Things That Don’t Suck: Next Level Armament NLX 556 Charging Handle

NLX 556 AR-15 Charging Handle

Josh Wayner for TTAG

Next Level Armament is right in my backyard in a way of speaking. They are located just one town over from me and I have to say that it’s great having a world-class rifle maker just a stone’s throw away.

They are best known for making some very cool AR-15 and AR-10 rifles and they make one of the better .450 Bushmaster hunting carbines on the market today. They also make some very nifty accessories.

The one we are looking at here is their NLX 556 Ambi Charging Handle. This is a super-robust, rugged drop-in replacement the your existing trash charging handle that came with your rifle. The handle was designed from the start to address some deficiencies surrounding use in the field and on the competition line.

NLX 556 AR-15 Charging Handle

Next Level parts are rugged and robust. (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

From Next Level’s web page on the NLX 556:

We designed all our ambidextrous charge handles for us folks up here in the Michigan Weather.

The design was brought to life from wearing gloves and needing more scope clearance while hunting in cold weather conditions. Manufactured from 7075 aluminum with larger, more aggressive “ears” and fewer moving parts than other designs, our charge handles are among the best ambi charge handles on the market.

This is THE charging handle if you plan on hunting with an AR rifle. The big latches make it very easy to manipulate the rifle in bad conditions. If you think that your standard latch is good enough, understand that the AR is a fairly fragile design that faces complicated malfunctions and is highly susceptible to debris, mud, carbon buildup, and other schmutz.

NLX 556 AR-15 Charging Handle

All the parts of the NLX 556 are large and thick. This lets them work even in the harshest conditions. (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

I have had a couple guns of my own and seen those of other hunters jam up from freezing weather conditions in Michigan. If you use certain oils or greases, the AR can literally freeze shut. If it doesn’t freeze up, the thickening of those lubricants can result in slowed bolt operation and introduce malfunctions.

The fact that many hunters in Michigan use the 450 Bushmaster is reason enough to get this handle. The 450 BM is a notoriously finicky cartridge that has all sorts of magazine and cycling issues depending on manufacturer and getting the rifle back into the game can be a challenge if you can’t get the bolt locked back. I have had several of these issues with AR platform rifles in 450 BM in the field so I can attest to how difficult they can be.

NLX 556 AR-15 Charging Handle

The NLX 556 is a drop-in upgrade to your AR. (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

This handle brings a level of function to a modern sporting rifle that’s hard to get elsewhere. The fact that it’s pretty much designed for rough field conditions in freezing, wet environments makes it a solid choice for all hunters and outdoorsy people. The latch handles are very wide and deeply textured. Gloved use is extremely easy even with thick winter mitts.

 

comments

  1. avatar Blackspike2710 says:

    It’s $80. Why was that so hard to put in the article?

    1. avatar WARFAB says:

      Thanks for answering my first question.

      1. avatar Fudd Patrol says:

        why is is so hard to show a pic of the handle and the upper with a scope mounted?

        1. avatar Review Pro says:

          Why? Because the review is a shill. Just some safe queen pics. No actual review here. Doubt the author ever fired a round with this handle. Keep moving. Nothing to learn here.

        2. avatar Detent says:

          So how’s the blowback when shooting suppressed?

          Wouldn’t know? Well then why the hell am I bothering with your candy ass opinion?

          Gear companies, please stop giving stuff to newbies. They jus mess it up for the rest of us.

    2. avatar Egghead says:

      Or to even show it in the gun.

    3. avatar Billy says:

      Well, that sucks.

      1. avatar Madcapp says:

        Massively over-sized charging handles like that suck ass. Its unnecessary bulk, and the mark of a rank amateur. Its for people who are influenced by idiotic nonsense like John Wick movies.

        1. avatar Geoff WWJWD - "What would John Wick do?" PR says:

          “Its for people who are influenced by idiotic nonsense like John Wick movies.”

          Don’t look at me, I have zero interest in that thing… 😉

  2. avatar I Haz A Question says:

    Well, here in CA, I think most of us have ARs not so much for hunting in the nearly non-existent snow, but for holding off a tyrannical State. This charging handle looks nice and is probably a reliable upgrade, but so far I haven’t had any issues whatsoever with any of my PSAs.

  3. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    “understand that the AR design is a fairly fragile design that faces complicated malfunctions and is highly susceptible to debris, mud, carbon buildup and other schmutz,” and you’re worried about the charging handle!? Sounds like there are larger concerns. When it was socially acceptable for boys to play war with toy guns. I had a Matel Marauder M-16. When I grew up the U.S. Army put an M-16A1 in my hands. I couldn’t tell much difference between the two. Avoid these problems. Buy a real rifle.

    1. avatar SCW says:

      An AR-15 is one of the most well sealed rifles there are. You’re an old retard who’s out of touch with reality.

