Why Does My Charging Handle Get Stuck?

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One of the most common issues new gun owners run into is the charging handle getting stuck. Sometimes, even the best aftermarket charging handles get stuck.

If you’re wondering, “why does my charging handle get stuck?” there are a lot of issues that could potentially cause this problem.

Why Does My Charging Handle Get Stuck?

Your charging handle could be stuck because you loaded 31 rounds in a 30-round magazine. Excess packing grease in the chamber or a weak buffer spring can cause the charging handle to get stuck. Riding the charging handle almost always causes this issue. If you’re using reloaded ammo, an improperly sized case can cause the handle to get stuck.

The charging handle tends to be stiff and often gets stuck on new weapons. This is why it’s considered best practice to clean and lubricate a new firearm before using it. Breaking the weapon in by firing a few hundred rounds typically further loosens the charging handle.

What Are the Reasons Behind a Charging Handle Getting Stuck?

A charging handle can get stuck for a handful of different reasons:

  • Overloaded Magazine
  • Greased Up Chamber
  • Old Buffer Spring
  • Riding the Charging Handle
  • Improperly Sized Reloaded Ammo Cases
Man checking that his charging handle isn't stuck

Overloaded Magazine

Many gun owners like to add an extra round into the magazine just for the convenience it offers. While this can be done in any weapon, not every bolt has enough power to overcome the mag spring’s pressure and push the round out of the mag.

It’s best to avoid overloading a magazine to prevent this issue. If your charging handle is stuck because of this issue, pull the charging handle back while dropping the gun’s butt on the ground. Do this a few times, and the live round should pop out.

Greased Up Chamber

It’s important to clean a new weapon before using it since manufacturers put a lot of packing grease in the chamber to prevent rusting. This increases the chances of the charging handle getting jammed.

A thorough clean before use reduces the chances of a firearm’s charging handle getting stuck.

Old Buffer Spring

Buffer springs wear out after a few thousand rounds are fired, and when they do, they cause the charging handle to get stuck. For this reason, buffer springs should be replaced periodically.

Riding the Charging Handle

The right way to use the charging handle is to pull it back and let it go. Many inexperienced gun owners “ride” the charging handle, pushing it forward into the weapon after pulling it back. This is the wrong way to do it and causes the charging handle to get stuck.

Letting the charging handle go after pulling it back will not damage the weapon.

Improperly Sized Reloaded Ammo Cases

Using low-quality reloading ammo that has the wrong size cases causes the charging handle to get stuck since the case doesn’t fit the chamber.


Cleaning and maintaining the weapon and using it appropriately reduces the chances of the charging handle getting stuck. You must be especially careful if you’re using reloaded ammo since the wrong size cases can damage the firearm.

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