[Big 3 East] Devil Dog Concepts AR-15 Side Charging Handle

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Three Veterans from NY came up with this Hard Charger side charging handle concept. Two of them are active duty law enforcement and the idea came about after a malfunction due in part to the charging handle and one of the officers. One of the officers was racking his AR-15 charging handle and his hand slipped. His hand kept moving back and he punched himself in the nose. So due to that slightly embarrassing moment, they came up with a side charging handle that works on all forged mil-spec flat top upper receivers.

The Hard Charger is made out of 7075 aluminum and weighs just 5 oz.

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There are three different variants of the HCR. They differ in terms of where the HCR mounts to the flat top receiver. Your basic HCR mounts to the forward most picatinny slot of the upper receiver. For tactical shooters there is a Tactical HCR that allows a rear back up sight to still be mounted and the use of a red dot. The third option is for 3Gunners and the HCR mounts to the rear most slot of the receiver allowing for the use of the long scope mounts typically used in 3Gun. They offer 5 different choices of handles. Large handles for competitions and all the way down to small handles for tactical shooters who do not want the handle to catch on gear.

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One concern might be the side charger catching on gear. Well the guys at Devil Dog Concepts addressed that fact. They have been using this set up for their rifles for some time. When their ARs are slung, the Hard Charger sits just below their tactical vests. An added bonus to their Hard Charger is that you can operate it with just your forearm or rack it off a hard surface like a barricade or hard cover in the event that your support hand is not operational.

The HCR retails for $154 and is available on their website. Additional knobs are $18. At the moment they do not have an ambidextrous version or left handed version.

 

Edit: Camaron Hillman, President and Co-Founder of Devil Dog Concepts sent me this email to address and clarify a few things.

 

The three of us who operate the company are Former US Marines who are Combat Veterans from Iraq, two have Service Connected Disabilities, with nearly four years or more in Iraq combined, and have served in support of operations such as the Battle of Fallujah, River Blitz, and the first elections.
All of us are from the Southern Tier area of New York, not Buffalo.
The product was invented and designed by one of us, which is myself.
The concept is the Side Charging Handle System.  The name of it is the Hard Charger.
Two of us are active Law Enforcement Officers with around 10 years each on the job, and 8 years each as SWAT team members and Snipers for Departments in the Binghamton and surrounding areas.
One is a former Detective and current Patrol Sergeant.  Both are Armorers.  One is department Training Officer and the Training Director for the New York Tactical Officers Association.
The other member of our company is also a former contractor with Blackwater.
The product:
The idea for the product came following a SWAT training day where we were conducting malfunction drills during high stress incidents, and happen to slip off of a standard charging handle and hit myself in the face.  Thought there had to be something better and more reliable.  So after looking into other options and trying them, nothing worked properly or reliably for what we do and demand.  Also, was not allowed to rebuild the department rifle to create a built in side charger.  So sat down and started drawing to create something that would work, and the Side Charging Handle System was created.
The three mounting variants are the different styles of the Hard Charger Receivers which are;
The Hard Charger which mounts to the foremost picatinny slot,
The HCR (Hard Charger Rear) which mounts to the rearmost picatinny slot and is designed for 3Gunners,
And the HCT (Hard Charger Tactical) which mounts to the third picatinny slot allowing the mounting of a BUIS then the HCT then your electronic sight which is the most common tactical set up.
You were pretty close on the 5 different variants of the Pull Handles.
All of the Pull Handles, Hard Charger Receivers, and other parts are all interchangeable for customization depending on optic set up, shooting style, gear, ailment or disability, tac set up, and preference.
The Hard Charger’s (HC) MSRP is $154.
The design also assists with bi-lateral shooting so ambidextrous it technically is.  We do not have a left handed rifle version nor an AR-10 variant.
You left out a some very crucial specifics in the design that were created to fix issues with the original design while making the operation more userable;
It is field strippable, has a dual support design to reduce torque on charging handle, a disengagement design to remove stress on release lever and roll pin, and a back-up charging option aside from the side charger.


