That can be frustrating and embarrassing. You’re there, ready to go into action. The moment is right, but you just can’t perform. Never fear. After all, you’ve reached the age where giving up isn’t who you are. This is the age of knowing how to make things happen. And Kim Heath of the NRA has a cure for you. It’s called the counter-supination grip. And it doesn’t look like it hurts at all.

87 Responses to Are You Short-Stroking Your Charging Handle?

  1. When you transition from bolt action and most other semi-auto rifles to the AR, charging with the right hand is a very natural way to go about your business. I see no reason to change.

  2. With a BCM charging handle, just lift your cheek or tilt the rifle, and do a wave/wipe motion with your support hand.

      • Actually it is lift your charging handle to the cheek of the LBFM and wipe/wave with your support hand…………Or at least that is what I’ve been told……….

    • This is what I do, however my friend has a Badger Ordinance charging handle that is a bit more comfortable. YMMV I find no problem with the texture on the BCM, and with sweaty palms it has more grip, plus if you wear gloves then the aggressive texture is only beneficial.

  3. Number one rule of combat – Keep your f*cking shooting hand on your weapon.

    This is dangerous advice.

    • Explain how this is dangerous? As far as I can see holding a weapon with one hand leaves you just as open to grabs whether or not you are holding it with the shooting hand or the support hand.

      • except for the fact that your hand is nowhere near the trigger…so no, you aren’t as much up for grabs because you can still bring up and fire an AR with one hand at close range as a last ditch effort. In close quarters for example. If your firing hand is away from the trigger, all you have is a polymer/7071 club.

      • if you experience a malfunction in a defense scenario, you should be able to clear the malfunction and re-engage without ever taking your shooting hand off the weapon. Only a double feed or stovepipe should require taking your hand off your pistol grip.

        Plus, most people are going to angle their weapon into the air if they charge the weapon with their shooting hand, creating the possibility of an ND into the air. Also dangerous.

        This is dangerous advice all around.

        • If your weapon malfunctions or you are just manipulating the charging handle in general your weapon is in no condition to quickly bring to shoulder and fire one handed in the first place.
          As far as pointing the weapon in the air, a lot of the training material I have witnessed teaches you to place the buttstock in the crook of your arm while retaining your hand on the pistol grip. This places the muzzle much farther into the air than in the video. Granted that is a completely different technique than what this is intended to be an alternate to, so *shrug*.

          Basically what I’m saying is that if you need to manipulate your charging handle your weapon is out of action anyways and whatever works for YOU to get it back into action fastest is what you should be doing.

        • I’ll give you that one, but my main point is that you should be drilling to return to firing mode as fast as possible. If you are 100% physically capable, manipulating the charging handle with your off hand is faster every time. You keep your weapon on target, and you can start firing immediately.

          You gotta do what you can do comfortably. Slow is smooth, smooth is fast. But we should all be trying to get smoother, and therefore, faster. And safer. The quicker you are back in the fight, the safer you are.

        • I pull the charge with my right and am right handed. That’s the way I’m most comfortable. Up yours mall ninja.

        • I would have to disagree. This is standard military training right here. Nothing dangerous about removing your firing hand if you know what you are doing. Prime example: almost every military sniper in the world. I have been in combat and this is how I operated every time. trying to use my off hand never even crossed my mind. Hey, I’m still alive to argue about it; can’t be that dangerous.

    • I’m 98% sure that the Russian Spetsnaz train to manipulate the AK’s charging handle with their shooting hand… They seem to know what they’re doing.

      • 1) the AK has a side charging handle, making it easier to re-transition to the pistol grip

        2) Spetsnaz operate as a team, if one guy goes down with a malfunction,there are others to back him up

        3) Spetsnaz can probably kill you by looking at you

        4) Being a Spetznaz shooter isn’t exactly the definition of “safe” either

      • I’m 98% sure you don’t know any Russian Spetsnaz guys. I’m 100% sure that I do. This leads to me knowing that they train to manipulate the AK any way they want to.

    • Unfortunately that isn’t not how it was design or even how I was trained on the M-16 – keeping the rifle pushed into the shoulder, pointed down range, and the charging handle pulled back and released with your firing hand.

      That’s why off hand side mounted bolt handles are superior in my opinion.

