January 7, 2024
The AR-15 is arguably the most ergonomic and shooter interface-friendly platform in firearms history. One of the points of the AR-15 that separates it from other platforms is the ambidextrous charging handle. This engineering design makes the platform efficient. The pursuit of perfection is persistence focused on practicality. This creates an inevitability to advance the platform.
Over the last 15 years, there have been a host of “good ideas” or concepts tried to improve both weapons and tactics. While those based on simplicity and efficiency have stood the test of time, the others have failed to take off, or have not even left the launch pad. The growth of the AR charging handle has been a slow boil. There have been a host of charging handle latches and charging handles that have come and gone. Some of the designs have honestly advanced the platform. Derived from competition, these designs have grown in the professional community and aid the end user in being more efficient in both general ambidextrous weapons handling/manual of arms, and when malfunctions occur.
I too have been known to use enlarged charging handles or latches. In fact, one of my preferred upgrades is a simple enlarged latch that replaces the latch on a stock charging handle. The use of a slightly larger latch or handle truly aids the end user in a multitude of ways. The Academy of Man dictates that larger is better, but we’ve seen some reversal of this often-accepted theory in Tacademics; size matters, but only as it’s needed. Often, the oversized charging handles end up getting caught on kit, or can even cause out-of-battery issues in some cases.
The final issue with the standard AR charging handle is that it is so universal. It’s still in the way when it’s used, meaning that the end user must come off the weapon and optic in order to use the handle. While the rod of the charging handle must travel somewhere, and rearward is its only destination, it’s the offsetting of the charging handle and awkward position of the user’s hand to get to the charging handle in a hurry that makes it unnatural. Often, the older designs, forward charging handles attached to the bolt carrier, or those that parallel H&K with non-reciprocating designs are coveted by AR owners and users.
So, the paradigm has been set. Devil Dog Concepts observed this shortcoming and decided to do something about it. Devil Dog Concepts (DDC) created the Hard Charger system. The Hard Charger is a bolt-on user-level upgrade that requires no gunsmithing or armorer level interface. If the individual can take apart an AR for field cleaning or attach an optic, the end user can install this system in less than a minute. This upgrade, once installed, becomes abundantly clear. The Hard Charger is a bolt-on system utilizing the receiver’s picatinny rail to hard-mount the system in response to the torque that will naturally occur during use. The other half is the replacement of the charging handle itself. A one for one swap, the two halves interface together, creating a seamless system that’s efficient, easy to use, and rock solid. The Hard Charger provides several other options for mounting the picatinny rail attachment, and it provides several options for the style and size of the charging handle, too.
Consider the ability to stay on the weapon and to remain behind your optic. There is a lot to be said for staying on target while, at a minimum, looking over your glass while clearing a malfunction, or simply recharging the weapon. Another critical detail is the distance that the user’s hand must travel to charge or lock the bolt carrier group back. This is simplified by a shorter movement needed to interface with the charging handle, and if it can be accomplished with one hand. One of the SCAR’s greatest attributes, and a significant complaint, is the forward mounted charging handle, but many do not like the fact that it reciprocates. The Hard Charger is forward mounted, and is non-reciprocating. This allows the end user to have the benefit of the location, but removes any worry about the back and forth movement. I personally never had an issue with a reciprocating charging handle. However, in some shooting positions, the reciprocating charging handle can get caught up, causing malfunctions. The Hard Charger eliminates these issues.
The Hard Charger can be purchased as a basic package. This includes the forward mounting mount with charging handle rod, and the standard large charging handle. Options include various charging handle designs ranging from smaller or longer variants, middle or rear picatinny mounts for the charging handle, and a complete kit I refer to as the Box of Chocolates. The Hard Charger is a precision engineered and machined product, with a quality control in keeping with the highest standards.
Using the Hard Charger is the definitive proof that what originally seemed like a solution for a non-problem was actually a relevant issue. It didn’t take long to not only see the relevance of the product, but also its potential for use on AR platforms. Much like the Dead Foot Arms folding AR stock system, the Hard Charger is a useful upgrade to a product that was designed and introduced almost 70 years ago. Some upgrades allow the AR platform to evolve, and give it key characteristics that are beloved by so many on other platforms.
The Hard Charger is easy to install, and the quality of materials, coupled with design, make it worth serious consideration. Operation is virtually identical mechanically. The charging handle pushes the op rod (operating rod) into the locking latch, so the unlocking process and operation is the same. The only difference is the ability to operate the charging handle from the front of the upper receiver. Charging the weapon becomes significantly faster and easier. This isn’t even a matter of opinion. The fact is there is less manipulation of the firearm and hand movement to charge the weapon. The Hard Charger really is an obvious advantage. I’ve drunk the Kool-Aid. The Hard Charger system is a legitimate and a noteworthy upgrade for the AR platform that will only enhance the user’s interface and experience with their firearm.
After a lot of use, I can say without hesitation that the Devil Dog Concepts Hard Charger System is without a doubt an important upgrade to virtually any AR platform. Though currently there isn’t an option for a right-side mounted, left-handed variant, those with the Devil’s Hand are going to have to suffer with the original designed charging handle options. As I always say, there’s no free lunch. With anything you do, there are bound to be drawbacks. The system does use up rail space, but a riser is an excellent way to make up for it (rail space loss). I would personally recommend this product for any serious or professional end user. In my opinion, the Hard Charger is a game changer, and gives the end user one more coveted feature not found in Eugene Stoner’s original design.
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Customized Multi-Caliber Combat/Tactical AR-15 Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) with Badass Quick-Change Barrel System, Folding Stock, Ultra-Light Tactical Handguards, and Super-Fast Binary Firing System Trigger Pack!