Nicholas C

Co-Founder of KRISSTALK forums, an owner’s support group and all things KRISS Vector related. Nick found his passion through competitive shooting while living in NY. He participates in USPSA and 3Gun. He loves all things that shoots and flashlights. Really really bright flashlights.

Any questions please email him at nicholas.c@staff.thefirearmblog.com


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  • Major Fret

    I’ve honestly wondered why someone hasn’t done this before. Can’t say how effective it would be (at best extremely difficult to own an AR-15 in Australia), but I read enough complaints about the standard AR charging handle on this blog to see that there must be a market for such a product.

    • ChierDuChien

      The US will begin transforming into an Oz-Style firearm environment starting in Spring 2017.

    • Nicks87

      What are these complaints you speak of?

      • Major Fret

        Just comments I’ve read on the blog from time to time. Again, I obviously cannot confirm if those complaints are reasonable or just a training issue (I myself am willing to believe it’s the later) but my point was this product probably at least has some sort of market.

        • nova3930

          Ergonomically the AR charging handle is not in an optimal location when it comes to charging the weapon. For all the other majority of the time when you’re not charging the weapon, it’s great because it’s out of the way. Good and bad all rolled into one.

          • nadnerbus

            One of the other benefits of the way the charging handle is configured is that it creates the smallest possible opening in the receiver, which is in turn pretty much completely sealed up when not in use. Probably the best configuration for keeping the weapon from getting fowled. I’ve never seen a top view of the prototype AR10s that had a top charging handle, but I assume the slot it traveled in was open for the length of its track, as are some of the side charging uppers out there.

          • Marcus D.

            It would seem that this product eliminates any issue of additional openings into the receiver, at least for right handed shooters.

          • Holdfast_II

            “fouled”. Don’t be a turkey.

        • Dan

          I’ve seen the same complaints, not as heavily here as other places. Usually an AK person making the case about the weak AR charging handle and the stupid location etc….
          I could see this for a competition gun but chances are those people would just buy a dedicated side charging upper.

    • Mmmtacos

      Someone did do this before, but it wasn’t reinforced like their concept here. They address that in the video, stating how it’s two extra reinforcement points remove torque from the side-charger. That was the problem with the previous manufacturer (can’t recall who it was): their handle would eventually bend from repeated use.

      All in all it looks like a great product, doesn’t appear to have the issue of it’s predecessors, doesn’t require any proprietary hardware (save a flat top and some rail space) and is field-strippable.

      I do wonder if someone could solve the last issue and utilize some small cable & pulley system to design a CH that doesn’t come back into your face when you charge it. Just an idea… who knows if that concept would be reliable though (small parts, high stress, more points of failure)

    • n0truscotsman

      I have a love/hate relationship with the AR’s charging handle.

      When you dont need it, it is low profile and out of the way.

      When you DO need it, its less convenient than a AK or SCAR type design IMO.

      And I love the design in general.

  • Tierlieb

    I like it. Affixing it to the front is a good idea, better than the other solution I’ve seen on TFB.

    Using the rail to do so would have been my approach, too, but I can already hear people bemoaning that this precludes a lot of scopes in standard forward mounts to be used in the correct position.

    And of course there is the problem of the charging handle still coming out in the back. A nose-to-charging-handle cheek weld won’t work. You see that they have the stock extended all the way back in the video. But that is the problem of re-using the existing charging system instead of milling a new slot.

    • randomswede

      Judging by the last picture they could have version that mount rear or middle of the receiver in the works.

      But the true issue, aside from price, is that it “only” moves the charging handle without addressing the handle-out-the-back issue making it a niche product rather than a “must-have” upgrade.

