Best AR-10 Charging Handles of 2020 – Complete Buyer’s Guide

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The AR is one of America’s favorite sporting guns and though the AR means “ArmaLite” (a weapon manufacturer), the AR might as well stand for “America’s Rifle”.

Unlike their counterparts, AR-10 began its second life as an extremely successful .308 sporting rifle, specifically intended for those AR-platform enthusiasts wanting that long reach and that more powerful punch than the .223/5.56 NATO in the standard AR-15.

In this review, we’ll be covering some of the top charging handles for the AR-10. We have some great models we can’t wait to show you, so let’s get started!

Comparison Chart of the Best AR-10 Charging Handles

PRODUCTDETAILS
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Radian Weapons AR 308 Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle

  • Ambidextrous Charging Handle for Easy Use
  • Use Palm Blading or Thumb to Charge the Weapon
  • Made in U.S.A. from Aircraft Grade Aluminum
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Geissele Super Charging Handle

  • Available in Black or DDC (Bronze)
  • Top-quality 7075-T6 Aluminum construction
  • Excellent fitment
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Badger Ordnance .308 AR Gen 3 Ambidextrous Charging Handle

  • Ambidextrous Design
  • Durable matte black finish
  • Oversized design for easier manipulation
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Phase 5 Tactical 308 Ambi Charging Handle Assembly

  • Fits all 308 Platforms Similar to AR-10
  • Meticulously Designed With Great Attention to Detail
  • Good Grip and Prevents your Fingers from Snapping
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PSA PA10 .308 Charging Handle

  • Made from quality 6061 Aluminum
  • Very compatible - Used in many home builds
  • Tough non-reflective matte black finish
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What is a Charging Handle?

The charging-cocking handle, as it's name says, charges or loads the rifle, making it a vitally important part.

A charging handle helps feed the first round from the magazine when the shooter pulls the bolt (the bolt and bolt carrier in an AR case) to the rear enabling cocking the hammer by moving it in the ready position.

It also ejects unfired rounds from the chamber and ensures that there are no malfunctions such as jamming, double feed, or misfires.

Phase 5 Tactical 308 Ambi Charging Handle Assembly (Source)

In firearms equipped with a particularly desirable function, known as a last-round-hold-open feature, a bolt is locked to the rear after firing the last round.

​When the charging handle releases it, we insert a fresh magazine into the gun and press the bolt release lever.

Therefore, a cocking handle is not just an unremarkable slender, rod-shaped object, but this long piece of T-shaped metal is one of the most important AR rifle parts that help you in extremely critical situations.

The charging handles can be reciprocating or non-reciprocating. Unlike the AK-pattern rifles, FALs and SCARs, as well as AR-10/15s feature non-reciprocating charging handle (NRCH) with all the advantages and disadvantages.

Is the Charging Handle the Same on an AR-10 as it is on an AR-15?

While both the AR-15 and AR-10 have a lot of interchangeable parts, the charging handles are specifically built for .223/5.56 and .308, so these parts are non-compatible between the AR-15 and AR-10.

AR-10 vs AR-15 Charging Handle (Source)

Since the modern AR-10s are all really just scaled up versions of the AR-15’s, the AR patterned .308 charging handles have the same shape but are longer than its smaller counterpart (the AR15 / M16 / M4).

For instance, a Genuine Armalite AR-10 charging handle measures out at exactly 8" tip-to-tip compared to the BCM Gunfighter 5.56 CH, which measures out at 6 13/16" long.

Quick Take - The Best AR-10 Charging Handles

Reviews of the Best AR-10 Charging Handles

Now we’re going to switch gears and take a look at some of the top charging handles that made our list. Here, we’ll be taking a look at each product’s main features, then covering their pros and cons.