    • IMHO if you are already in the position of having to operate the charging handle after the initial loading process, you may already be in a bad situation…….at that point the number one priority is clearing the problem or rectifying the unloaded situation, “ya do what ya gotta do”………

        • I just don’t see the extra danger. You are combat ineffective at that precise moment in time. As you said, if it won’t go bang, you have nothing more than a club. If you short stroke the charging handle, and don’t realize it, it goes click and you are back in the shit. Better to give it a rip and give yourself the best opportunity. JMHO and I’ve never been in a “real-life” situation where it counted for anything more than the Comstock score.

        • Obviously you wan’t to avoid short stroking it, and if you have a physical issue that prevents you from confidently manipulating the charging handle with your off hand, you do what you have to do. But if you train and have your weapon set up properly, you can significantly reduce that “down time” in a life or death scenario by rippin and roarin with your off hand. Trust me, it makes the difference when the SHTF.

        • Nothing is wrong with user3369’s comments. What is wrong are the personal attacks that are being delivered his way. User3369 has the right to voice his valid opinions without hitbyastick and (attempting to stifle a laugh) ZombieTactics bringing in their own personal lives.

          On a second note; if physically weaker and newbie shooters traditionally fail at the left handed charge, it is perfectly valid to suggest another route such as the right handed charge. I choose to rack the weapon with the left because it works for me. If you can’t handle the way someone else does it, either GTFO or respectfully argue another course of action.

          Finally, here’s my own Self Defense Tip of the Day… Don’t use a sling that is tied around your body so close that you can’t transition to the opposite grip. NOT USING A SLING AT ALL is a perfectly valid way to make weapon manipulation easier and safer. The SAS have forbidden slings throughout their history (not sure about the present) due to the inability of the firers to bring their own weapons to bear on the enemy.

    • I don’t get it. Hundreds of different rifles charge on the right side. When did the M1 and M14 suddenly become dangerous? Besides, Sgt. York couldn’t charge and shoot at the same time, and charging with the strong hand is faster.

      • The advance of the M16 charging handle, and the subsequent off-hand side charging handles are advancements to improve the efficiencies of combat shooters.

        It is not to say the M1 and M14 are dangerous, just that any weapon that takes your hand away from the trigger during its function is more dangerous than one that does not.

      • Removing your hand from your pistol grip, changing your off hand grip, charging the weapon, returning the hand to the grip, finding the safety, and putting your finger on the trigger, is faster than leaving your shooting hand in place, taking one hand off the weapon, charging it, flipping the safety, and firing immediately? What planet are you from?

        • I’ve been shooting the M-16 since 1982 and I’ve never seen anyone try to manipulate the charging handle from the non-trigger hand. It is not dangerous. In fact, since the gun can’t fire until you pull back on that handle, it’s useless to keep your hand on the pistol grip, and since it is also your stronger hand/arm, you’re more likely to get the job done right.

          Your cries of “danger” are not to be taken seriously.

        • Skyler, I absolutely agree with your point. That is certainly how I was trained. If you need to use the charging lever, force and assurance are key, and speed is best accommodated by having the left hand instantly ready on the safety and release, which is where the left hand (for righties) should be while pulling the charging handle. A fast change of mags at very short range should be performed before running to empty, and the firing hand stays in position. No charging-handle action needed.

        • What planet are you from? I’ve never seen anyone charge an AR with their left hand (who is right handed). Charging with your left hand is almost a mall ninja move in itself.

      • The off-side hand is for manipulating the bolt release and the safety. Anyone ignoring that just hasn’t used the AR design under pressure. Bizarre. I utterly disagree with her statement that “traditionally people have been taught to use their off hand.” Rubbish.

        • “The off-side hand is for manipulating the bolt release and the safety…..”

  4. I’ve short stroked AR charging handles before. It’s just awkward for me to charge it with my left hand without something bigger to grab onto. That side charger from gun fighter is going to work well for me.

    • LOVE my BCM charging handle, the first accessory I ever bought for my first AR and one that I will have on every future build. The latch is great for gloved hands.

    • I’m older than that and my charging handle still works. Sometimes I need an extra set of hands helping on it tho.

        • Don’t forget the lube. Pulling on a dry charging handle can be counter productive, even damaging.

        • Can’t forget the lube………….nothing better than a slippery charging handle!

