Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Get A Grip Man!!

I'll take one of each please.....

Unfortunately, the charging handle is one of the overlooked parts on an AR-15. The standard charging handle is simple if not effective, and for the majority of AR-15 shooters, they only use the charging handle to rack the bolt on a new magazine, shoot, reload, and then pack up and go home. But many people don't realize there is a crucial upgrade available for the wimpy charging handle that came with your AR-15. Details after the jump.

Those were the days....
So to understand the benefit of a heavy-duty, reinforced charging handle such as the VLTOR/BCM Gunfighter Charging handle, you have to understand how rifle manipulation tactics have changed. Historically, the acceptable way to charge the rifle using the handle was to use the right hand and grab the handle by placing your index and middle fingers on opposite sides and to pull straight back. That's all well and good when you're out casually shooting a few dirt mounds and paper targets. But, times have changed my friend. On the two-way range and on the competition range, time is of the essence and efficient weapon movements are of the utmost importance. A much more efficient and effective way to rack the charging handle is to keep control of the rifle with your right hand in your work space while using the left hand to rack the charging handle backward quickly and with authority. Slowly riding the handle forward is a No-No. Check out the two preferred methods for racking the charging handle with the left (or weak) hand in the two photos below.

Link to Technique 1: Racking the CH with the weak hand index finger
Link to Technique 2: Racking the CH with the palm of the weak hand

(I'd like to post the pictures directly but I do not own them and the guy who owns them is a nice guy who makes his living from photography. h/t Gearscout/Stickman)

Either one of these techniques is efficient and MUCH quicker than using the right hand to rack the charging handle. Not to mention, you relinquish control of your rifle when you take your strong hand away from the pistol grip and trigger area. The rifle should be kept in the "work space" at all times if possible. Using one of these left handed techniques allows that.

If you're still running the wimpy standard charging handle, by now you may have realized these techniques are quite difficult or impossible. The release lever on the left side of the charging handle is very slim and difficult to push, especially under stress. Also, when racked forcefully, the standard handle has a tendency to be pulled laterally (angled) and this creates undue stress on the roll pin inside the latch. Thankfully, VLTOR and BCM have fixed this problem for you.

One is bad. One is good.
On the left is the standard handle. On the right is what you should be using. The VLTOR/BCM Gunfighter charging handle was designed to be used by the support hand only. Its reinforced body is designed to handle the stress of being pulled backward and distributes this force evenly rather than directly on the roll pin. This results in a more reliable handle that is not as prone to breaking under stress and rendering your rifle useless. Additionally, 3 different latches are available (called the mod 3, 4, and 5) depending on how large a latch you prefer. Personally, the day I installed one of these Gunfighter charging handles in my AR-15 was a revelation. I employ the mod 3 on my rifles and could not be happier. I also prefer the 2nd technique shown above, the palm technique, unless I cant the rifle chamber upwards to visually inspect the chamber. Under those circumstances I will naturally grab the handle with my index finger for better control.

Many of you may have overlooked the charging handle as an area for upgrade on your rifle. Lost in the glitz and glammer of quad rails and competition triggers, a heavy-duty reliable charging handle such as the VLTOR/BCM Gunfighter is a cost-effective and essential upgrade for any tactical AR-15. Check them out at today if you've been thinking about upgrading your AR-15. I hear a new shipment just came in...(HINT HINT).

Be safe and see you next time.

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