New From Gun Fighter: Side Charging Handle for AR-15 Rifles

GFG Charging Handle, via ar15news.com

Always thought the side charging handle on the SCAR was cool? Well, now you can have that feature on your AR-15 without any modifications! For only $150, Gun Fighter Gear offers this replacement charging handle for the AR-15 that requires no modifications and appears to work pretty well. It looks to me to be a touch wobbly, but I’ve asked for one to test out, so I’ll let you know. Check out the video for more information.

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About Nick Leghorn

Nick Leghorn is a gun nerd living and working in San Antonio, Texas. In his free time, he's a competition shooter (USPSA, 3-gun and NRA High Power), aspiring pilot, and enjoys mixing statistics and science with firearms. Now on sale: Getting Started with Firearms by yours truly!

63 Responses to New From Gun Fighter: Side Charging Handle for AR-15 Rifles

  1. avatarjwm says:

    The forward assist should handle any problems that this side charging handle does. I don’t own an AR but I really don’t see the improvement this mod makes, or am I missing something?

    • avatarpwrserge says:

      The charging handle on the AR platform is a bit awkward to operate with the rifle shouldered. It’s really a solution to a non-problem, but I can see the use. I would have actually gone for an AK style right hand charging handle.

      On a side note, this has nothing to do with forward assist function. The charging handle on the AR can’t force the BCG forward, only pull it to the rear.

      • avatarMike says:

        I agree that pulling the normal AR handle is awkward while shouldered, but putting the handle 8 Iinches in front of your face (for right handed people) seems just as awkward, if for a different reason.

        • avatarpwrserge says:

          With a non-reciprocating handle, I don’t really see the issue… But honestly, I’m an AK / SIG 550 fanboy so reciprocating charging handles are hardly something I worry about. Although, I will admit that having it cycling 8 inches in front of your nose could get… Interesting.

      • Meh, just get a charging handle with a reinforced latch. At least $100 cheaper, and less likely to break at the latch (or roll pin) with one-handed operation.

        Grabbing the charging handle 6 inches farther forward may be a bit more comfortable, but this doesn’t look so well designed, and, as others have posted below, the manufacturer is quite tetchy.

      • avatarDavis Thompson says:

        Scope.

      • avatarint19h says:

        >> The charging handle on the AR platform is a bit awkward to operate with the rifle shouldered.

        As designed, this will still break your cheek weld since the handle still protrudes all the way to the back, and pulls out right into your face when operated.

    • avatarLars says:

      If you don’t even own a AR why are you commenting on a AR related article? Don’t own a AR, what’s wrong with you?

      • avatarpwrserge says:

        The man is asking a valid question. Why jump on him?

        • avatarensitue says:

          Because Lars is Lars
          he does this quite often and then gets quite offended when he’s called out for his trollish behavior and launches a new, personal, attack

      • avatarSid says:

        I don’t own a woman but I ask questions about them. I also don’t own a ’66 Ford Mustang, a fighter jet, or a 4wd pick-up, but I ask questions about those also.

      • avatarjwm says:

        Lars, I wasn’t aware of any requirements to make a comment on TTAG, except to log in. I’ve never owned an AR. I was issued an m16 many years ago. Never liked it and the guys I was with didn’t like it either. We were always on the look out for backups to our issue rifles. My first backup was a TT-33 that I had trouble finding ammo for, the iron curtain being solidly in place then. I traded it for a .38.

        And I know that it’s not wise to relie on the MSM but a lot of the guys in the sandbox and Astan appear to have sidearms to go with their rifles as well. A lot more side arms than I would think were on the books for a given outfit.

        You might not be old enough to remember the tv commercial featuring the “Frito Bandito” but when we were ready for the field our Shirt referred to us as a bunch of Frito Banditos that would give the IG a stroke to see.

  2. avatarMichael B. says:

    He’s asking WAAAAAAAAAAAY too much for that.

    • avatarCA.Ben says:

      In his defense, it is machined from solid 7075 and heat treated. That can’t be cheap.