        • You’re paying to get help pulling on your charging handle? That’s just sad. To be so alone in the world that you gotta pay for help with your charging handle. Sad.

        • She can walk as well as me. And she doesn’t have to be told where the charging handle is.

          Someday we’ll have to do a post on short stroking a pump gun and how to avoid it.

    • They make a little blue pill for that. If your a Vet you can get 6 for free from the VA ea month.

      Assuming they don’t do away with perscriptions for retirees so they can afford more DHS “practice rounds”

  5. Well, being a dinosaur (learned from Uncle Sam in the 1970’s), it never occurred to me to get after the charging handle with anything other than the shooting hand. While I appreciate the importance of keeping the shooting hand on the shooting handle, I am surprised that anyone uses their support hand to pull the charging handle. Then again, the last time I shot an AR-15 (actually M-16) was around 1981, so obviously my mileage has already varied.

    • Right hand is the way we did it in the late 60’s in the army. And since this was a ‘rifle’, we didn’t have any confusion about exactly what we were talking about.

    • The training in the 90’s was the same.

      However there are some great after-market charging handles for the AR that make off-hand charging much easier. None of them overcome the fact the you have to break your cheek-weld to charge and AR.

    • I think the USMC still teaches it that way, or at least I got an earful from my fine young Marine and my fine young Navy Corpsman on the proper method when they observed my “off-hand” method at a local 3-gun match………

      It really sucks to get called out by your sons, especially when they were right!

    • I am a smart-elleck to the core so avoiding the jokes that naturally fit in this thread is an internal battle.

      But she may be wrong. SPORTS – slap, pull, observe, release, tap, squeeze is/was taught not because it was a handy acronym but because it the appropriate way to clear must malfunctions. It requires two hands. I have a different mindset than those above. Having your firing hand on the weapon is useless if the weapon has malfunctioned. But both hands have to work the controls. Some may argue that tapping the forward assist is not always required. We can what if all day. I have carried some form of AR in Panama, Desert Storm, Bosnia, and OIF. SPORTS works for most malfunctions. A double feed requires remedial action and neither SPORTS or the technique in the video above will correct that situation.

      • If you do SPORTS right, you’ll know if you need to tap the forward assist. 9/10 times you don’t. If you Observe the bolt slam all the way forward, you are ready to fire. You can see if it doesn’t, then you do what you gotta do. Almost every malfunction you will encounter with an M4 will be fixed with SPORS lol

      • SPORTS is indeed a two-handed operation…in that your shooting hand is holding the weapon and your support hand is doing all other manipulation.

    • The training has indeed changed. At least in the Army. You are trained to manipulate the charging handle with your off hand and always keep your shooting hand on the weapon. It is part safety (better muzzle control), part speed/efficiency

  6. That’s nice of her to teach the method the charging handle was designed for.

    That’s not to say the charging handle on the M16 was well designed at all.

  7. All the joking aside, I have one problem with her demonstration. She is gripping the for end with an over the top grip which means, unless she is shooting that way (which would be really awkward), she has to shift her grip with her left hand and then move her right hand. Two moves when one will do. I’ll stick with my non-firing hand to cycle the action.

    I love how people always have to come up with a slightly newer/modified way of doing things (that is usually inferior) just so they can make a video about it to draw attention to themselves.

  8. Well HAW HAW HAW! After you muggs are done wiping the snot away after your deft dick jokes, you may be able to admit this information could be useful to a number of people… Mmmmm?

    Some were really funny, but it’s the one-dick-upmanship that gets a wee tiresome. Unless I’m mistaken, none of you wrote comedy for Andrew Dice Clay….

  9. OK, Make A Hole!
    I started on the M-1 rifle and Carbine, switched to the M-14, all three charging handles (not what we called them) can be actuated by strong or weak side with out dropping the rifle/carbine from shoulder two (guess which) can be reloaded from the shoulder, two are highly ambidextrous.

    The AR, as issued was so messed-up that I shoot them left handed, just so I can actuate the Charging Handle (Stoner was a Navy Boy) .

  10. If she’s teaching this as a way to initially load the rifle, to each their own. If she’s teaching this as a way to clear a malfunction, I disagree. What if this doesn’t clear it and the malfunction requires magazine removal/reinsertion? Couldn’t all this be solved by teaching “Umm, don’t short stroke it”?