Pros

  • Aircraft Grade 7075 Aluminum
  • Rapid and fluid weapon charges
  • Extended latch for positive engagement
  • For .308 Win. / 7.62 NATO AR-10 pattern rifles

Cons

  • Not for all .308 AR platform rifles
  • Almost twice expensive than other handles

What Recent Buyers Report 

A lot of new users were pretty impressed with the charging handle. A good number of them were left-handed shooters that were looking for something that will give them better use of their AR-10 rifle. They found this charging handle to be much easier than the ones they have used in the past (and have struggled mightily with, due to it being for right-handed shooters). Overall, it allowed for smooth, reliable shooting and worked really well with most BCGs. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This charging handle is compatible with most AR-10 rifles and can cooperate with BCGs like nothing else. Plus, it’s made from 7075 aircraft-grade aluminum so you are dealing with one of the toughest charging handles on the block. This means that it will be hard - if not impossible - to damage through thousands of rounds. If you want a charging handle that will make shooting more smooth and reliable, this is the charging handle that will go the distance.

One of the best ambidextrous charging handles comes from Radian Weapons Company (formerly AXTS Weapons System).

Unlike its counterparts right-handed models with a lever that extends to the right side, the Raptor is constructed with double, heavy-duty serrated latches on either side of the handle, secured with the heavy-duty axis pins.

Moreover, Radian CH and latches are machined from 7075 aluminum, which is 70 percent stronger than the 6061 aluminum. However, it also increases the handle's price compared to competitions.

As we know, AR-10 function with more powerful ammunition, demanding more solid components capable of harsh treatment and manipulation.

The Radian Raptor is somewhat bigger than an original charging handle, but it features smoothly machined edges that reduce snags, and are easy on your hands. This CH gives AR-10 owners the ability to mount rifle scopes low and back on the receiver.

The Raptor ambidextrous charging handle is wide enough to allow you to perform a rapid palm blading, or finger thumb charges of the weapon like a true operator.

The extended charging handles sports two identical independent release levers, offering lots of space to grip even when your hands are wet or when wearing gloves.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be a great charging handle for left-handed shooters. But more importantly, it will work out nicely for those who want something that will allow for smooth, jam-free cycling that will be beneficial across many applications. If you are a competitive shooter or bearing down on a large whitetail deer, you want your performance to be dead-on and free from malfunction. This charging handle will come through in the clutch and help you get the job done. 

Bottom Line

The Radian Weapons AR 308 Raptor Ambidextrous Charging Handle will probably be your best friend when it comes to giving you excellent shooting ability. If you want your AR-10 to run like a well-oiled machine for years on down the road, it takes the right kind of accessories to make it happen. And it just might start with a charging handle. 

Overall, the ambidextrous design of the Radian Raptor charging handle provides a much more solid grip than a standard charging handle paired with a complete functionality on either side with twin latches.

Since the AR-10's parts are not interchangeable between brands, you should check whether you have the correct rifle for this product.

Pros

  • Great ergonomics
  • Lightweight at 1.68oz
  • Ultra smooth operation
  • Wide enough for ‘palm-blading’
  • Smooth beveled edges give it a premium feel

Cons

  • None

What Recent Buyers Report 

Most of the new users were happy with the charging handle’s ease of installation along with its durability. Considering that it’s lightweight a lot of new users say that it didn’t add on any additional overall weight to the rifle. Overall, they were satisfied with the charging handle’s reliability and the smooth cycling proved it with the test shots they’ve made at the range. One user said that he bought this just in time for a shooting competition and will never regret making the choice in buying this. He said that it saved him more time and frustration compared to his last charging handle. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This charging handle is a beast. And it’s great for shooters of either hand. It’s the kind of accessory that will make shooting a lot smoother and easier compared to charging handles that are considered “factory defaults”. It’s made from aircraft aluminum, which of course is pretty tough. It’s shockproof and very difficult to wear down. So, if you are looking for a charging handle that will last a pretty long time and handle lots of applications, this one might be exactly what you are looking for. Not only will this charging handle give you smooth shooting ability, but it goes beyond that by preventing any kind of gas blowback that may occur. You can say that it will save your face from taking on the clouds of smoke that you really don’t want to breathe in. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This charging handle will be perfect if you want something with excellent grip, smooth and reliable shooting cycles, and maybe a bit of gas blowback reduction. This charging handle is also one of the more affordable on the market. High-quality, reliable, and easy to install? At a price that you can afford, how can you possibly say no to that?

