Let’s be honest: not everyone can (or wants to) justify spending $85-$90 on an aluminum stick with a handle. Even after I took the price into consideration, I ordered my Rainier Arms Raptor charging handle by AXTS last year as an upgrade for my AR-15. After I ordered it but before I received it, I felt like I had just purchased the Bugatti of charging handles and was slightly skeptical if it would even “drive.”
Today, a year later, I am already eager to purchase another Raptor charging handle for my AR-15 pistol/SBR build. I am no longer skeptical of its performance and I would like to share my personal experiences, thoughts and opinions of my Raptor charging handle.
- Ambidextrous operation
- 7075 aluminum (vs. 6061 standard)
- Dark black hard anodized finish
- Low profile (although slightly larger than a mil-spec charging handle)
- Large sized spiral pins (added strength)
- Laser engraved logos and text (aesthetic appeal)
The main appeal of the Raptor charging handle for me is its ambidextrous operation. I can charge or clear my AR-15 using either right or left hand. This has come in handy (pun intended) for me when I am shooting my AR-15 lefty. I am a righty by nature, but I like to practice shooting left handed as well. When I shoot my AR-15, I usually do not release my shooting hand from the pistol grip while manipulating it. The combination of my Raptor, BAD-ASS ST, and Tactical Link EBAL allows me to do this.
Aesthetically speaking, my eyes love my Raptor. It has a dark black finish and an appealing smooth and sleek shaped handle. Upon holding mine for the first time, I thought, “Yeah, this is pretty nice.” I don’t find the handle to be cumbersome, nor have I ever had my fingers become pinched or “bit” when using it. As you can see from the image to the right, the handle on the Raptor isn’t much bigger than a typical mil-spec charging handle.
The function of my Raptor charging handle feels the same to me when using either my right or left hand to operate it. What I mean by this is it doesn’t operate worse or better on one side versus the other.
Having used my Raptor charging handle regularly over the past year, I can tell you that I do not believe it to be just a novelty or gimmick. I think it is worth the price of $85-$90. It feels stronger, looks better, and operates easier and smoother than a mil-spec charging handle.
Overall, I am pleased with my Raptor’s form and function and it has not yet failed me. With that said, I have one issue with it. When pulling the handle to the rear to charge my AR-15 with my right hand (while shooting left handed) my fingernail has caught the top lip of the forward assist button. It was painful, so it only needed to happen a couple times before I learned to just curl in my finger tip. I wouldn’t call it a design flaw, per se, but it is something of which to be aware when wielding the Raptor right-handed.
All things considered, if you are looking for an easy upgrade in operation, want to make your AR-15 more ambi-friendly, or just want to give your rifle a more unique appearance, then I’d say the Raptor charging handle is something to consider.