Bravo Company USA is a well-respected manufacturer of AR-15 components and rifles, as well as a major stocking dealer for companies like Vltor and LaRue Tactical. Their upper receiver groups have achieved high regard in professional circles because of consistently high quality and attention to detail. For several years, Bravo uppers were not available, due to the low supply of a certain small part. Paul Buffoni, who runs the company, wasn’t willing to sacrifice quality for profit, so he stopped selling his uppers.
That should tell you something about the level of quality the company wants to achieve. Their latest product, developed in conjunction with the engineering geniuses at Vltor Weapons Systems, is incredibly simple, yet so innovative that it practically renders its predecessor obsolete.
The product I’m referring to is their “GFH”, or Gunfighter charging handle. Originally, the AR-15 charging handle was meant to be manipulated with the index and middle fingers of the right hand, one finger on either side of the receiver, thus distributing force more equally as the latch is disengaged by the index finger. There were other methods, but all were variations on a theme, and required the firing hand to come off the pistol grip.
As the years passed, though, new methods were developed, and many shooters choose to use the “knife edge” of their left hand to move the charging handle, while others use their fingers and thumb, but only on the left side of the handle. With either method, the standard charging handle latch has a lot of stress placed on it, and all of that stress was directed at a tiny roll pin that served as the rotational point of the latch as well as its only attachment point. If that roll pin broke, the latch and spring would fly out, and the charging handle could no longer be secured to the upper receiver.
Furthermore, some companies developed extended latches, that allowed for easier one-hand operation of the charging handle. These latches only served to increase the force put on that roll pin, and even if the pin survived, the weak material of the latch would not. Here’s a charging handle that I bent before I ever loaded a round into the chamber of the rifle.
I read about the new Bravo Company charging handle with interest, because it seemed to be specifically designed to eliminate problems with the standard handle, while also addressing the small size of the standard latch. When they sent me one to review, I was thoroughly impressed with the design and execution. As you can see from the following picture (stolen from BCM), the above problem simply couldn’t happen with the BCM part.
Furthermore, the extended latch is just long enough to allow me to manipulate the charging handle as the military trained me – with the knife edge of my left hand – without any difficulties. There are currently two latch sizes, Medium and Large. I’d recommend the Medium unless you have large optics mounted at the rear of the upper receiver.
As I said before, this charging handle essentially renders obsolete all of its predecessors. I hope this BCMGUNFIGHTER line of products expands to include other, equally well designed products.