      I’ve been wanting to run a wire around the gas key and see if that could work, there’s a large amount of issues that would need solving but it would charge left, right, forward, back or side.
      Plus it would look like you are starting a chainsaw, and that must be a good thing.
      (If you are about to post a problem you see with this; please note I’ve probably already included that in the “large amount of issues” ; )

      • Giolli Joker

        “Plus it would look like you are starting a chainsaw…”
        …or arming a Kord, and that IS a good thing!

        • randomswede

          Oh yea, I’d forgotten the Kord works like that, I wonder if that’s where my brain stole the idea?

      • Tierlieb

        1. Moving the mount further towards back would allow you to bend the operating rod if you did not pull perfectly straight back. The last side charging handle replacement I saw lacked the attachment completely and bending or twisting it was the main issue – there is a lot of potential leverage there. I think the only safe alternative solution would be attaching it to the barrel nut.

        2. Anything that starts like a chainsaw has to be a good idea! Since you pointed out the “large amount of issues”, lets not get into that, though. We are still allowed to dream, right?

        3. Most conversions to side chargers actually work surprisingly similar to your approach 😉
        If you just want a reciprocating handle, milling a slot and attaching the handle straight to the gas key is the most simple solution (except for some weight and dirt issues). If not, it gets a bit more complicated.

        • Marcus D.

          Why an issue with weight and dirt? The ejection port is a lot bigger than the little slot you’d have to cut, and you would be dropping the weight of the usual charging handle and closing up that opening. To me, the real sticky issue is getting it to not reciprocate.

          • Tierlieb

            @disqus_B2V2lyXM3r:disqus
            The ejection port does usually have a cover (unless it is a competition gun). Stuff that is permanently open is bit more of a problem, I think, that’s why the SIG 550 series has rubber lips for this purpose.

            Making a non-reciprocating handle is not oo complicated: @disqus_Xou7S2cO27:disqus’s “chainsaw” approach would work (fix a piece of string on one side of the receiver, loop it through the slots on both sides in front of the gas key and pull from the other side), as would any stiff bar in front of the gas key that can be moved from the outside through a slot.
            After that is it just proper engineering to make sure it retracts to the front on its own (where to put the springs?) and that it slides straight back (by building rails on the side, for example)… and these slight improvements are what makes the quality of a conversion.

          • Marcus D.

            I have a slick side receiver with no dust cover. But since I don’t plan on fighting any wars in Afghanistan or the Middle East, I don’t worry about it too much, any more than I’d worry about it with a Garand or an M1 Carbine.

    • Devil Dog Concepts

      It is designed to work with practically all mounts and optics, but yes we do have a couple new options coming out that mount to different rail sections, so that the shooter is able to have their optic mounting preference. The width design is also to alleviate the “knuckle buster” problem from optic mounts with larger knobs.
      Wish we could not have the charging handle still come back and cause a shooter who’s stock weld is close to the CH, to move a little, but we didn’t have much of a choice when creating a product that doesn’t require mods to the upper. At least you’ll only barely have to tilt the rifle with the Hard Charger, rather fulling pulling out of stock weld with a rearward CH.

      • Tierlieb

        No doubt, this seems to be the best solution that does not involve modifying the receiver.

        As a sales consideration, I would recommend figuring out how to sell them outside the US. These are very interesting to people in countries that limit the amount of guns one can possess, that make switching guns very hard or that simply do not offer the opportunity to get a normal side-charging AR (the only ones in Germany I can think of were used American Spirit Arms rifles a while ago).

        I might actually be tempted to get one. Actually, I am more tempted to build this myself, but I like to at least attempt to buy from the inventor. Usually ITAR gets in the way though.

  • Vitor Roma

    That seems a must have for the CMMG Mutant!

  • SGT Fish

    pretty neat, but for that price plus a stripped milspec upper, I can get a purpose built side charging upper. but hats off to their ingenuity

    • Devil Dog Concepts

      You don’t need to purchase a separate forged upper. Just take the Hard Charger, it mounts to your current one(s), and only uses one bolt to tighten to the Picatinny rail, then drops right in, while also being completely field strippable.

