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View Full Version : Best AR15 Side Charging Handle


Flux Capacitor
11-02-2009, 1:04 PM
I was going to buy an Alexander Arms side charging handle upper and bolt carrier. Are they pretty good or is there a better one for the buck?

Josh3239
11-02-2009, 1:19 PM
I prefer ASA's side charger. It is what I use and that is what Addax Tactical uses for their side charging GPUs. It is very pricey but very nice.

Features:
1) Nothing proprietary, however a small notch must be milled on the side of the carrier. ASA offers an upper with the notched carrier or no carrier.
2) Charging handle is not recipricating. It only serves to pull the carrier back as it fits into a groove on the upper receiver, the force of the carrier pushes the handle forward.
3) FAL style. It folds out of the way.
4) Left side. Left side charging handles are best for righty shooters. You don't have to release your master grip (hand on pistol grip) to charge the rifle.
5) Dust cover, this is the only model I know of that utilizes a dust cover.
6) Billet material. It looks pretty slick.
7) Disassembly. Very easy the charging handle assembly can be removed easily and the dust cover assembly can be removed though it looks to be a bit difficult. Instead of one of those clips that sit on the ejection rod the receiver is closed on that end. It can only be removed by moving it forward which I suppose is a plus because as long as your barrel is on there is zero possibly way for the dust cover to work itself loose (not that I have ever heard of such a thing happening anyways).

http://www.americanspiritarms.com/products/ASA_AR_15_M4_Side_Charger_Upper_Receiver-38-4.html
http://www.americanspiritarms.com/images/products/asa-ur-ftsc.jpg

Jpach
11-02-2009, 1:26 PM
^^^^+1

Ive never actually used the ASA upper on a live/full gun but i have handled the receiver itself and its pretty awesome. I have played with a FAL and I do like how the charging handle is. Im definitely getting one of these some day. Im hoping Iron Ridge Arms makes their .308 upper with the side charging handle like this

evollep3
11-02-2009, 2:52 PM
one thing from what i understand and Chris can later chime in on this is that you have use a modified bolt catch. i been looking to pick one within the next week or so

CHS
11-02-2009, 2:57 PM
http://www.americanspiritarms.com/products/ASA_AR_15_M4_Side_Charger_Upper_Receiver-38-4.html
http://www.americanspiritarms.com/images/products/asa-ur-ftsc.jpg

Since it sounds like you have one already, can you tell me what the plug is up at the top? Obviously, it's in place where there would normally be a standard charging handle, but if it's a dedicated upper, why is there a plug there? Shouldn't the upper just be machined without the hole entirely? Is the plug removable at all? Are there any accessories that utilize it?



Edit: Nevermind. I'm dumb. I just realized you would have to remove that in order to pull the bolt out... *DOH*

Josh3239
11-02-2009, 4:01 PM
one thing from what i understand and Chris can later chime in on this is that you have use a modified bolt catch. i been looking to pick one within the next week or so

I doesn't really obstruct the charging handle but you will have to lightly push the handle forward which is what ASA actually tells its customers. I did that for a while until I got the EBR bolt catch. Chris just uses a mill and cuts of a couple mm's off the top. What I did with the EBR bolt catch was I took a sanding wheel on a dremel to the top and shaved it down till it no longer made contact with the charging handle.


Since it sounds like you have one already, can you tell me what the plug is up at the top? Obviously, it's in place where there would normally be a standard charging handle, but if it's a dedicated upper, why is there a plug there? Shouldn't the upper just be machined without the hole entirely? Is the plug removable at all? Are there any accessories that utilize it?



Edit: Nevermind. I'm dumb. I just realized you would have to remove that in order to pull the bolt out... *DOH*

The plug swings out of the way. When connected to a lower, the buffer tube tower holds it in place.

CHS
11-02-2009, 5:14 PM
I doesn't really obstruct the charging handle but you will have to lightly push the handle forward which is what ASA actually tells its customers. I did that for a while until I got the EBR bolt catch. Chris just uses a mill and cuts of a couple mm's off the top. What I did with the EBR bolt catch was I took a sanding wheel on a dremel to the top and shaved it down till it no longer made contact with the charging handle.


Links!! LINKS!!! EBR catch?

Sounds like an easy enough job for an end-mill though.


The plug swings out of the way. When connected to a lower, the buffer tube tower holds it in place.

Yeah, that makes sense. So is it held in place by any friction at all, or could it just fall out and get lost if you're not careful when splitting the upper from the lower?

DarkHorse
11-02-2009, 5:20 PM
Links!! LINKS!!! EBR catch?



http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=172429

Somebody else makes a different version as well.

Stork
11-03-2009, 12:40 PM
Why would anybody put a folding charging handle on a gun? When I want my gun up and running I do not want to fumble with that. Is it even an issue? Not sure if I like that part, but other than that I WANT ONE!!! This might take place of buying a 1911 come tax season.

CHS
11-03-2009, 12:44 PM
Why would anybody put a folding charging handle on a gun? When I want my gun up and running I do not want to fumble with that. Is it even an issue? Not sure if I like that part, but other than that I WANT ONE!!! This might take place of buying a 1911 come tax season.

The handle unfolds when you grab it for charging. It's basically automatic.

