Gear Review: GG&G SCAR Non-Reciprocating Charging Mechanism

You’ve heard me say it before. If there’s one complaint I have about the otherwise excellent SCAR series rifles, it’s the charging handle. In this day and age, to have a gun with a reciprocating charging handle for purposes other than nostalgia is lazy design work. Thankfully there are industrious companies like GG&G out there who see the opportunity to improve on an existing design and make a little money for themselves in the process. Enter GG&G’s latest creation, the SCAR Non-Reciprocating Charging Mechanism . . .

GG&G’s device (I’m not typing that whole name out every time) is a bolt-on addition to any SCAR series rifle that gives you a non-reciprocating charging handle without any destructive modifications. In other words there’s no cutting or milling to do in order to get the thing to fit, and if you want to put your rifle back into factory configuration, it’s a snap.

GG&G Charging Handle, c Nick Leghorn

The mechanism bolts in place using two clamps that attach to the Picatinny rail that runs across the top of the gun, and the charging handle interfaces with the bolt using a specially designed cross-piece that goes where the charging handle normally would fit. The handle you see in the picture above catches that pin and uses it to move the bolt backwards, but once the handle is locked forwards the bolt moves freely without any movement of the handle. It’s a good design for an aftermarket part, and it works really well.

I took the modified rifle to the range, loaded up a magazine, stuck my hand directly behind the charging handle and started blasting away. It was perfect: the handle didn’t move a fraction of an inch. In short, it works. But while it fixes one problem, it creates two more.

Problem number one is inherent to all non-reciprocating charging handles, namely that there’s no good way to force the bolt home if it fails to properly chamber a round. On the AR-15 there’s a forward assist and a scalloped bolt carrier to allow you to do it, but since the SCAR was designed for use with the usual reciprocating charging handle there’s nothing available to do the job. With modern ammunition and a well maintained gun it shouldn’t be a problem, but for those looking to run their gun in adverse conditions you might want to reconsider swapping out the charging handle.

Problem number two is a factor of the way the thing mounts on the gun. Using the Picatinny rail is a brilliant solution, but it restricts the kinds of optics you can put on your gun. You still have almost a full M4-style AR-15 upper receiver’s worth of real estate behind the device to mount optics with, but for larger scope mounts it might cause a problem. For example, I can’t use the scope mount Leupold sent with the Mark 6 scope when the new charging handle is installed — it needs to be mounted too close to get the proper eye relief. But there’s a caveat to that complaint, which is that the rail mounts on GG&G’s thinger are flush to the top of the rail sections. Which means if you have a mount that clamps in two different places, you can just have it bridge over the GG&G mount and it will work fine. So, only a half complaint there really.

GG&G Charging Handle, c Nick Leghorn

The mount works, and if that charging handle annoys you as much as it annoyed me then it might be the perfect accessory for your SCAR. But there is a catch: the price. GG&G want $235 for their device, and while that seems like a ton of money I’m guessing that if you own a SCAR you aren’t someone that balks at large price tags. There’s nothing else to compare it to, since it’s the first design to actually solve this issue on the SCAR, so whether that price is ridiculous or reasonable depends on how much the charging handle annoys you. But personally, it feels a touch high. Considering the manufacturing processes required, I’m gunna say it’s about $35 over the mark. But then again, that’s just me.

GG&G SCAR Non-Reciprocating Charging Mechanism
Price: $235
Website: GGGAZ.com

Ratings (out of five stars):

Ease of Use * * * * *
Easy to install, easy to remove if the need arises.

Utility * * * 1/2
Does everything you need to… except no forward assist on the bolt. And it takes some rail space away, which is annoying.

Overall * * * *
A little pricey and with some minor issues, but it’s a unique solution to a nagging problem.

comments

  1. avatar Joe Grine says:

    The SCAR’s reciprocating bolt handle doesn’t bother me enough to shell out $235 for a “fix.” Having said that, I think the way that HK addressed the issue via the G-36 may be a better solution.

    1. avatar David PA/NJ says:

      How did they do it?

      1. avatar Vuddha says:

        Watch this video to get an idea.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ysa4GxtoGbw

        Get about 1:10 into the video.

        -Vu

        1. avatar David PA/NJ says:

          That’s a pretty good idea but I would have to try it first beforei can say I’d like it more than a reciprocating handle that stays out

      2. avatar Mmmtacos says:

        HK has a reciprocating charging handle that folds out and sits directly on top of the frame of the gun… but under the handle and thus under the rails.

        It’s out of the way for sure, just looks like a thin piece of metal running back and forth. Nicks folding charging handle he put on the SCAR in another article (Learning to love the SCAR I believe) is a similar idea but not quite as discreet.

        Watch a YouTube video about the G36, take note when you see someone charge it and when they fire it.

  2. avatar Don says:

    I have the GG&G spring up rear and the spring up front BUIS. I really like their simple designs and fit and finish.