Bottom Line

The Geissele Super Charging Handle is tough, easy to install, and easy to use. Its simple design makes it a lot better for each shooter who wants to make the most out of their AR-10 rifles. For its quality and performance, it’s going for a price that you’ll swear is a steal of a lifetime. Take advantage of it while you can if you are looking for a charging handle on a budget. 

 Best AR-10 Charging Handle for the Money:
Badger Ordnance .308 AR Gen 3 Ambidextrous Charging Handle

Pros

  • Great for lefty shooters
  • Subtle but quality design
  • Fits a wide range of rifles
  • Easily fitted if it’s not quite right
  • Perfect amount of tension on the release springs

Cons

  • Does not fit a few rifles: DPMS Gen II most notably

What Recent Buyers Report 

A lot of new users were quite intrigued by the overall design. While it appeared to be oversized, it definitely gave the new users something to be happy about. Smooth, reliable shooting that didn’t allow for a single malfunction through 1000 rounds. One user said that he was able to install this on his rifle without having to worry about making any additional fitting adjustments. Installation for many users took a few minutes and the right kind of tools to pull it off. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

With a charging handle of that size, it stands out in the crowds compared to some other models on the market. The reason why it’s a bit bigger than others, it allows for you to easily manipulate your rifle so you can give it a better performance than compared to your old charging handle that tends to do a disappointing job. If you want better shooting that this is malfunction free while you can make some little adjustments along the way, this charging handle will give you free rein of doing so. 

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be a great charging handle for AR-10 users who have a bit of experience under their belts with using charging handles themselves. Since you might be able to make some manipulations, it might be a little confusing for a beginner until they learn how. Aside from that, this charging handle is like many others on the list - proven to be durable and long-lasting. But if you want one that will make firing your rifle a bit more interesting by making some on the fly changes, this could do you some good. 

Bottom Line

The Badger Ordnance 308 AR Gen 3 Ambidextrous Charging Handle might be a bit oversized compared to normal models. But it makes it a lot more fun to use. If you have an AR-10 and want to replace an old charging handle for something different, this one, in particular, might be a worthy replacement option. You probably won’t need to waste time trying to fit it before installing it. But if you have to, it won’t take you long. 

Pros

  • Equal stress distribution
  • Compatible with all .308 DPMS type rifles
  • Extended latch for easy manipulation in stressful situations
  • Rugged construction adds durability during long-term or extreme use
  • Ambidextrous handle and battle latch allow for easy hand or foot charging

Cons

  • Not compatible with Magpul PRS stock
  • The latch is a little long

What Recent Buyers Report 

A lot of new users were happy with the charging handle accommodating left-handed shooters (and right-handed shooters as well). On top of that, they were also impressed with the gripping ability that this charger had allowing for complete control over the handle and the rifle itself. One user said that the charging handle was in excellent working order and made cycling very smooth and free from malfunctions. He also added that it doesn’t wear or tear easily like some cheap charging handles that he regretfully used in the past.

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This charging handle is pretty dang rugged. And it has a gripping feature that will allow you to pull it back and push through for easier loading. It’s smooth moving and is almost impossible to wear it down in the long term. It’s going to be one of those charging handles that will stay consistent and work like new after many rounds and even many years of service. 

The oversized, ambidextrous charging handles are a response to increasing criticism on stock MIL-SPEC charging handles, as very inadequate for today’s AR’s. Phase 5 machined their Tactical charging handle from 6061 T6 hard anodized aluminum. That charging handle assembly combination with ambidextrous battle latch, features a true ambidexterity ideal for left-handed users of the AR-10 platform.