  • Evan

    I’ve always considered the charging handle of the AR to be one of its features, I hate left side charging handles, and as such would not take this product if it was free. And the name of the company and the product is so absurdly moto it sounds like it was dreamed up by a couple of PFCs on boot leave or something.

    • micmac80

      AR charging is as bad as they get and is just something designers added after the top handle inside the carry handle sight turned out impractical.

      • Evan

        The inside the carrying handle charger was stupid. The production AR charging handle is awesome. It’s ergonomic and non-reciprocating. If you can’t use an AR charging handle properly, the problem is with the operator, not the equipment.

        • randomswede

          That must be why every major rifle designed for military use after the AR-15 has copied it right?

          • Evan

            Most have not, although the G36 has something similar. That doesn’t make it a bad piece of gear, it mostly speaks to the overall designs of other rifles.

          • randomswede

            I can’t think of a single assault rifle where the charging handle isn’t a necessary evil, the AR-15 is one of the better but; a rifle that by some magical means didn’t need one would be better.

            The AR-15 charging handle trades non-reciprocation and a well sealed system for ergonomics, without the last round hold open I doubt it would have “survived”.

            The MP7 and the MPX are two that have an AR-15 like charging handle.

          • micmac80

            None have copied the worst posibile charging handle concept that is used on AR15/10 and clones only . Look at the G36 pict again , nohing remotely similar to ar15 concept

          • Blake

            Oh yeah, the AR handle is way worse than a reciprocating handle that can injure or at the very least malfunction if interrupted. But you’re right, it’s the absolute worst possible charging handle concept. The worst possible. Super logical.

          • Joshua

            And outside of the AR platform(M4/Hk416) no other platforms are actually seeing any serious use.

            Practically every military with a choice is moving to the AR platform in one form or another.

          • Rob

            Lots of people like to bury their head in the sand when if comes to facing that fact.

          • Uniform223

            http://www.dw.com/image/0,,18349927_303,00.jpg

            not the best place to put a charging handle. It forces the optics to be so high mounted that you practically have no cheek to stock… even with G36 variants that do not have the carrying handle. That is why there are so many pictures floating around of G36s with cheek risers on the stock.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Technically, you look through the carry handle’s embedded sight, which isn’t any higher cheekweld than an AR-15. You’ll notice the soldier in your picture isn’t using it though, and is instead aiming with an alternate sight; the integral G36 3x sight doesn’t have a particularly large sight radius, so an unmagnified reflex sight is usually mounted over it for better field of view at closer ranges.

      • CommonSense23

        The AR has the best charging handle when you don’t need it. And the worst when you do.

  • Seth Greer

    $155!? You could get an true side charging upper for not much more than that, and you won’t have to break you cheek weld.

    • Jambo

      My guess is that this is marketed toward people that use rifles that don’t belong to them. Even if you lose the charging handle on your weapon, it’s not a serialized item, so it shouldn’t be a big deal.

      I never had problems with the regular charging handle, though. You just have to use your man hands.

      • Kyle

        LOL not serialized and not a big deal. I know a guy who had to spend two days looking through grass for a screw that went with his ACOG. At the time we had the ones that mounted on the M16A2 carrying handle. Hell I misjudged distance on a tight squeeze for a HMMWV and lost a mirror in Baghdad. You’d think I had actually told my driver to run over a child with all the screaming at me about it later that day. As for the article, I really don’t see how this contraption is an improvement over a standard charging handle with an enlarged paddle.

        • Jambo

          By not a big deal, I meant you can replace it without anyone noticing.

          • Grey Beard

            Is that kind of like the don’t ask, don’t tell policy for M4s?

          • Squirreltakular

            It depends on the unit. I put a Magpul asap plate on mine. I was told that I’d get my ass chewed, but apparently the battalion Gunner saw and liked it. Pretty soon a bunch of people had them.

          • Grey Beard

            I hear you amigo. It has never ceases to amaze me how organizations tend to look down upon or make the end user run the risk of the dreaded ass munching on customization when the users main intent it to make changes that benefit their individual capabilities.