    -D

  3. I can see how/why folks whose experience with modern military rifles is limited to the AR15 would find the recriprocating charging handle a bit off putting at first.

    On the other hand, the RC CH has been used on:
    M1 Garand
    M1 Carbine

    And of course it is used on the world’s longest running weapon assault rifle platform.
    The AK47.

    I have found it actually to be helpful in diagnosing the precise nature of a malfunction, which you can determine quickly by looking at where the CH is.

    I’m not convinced it is actually a “problem” in need of a “fix” … but the free market is a great place and the more power to the GG&G crew.

    1. avatar Guy says:

      Yep. There are countless very popular, very successful, very reliable rifles that have a reciprocating bolt handle. 10/22s (they’ve never been popular), M-14s (no, those are terrible), AKs (too unreliable!), the Thompsons (hardly any were made!), SCARs, Uzis, Steyrs (I think)… hell, pretty much every semi-auto shotgun ever made has had this ‘lazy engineering.’

      This is a new marketing thing, to be sure – ‘engineering problems’ invented after the fact are like the restless leg of firearms.

      1. “the restless leg of firearms” …. very nice turn of phrase, sir.

      1. avatar Guy says:

        D’oh! You caught me.

    2. avatar -Peter says:

      don’t forget the Sig556. I’m sorry, but if you can’t figure out how to keep your hand free from a reciprocating charging handle, you might be too stupid to own firearms?

      are you also constantly getting the webbing of your palm pinched in the slide of your semi-auto pistol? or are you waiting for someone to invent a nonreciprocating pistol slide?

      seriously, to call that a design flaw really boggles the mind.

  4. avatar aalbert says:

    Or just by an ACR.

    1. avatar GoPro says:

      With that glorious non-chrome lined 1:9 twist barrel the ACR has?

      1. avatar Scott says:

        What’s wrong with nitride (melonite) barrels? And every ACR barrel I’ve tested stabilizes 69 grain rounds without issue, so the twist rate seems to not be an issue.

      2. avatar nikonmikon says:

        Chrome lining increases wear resistance but has an impact on accuracy, melonite is also a good treatment to increase wear resistance but i don’t believe it has an impact on accuracy

        1. avatar Samuel Leoon Suggs says:

          Ok Nikon MIKON, shoot a scar at distance with a quality optic and then get back too me on how “chrome barrels negatively influence accuracy”

    2. avatar nikonmikon says:

      +1 on this

  5. avatar PCP says:

    It’s not lazy engineering, it’s good engineering as in a very good management of resources and compromises while avoiding over-engineering and feature-creep. That way you have a lower part count, simpler parts, more robust parts and cheaper parts, a very simple layout that is very simple to operate and service and a significant simplification of receiver design for production; that way resources from the monetary and “temporal” budgets can be relocated to other parts of the project. That thing up there is bulky, heavy and doesn’t solve the ambidextrous problem and probable takes longer to switch sides.
    If the reciprocating charging handle bothers people that much and they are that stubborn to adapt, then a folding handle would be more sane approach.

    1. avatar zack says:

      This, this sooo much.

  6. avatar TTACer says:

    I thought the reciprocating handle was specifically requested by SOCOM.

    1. avatar OCD says:

      You are correct. It was requested by SOCOM.

  7. avatar Ross says:

    I’ll pass, really don’t have a problem with the charging handle on my SCAR

  8. avatar Steve says:

    “…it’s a unique solution to a nagging problem.”

    If a reciprocating charging handle is a problem, why would one shell out the cash for a SCAR in the first place? As mentioned before, it was never really an issue on the AK, M1 Carbine, M1 Garand, M14, Sig 550-series, et al…

    1. avatar zack says:

      Call me crazy, but i think people are just soiled by the ar-15, like they just expect a gun to be 100% perfect right out of the box, so instead of having to learn how to truly utilize a firearm, and make up for its shortcomings, it can’t have ANY problems, but if it dose its worthless

      1. avatar TTACer says:

        Seems like a Fruedian slip slipped in there.

      2. avatar JeremyR says:

        OK, you lost me when you mentioned the AR-15, and then said 100% perfect. Did you forget a /sarc tag?

      3. avatar Dustin Eward says:

        The AR-15 is perfect out of the box? You lost me there…

        ARs suck.

  9. avatar silverwarloc says:

    Never bothered me either. For me, it’s ergonomically more efficient than that GGG. Granted, I’ve only had my SCAR 17S for 6 months and only gone through a little over 1000 rounds. The more I use it, the more I like it.

  10. avatar El Mac says:

    SCAR: The answer to a question that was foolishly asked.

