Gear Raptor Charging Handle AR-15 Review -

Published on January 3rd, 2014 | by Nate Schultz (nsz85)


The AR-15 Raptor Charging Handle – Full Review

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.

Raptor Charging Handle AR-15 Review -

Notice the slim profile and added texture for a better grip.

Notable Features

  • 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)

Personal Experiences

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.

Raptor Charging Handle AR-15 Review -

Here is a size comparison between the profile of a mil-spec sized charging handle and the Raptor 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Raptor Charging Handle AR-15 Review -

When shooting left handed and charging your AR-15 with your right hand, be careful not to catch your fingernail on the forward assist.

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.

The Rainier Arms Raptor charging handle by AXTS is also available for different calibers and can be purchased from places such as Rainier Arms, Battle Arms Development, Tactical Link and Amazon.

About the Author

Nate Schultz is employed within the field of Law Enforcement, is an avid shooter, firearms enthusiast and hobbiest gunsmith. When he is not writing for The Arms Guide, he is producing content for his YouTube channel:

  • Barnes

    I’ve been kicking myself for not buying one of these when it had the introductory price at 60$. Now I just keep waiting to see them on sale to pick one up.

  • JoeFabeetz

    Barnes No bargains on eBay either.  Most have selling prices in the 90 dollar range.

  • Barnes

    JoeFabeetz Barnes I get warry buying something like that on Ebay. I know Rainier has said, as well as can be found on the forums, that their are the chinese copies of it out there.

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