Did you know that there are different types of charging handles for an AR-15 rifle?
The most common type is the standard, or “latched” handle. This design has been around since the early days of the M16, and it works well in many situations.
Yet, suppose you want to change out the stock latch on an existing weapon. This can be difficult because they have become very well integrated into the receiver itself.
That’s where latchless charging handles come in. But why are latchless handles much better for some than latched handles? Let’s take a closer look at the differences between latched and latchless charging handles.
What Is a Latchless Charging Handle?
A latch is a mechanism that holds your firearm in place when you are not using it. A latch can be either mechanical or electronic. Further, they both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Mechanical latches need some manual action to release them from the gun’s receiver. Electronic latches do away with this need by releasing themselves. This action occurs as soon as the trigger’s pulled.
How Do Latchless Charging Handles Work?
Latches come in internal and external varieties. Internal mechanisms sit inside the barrel. External ones mount to the top of the receiver.
External latching systems allow easier access to the interior components of the rifle. You can do so without having to remove the entire upper assembly.
Yet, these handles make the rifles more difficult to field the strip. And that’s because of how much force one needs to pull off the pins holding the bolt carrier group together.
Latches classify into three categories. These categories compare whether they use springs, levers, or magnets. Spring-based designs rely on spring tension to hold the BCG in position.
Lever-type devices make use of a lever attached to one end of the bolt carrier group pin. In turn, that engages a detent at the other end. The position stays until a manual release occurs.
Magnetic-actuated locks work in a similar way to those found on safes. Instead of relying on metal parts to keep it locked, magnetic forces lock and unlock the device.
All three methods offer different benefits and drawbacks. And, these benefits and drawbacks depending on what type of shooter you are looking to serve.
Semi-automatic shooters may find magnetic-actuated locking bolts give better control. Yet, for engaging targets at speed, some appreciate the speed of spring-loaded pins.
Latch vs Latchless Charging
A latching system requires an extra step before firing. It would help if you pulled back on the charging handle until it releases itself into the battery position.
Suppose you need to fire fast. You may find yourself having to fumble around for the charging handle instead of the trigger. This extra movement takes time and effort.
Yet, a latch-free design allows you to press down on the charging handle. And, you can do so without worrying whether it will stay put.
The Benefit of a Latchless Charging Handle
The advantage of an automatic latch is that there is no chance for human error. Yet, suppose something goes wrong with the electronics.
The weapon will still need disassembling before having a service. That means that you must also repair any damage done during servicing.
The best way to determine which latch style would suit your needs is to try each method yourself. You should always test all the features of a new system first before committing to buying it.
Most Popular Charging Handles
The most popular type of charging handles today are those found on AR15 rifles. These designs consist of two parts. One part slides up and over the barrel while another part rotates 90 degrees.
It then locks onto the upper of the receiver. Latchless charging handles come in many different styles, but all share one common feature. That is, they allow you to charge the weapon without removing it from its holster.
Here are some different latchless AR charging handles.
Strike Industries Phantom Latchless
The Strike Industries Phantom Latchless, one most popular Strike Latchless Charging Handles, is an ambidextrous pistol grip. It allows for easy access to both sides of the firearm without removing it from its holster. The Phantom also features a unique design with no exposed screws or rivets.
This lack of rivets makes this product very durable. It comprises a high-quality polymer material. That means it will not deteriorate over time.
Here are its features:
- Pistol grip design
- No screws or rivets exposed
- Made out of a high-quality polymer material
- Includes two magazines
- It fits all standard size pistols
- Compatible with most aftermarket parts including (but not limited to):
– Barrel extension kits
– Extended magazine pockets
– Other accessories
- Easy installation instructions included
- Lifetime warranty
The Strike Industries Phantom Latchless is the go-to latchless charging handle of choice for many. With that many features, it’s no surprise it’s so popular!
Magpul Latchless Charging Handles
The Magpul range is unique in its design for use with the Ruger 10/22 rifle platform. Its modularity provides shooters with many options for gripping the handle and mounting accessories. These include optics, lights, lasers, grips, and forends.
The MPRS comes complete with a standard Picatinny rail mount. This rail mount allows users to attach after-market sights such as scopes or lasers.
Here are its features:
- Modular rail mount system for increased flexibility in options
- Standard Picatinny rail mount makes it easy to attach third-party accessories
- Made from a durable, compact compound that makes it impact-resistant
- Includes two 30-round magazines
- Easy installation instructions provided
- Lifetime warranty
The Magpul PRS latchless is one of the best around for supporting third-party extras. That’s thanks to its Picatinny rail, which won’t leave you disappointed!
Blackhawk Latchless Charging Handles
This Blackhawk Latchless Charging Handle provides full control when drawing your handgun. Its design is for use with either right-handed or left-handed pistols. Installing the charger is easy for anyone who knows how to install a magazine well plate.
Once installed, there is nothing else required to draw your gun. Push forward on the charging handle and release.
There is no more fumbling through pockets looking for the mag release button. All you need to do is grab your gun and go.
Here are its features:
- Engineered for use with either right-handed or left-handed guns
- Easy to install by anyone who knows how to install a magazine well plate
- No need to remove your gun from the holster when charging
- Quickdraw feature lets you grab your weapon without touching the trigger
- Total adjustability for both width and height
- The lightweight aluminum body makes it very light to carry
For many, the Blackhawk latchless charging handle is the best option. That’s because it does not need you to pull up on the trigger to get your weapon ready.
Instead, press down on the charging handle and let go. Once released, the striker fires by itself.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Latchless Charging Handle
When choosing between different types of latching handles, there are many factors to consider. Let’s take a look at what goes into choosing a latchless charging handle:
Some people prefer lighter-weight products. Others like heavier ones that are easier to manipulate during rapid-fire situations.
If you have limited space available, choose one that fits within those constraints.
Choose something made from high-quality material. That way, they will last longer than cheaper alternatives.
Some manufacturers may offer lower prices. Yet, make sure their product meets all your needs first.
Make sure the manufacturer offers installation instructions if needed. Also, check out reviews online. See what other customers think about this particular model.
Does the company sell extra holsters, magazines, or cleaning kits? These things could come in handy at times.
Look into whether the company uses third-party testing labs. There’s nothing wrong with aftermarket as long as testing happens to ensure the safety of its products.
Most companies offer lifetime warranties on their products. So you won’t need to worry about replacing them after buying. Yet make sure you read any fine print about exclusions.
Buy Latchless Charging Handles Today
Now you’re armed with all the information you need to shop charging handles. So whatever your reason, know that latchless charging handles are the convenient solution.
They go a long way in giving you a seamless shooting experience! And whichever brand you choose, you’ll be sure to improve your shooting game in no time at all!
In particular, latchless charging handles are one of the best upgrades you never knew you needed.
Keep reading our blog for more content that hits the target!