      1. avatar Guesty McGuesterson says:

        Um, I think Gadsden’s sarcasm would have been obvious enough for you, but maybe you need more help.

      2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        SCW, I had to fuck with that piece of shit excuse for a rifle professionally for 27 years. I owned three over the years. If you use it for what it was intended, as opposed to taking it to a nice clean range, it will get dirty. Then it will malfunction. Then again, maybe you’re right. Maybe I am out of touch with reality. I mean, what could I have possibly learned over nearly three decades of using the AR platform in the real world? Don’t misunderstand me. I know why they are so popular. It’s about the only thing available that most people can afford. Oh! Let’s not forget how easy it is to hang ten pounds of shit on this 7 lb weapon. Me? I’ll save my money and find a good used H&K 93, Galil, Sig, etc. Guesty, if you read this there was no sarcasm in my first post, though there is a bit in the middle of this one.

    2. avatar SteveO says:

      “I had a Mattel Marauder M-16. When I grew up the U.S. Army put an M-16A1 in my hands. I couldn’t tell much difference between the two. Avoid these problems.”

      FUCK YEAH!

      Brings tears to my eyes with those memories. Foxholes surrounded with sandbags made from Mom’s paper bags when she wasn’t looking. They’re worth almost as much as a solid build these days, too.

  4. avatar George Washington says:

    Looks cool… If I could afford it, I’d buy one…. Just cause…..

  5. avatar Ransom says:

    I’d rather spend $80 on Lead.

    1. avatar Kevin says:

      I don’t believe anyone makes charging handles out of lead. 😉

  6. avatar PT-Mc Cain says:

    Because there are no other options out there now for AR CHs that offer the very same functionality. I’d suggest to anyone worried about the reliability of their CH to buy a 100% steel CH.

  7. avatar SCW says:

    Why are charging handles so expensive? I bought a complete Aero Precision BCG on sale for a little over $90. There’s no way that an aluminum charging handle is anywhere near the level of complexity to manufacture that a BCG is. I want a better charging handle, but I can’t find anything that is reasonably priced. I’d wager that these things probably cost $2-$5 to make so the mark up is just ridiculous.

    1. avatar Jack says:

      So it’s cool to spend too much on a bcg, but not a CH? You can get a PSA nitride bcg for $55 why the extra $40?

    2. avatar Squiggy81 says:

      I’ve ordered two of the ambi CHs from Delta Team Tactical for around $20. The 308 variant might have been 25. Not sure of the brand, but they seem to be well made and I’ve had no trouble so far. Operation on the mechanism is smooth. I plan to buy more. The offerings from the usual brands always seemed overpriced to me.

  8. avatar former water walker says:

    I’ll stick with the charging handle that came with my lowly S&W Sport. No plans on competing,hunting or going to war-YET😄…btw $80 for a rugged CH ain’t bad.

  9. avatar No one of consequence says:

    So from a functionality standpoint, how do these differ from Radian Raptors?

  10. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    I found one that didn’t jab me in the torso when hanging. Non name brand that didn’t cost much and allows just a tad bit grip on either side.

    I agree charging handles are a racket…

  11. avatar Pat says:

    ” If you think that your standard latch is good enough, understand that the AR is a fairly fragile design that faces complicated malfunctions and is highly susceptible to debris, mud, carbon buildup, and other schmutz.”

    InRangeTV has literally covered multiple different AR designs in thick mud and had them work flawlessly while covered in gunk. The AR design is more impervious to adverse conditions than the fabled AK. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

  12. avatar dph says:

    FTA “I have had a couple guns of my own and seen those of other hunters jam up from freezing weather conditions in Michigan. If you use certain oils or greases, the AR can literally freeze shut. If it doesn’t freeze up, the thickening of those lubricants can result in slowed bolt operation and introduce malfunctions.”

    Then don’t use that shit. Use something like this
    https://www.cherrybalmz.com/product-page/winter-balm

    Way cheaper than $80 and one bottle will do all your guns.

    1. avatar 16V says:

      Or, one can just buy an appropriate technical industrial lubricant for less money, that has better properties, and performance without the marketing wankery. ‘Course it doesn’t have a cool ‘outdoorsy’ name, and it isn’t available in the WallyWorld sporting goods aisle. Oh well, it’s sadly amusing to continuously hear about idiots who still know so little about their firearms, they can’t even run the right lubes to keep them from freezing.

  13. avatar Mercutio says:

    Well. let me start a whole different flame war. Ready?

    The whole charging handle design sucks.

    Can’t use it without taking the rifle off target. Yah, I know some contortionists can, but they’re usually named something like “One-eye Jack”. Give me a side-cocker any day.

  14. avatar MIO says:

    I feel bad for those restricted to cartridges like this

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