A Phase 5 Tactical has an unusual design, consisting of a large, oversized lever that extends to the right side of the latch which allows left-handed shooters to charge the weapon with their right hand. As an added bonus, much wider and extended levers help to clear the blockage and jams especially in the dark, or while on the move and with gloves on.

Phase 5 also integrated aggressive serrations located on the right side of the handle and oversized grooves on the battle latch for a solid, non-slip grip. The Phase 5 improved AMBI Charging Handle Assembly features a construction that is more rugged with its increased sidewall thickness and upgraded stainless coiled spring pin with an enlarged diameter, now measuring .1875-inch.

The Tactical .308 Phase 5 charging handle is specifically developed to be compatible with all .308 DPMS Gen 1 type platforms, but you can encounter problems if you use Magpul PRS stock since it’s cheek pad may obstruct the charging handle from fully cycling. Due to the extended length of the latch, it may be easily caught in other rifle parts or operators gear and broken off in these situations.

Who Will Use This Most 

This will be a great charging handle for both right-handed and left-handed shooters that want smooth charging and the ability to make every shot count without any jamming issues. That’s what you need in an AR-10 and you will get that with this charging handle in particular. This might be the go-to option for those who consider durability and longevity a priority in such an accessory. 

Bottom Line

The Phase 5 Weapon Systems Ambidextrous Charging Handle will is solid, easy to use, and will certainly make your AR-10 rifle stand out better than the rest. If you are looking for an upgrade or a charging handle to add to your current building project, you may want to consider this one a possible option. Especially if you want something that can handle the consistent back and forth movements while firing your rifle off. 

Many AR aficionados like the look and style of the Phase 5 Tactical .308 AR charging handle, with its right side pull latch and the lefty push in the lever, basically duplicates the grabbing surface areas of OEM charging handles.

Pros

  • Non-flashy design
  • Durable construction
  • Grips are comfortable
  • Great value for the money
  • Easy installation - very little fitting required if at all

Cons

  • Some prefer to have 7075 Aluminum construction

What Recent Buyers Report 

New buyers were satisfied with the charging handle for a few reasons. One, the durability. It’s tough, stout, and can handle consistent movements each time they fire their AR-10 rifles. Second, the installation process took a matter of minutes. Overall, they were happy with what they called the closest thing to a factory replacement. One user pointed out that if his factory default was like this, he wouldn’t have to replace it. 

Why it Stands Out to Us 

This charging handle is also another one of those on the market that are considered affordable for most budgets. And that’s what you can expect from something that is considered to be a factory replacement. But make no mistake about it, it’s tough, lightweight, and does exactly what a charging handle can do by providing a good amount of smooth shooting with no jams or malfunctioning. This charging handle can be yours if affordable and tough are your “deal makers”. 

Who Will Use This Most 

If you want something that is simple, durable, and easy to install for the purpose of better shooting and better overall functioning, this charging handle might just be what the doctor ordered. It’s the kind of charging handle that is the best you can find when it comes to factory replacement style handles. Nothing too complicated in the design, nor too difficult to use. Just install it and you are good to go. 

Bottom Line

The PSA PA10 .308 Charging Handle is perhaps the best you can find if you want something that can handle the heavy-duty shooting of an AR-10 without falling apart. It’s not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s affordable enough for you to put it to good use when some of the other charging handles are far out of reach financially. But you’re still getting something that is tough as nails and reliable enough to last you through so many shots.

Perks of Upgrading your AR-10 Charging Handle

Aside from AR-15 and AR-10 specificity, there are also differences inside .308 AR based platforms, such as the “Armalite-style” and the latter “DPMS-style” charging handle.  

So today, we have two primary options with several variations. Many of which do not share the interchangeability part that you see with the AR-15 platform, because the AR-10 has never passed through the standardization of parts that the AR15 / M16 / M4 has received.

Versatility

You should also know that durability of stock charging handle is good for casual shooting and for practice at the local firing range.