      It’s still outside of my price range, but I do like it.

      • avatarpwrserge says:

        I would have bit the bullet and made it out of properly formed steel. The weight difference on that sort of geometry would be minimal.

  3. avatarJoshinGA says:

    Its a cool concept, but I dont think its worth $150. YMMV.

    • avatarTheSleeperHasAwakened says:

      I agree…cool concept, but not worth $150.

      Knock a $100 off the price and I’ll buy one.

  4. avatarChris from Iowa says:

    One problem I have with this is, it looks like it would unevenly distribute the force of the pull and cause wear inside the rifle (like when a standard charging handle gets pulled by only one side). The other problem is; why? It is just another thing to screw you up when it fails and ensure that you are out of your element with incorrect muscle memory when in a tense situation with a rifle with a standard charging handle.

    • avatarensitue says:

      beat me to it!
      If I had some weird optic mounted on my AR this might be a solution to a real problem but I tend towards low profile optics that do not increase my drag, I have plenty as it is ;)

  5. avatarRusty Puma says:

    Um – no.

  6. avatarCapt. Howdy says:

    I see a lot of premature wear on an upper and an overpriced charging handle in someone’s future.

    Chris from Iowa is correct. You’d be putting way too much later force on something that isn’t designed to do that. It might be okay at first, but if you shoot a lot then maybe not….

    I put a Badger Ordnance tactical latch on my charging handle. It works flawlessly and cost me a whopping 18 bucks.

  7. avatarRusty Owen says:

    Let’s see:

    Overpriced? Check

    Solution to non-problem? Check

    Douchebag creator? Check

    While the idea of a non-reciprocating side charging handle is cool, that’s a lot of torque to put on a long aluminum lever. Not to mention, when am I bothering to lock an AR bolt back that I can’t use two hands? Or one hand with my BAD Lever?

    • avatarpwrserge says:

      To be fair, you’re not putting a whole lot of force on that handle and your lever arm is rather short. It would be better with a Titanium version, but I doubt that wear on the upper or breaking the handle is likely.

      • avatarRusty Owen says:

        You’re right, I was exaggerating on the torque comment, but there is still a moment being applied, and I would be surprised if this doesn’t tear up the interior finish over time.

        And if it was Titanium it’d be worth $150.

        • avatarpwrserge says:

          Oh I agree… It will mess up the anodizing on the right side of the rifle… Will it damage the Aluminum? Sure, eventually, but at that point, your round count will be so high that the rifle will need a complete rebuild anyway. Think of it this way… Say you work the handle every single time you load a new 20 round magazine… Let’s say you run through 40,000 rounds. (Most barrels will be lucky to last that long.) That means your handle will go through 2,000 cycles over the life of the barrel. Add 20% for maintenance and clearing malfunctions… That’s still under 2,500 cycles over reasonable life of the major components of a rifle.

    • avatarBlehtastic says:

      The BAD lever conquers all!

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      So yeah, the “douchebag creator” comment was probably unnecessary. Your opinions about the product are completely valid, but I see no reason to be a dick (or a douchebag, natch) about it.

  8. avatarMr. Lighter says:

    I actually like the concept, and I’ve never liked the standard charging handle. If the price drops to $100, I might buy one.

  9. avatarRob says:

    If it drops in price a bit I may have to pick a couple up soon to modify my AR’s into straight pull bolt actions since I live in the **** state of California and they are looking at banning any semi-auto with a magazine that doesn’t require cutting to remove.

  10. avatarCA.Ben says:

    The vendor introduced this item on the Calguns forum a while back. It comes with a 5 year, no questions asked warranty.

    http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=791016&highlight=side+charging+handle

    check it out.

  11. avatarJason says:

    That left rear corner is going to be under a ton of stress. I’d make sure to inspect it regularly for fatigue. But I do like the idea of moving the charging handle. The default location is right against my nose, so to rack it, I have to move my face off the gun, and my eye off the optical axis.

