The M16 carry handle is a classic and useful feature for your M16 or similar modern sporting rifle.
While it may seem a bit too old-school, there are serious benefits to having one.
Check out our guide to the best M16 carry handles on the market today.
Comparison Chart of the Best M16 Carry Handles
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Do You Need a Carry Handle?
Whether you need a carry handle or not depends on what kind of rifle you are going for. The carry handle is not the most popular option in a world of flat top rail sporting rifles and reflex sights. Ironically, the main purpose of the carry handle is not to let you carry your rifle around like a briefcase.
Rather, it gives you an unbeatable rear aperture sight. Other components can be mounted on top of a carry handle, but it makes more sense to switch the handle out for another sight if that is your goal.
Benefits of Having a Carry Handle
There are a few major benefits to having a carry handle. First, today, the nice thing about having a carry handle on any A2 and later style rifle is that they can be switched out for any other top rail component that you could want. Aperture sights are the most reliable sighting option out there, which is why they are often used as a backup option for more modern but less reliable sighting options.
A carry handle gives you the most reliable form of rear sight possible. The long mounting surface covers a lot of rail, but it gives you an unbeatable secure mount. This helps to ensure that your sight will hold zero no matter what. Aesthetics can be another legitimate reason to get a carry handle. The classic, mid-20th-Century look appeals to many shooters. There are reasons that this configuration has long been mil-spec.
How We Define ‘Best’ - What Makes a Great M16 Carry Handle?
It bears repeating that the first way to ensure that you have the best carry handle is to go with a proven model from a well-established, reputable manufacturer. This is true for most firearms components, and no less so for carry handles. Carry handles come in a few materials. The best is 7075-T6 aluminum alloy.
This gives you an excellent amount of strength with a relatively low weight. This is what mil-spec carry handles are made of. Steel and polymer options also exist and can be good.
However, the aluminum alloy will respond to changes in heat and so on in an identical way to your upper receiver, helping to maintain the zero of your rear sight. Besides these factors, the fit and finish of a carry handle should be excellent and come at a reasonable price.
Review of the Best M16 Carry Handles
All things considered, here is our list of the best M16 carry handles on the market today. No matter what exactly you're looking for, there is an outstanding option here for you.
DPMS - AR-15 Carry Handle
DPMS had its beginnings as a government contract supplier of small arms components to the US Army in 1985. Since then the company has branched out to become one of the top three producers of M16-type weapons in this fair nation. Based in the great state of Minnesota, DPMS boasts of the high number of veterans among its ranks. It also sponsors many of the top competitive marksmen.
The model in question is a standard carry handle that meets military specifications. That means that its rear sight is 0.835 inches above the bore. You will need to get an F-marked front sight to match it with. Even though this model is built from an aluminum alloy, the A2 rear sight is completely constructed of steel components.
The finish of the sight module is colored gray, which contrasts with the rest of the unit. DPMS has finished this carry handle with a combination of practically every gun finish known to man. The unit is parkerized, finished in Teflon and hard coat anodized. This model weighs in at a handy nine ounces and is seven inches in length.
DPMS has gone with a clamping bar that extends for the handle’s entire length for extra-solid mounting. Two beefy, positive thumb nuts let you easily attach and remove the unit with your zero remaining true.
Any weapon that has a Picatinny or 1913-style rail can be used with this carry handle. DPMS has put together an outstanding quality component. It is very tough to outdo in the competitive field of M4/M16-style carry handles.
This is a very tough option to beat. The company has been around in the game for ages and is as reliable as they come. The best qualities of this carry handle are its top range rear sight and full-length clamping bar.
Best for the Money:
Command Arms Removable Carry Handle
Command Arms was founded in 2004. It may not be an American company, but it is located in Israel, one of our closest allies. If there is one country that takes zero chances with its military equipment, that country is Israel. Command Arms is owned by a special forces veteran and supplies equipment for those same forces. This is a detachable carry handle for the M4 pattern of AR-style rifles.
It features a full length, high-quality locking plate. It fits seamlessly into a Picatinny top rail, giving a rock-solid secure mount. This helps to guarantee that you have the most reliably accurate rear sight possible. Thumb nuts give you an easy way to ensure retention or quickly remove the carry handle.