On the other side, higher volume shooters and tactical operators found that a basic Mil-Spec handle may not meet the challenge.

There are a few reasons for this. First, a standard OEM charging handle that comes with your rifle is without a doubt intended for the right-handed shooters and designed to use with the left hand acting in a support role.

In addition, you can upgrade a Mil-Spec handle with an ambidextrous charging handle, offering more benefits for both left and right-handed shooters due to the release lever, placed on both sides of the T.

Furthermore, the top-mounted rifle scopes are liable to obstruct the motion of your hand, meaning you may have difficulties to reach the charging handle while using a scope.

AR-10 A4 with Top Mount Scope (Source)

In addition, the factory charging handle often precludes attachment of most cheek rest types without stock modifications.

Ease of Use

Another flaw can be connected with current charging techniques implying that operators do that with one swift and strong movement using the support side hand only.

Extended AR charging handles featuring an enlarged extended latch are often preferred for use as a tactical cocking handle.

The larger surface area of the extended handle allows the operator to engage the charging handle with a gloved hand, or even to charge by foot if he is arm wounded.

Fortunately, the modular design of the AR-15 simplifies the task of replacing parts that enables you to upgrade a standard right-handed charging handle with improved aftermarket components. This features better size, angle, texture, and shape of the bolt latch itself.

Durability

There are plenty of good reasons to alter the stock charging handle. Upgraded handles are much sturdier and with a bigger grooved latch enabling you to easier cycle the one-handed bolt without binding it.

On top of that,  if you’re getting blowback through the charging handle like on AR's chambered in pistol or rimfire calibers, or if you are running a suppressor, there are specifically made charging handles with a ridge towards the back which act as a 'gas buster' to safely manage that inconvenience.

We completely agree that mastering how to use the charging handle is essential in operating your AR 308 rifle.

However, upgrading your charging handle will improve your rifle's performance, so we are offering the summary reviews of two of the best AR-10 charging handles currently on the market.

How to Replace the Charging Handle on an AR

However, the main advantage of upgrading the charging handles lies in the fact that they are relatively affordable, and one of the easiest parts to replace, this can be done during a common cleaning procedure.

Although disassembling and cleaning an AR is different than most traditional hunting rifles, the first step is the same: safety.

1. Safety

With rifle barrel pointed in a safe direction, remove the magazine, retract and lock the bolt to the rear while visually inspecting the chamber. Remove any ammunition that may not have been ejected. Then release the bolt.

2. Separate the Upper from the Lower Receiver

The following step means that you have to separate the upper from the lower receiver by pressing the rear takedown pin from left to right, as well as the one in the front. This is called the pivot pin. This will allow you to hinge the upper receiver, forward and up, and separate it from the lower receiver.

3. Remove the Charging Handle and Bolt Carrier Group

Now, slide the charging handle to the rear while pressing downwards; it will release from the upper and slide back together with a bolt carrier group.

4. Replacing the Charging Handle

Instead of inserting the OEM charging handle, you should insert a new charging handle of your choice accompanied with BCG.

5. Assembling the Upper and Lower Receiver

Lastly, you have to assemble both halves and secure them with pins.

Once you have assembled your AR, with a thumb on the back of the charging handle, unlock the handle pressing a latch with your index finger and cycle the action forcibly several times.

The movements that should be in line with the top centerline of the handle, are to check the functioning.

As a rule of thumb, you should avoid at all costs pulling up and twisting the charging handle as you cycle it.

Conclusion

The key word in upgrading a charging handle is ergonomics. The charging handle has passed a long way from the first prototypes where it was located under the carrying handle to the rear of the receiver on currently produced AR-10.

However, there are some AR fans opting for a side-charging upper to improve their rifle’s chargeability, but side-charging uppers on AR-10’s can be expensive, and they prevent the use of some standard parts.

In any case, an adequate aftermarket charging handle that matches the quality of your rifle will improve your shooting experience exponentially, making it an excellent investment for any .308 AR topped with a scope.

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