Stork
11-03-2009, 8:14 PM
ya but how automatic? I just see it being a problem when clearing stoppages and then getting the gun back up and going as fast as possible. Plus one should train to use over emphasized movements to operate the bolt and not one's fingers to flip it open unless its a target rifle. I also wonder about gloves in the winter. I guess I'd rather see a knob to keep things simple. Plus, there is less stuff to break. Anybody want to buy me one and see if its Marine Proof?:cool2:

Josh3239
11-03-2009, 8:37 PM
Why would anybody put a folding charging handle on a gun? When I want my gun up and running I do not want to fumble with that. Is it even an issue? Not sure if I like that part, but other than that I WANT ONE!!! This might take place of buying a 1911 come tax season.

Why would some one want a folding charging handle or a side charging handle? IMO the side charging is much nicer. The reason it folds down is because the handle is non recipricating also it makes if less likely to snag on something. Fumbling? It is less work than hitting a forward assist or charging a "standard" AR. If it is such a big deal you can just leave it open.

I just see it being a problem when clearing stoppages and then getting the gun back up and going as fast as possible. Plus one should train to use over emphasized movements to operate the bolt and not one's fingers to flip it open unless its a target rifle. I also wonder about gloves in the winter. I guess I'd rather see a knob to keep things simple. Plus, there is less stuff to break. Anybody want to buy me one and see if its Marine Proof?:cool2:

It is faster to clear stoppages with the side folder in my experience. Getting your face out of the way and making a big change in handle placement on a "standard" AR is much tougher if you ask me. Gloves I am not sure, the handle is fairly small. I suppose if you have big hands and wear thick gloves it could be a bit of a pain.



Yeah, that makes sense. So is it held in place by any friction at all, or could it just fall out and get lost if you're not careful when splitting the upper from the lower?

A roll pin holds it in place. Without an upper their is no friction holding it from swiveling in and out of place. I suppose the word "door" would be more accurate to describe it.

Links!! LINKS!!! EBR catch?

Sounds like an easy enough job for an end-mill though.

Much pricier than the BAD but much better if you ask me.

www.phase5tactical.com
http://www.phase5tactical.com/g_products/images/ebr/prod.ebrv2.3.1.jpg

Stork
11-03-2009, 10:44 PM
I understand why the side charging would be so nice, and I'd love to have one. This is something I want really bad despite my criticism of the folding handle. I would probably end up just modding it to my liking if the folding got to me. Seems like this plus a gas system would make the perfect AR.

Josh3289, Do you have any pics of yours? I'd like a better view of the handle and maybe one of the BCG.

Addax
11-04-2009, 8:34 AM
Middle and Bottom uppers are 6.8 Side Charging Gas Piston Uppers we just built.

We love the Side Charging Uppers from ASA, and we have plans to build many more DI and Piston Uppers with this upper.

http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc137/addax/368ATACGPUs-1.jpg

Top View of one of the Side Charging 6.8 GPU's

http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc137/addax/SideChargingATAC1.jpg




Our new Competition Elite Side Charging Upper we are releasing this month.

http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc137/addax/addaxcompetitionelite3.jpg

Addax
11-04-2009, 8:39 AM
one thing from what i understand and Chris can later chime in on this is that you have use a modified bolt catch. i been looking to pick one within the next week or so

Yup. This way if you leave the charging handle in the rearward most position with the bolt open and locked, you will not nip the tip of your thumb or finger when you release the bolt catch to let the bolt and handle fly forward.

Takes only a few minutes with a mill to modify a bolt catch, just need to nip off the top end of one.

You can use a grinder if you do not have access to a mill.

I will take some pics today of one I just modified and post them here.

Addax
11-04-2009, 11:13 AM
one thing from what i understand and Chris can later chime in on this is that you have use a modified bolt catch. i been looking to pick one within the next week or so

Here is the modified bolt catch.

We supply one with every Side Charging Upper we build.

http://i216.photobucket.com/albums/cc137/addax/Modifiedboltcatch.jpg

Josh3239
11-04-2009, 1:13 PM
Seems like this plus a gas system would make the perfect AR.

Not sure what you mean by gas system, maybe gas piston? Direct impingment is the gas system of an AR. I am not a fan of gas pistons, as far as the receiver goes you'll need to do a lot of milling since the piston is much larger than a gas tube.

IMO, this plus a DI makes the perfect AR but that is just my opinion. Just get a good bolt.

Also, request M4 feedramps. They now offer this, when I got mine they didn't offer this and I ended up with rifle feedramps. Not bad, just enhanced feedramps seem to help feeding for short barreled carbines.

Josh3289, Do you have any pics of yours? I'd like a better view of the handle and maybe one of the BCG.

I have taken all my pictures down. This one looks very similiar to mine:

http://i185.photobucket.com/albums/x210/proud2pak/sidechargerLH.jpg

Carrier:

http://img262.imageshack.us/img262/7349/p1030939i.jpg

XDshooter
10-13-2011, 12:32 AM
Bringing this back for a question.

Anyone using this notice any gas blowing through the cutout into your face? (Right-handed shooter).

Thanks

slick_711
10-13-2011, 12:58 AM
Bringing this back for a question.

Anyone using this notice any gas blowing through the cutout into your face? (Right-handed shooter).

Thanks

Just where are you putting your face while you shoot? :confused:

I've always preferred an offhand/side charging handle, but never had an AR setup that way. I guess one of my next few uppers will have to be a side charger. Maybe an 8" side charger in .300AAC-BO with a switchblock... :43: Now there's one hell of an idea if it would function as well as I'm thinking.