Best M4 Carry Handles of 2022 – Read Before Buying

| Last Updated: April 7, 2022

The top-mounted carry handle is part of the iconic look of Vietnam-era and other early model M4 rifles. If you’ve ever seen any war or action movies set in that era, you’re definitely familiar with the look. While that attachment doubles well as a carry handle, it actually wasn’t designed as a handle. That carry handle was designed as a raised rear sight and any carrying advantage was just a byproduct of that design.

A raised sight was necessary because of the way the M16, the predecessor of the M4, was designed. With modern day slings and other attachments, the need for a carry handle is greatly reduced. However, some shooters going for a vintage look on their M4 might still want to add one to their setup.

Check out the best M4 carry handles on the market today down below.

Comparison Chart of the Best M4 Carry Handles

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Excellent quality mil-spec rear sight with a gray Teflon finish
  • Classic aluminum construction with the best in durable finishes
  • Full-length clamping bar gives you attachment with unsurpassed reliability
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  • Designed and manufactured right here in the USA
  • Machined from tough, high-grade forged 7075-T6 aluminum alloy
  • Includes staked thumb screws, an A2 aperture, and 6/3 windage drums
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  • Compatible with nearly any modern sporting rifle
  • A2 sight has two apertures and adjusts for windage and elevation
  • Top quality 7075-T6 aluminum alloy and the best hardcoat anodization
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  • Mounts to any modern sporting rifle with a Picatinny rail
  • Comes with HJ-Tac's torture testing and satisfaction guarantee
  • Comes with two aperture sizes for better close-range and long-range shooting
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What to Watch For When Buying an M4 Carry Handle

Due to a lower level of demand, there aren’t a huge amount of different M4 carry handles available these days. However, there are still a few options for those that are in the market for one. Despite there being fewer choices, it is still important to keep an eye out for a few things.

The lower number of options can actually allow for the chance to consider each option more closely without being overwhelmed by a multitude of choices. Knowing what to look for is even more important when there are fewer options to be had. The tips and information below should be a good place to start your M4 carry handle shopping mission!

This Section Written By: Brian Belko

Expert Author

Brian Belko: Gunmann Author

Brian is an experienced freelance writer and technical writer who has previously written for publications such as Wide Open Spaces, Bigfoot Gun Belts, Alien Gear Holsters, and Kampgrounds of America. He brings both a passion for writing and a love of the outdoors to his published content.

Aside from writing and the outdoors, Brian enjoys gardening, being a co-host on The Nostalgia Blast Podcast, and learning to code.

Mil-Spec vs. Commercial

One defining feature of any M4 carry handle on the market today will be whether it is a mil-spec or commercial model. The main difference between the two is the distance between the top of the base to the bottom of the rear sight. On a mil-spec model, this distance is 0.835 inches. On a commercial model, this distance is 0.795 inches. Regardless of which one you decide to go with, you will have to make sure the height will be able to match up with your front sight. The rear sight in a carry handle will typically feature a pair of apertures as well as standard adjustment dials for fine-tuning the sight.

Palmetto State Armory Carry Handle (lol)

Don’t Carry On

Yes, M4 carry handles imply they are a tool for carrying a rifle. It’s in the name itself. However, they really shouldn’t be considered as an ideal way to transport or move your rifle. This isn’t a briefcase full of documents or some luggage packed to the brim for a trip we are talking about here. We are talking about a firearm and when it comes to firearms, safety should always be the number one priority.

You can’t exactly achieve good barrel control when using a carry handle not to mention how goofy it looks to hold a rifle that way. Are there scenarios where using a carry handle to move or hold a rifle makes sense? Of course. Just try not to make a habit of it and only use it as a handle when necessary.

Key Features

Strength, mounting, and weight are all important things to consider in an M4 carry handle. Most will easily mount to existing mounting rails on your rifle, but always make sure to check that. Aluminum is a good material to look for as it is both lightweight and strong.

