Ever had a charging handle fail? I did once. Emptied my mag and ducked around a corner for cover while I reloaded. My bolt dropped when I banged my rifle and when I went to pull my charging handle back after sticking in a new mag, it was jammed. I had to transition to a secondary weapon, but unfortunately I was never issued a sidearm. I am here today only because of a buddy being near me, so I know how important even something as commonly overlooked as a charging handle can be when it comes to depending on it for your life. Turns out someone else put a lot of thought into that same situation and came up with a solution.
She lies: Size does matter
Mech Armor Defense Systems Inc. sent us two of their ambidextrous charging handles to try out – one for the AR15 and the other for the AR10. Compared to standard charging handles, these things seem huge at first. The original TacOps-1 (not reviewed here) and the TacOps-1 for the AR10 are the same size – the T handle is really long, giving plenty of room on either side to let you charge your rifle no matter what optics you have mounted. After having gashed the hell out of my knuckle on my old charging handle on my AR10’s scope a week before testing these, the extra width of the T-Handle is extremely welcome. The TacOps-CQB for the AR15 is 1/2″ narrower in the T-Handle, which seems to fit the narrower rifle just fine and still gives plenty of grip space for charging with an optic mounted.
The handles are made in the USA, out of 7075 T6 Billet Aluminum – they are sturdy and I have no fear of either breaking with hard use. Even so, the small amount of increased weight over a stock handle was pretty insignificant. What’s neat about this handle is that they made it ambidextrous without any additional moving parts over the stock handle – added functionality without additional complication (as they say, Soldier Proof – sounds like they’ve had experience with my old unit ;))
There are a few changes though to add functionality – it uses a 42% larger roll pin than standard, with a 7lb spring to insure lockup even with heavy suppressor use, and the latch actually bottoms out against the inner section of the T-handle to eliminate stress from being applied to the roll pin, eliminating a common point of failure. And inside the spring for the latch is a little piece of brass that acts as a guide rod plug while keeping debris out of the spring – brass also self lubricates, which aids in proper operation as well.
The attention to the little details is pretty awesome here – Mech Armor Defense Systems Inc. really set out to design the perfect charging handle. When you need to rack your charging handle from just the left side, you hit an oversized lever; it’s big enough to make sure you hit it when you want to, but it doesn’t extend past the T-handle so it won’t catch on anything and the chance of the latch breaking is slim. Unlike my Badger Gen 1 latch I used to use, this one doesn’t try to rip my nipple off every time I sling my rifle – BONUS! But what about charging from the right side only, since this is an ambidextrous charging handle? It’s pretty neat – there’s a button in the rear of the handle that sticks out and while easy to hit when you want to, it still stays out of the way when you don’t. Just push it in with your thumb while you pull the lever and it’ll unlatch the handle for you. That center mounted release button allows a more natural mechanical advantage & straighter pull. Left side, right side, two finger, blade charging – this charging handle had no problems functioning.
Comfort – a bit of a disagreement
The T-handle on each is well designed for comfort. The right side has a little groove for your finger and the end hooks inward so your finger won’t slide off easily. Now this is where two of the Gun Guys disagree – Ryan doesn’t like the little hooked beak on the right side on the TacOps-CQB handle, saying it digs into his finger too much and will hurt during repetitive drills. He would like to see it slightly rounded instead. He does point out that the larger TacOps-1 version doesn’t have the same problem for him I, Alan, disagree and believe that Ryan is a bit of a cry baby (Note from Ryan: I know where you live, Alan) and I have no problems with it. If I was doing 20-30 malfunction drills in a row then maybe it’d start to hurt but Real World it is perfectly fine. I wouldn’t say no to having Mech Armor Defense rounded it slightly but I won’t be detracting any points for it. Your mileage may vary.
Our only other change that we’d like to see Mech Armor Defense Systems Inc. make would be to add some grip to the thumb button – a little bit of serration would be nice. The button works as is, but a little more grip instead of being smooth wouldn’t hurt.
For being cheaper than most other charging handles, and being better than most, these have become my favorite Charging Handles. Bye bye Badger latches, farewell Raptor and PRI Gas Buster. Helllllllllloooooo TacOps!
The company that makes these stands behind their product. It came about from real world combat experience, and they built these suckers to be used in real world combat, not just at the range as a gimmick. Their handle was independently endurance tested in 2010 by Colt Defense Inc. Continuous 10,000 rnd test w/zero failures. Not only do they offer a lifetime warranty (even if damaged during actual combat or LE operations – and we all know how FUBAR those can go) but the TacOps-1 are the only handles to be awarded the NTOA Gold Seal of Testing & Recommendation with an outstanding 5 out of 5 rating. Military special forces and SWAT teams trust their lives to this handle and I would too.
Fit and Finish: