When Eugene Stoner invented the M16 (originally the AR15) back in the day – he placed the AR15 charging handle on the top and rear of the upper reciever. Since the AR15 was designed for right handed shooters, the catch latch on the AR15 charging handle is located on the left side. This makes it easy for right handed shooters to operate the AR15 charging handle with the left hand, allowing you to keep your right hand on the pistol grip.
There are three primary ways to operate the OEM AR15 charging handle.
When you are holding the rifle in the your right hand, you can use your left hand with the fingers somewhat extended, to hit the charging handle and the latch at the same time with the side of your palm. This will allow the charging handle to move reward with a pushing motion.
Another way is to grab the charging from the top with your index and middle fingers spread apart. This allows you to contact both sides of the charging handle and pull it to the rear.
The third way is to hold your fingers close together in a “hook” shape. You will actually operated the AR15 charging handle with the side of your index finger, between the first and second knuckle.
How to actuate the AR15 charging handle while holding the pistol grip with your left hand.
The challenges arise when you are holding the rifle by the pistol grip in your left hand. The charging handle latch only works on the left side, making it more challenging to operate from the right side – which you would be if you were holding the rifle by the pistol grip with your left hand.
You can use the second method described above – just using your right hand instead of the left hand. Otherwise you must come from under the bottom of the rifle, or you must go over the top. “Canting” the rifle approximately 45 degrees can help with either way (coming from the top or bottom).
Enhanced AR15 Charging Handles
The OEM charging handle has a small latch, and alot of hard core AR15 users consider the latch too small. The OEM charging handle also has “swept back wings”, you know, the portion your grab onto. There have been alot of attempts by various manufactures to come up with larger latch mechanisms. The Badger Ordinance TacLatch was all the rage when it came out years ago, and is still going strong on one my uppers. One of the very best these days is the Bravo Company “Gunfighter” tactical latch. There are also quite a number of ambidextrous charging handles. Some of these are downright bizare in approach and execution. And they all share a similar trait. They are nothing but alterations or variations of the OEM charging handle. They all still retain the “back swept wings” of the OEM charging handle.
ENTER THE RAPTOR AR15 CHARGING HANDLE
The folks at AXTS (the actual company that makes the Raptor) started with a clean slate. They weren’t stuck in the mindset of just adding different latches to the same old design. They came up with something totally new, some totally different, and something that totally ROCKS. Unlike the OEM charging handle, the “wings” (or I probably should say “claws” since it named the Raptor) are FORWARD swept. That is right – that are angled forward, not backward. This ensures when your hands are wet, cold, muddy or even bloody, this charging handle will not slip out of your hand. Even if you wear gloves, this charging handle will work first time, every time. And both sides articulate, so you only need to operate one side, and it will unlatch! The real benefit here is that I can operate the changing handle EXACTLY the same way, no matter what side or what hand I use. And it doesn’t matter which technique I use to operate the charging handle. They ALL work. If Eugene Stoner were still alive, were he to see the Raptor AR15 charging handle, he would say “wow – I wish I would have designed it like that from the beginning”! This truly is a better mouse trap. Highly recommended. Here is the video companion to this blog article.