Review of the Best M4 Carry Handles

There aren’t as many options out there as for most other M4 components, but picking the best M4 carry handle can still be tricky. Here is our list of the best options out there.

Best Overall

DPMS Carry Handle

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DPMS started out in 1985 as a government contractor providing rifle parts to the U.S. military. Today they have expanded into the second largest manufacturer of AR-15-style rifles in the U.S.A. This Minnesota company employs many veterans and supports some of the best competition shooters.

This is a mil-spec carry handle, meaning the rear sight height is 0.835 inches and needs to be paired with an F-marked front sight. Although the carry handle is made of aluminum, the A2-style rear sight has all steel parts. The rear sight assembly is finished in gray, in contrast with the black carry handle.

The carry handle finish seems to have a bit of everything. It is hard coat anodized, Teflon-coated, and Parkerized. It is seven inches long and weighs nine ounces. One nice touch with this carry handle is the full-length clamping bar.

Two large, ergonomic thumb nuts give you easy attachment and removal with a reliable zero. This carry handle fits all rifles with a Picatinny rail. This is an excellent quality option which is very hard to beat in the small market for M4 carry handles.

Bottom Line

This is a very hard carry handle to beat. The manufacturer has been around a long time and is as reliable as any. The top features of this carry handle are the full-length clamping bar and the high-quality rear sight.

Pros

Standard Aluminum Build With the Best in Durable Finishes

Comes With a Top-Quality, Mil-Spec Rear Sight With a Gray Teflon Finish

The Full-Length Clamping Bar Gives You Attachment With Unsurpassed Reliability and Accuracy

Cons

Occasional Lapses in Quality Control

2. Palmetto State Armory Carry Handle

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Palmetto State Armory is a great choice for any modern sporting rifle component. As one of the nation’s top firearm retailers, they have a wealth of sales data on what people want and what works most reliably. They use this data to produce many of their own components, particularly in the black rifle field.

Going with Palmetto State Armory, you get the satisfaction of buying components made in the U.S.A. from a domestic company. User satisfaction with PSA components is very high, despite their relative affordability. This is a mil-spec carry handle, so be sure to match it with a corresponding front sight, one that is taller and F-marked.

This carry handle is machined from forged 7075-T6 aluminum, standard for modern sporting rifles. PSA has thrown in all the little details you would expect, including staked thumb screws, an A2 aperture, and 6/3 windage drums. Nevertheless, there is no brand name or logo on the carry handle, just a square forge mark. Of course, this unit also works with M16A4, M4A1, and AR-15 rifles.

Bottom Line

Palmetto State Armory is always a solid choice in modern sporting rifle components. The top features of this carry handle are the standard, mil-spec features, like the A4 aperture. Besides, the price is very reasonable. The ability to use it on pretty much any flat-topped black rifle makes this a versatile choice.

Pros

Designed, Manufactured, and Assembled Right Here in the U.S.A.

Machined Out of a Tough, High-Quality, Forged 7075-T6 Aluminum Alloy

Comes With Staked Thumb Screws, an A2 Aperture, and 6/3 Windage Drums

Cons

Sometimes Ships With Minor Cosmetic Flaws

The Slightly Reflective Surface Can Impede Aperture Use

Best Colt M4 Carry Handle

A2 Detachable Carry Handle

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Aero Precision is a company out of Tacoma, Washington that focuses on aluminum components for the military aircraft industry. They have branched out into firearms components out of the passion of many of their personnel. You may be wondering how the best Colt carry handle isn’t made by Colt. Well, trust us, you’re getting a lot more for your money with this option.

Aero Precision has a great reputation that can be seen in their uncompromising anodizing and the tight fit of many of their components. This carry handle is made of high-end, mil-spec 7075-T6 aluminum alloy. This is tougher and better than the common 6061 alloys that are often used.

As with Aero Precision’s other products, this carry handle has outstanding mil-spec hard coat anodization. The A2 rear sight is fully adjustable for windage and elevation.