    1. ElMac, you sound just like a person who has never had the pleasure of owning and shooting a SCAR 17.

      1. avatar El Mac says:

        Ok….if you think so. 😉

    2. avatar 7.62x51katar@gmail.com says:

      If asking: “can you build us and accurate, reliable and extremely light 7.62×51 select fire rifle, with a familiar manual if arms?” Is stupid than I am proud to call myself a complete fucking idiot today.

      1. avatar Dustin Eward says:

        No, the question was “Can we build a rifle that comes up inadequate compared to other longstanding rifles, costs too much, and makes the gun snobs splooge in their pants for the very same reasons that sane people would avoid it?”

        Yes, that is a stupid question. Addressing yourself as a complete fucking idiot was your doing.

        It’s not a problem in need of a fix… It’s just more goofy crap for mall ninjas to buy. I’m not knocking the manufacturer. I’m knocking the people who are going to buy it.

        iPhone-itis; buying pointless crap because it makes me look cool to dumb people.

  11. avatar Steve Truffer says:

    sooo… move the charging handle to the right and treat it like many of the above designs? Cost: $0

  12. avatar Dustin Eward says:

    “…to have a gun with a reciprocating charging handle for purposes other than nostalgia is lazy design work.

    Wow. Gun snob troll often?

    There are tons of legitimate reasons to have a reciprocating charging handle. Cost and Simplicity are two. AK. M11/9mm. PPS-43. I could fill your database… At least preface such a statement with “I like my guns to be filled with tons of tiny, unnecessary parts. It’s just not cool enough otherwise.”

    If you don’t like reciprocating charging handles, aren’t there a buttload of other guns that look cool, have fancy names and too many small parts, and cost too much that you could choose from? Why buy the SCAR if this is such a big deal?

    The SCAR is already stupidly overpriced for what it is, and it would never be my go-to gun.

    This article is bizarre… What’s going on with you people? Isn’t there an editor or something that screens this stuff? I know my blog posts are crap, but my blog is no big deal… TTAG is kind of a big deal. Well, slightly less now…

  13. avatar Dustin Eward says:

    People will do anything to avoid buying a Kel Tec, lols. I love my RFB. Best. .308. Rifle. Ever. Oh no, but it’s a Kel Tec. Those are crap. I laugh at you.

    If someone gave me a free SCAR, I would sell it and buy another RFB. If someone gave me a free [insert name of pretty much anything in .308], I would sell it and buy another RFB. A PTR91 might be fun to take apart… FAL for the history. Saiga .308 for the bump stock. There really isn’t much need for any other .308 rifle unless you’re moving up to belt-fed. Then the old Izzy 1919A4 kits that have “Never Again” stamped on them are kinda neat. Already got one of those, too…

    But, yeah. I’m not sure why this argument even exists anymore, save being preserved in the minds of people who just don’t get it. It’s one of those “here’s your sign” moments.

    1. avatar Matt in FL says:

      I didn’t see anyone mention Kel Tec but you.

      “But, yeah. I’m not sure why this argument even exists anymore…”

      What argument? Who are you talking to?

  14. avatar Paladin says:

    Another solution looking for a problem.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with a reciprocating charging handle, so long as it is properly located. IMO the SCAR’s charging handle is a bit too far forwards which can cause problems if you use a magwell grip, but other than that it’s just fine.

    Reciprocating charging handles allow for greater mechanical simplicity, both in the charging handle itself, and by removing the need for any form of forward assist.

  15. avatar JWhite says:

    An additional “$235” on a rifle that’s already expensive as it is? No thank you.

  16. avatar Mike says:

    “…to have a gun with a reciprocating charging handle for purposes other than nostalgia is lazy design work.”
    So having a reciprocation charging handle because it allows you to push the bolt into battery if need be is “lazy design work”? On a gun with no other means of doing so…WTF???
    Oh! That’s right, I forgot the SCAR is a magical weapon that could never conceivably fail to go into battery. It’s self cleaning and self aiming too right ??

  17. avatar Karnage says:

    Aside from all the usual complaints made in the review and comments, let me add one that has yet to be mentioned: weight. This abomination of engineering adds just over half a pound to the rifle. No thanks. Being able to compete with and often outperform other .308 rifles that weigh 5+ pounds more is what makes the SCAR so appealing. I think I’ll keep mine that way.

  18. avatar Matt says:

    Had to reply to the moron (Guy) that said A AK is too unreliable!!!???? Clearly you know nothing about guns at all…. seeing as the AK is unarguably the most reliable weapon platform ever built.. Stupid people like yourself with guns are the reason the gun grabbing communists I’m mean Democrats actually have a chance at stripping our constitutional rights from us. You shouldn’t own a cap gun

    1. avatar 33Charlemagne says:

      Matt,
      Guy was being facetious when he referred to AKs s being “too unreliable” just as he referred to the immensely popular 10-22 as “never having been very popular” and the great M-14 as “terrible”.

      The reciprocating charging handle is one of the reasons for the AKs superior reliability and one of the reasons I prefer them to ARs.

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