    Almost forgot a dick jo…I mean, clever double entendre…

    She can pull my charging handle anytime. And I don’t give a damn which hand or grip she uses…

  11. BAD form. Not very useful in a combat situation. Maybe OK at the range, but why learn bad habits?

    Never remove your booger hook from the bang switch grip!

  12. I had to pick up a rifle just to be sure I knew how I was doing it. . . all my instinct and habit is to charge the weapon with my left hand, right hand maintaining the shooting grip. I’m not exactly strong, though my left arm and hand don’t have any significant injuries that impair the charging function, and it seems to me that over coming the spring while holding the rifle by the grip in my right hand are easy enough to do. Still, I had my 4’11 girlfriend attempt it before writing this post. She insists that the rifle feels heavy, and is awkward to hold by the pistol grip only (it’s a 16″ M4 clone). She also found that it was somewhat painful to reverse the charging handle with her left hand. Additionally there was zero muzzle control and exaggerate motion of the entire rifle when she attempted to charge it left handed. Switching to gripping the forearm with her offside (left) hand ant charging with her right there was improved control of the rifle all around, and considerably less chance to short stroke. Thus what was to be a rhetorical ‘Why the odd technique?’ type response has become; If this works for you go for it. Especially if injury, upper body strength or shortness of arms is an issue. I suppose the technique that works (always, still) is the one you should use.

  13. Being left eye dominant and naturally shooting southpaw, I charge with my left hand. My next purchase will likely be a BCM large latch charging handle. They also make an ambi charger with latches on both sides, but not sure if I want to relearn malf clearing all over again.

    • I’ve installed 2 oversized latches on two ARs for a cost of around $40. I used a wire gauge nail with the point ground off as a punch and a 3 OZ hammer. Use a wooden block with a small hole drilled in it as an aid to driving the pin out

  14. I shoot lefty, was trained in the Army of the ’90s and use both hands for SPORTS – rotate as I use the right to reseat the mag, pull the charging handle with the left and tap the FA with the left thumb before re-engaging..
    By switching hands, I suppose you lose a bit of time, but that’s the price of being a lefty and it’s probably made up somewhat by the rotation putting the charging handle nearly in your hand anyway..

    Additionally, after doing it a minute ago to verify that I had described my method correctly, I noted that doing it this way, the muzzle never leaves the target area during the entire SPORTS procedure..

  15. I’m a proponent of the support-hand charging method for the AR platform, but I did have trouble doing it reliably when I first learned it. I am a male, but I’ll admit that I’m not terribly strong, which has been exacerbated by some health problems.

    At the time I had the standard charging handle in my rifle, but switching to the BCM Gunfighter Charging handle completely solved my difficulties. It made a world of difference.

  16. being a lefty is sweet, it’s so easier to manipulate everything while keeping my trigger hand on the gun. Keep arguing guys, us southpaws will keep shooting.

  17. With torn rotator cuffs, bursitis, and arthrosis in each shoulder, weapon manipulations get tricky. Since my left is worse, I’ve had to change many things regarding shooting techniques. I switched to lightweight polymer handguns without going to full extension and shooting long guns left handed because I cannot support its weight with my left arm extended anymore.

    At 32, I’ve had to learn how to shoot all over again. This is actually how I have to cycle the bolt, but with the stock in my left shoulder and using my left hand since the latch is on that side.

    When you’re physically screwed up, you have to figure out how to do things differently and make it work. Smaller people with less upper body strength or 6′ 4″ 200lb guys like me that are jacked up have to work with what we have. Before you turn your nose up and scoff at a technique like this, it’s another tool for the toolbox after all. Add it to yours or not. But, you might find yourself on the wrong end of a physical condition and have to figure out how to do something a new way out of necessity.

    • +1. David- RESPECT to you, and to this fine NRA Instructor.

      I think that was the point of this vid- teaching smaller shooters, or women who dont have the arm or grip strength to fully charge off-handed, a better way.

      I’m not an AR owner, but will be someday, and I’m filing it away as it made immediate sense to me, as a primary technique,

      and a good alternative to practice for if you ever got hurt somehow in a fire-fight – shot/fell on the left arm/hand, but could still support the rifle.

      Reminds me of some of the drills for off-hand/one-handed pistol shooting and reloading.

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