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.
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.
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
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.