          • Squirreltakular

            To be fair, I would trust the average Private to watch my back in a fighting hole, but I wouldn’t leave him alone in a room with his rifle and an AR wrench.

          • Grey Beard

            That was funny and worth being a quote that should be hung up in an armory. Thank you for that gem and your service.

    • Devil Dog Concepts

      You could get a built in side charger for a little more than the cost of our Hard Charger. The differences are that with ours, you do not have to re-build your rifle to make it a side charger which creates many problems for a lot of people, and our’s is interchangeable from rifle to rifle making it so one of our products turns all your forged flat tops into side chargers and buying a built in only turns one rifle into a side charger.

  • Giolli Joker

    I actually thought about a similar solution a few months ago, I was surprised there was nothing like that. Well, I wasn’t alone apparently.

  • Justin Roney

    “One of the officers was racking his AR-15 charging handle and his hand slipped. His hand kept moving back and he punched himself in the nose. So due to that slightly embarrassing moment, they came up with a side charging handle…”

    I’m all for innovation, but, why not just buy a charging handle with a large latch and better gripping surface? That seems a whole lot simpler…

    • Nicks87

      Exactly, when it comes to AR15s I think people just need to quit trying to re-invent the wheel.

      • mustridemore

        Re-inventing the wheel= profit from people who have to have all the latest and greatest gadgets on their Barbie guns.

      • Devil Dog Concepts

        The mother of invention is necessity. If there was no need seen, nothing new would be created. And, if you weren’t interested in people creating new inventions to the AR-15 platform, you wouldn’t have been interested enough to click on the article, read it, and then make a post with minimal information on facts. But hey, your post still made me smile.

    • Asdf

      With a standard charger, you would need to move your face to avoid your hand anyway if you kept it on the stock. But honestly, if you want a side charger, there are side charging uppers out there.

      • aka_mythos

        Most of the ones I’ve seen are reciprocating and this opens the market to people who already own an AR instead of insisting people buy a new AR.

    • gendar

      or even cheaper, buy the offending officer a foam clown nose for $0.45 so Mr Clumsy won’t hurt himself anymore

    • n0truscotsman

      Yeah like one of BCM’s charging handles. Solves the problem immediately

      • Justin Roney

        Yep, I used the BCM ambi charging handle for my first AR build in 300 BLK last year, and it works great.

    • Budogunner

      Replace the officer or his trainer, not the part. The rest of the world have been using the charging handle just fine for quote some time now.

    • Devil Dog Concepts

      The attempt of course was made. Extended latches caught on tac gear and continued to pull the firearm out of battery. Plus, extended latches create an enormous amount of torque on the roll pin, especially when utilized under stress. This causes a lot of roll pins to break.

  • Bill

    Punching yourself in the nose sounds like an operator issue, not a hardware problem. And my vest may not sit where their vests do. I run the left side of my ARs clean except for sling mounts just to avoid any hang-ups, being right-handed. If it works for you, great, but most of us manage to struggle along charging our ARs without self-inflicted injuries. I also wonder if this might interfere with some vehicle mounts, but it may also provide another hook to hang spare cuffs and your hat on.

    Someone needs to calculate if the number of new charging handles exceeds the number of new 1911s introduced every year, or month.

    • Devil Dog Concepts

      Sometimes, brother, you don’t know you need something until you have it in your hands or find yourself in “that” situation. For example, next time out with your AR, go down strong hand, put your rifle in your support hand, then charge the rifle through a malfunction. With the Hard Charger, you can tap, and rack in under a second while never removing your support hand, which is now your firing hand, and be back on target and in the fight.

  • Sianmink

    I just got a side-charging upper instead.

  • Badwolf

    wont this interfere with scope mount?

    • Nicholas C

      Nope. There is enough clearance for knobs so you dont get hit with your knuckles.

  • Giolli Joker

    Just watched the video… waiting for Phuc Long’s take on all this gross motor skills display.