The rear sight is in the A2 style. It is fully adjustable for windage and elevation with positive click feedback. This carry handle is machined from an aluminum alloy which is finished in a matte black. It requires no gunsmithing and weighs 9.17 ounces. This is one of the most solid options out there.
If you don't mind buying foreign, this is a very good option. The top features of this carry handle are the full-length locking plate and the overall design and construction. This is the perfect option for combat deployment or any really tough treatment.
3. JE Machine Tech AR-15 A2 Detachable Aluminum Carry Handle
JE Machine Tech is located in Cucamonga, California. JE draws on over 15 years of experience in the firearms field, specializing in design, research and development, and the manufacture of aluminum, other alloys and polymers. All of their products are designed and made in the USA. This model fits practically any modern sporting rifle with a Picatinny top rail. It gives your rifle that classic, mid-20th-Century military look.
The outstanding rear sight integrated into this carry handle is legal for use in CMP Service Rifle competitions. The full length of rail attachment ensures that the grip of the carry handle on your upper rail is outstanding. Not only will the handle itself not go anywhere, but also your rear sight will hold true better than almost any other option out there.
The thumb nuts holding the carry handle to your top rail match the windage and elevation knobs on the rear sight for a practical, classic military style design. This is a great option using the best materials and an outstanding design.
This is a very well engineered and well-constructed carry handle. It is on our list for a reason, shooter satisfaction is through the roof with this unit. The best features are the full-length rail attachment and the broad compatibility. If you think this is a tough option to beat in the market today, you are right.
4. A2 Detachable Carry Handle
Here we’ve got a great company, Aero Precision, that is based in Tacoma, Washington. The company focuses its business on producing aluminum parts for the defense aircraft industry. Aero Precision has ventured into producing rifle components thanks to the passion their staff has for shooting. You are probably thinking to yourself, why isn't the top Colt carry handle a product of the Colt company.
The truth hurts. Believe me, you will get a massively greater bang for your buck with this unit. Aero Precision enjoys an unbeatable reputation. This is evinced in their top of the range anodization process and in the precise tolerances of the accessories and parts they make. This detachable carry handle has been built from top quality 7075-T6 aluminum alloy, in adherence with military specifications.
The 7075-T6 alloy is stronger and longer lasting than the formerly ubiquitous 6061-T6 alloy which the industry used to use. As with other products from Aero Precision's, this model features unsurpassed military-style hard coat anodizing process. The rear sight is A2-style and adjustable for elevation and windage.
It also features two aperture sight sizes. This mil-spec feature lets you shoot with the greatest accuracy when shooting both close shots and at further distances. The wide range of compatibility is one of this unit's top features. This carry handle can be used with a vast array of today's black rifles. At 8.96 ounces, its weight is typical if a bit low.
The best features of this unit from Aero Precision are the solid materials and the well-engineered rear sight. This is a fantastic choice at a great price.
5. PSA Mil-Spec Carry Handle
Palmetto State Armory is the perfect option for any modern sporting rifle part or accessory. Ranking among the nation's leading weapons retailers, PSA has a vast wealth of market information on what shooters want, what does the job and what holds up best in the long-term.
PSA uses this info to market many of their own parts and accessories, especially in the modern sporting rifle field. When you choose PSA, you can sleep easy knowing that you are buying parts or accessories made in the USA from a domestically based firm.
Shoot approval of PSA firearm parts is unusually high, even though the costs are relatively low. This is a mil-spec carry handle, so make sure that you match it with a suitable front sight. You will need a taller, F-marked one. This carry handle is CNC cut from forged 7075-T6 aluminum, which is standard for today's black rifles.
PSA has included all the tiny details that you should expect. These include staked thumb screws, an A2 aperture and 6/3 windage drums. There is actually no PSA brand name or logo on the carry handle, only a square forge mark. This unit works perfectly with M16A4, M4A1 and AR-15 rifles and many more.
Palmetto State Armory is always a no-brainer option for today's black rifle components. The best features of this carry handle are the standard, mil-spec features like the A4 aperture. Another big plus is the fair price. The ability to mount it on nearly any flat-topped rifle make this a versatile option.
There aren't so many options for carry handles on the market today, but there are enough to make choosing one a laborious process. Luckily, no matter what you need, there is something in our list of the best M16 carry handles for you.