It also comes with dual apertures, giving you the best in peep sight accuracy at both close-range and longer ranges. Compatibility is a great feature of this carry handle, as it can be mounted on a wide variety of modern sporting rifles. The weight is a standard, if slightly light, 8.96 ounces.

Bottom Line

The top features of this carry handle are the quality materials and the well-designed rear sight. This is an unbeatable option for an M4 carry handle.

Pros

Compatible With Nearly Any Flat-Topped Modern Sporting Rifle

The A2 Rear Sight Comes With Two Apertures and Adjusts for Windage and Elevation

Made With Leading Quality 7075-T6 Aluminum Alloy and the Best Hard Coat Anodization

Cons

The Finish on the Rear Sight Does Not Entirely Eliminate Glare

Subcat Banner

HJ-TAC Rear Sight Carry HandIe

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This is an excellent, yet affordable, product from HJ-Tac. One nice thing to have with a carry handle, or indeed any firearm component, is versatility. With its universal Picatinny rail, this carry handle can be mounted on practically any modern sporting rifle.

Otherwise, everything about this carry handle is pretty standard. It has standard side nuts for quick and simple installation and removal. The height above bore is also mil-spec, so look for an F-marked front sight to pair it with.

The adjustable rear sight comes with standard apertures in two selectable sizes, one for close-range and one for longer ranges. The construction makes use of the kind of aluminum alloy you would expect with a standard matte black finish.

HJ-Tac provides this carry handle with a satisfaction guarantee. They note that their design has been torture-tested and proven by consumer use. The dimensions of this carry handle are 1.6 by 1.8 by 6.8 inches. The weight is a nice, light 8.6 ounces.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an affordable and broadly compatible carry handle, this is a great choice. The top features of this carry handle are the two apertures and the universal Picatinny rail. Although the brand is relatively unknown, the construction is solid and reliable. The torture testing and satisfaction guarantee are nice added bonuses.

Pros

Attaches to Any Modern Sporting Rifle With a Picatinny Rail

Backed By HJ-Tac’s Torture Testing and Satisfaction Guarantee

Ships With Two Aperture Sizes for the Best Close-Range and Long-Range Shooting

Cons

Not the Most Reputable Brand

Suffers From Availability Issues

How to Choose an M4 Carry Handle  

As with all firearms components, I think you will agree that the top priority is reliability. The rule of thumb for finding a reliable product is to go with a reputable manufacturer and a proven model.

One common question in the carry handle field is whether you should buy one from Colt. The short answer is no, you shouldn’t. You would be paying two to four times too much for a logo and mediocre quality.

One of the many distinctions in carrying handles is mil-spec versus commercial. The key difference between the two is that the rear sight on a mil-spec carry handle is 0.835 inches from the top of the base to the bottom of the rear sight and a commercial carry handle is 0.795 inches.

You will need to match your front sight height accordingly. Otherwise, the rear sight in any carry handle should have two apertures and standard adjustment dials.

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Benefits of Investing in a Great Carry Handle  

Carry handles started out as something akin to a trigger guard for the AR-10’s charging handle. This function has long been obsolete, although detachable carry handles are still a requirement for mil-spec M4s. Few people backflip in joy at the functionality of carrying their firearm around like a briefcase.

This provides poor muzzle control and makes you look silly, people just don’t do it. Attachment systems also exist to mount accessories such as sights atop your carry handle, but this is redundant and out of fashion since this is what your top rail is for. Nevertheless, carry handles do have one benefit.

The is no more solid and stably-mounted style of rear aperture sight. If you want the most reliable form of sighting system possible, a carry handle is the way to go.

Conclusion

Whether you want a rock-solid rear sight that can go through the apocalypse and stay true or just like the old school aesthetics, we’re sure you’ll find the M4 carry handle for you on our list. Remember to have fun and shoot safe.

Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!

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