U.S.A. –-(AmmoLand.com)- Given the large variety of AR-15 barrel lengths, gas system lengths, bolts, and buffer weights, it’s no surprise that there’s a wide range of gas pressures kicking back into the upper receiver. This normally isn’t much of a concern to the shooter, so long as reliability is unaffected. When you screw on a suppressor, however, backpressure is increased and can often lead to the shooter inhaling an obnoxious amount of pew exhaust. The new SilencerCo Gas Defeating Charging Handle (GDCH) isn’t the first product to address this issue, but it may be the last you’ll need to hear about.
Before we get into hands-on testing, let’s cover tech specs as provided by SilencerCo.
- Uses an O-ring seal to redirect blowback
- Machined from aircraft-grade 7075 aluminum
- Type III Hard Anodize finish
- Features ambidextrous design for intuitive manipulation and smooth charging
- MSRP of $114.00
On initial inspection, the Gas Defeating Charging Handle looks just like any upper-echelon charging handle out there today. Ambidextrous handles held with fat roll pins (to prevent shearing), the usual hard-anodized finish, the GDCH looks like most. Flip it over and inspect the underbelly, and you’ll see what makes this different. A U-shaped o-ring lives where the rear flat of the charging handle mates up with the upper receiver. Normally there’s a tiny gap there, enough for high-pressure gas to vent out, right next to your nose and eyes.
If you’ve shot a rapid string of fire from a suppressed rifle that runs on the gassy side, you’ll know why this is a problem. If you haven’t, let me tell you why the GDCH and other products of its ilk exist. Once that gas gets into your eyes, they can start watering to the point where it’s hard to see. In your nose, it can induce coughing and sneezing when you least need to deal with that. Some will say if a gun is that gassy, you should use a regulated bolt carrier or adjustable gas block. Sometimes though, the guns runs extremely well the way it is set up, and the solution least likely to change how the gun operates is best.
So how much does the GDCH reduce this obnoxious issue? To find out, I took my most excessively gassy upper to the range. I fired five rounds quickly, then took notes on how bad the gas was. I swapped in the Gas defeating Charging Handle and did it again. Five more rounds with a normal charging handle, and then another five with the GDCH. I really didn’t need to have bothered taking notes, the result is pretty obvious. With a stock charging handle, it’s a gassy mess. The GDCH is like a good haircut, you don’t notice it because everything is as it should be. Gas is vented out the ejection port, away from the shooter and the air he/she needs to breathe.
O-rings do wear out eventually, though in this application, it doesn’t seem like a severe wear point. SilencerCo does include a spare o-ring with every Gas Defeating Charging Handle.
It’s a simple review for a simple product. You don’t need to dump a thousand rounds to figure out if it works or not, it’s evident immediately. If I had the ear of the tech at SilencerCo, I’d suggest that in V2.0, they add porting holes Á la Radian’s Raptor-SD charging handle.
As it stands, the Gas Defeating Charging Handle is an effective tool that can help reduce the primary drawback of shooting suppressed. With an MSRP of $114, some may opt to keep breathing gas for a while or slap on some rtv silicone until the street price comes down to double digits. If you’re building a rifle designed around suppressed shooting, I’d suggest you buy once, cry once. Or cry every few gassy rounds!
About Rex Nanorum
Rex Nanorum is an Alaskan Expatriate living in Oregon with his wife and kids. Growing up on commercial fishing vessels, he found his next adventure with the 2nd Bn, 75th Ranger Regt. After 5 tours to Afghanistan and Iraq, he adventured about the west coast becoming a commercial fishery and salvage SCUBA diver, rated helicopter pilot instructor (CFII) and personal trainer, before becoming a gear reviewer and writer.”
- Rex Nanorum