    I just went with the LAR OPS-4 upper with a side charger built directly into the BCG. It gets rid of the useless forward assist (if it doesn’t feed, I want to eject it, not jam it in) and eliminates that gap at the back of the T handle. Those two spots constantly spit out gunk when I run my 9″ barrel (standard upper) and suppressor. After shooting my right cheek looks like I went swimming near a BP drilling platform.

  12. avatarBrent Ward says:

    I have an American Spirit Arms (ASA) upper receiver with a side charger. It’s great when you have a scope, like I do, that would block access to the standard charging handle. ASA asks for a lot of $$$ for theirs but I bought the gun used, so it wasn’t that much for me: http://www.americanspiritarms.com/upper-receivers/asa-ar-15-m4-side-charger-upper-receiver-with-modified-carrier/

  13. avatarRokurota says:

    Enough with you naysayers! I love the idea! Where do I sign up?

  14. avatarWheelsucker says:

    • avatarMatt in FL says:

      Direct embedded YouTube videos totally break mobile browsing for some people. Please don’t do it.

  15. avatarAnonymousOne says:

    The creator got really prickly and really nasty with people over at slickguns.com. He seems like a real piece of work.

    Here’s what reddit.com/r/guns had to say:
    http://www.reddit.com/r/guns/comments/1iurry/what_are_your_thoughts_on_new_ar15_side_charging/

    • avatarJoshinGA says:

      Yeah, he seems like a gigantic bag of douche. Sure isnt going to win over any customers with his attitude. Here’s a direct link to the Slickguns comment thread if anyone is interested: http://www.slickguns.com/product/ar-15-drop-side-charging-handle-no-gunsmithing-required-and-5-year-warranty-149

      • avatarGene says:

        I could have sworn I heard echoing from the distance, “Delete that or I’ll sue ya!!

      • avatarMatt in FL says:

        His reaction was probably a bit over the top, it’s true. However, that dude Stickman was falling all over himself to trash the guy’s product, and be a colossal dick while doing it. His comments went well beyond “offering a legitimate point of concern” and completely into “I’m anonymous on the internet so I can be as big a prick as I want.” I’d probably have reacted badly, too.

        • avatarphoenixNFA says:

          the problem is, stickman isnt quite anonymous. his photography/gun porn is all over the interwebs. look at an AAC catalogue, its probably stickman’s photos.

          on the fence about this product. i only use my CH for 3 things, racking the first round at the range/locking the bolt back for the first time at the range/clearing a jam.

          past that, it never gets used.

        • avatarMatt in FL says:

          I was unaware of that, thanks. It still doesn’t give him, in my mind, the right to be a complete jerk about it. I’d feel differently if it was him reacting to the other guy, but he started in with the trash-talking from his very first comment. That’s what bugged me, and what I would have reacted badly to, as well.

  16. avatarTom says:

    If you want a side charging AR check out 2 Vets Arms.

  17. avatarMike says:

    It’s hilarious that AR owners keep trying to turn their gun into an AK. First they wanted .300 AAC Blackout (anemic copy of 7.62×39). Now this. Some of them even do piston conversions. It’s getting silly. They want an AK but they don’t want it to BE an AK.

    • avatarBlehtastic says:

      It’s silly that AK owners keep using an anemic version of an M1A.

      Also, ‘Merica! None of that commie stuff.

    • avatarJoshinGA says:

      AKs are inherently built to sloppy tolerences: good for reliability, bad for ACCURACY. A piston AR in .300 BLK with a right side charging handle would probably be a really excellent setup now that you mention it…

      • avatarpwrserge says:

        The AK is a combat rifle, not a competition tack driver. It’s designed to engage man sized targets at under 300 meters with the ability to defeat intermediate barriers. The Red Army was looking for very specific performance criteria when they commissioned the thing. They got what they wanted…
        1. Reliability
        2. Low weight (about the same as the much later M4 carbine)
        3. Controllable automatic fire
        4. Increase round count for a standard ammo load when compared to a battle rifle.
        It’s really apples and oranges. The AR platform makes a great precision rifle for highly trained troops with a significant logistical tail. The AK is much more of a “rough and ready” sort of weapon reflecting the lessons that the Red Army learned the hard way between 1941 and 1945.

