rifles equipped with suppressors or short barrels, these charging handles feature a heightened rear lip, which helps mitigate gas blowback. The handle is checkered for an improved grip with or without gloves. This charging handle has a Type 3 hardcoat anodized finish for superior resistance to wear and is made from aircraft grade 7075-T6 aluminum for durability. It’s created for ambidextrous use as well, which is useful for both right- and left-handed shooters. Other features of the Geissele Super Charging Handle include dual contoured levers and availability in either black or Desert Dirt.

radian raptor
The Raptor is a popular model for good reason. (Photo: Radian)

Radian Weapons Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle

The Radian Weapons Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle is one of the smoother-operating models on the market. As its name suggests, the T-handle can be operated from both sides, and it offers clean, snag-free operation. According to the manufacturer, the Raptor is great for palm or finger-thumb charging. This charging handle is manufactured using aircraft grade 7075 aluminum and is MIL-SPEC anodized to resist wear. And while this specific model is made for the AR-15, it’s worth noting the company also makes this style of charging handle for the AR-10.

Your AR-15 needs to have a charging handle you can manipulate cleanly, and those are things the Raptor offers. Radian Weapons also makes the Raptor in an array of colors, making it easier to match your gun. Available colors include black anodized, Tungsten Grey, Flat Dark Earth, Radian Brown, NP3 Coated, Black with NP3 Coating, Radian OD, Radian Grey, and Clear Anodized. The Raptor is a fantastic option for AR-15 owners interested in upgrading their factory rifles, especially in situations where the factory charging handle isn’t ambidextrous or doesn’t offer easy-to-manipulate features. There’s a reason the Raptor is popular—it works.

silencerco charging handle
This SilencerCo charging handle is specifically made for superior performance with suppressors. (Photo: SilencerCo)

SilencerCo Gas Defeating Charging Handle (GDCH)

For AR-15 owners shooting suppressed, there’s the SilencerCo Gas Defeating Charging Handle, or GDCH. This model was designed by the pros at SilencerCo to deliver the best possible results when running a suppressor on your rifle. It has ambidextrous levers for simple manipulation regardless of the shooter’s dominant side and a slim, sleek profile. This charging handle decreases blowback for a more comfortable shooting experience overall. It manages this thanks to a proprietary design that utilizes an O-ring seal that stops gas from escaping at the most common spot. That means far less blowback to the face during live fire, which is a huge plus. SilencerCo manufactures the GDCH in-house using aircraft grade 7075 aluminum for fantastic longevity.

Of course, the SilencerCo GDCH is also great for AR-15s without suppressors. It’s incredibly well made and rugged, so it can withstand serious use—all while delivering comfortable operation. The charging handle is black and has a Type III Hard Anodized finish for superior wear resistance. And, if you want an entire SilencerCo setup, the suppressor maker also manufactures their own upper and lower receivers that are high-quality and aesthetically pleasing.

strike industries charging handle
The Strike Industries Extended Latch AR Charging Handle makes it easier to get a grip on the device. (Photo: Strike Industries)

Strike Industries Extended Latch AR Charging Handle

This is the ideal charging handle for setups where you need some extra material to grab onto when charging your AR-15. The Strike Industries Extended Latch AR Charging Handle features an additional length of material on the lever on its left side to make running your AR-15 even easier. We’ve all dealt with large optics and gear that make running the charging handle a challenge. This is the charging handle that solves that problem, and all at an affordable price point.

Features of the Strike Industries Extended Latch AR Charging Handle include an ergonomic design, a hard anodized finish for longevity, and 7075-T6 aluminum construction. It’s also available in a variety of colors, including black, Flat Dark Earth, red, and blue. This model is ideal for guns with overhanging optics.

aero precision breach
The Breach by Aero Precision is durable and made for reliable performance. (Photo: Aero Precision)

Aero Precision Breach Ambidextrous Charging Handle Assembly Small Lever

This small lever version of the Aero Precision Breach Ambidextrous Charging Handle Assembly is created for the AR-15 (the large lever model is for the AR-10). It does have ambidextrous controls, which is a must for a good charging handle, and is made to be low profile. Aero created this charging handle with reduced chamfer angles using 7075 aluminum, making the Breach resilient and resistant to torquing and stress. The lever mechanism of the Breach is currently patent-pending and is made to direct force away from roll pins and into the reinforced bar to protect the charging handle from wear. The Breach also features a gas deflection shelf to redirect gases away from the shooter’s face. That’s useful whether the gun is short-barreled, suppressed, or simply has a muzzle brake. Strategically placed cuts help keep carbon off the handle and the spacer design keeps the device free of dirt and debris.

The Aero Precision Breach Ambidextrous Charging Handle Assembly Small Lever is offered in black, black with brown levers, and black with olive drab levers. Levers are made in the ideal shape to hook your fingers around them and charge the rifle flawlessly. Aero is well known for its well-designed, good-quality parts, and the Breach proves they’re still producing fantastic components for the AR-15 platform.

Should you get a new charging handle for your AR-15?

The short answer to whether you should get a new charging handle for your AR-15 is yes, it’s a good idea to do it if your existing gun doesn’t have a high-quality handle. It’s an important part to upgrade not only because having a good design makes the gun easier to run but also because a rugged charging handle improves the reliability of the gun. You don’t want your gun failing at the worst possible moment, and part of ensuring that performance is having a good charging handle.

What’s your favorite AR-15 charging handle? Share your experiences in the comments.

Kat Ainsworth Stevens is a long-time outdoor writer, official OGC (Original Gun Cognoscenti), and author of Handgun Hunting: a Comprehensive Guide to Choosing and Using the Right Firearms for Big and Small Game. Der Teufel Katze has written for a number of industry publications (print and online) and edited some of the others, so chances are you've seen or read her work before, somewhere. A woman of eclectic background and habits, Kat has been carrying concealed for over two decades, used to be a farrier, and worked for a long time in emergency veterinary medicine. She prefers big bores, enjoys K9 Search & Rescue, and has a Master's Degree in Pitiless Snarkastic Delivery.

Sign Up for Newsletter

Let us know what topics you would be interested:
© 2024 GunMag Warehouse. All Rights Reserved.
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap