How to Change AR Charging Handle

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Taking a weapon apart – be it for cleaning, inspection, or repair – can be a challenge for someone who hasn’t done it before. Luckily, you don’t have to field strip an AR to replace the charging handle.

So, how to change AR charging handle? It’s easier than you’d think.

How to Change AR Charging Handle

To change an AR charging handle with a higher-quality charging handle, drive the pin out using a hammer and pin punch. Alternatively, push the pin out with a round. Slide the original latch out, and slide your new charging handle in. Put the bolt, bolt carrier, and pin back into position like before.

Don’t let the weapon’s spring launch the latch across the room when taking the weapon apart. It’s important to remember that the pin holds the latch in place, and the spring enables the latch to “latch.” Be careful not to misplace or lose these components when replacing your AR charging handle.

AR-15 charging handle

What Are the Steps to Follow Before Changing the Charging Handle?

AR15 weapons are not toys, and it’s critical to remember the fundamental safety rules when handling any firearm. Before taking it apart, make sure it’s pointed in a safe direction. Next, clear the rifle by removing the magazine and pulling the charging handle a few times to clear the chamber.

Now, you must pull the bolt back all the way using the charging handle and hold it back. Look into the action and verify that the chamber is empty. You can then begin taking your AR15 apart.

Why Change an AR Charging Handle?

Replacing a basic mil-spec charging handle with a better-quality ambidextrous one opens up several options for charging positioning. Furthermore, aftermarket latches tend to be bigger and more comfortable to pull back in. But these benefits are only the tip of the iceberg.

  • Better performance
  • Improved grip

Better Performance

What’s most impressive about aftermarket charging handles is that they directly impact the gun’s performance. Some of these have finishes that make for a smoother firing motion. In this way, aftermarket charging handles prevent jams and misfires.

Many aftermarket charging handles feature holes in the shaft, allowing the gas built up from firing rounds to move away from the shooter’s face.

Improved Grip

Most mil-spec charging handles have no frills. Upgrading to an aftermarket charging handle gives you the benefit of a better grip. These handles come with serrations or ridges that make them easier to hold.

If you use your firearm often, you will likely use it wearing gloves. Gloves often cause your fingers to slip. If you picture yourself in a survival situation without any gloves, you will need the extra grip those ridges offer since your hands will be slippery because of the hot and humid conditions.


To replace your charging handle, clear your gun and drive the pin out to take it apart. Pull the bolt, bolt carrier, and charging handle out gently. Slide the charging handle out and replace it with the new one. Put the weapon back together and store the original charging handle in a safe place if you ever need a spare.

James Forrester is a lifelong gun and firearms owner, and an even bigger advocate for gun safety. He created with the purpose of sharing helpful tips and educating others on how to keep guns and weapons safe and secure.