        • avatarJoshinGA says:

          Oh believe me, the AK does what is designed to do. I was merely saying that, as you pointed out, the AK was not designed for pinpoint accuracy like the AR platform. I also pointed out that a piston AR in .300 BLK with a side charging handle would take many of the pros of the AK, and pair them with many of the pros of the AR to create a very versatile rifle.

        • avatarpwrserge says:

          @ JoshinGA
          True… But the performance envelope would not be significantly better despite increasing the cost by a factor of 3-4. The .300 AAC rifles are, in my opinion, best kept in the realm of SBRs and straight M4 barrel swaps.

          Trying to make a “Super AKR” out of it is a horrendous waste of time and money. You wind up with a rifle without the ballistic reach of a 20″ 5.56 platform, but without the sheer ruggedness of an AK platform.

          A 9″ .300 AAC blackout SBR makes a great substitute for a sub gun, but a poor substitute for a rifle. When you really stop to think about it. Outside the suppressed / SBR niche the .300 AAC is a solution looking for a problem.

      • avatarint19h says:

        If you want an AR that’s “like AK” but accurate (more accurate than most ARs, actually), then that’s what SIG 550 is.

        This, by the way, also goes to dispel the myth that AK design is inherently inaccurate, or that said sloppy tolerances are necessary to achieve that legendary reliability. In truth, you can have a rifle that’s as reliable as an AK and as accurate as AR. You just have to tell the Swiss to assemble an AK, and pay $3k for that privilege…

    • avatarint19h says:

      It’s interesting that you have brought the whole “I want my AR to be more like AK” theme, but didn’t mention Faxon ARAK-21, which is truly an “AK for AR” upper – not just with long-stroke piston, but also with rails for the BCG in the receiver.

  18. avatarForrest McNabb says:

    Seems unnecessary. How often do you need to lock your bolt back? If you are reloading the rifle your bolt should already be locked back, and if you are patrolling in a combat zone you should already have your rifle charged, so I really don’t see much usefulness, I’d rather spend the money on one of the larger but more conventional aftermarket charging handles.

    • avatarcarsonthebrain64 says:

      This is exactly what I was thinking. Not to mention you would still need to move you head off the stock, because the charging handle is still going to slide to the rear above the stock. For those with something like this already, is there any real benefit or just preference?

    • avatarGuywithagun says:

      I gots two woids fo’ ya:

      Mal Function

  19. avatarLars says:

    I’ve had a side charging handle from white oak on one of my ARs for over 2 years now. Nothing new.

  20. avatarbmworld says:

    you still have to move your face to use it. seems kind of pointless to me

  21. avatarMatt in FL says:

    All said, I still think it looks pretty cool. I guess that makes me a mall-ninja.

  22. avatarensitue says:

    I am a Lefty! I hate the AR charging handle, I much prefer my Mini-30 which is FAR more ambidexterous than either AR or AK

  23. avatarST says:

    File this under “Do Not Want”

    Accessory Law #1:No modification of the weapon should be required for installation. This violates it because scope users need a riser.

    Accessory Law #2:The product must solve a viable problem.It does not,because if the AR is empty the bolt is already locked to the rear.If the weapons malfunctioned, the user is out of the fight until the problem is cleared-and “solving” an AR malfunction will require two hands anyways.

    Thus this device is pointless and overpriced.As such,it’ll therefore be destined for commercial success as a must have ninja item.

  24. avatarDBPolice says:

    side charging ARs are the coolest! I though I was going to have to shell out for a LAR Grizzly upper but this is such an obviously good idea and a money saver I can now get whatever upper i want and slap this on. sweet!

  25. avatarthedonn007 says:

    If you buy 5 you can get them for $100 each.

  26. avatarJeh says:

    Holy sh*t, finally!
    But where’s the lefty version so people can actually use it comfortably?

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