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    7/23/14.

  • politicsbyothermeans

    No offence to LEOs in general but I wish every cop carrying the ultra-evil AR-15 in NY would punch himself in the face. Now I’ll go back to looking at my neutered AR-15 and grumbling under my breath.

    • Devil Dog Concepts

      No offense taken. Just remember, Law Enforcement Officers are not the law makers who created and enacted these laws. The people of the state voted the law makers in to office. Everyone just likes to blame the Cop instead of taking responsibility.

      • politicsbyothermeans

        Considering I moved here from Free America I take absolutely no responsibility for the blatantly unconstitutional “SAFE” act or any of the other myriad gun control laws pushed onto upstate NY by the ding dongs out in the boroughs. Every LEO who chooses to enforce the SAFE act is enforcing an unconstitutional law. Every LEO with an un-neutered Evil Black Rifle or more than 7 rounds in their pistola has chosen to make themselves more equal than the rest of us. But, hey if you want to hide behind a morally bankrupt “only following orders” defense, knock yourself out.

        Anyway, best of luck with your Hard Charger and stay safe out there.

  • Car54

    I think it’s a good idea. I’ve seen some homemade side charging handle s that work and often wonder why they weren’t marketed.

  • USMC03Vet

    What motivators.

    • Rob

      I hope it comes with a copy of A Message To Garcia.

      • Squirreltakular

        Message was just dropped from the reading list. They’ll have to find a new piece of motivated reading material.

        • Rob

          First women in the Infantry now THIS???!!??

          Thanks a lot Obama.

  • guest

    How this never-ending customization faggotry never ends is beyond me…

  • ozzallos .

    Great idea! Now we just need to get them to stop installing those red dots on backwards and this whole AR thing will be solved!

  • jam

    Am I the only one who doesn’t hate the T handle? Aside from administrative loading and malfunctions when do you even need to run the handle (aside from the always run the handle crowd). Both cases I have no issue with breaking cheek because it helps break up tunnel vision. For me this device falls into the expensive novelty category.

    • itsmefool

      “Breaking cheek.” Nice one!

  • Jake Gaston

    Not really understanding all the hate here. Just because you don’t like it somehow it’s an affront to the platform?

    • Devil Dog Concepts

      It is a new and different way of utilizing an existing application of a side charger by re-configuring your standard charging handle. It is hard to get people to change from what they know and are familiar with because they know it works for them. At least until it breaks or they find themselves in a situation where they realize it could be just a bit better.

  • dan

    im a gunsmith in Australia that mostly does work related to helping disabled and injured people shoot and i think this is a great product and im surprised that there are so many that say otherwise.

    remember the more people involved in firearms the stronger the voice when some one try’s to take them.

    • Devil Dog Concepts

      Thank you. We do have quite a few disabled vets and other people with disabilities that our side charging handle system helps to be able to run their rifle.
      We don’t mind the comments. Once they have a chance to run one, everyone is extremely surprised at the durability, reliability, and benefits.

  • BobinMI

    I would be fascinated to see if this works on a CMMG mutant. I refuse to buy one right now because I think the reloads would be ridiculous. This could certainly change that.

    • Squirreltakular

      Couldn’t you fit a side charging upper on it instead?

      • BobinMI

        No, its not a standard size anything.

        • Squirreltakular

          That’s too bad. A Faxon Arak upper would be perfect.

  • derfelcadarn

    For a weapons system(AR platform) that is supposedly so damned wonderful why are there thousands of items designed to stick in or hang on it to make it function better ?

  • RickOAA .

    The only innovative AR-15’s I get excited about anymore are the ones I’m putting together for myself. They are very devoid of trinkets and doodads. Think tacticool circa 1995.

  • Markbo

    Nothing matters since Devil Dog has fired ALL of their employees and apparently shut their doors.

    • Devil Dog Concepts

      That was Devil Dog Arms, with we have no affiliation with.