What Does the Charging Handle Do on an Ar-15


What Does the Charging Handle Do on an AR-15?

The charging handle is an essential component of an AR-15 rifle. It plays a crucial role in the manual operation of the firearm, allowing the user to load, unload, and clear malfunctions. While it may seem like a simple part, the charging handle has a significant impact on the overall functionality of the AR-15 platform. In this article, we will explore the purpose and mechanics of the charging handle, as well as address some frequently asked questions.

Purpose of the Charging Handle:

The primary purpose of the charging handle is to facilitate the movement of the bolt carrier group (BCG) within the upper receiver of the AR-15. When the charging handle is pulled rearward, it retracts the BCG, compressing the buffer spring and engaging the bolt catch. This action allows the shooter to chamber a round, clear a malfunction, or lock the bolt to the rear.

Mechanics of the Charging Handle:

The charging handle is located on the rear of the AR-15 upper receiver, just above the stock. It consists of a handle, latch, and a rod that connects to the BCG. The latch is spring-loaded and can be released by applying pressure to the rear of the handle. Pulling the charging handle rearward actuates the BCG, while releasing it allows the spring-loaded latch to engage with the upper receiver’s notch, securing the BCG in place.

When the charging handle is pulled rearward, it creates tension on the buffer spring, which is located within the buffer tube of the AR-15’s lower receiver. As the BCG moves backward, it extracts and ejects the spent casing, and when released, the buffer spring propels the BCG forward, stripping a new round from the magazine and chambering it.

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FAQs about the Charging Handle:

Q: Can I switch the charging handle to the left side of the AR-15?

A: Yes, there are ambidextrous charging handles available on the market that allow for left-handed operation. These charging handles are designed to provide easy access and manipulation for left-handed shooters.

Q: What is the difference between a standard charging handle and an extended charging handle?

A: An extended charging handle offers a larger surface area, making it easier to grip and manipulate, especially for users wearing gloves or with limited hand strength. It provides added leverage, making it ideal for competition shooters or those who frequently engage in rapid shooting scenarios.

Q: Can I use the charging handle to release the bolt when the bolt catch is engaged?

A: Yes, you can use the charging handle to release the bolt if the bolt catch is engaged. Simply pull the charging handle rearward, and it will release the bolt from the locked position. This can be useful when you want to chamber a round silently or avoid using the bolt catch button.

Q: Is it necessary to pull the charging handle all the way back when chambering a round?

A: No, it is not necessary to pull the charging handle all the way back. A slight pull will release the bolt catch and chamber a round. However, if you need to clear a malfunction or perform a more thorough chamber check, pulling the charging handle all the way back is recommended.

In conclusion, the charging handle is a critical component of the AR-15, allowing users to manually operate the firearm and perform various functions such as loading, unloading, or clearing malfunctions. Understanding its purpose and mechanics is essential for any AR-15 owner or enthusiast. Whether you choose a standard or extended charging handle, ensure it is compatible with your AR-15 setup and meets your specific needs.

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