Finally – Making the Base AR-15 Charging Handle Ambidextrous – Sintercore’s xRS

The standard AR-15 charging handle is both loved and hated. Often one of the most underappreciated pieces on the rifle (perhaps only behind the buffer retention pin or castle nut), the charging handle was designed for a very specific mode of operation, namely using two fingers and pulling to the rear over the buttstock. Few can argue this is an ergonomic motion.

While various aftermarket options exist for complete charging handles and various “kits” exist that simply extend the charging handle latch, the fundamental operation of the base charging handle always required the latch to be disengaged, making it right-hand shooter “friendly”. Fortunately, Sintercore, known for their Tripwire ambidextrous charging handle (previously reviewed here), has come up with an easy solution for the standard handle – add in a bit of Tripwire.

The new xRS kit swaps out the latch itself, using a contoured latch and a higher pressure spring to keep the charging handle in place, while removing the need to disengage the latch with a finger – simply pull to the rear from either side.

The xRS kit works with almost all common “basic” charging handles. Its a drop-in kit that includes the latch, spring, some pre-cut grip tape (a nice touch) and a mil-spec roll pin (in case you lose yours). Pricing is at $23 retail, but for launch the kit is a sublime bargain at $11.50 including shipping. 

Rimfire fans will also appreciate that a specific kit has been created for the Smith & Wesson 15-22. It has the same pricing. 

 



Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • adverse4

    Learn something new no matter what age, I’m left handed, left eye dominant shooting a long gun. The M-16 was my last rifle used in the service, never had a problem with the charging handle. Maybe the AR-15’s are somehow harder to adapt to?

    • CommonSense23

      They are not.

    • Uniform223

      It’s just people who don’t want to put in the extra time and effort to develop the muscle memory.

    • jerry young

      They’re almost exactly the same, I carried the M16A1 in the Army and have AR15’s there are some differences from back in the 70’s but most parts are interchangeable

  • winterhorse

    if I understand what’s going on, I’m seeing the latch as being under tension as it scrapes the side of the receiver. other than that a solution to a non existing problem.
    they will sell a million of them

    • Ehtacs

      You are correct except, if I’m not mistaken, the latch is a polymer blend such that it won’t scratch the receiver. More than strong enough to hold the handle in place but the need to hit a lever is removed.

      • winterhorse

        now you have my attention, thanks. I stand on the RIGHT side of my weapons.

      • winterhorse

        Got one on the way. read Sintercore’s web sight and sounds like a winner. If it does what they claim, ALL my, and my wife’s AR’s will be wearing them

        • Neal – Sintercore owner

          Thanks for the order! I look forward to your feedback. Whenever you have time, I’d love to hear what you think.

          • winterhorse

            I’m 60 miles offshore right now so as soon as I get back to the ranch i’ll install and let you know, thanks

    • Sintercore

      It’s a smooth slide when pulling and feels pretty effortless. Main benefit is “grip & rip” from either side, so lefties or those who believe they may have to shoot offhand will benefit. The Tripwire spring / latch system has been around for three years and has received pretty solid reviews, with a few on the website. I will agree with you that it’s like an ambi safety: not everyone needs or wants one, but a lot of people do.

    • Bradley

      The stock latch, and every single one I know of, is under tension and scrapes the side of the receiver.

  • thedonn007

    I believe that Mega Arms has a similar product

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      They do, I have it. It’s not that great, TBH. Charging handles are not meant to be pinched (force applied to the front & back) and then pulled, they are meant to be acted upon from the front. I find myself reaching over and grabbing the left side of the handle more often than not. Invest the money in a ground-up ambi handle, not a conversion.

      • valorius

        I just grab the oem handle with my shooting hand, it works perfectly well….whats the problem that requires a “ambi” piece of equipment?

        • Sintercore

          Would you say the same about ambi safeties or slings that allow for left/right side shooting? The main draw is “grip & rip” use of the handle from either side, with no difference pulling from right or left. I definitely agree with you if you’re a right-handed shooter who’s never, ever going to pull from the left.

          The other benefit, not discussed in the article, is that I’m warrantying your entire handle if you swap in my kit, since the Tripwire system eliminates the traditional roll pin / latch failure point and promotes straight-back pulls. There’s a slightly longer explanation on the website. Happy to send you a free kit to try out. Feel free to email me at neal@sintercore.com.

          • valorius

            I’m a lefty, i think the OEM handle is very ambi friendly. The oem selector switch is another story.

            I’m happy to give it a try and an honest accounting though.

    • Sintercore

      They do. However, the Tripwire was released a few months before theirs was announced, and the Tripwire uses a polymer latch that is designed to not wear down the upper receiver. Plus, mine is a little bit lighter and uses different latch geometry for a solid lockup under recoil.

  • Rick O’Shay

    I’m a lefty. I’ve always used a pull on the charging handle that, the best way I can describe it would be my “T-Rex grip:” hooked index and middle fingers. It doesn’t matter whether I shoot lefty or righty, either hand using that pull will charge the AR fine.
    A $15 milspec charging handle works just fine.

  • QuadGMoto

    Why are so many companies trying to fix that silly gas porting, sight picture disrupting charging handle instead of developing and licensing a proper side charging handle system?

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      There are lots of side charging AR designs on the market, and a reason they are outsold 1,000:1.

      • QuadGMoto

        I’m pretty sure the primary reason (by a long shot) is that it’s the standard AR design. That is a lot of momentum to overcome.

        • Rick O’Shay

          And side charging has insufficient advantages to overcome that kind of momentum.

        • Sunshine_Shooter

          Same could have been said about 2-part handguards, front sight posts, iron sights, fixed stocks…

    • CommonSense23

      Cause you are runing one of the best parts of the gun. If you have to charge your gun, why are you worring about sight picture.

      • Sunshine_Shooter

        And if you’re not charging the gun, the handle is out of your way, just like Stoner intended.

    • valorius

      Delta Team tactical is selling a complete Davidson Defense XRS3 charging handle/upper receiver assembly for 200 bucks right now.

  • valorius

    I’m left handed and find the bone stock charging handle of the AR-15 to work perfectly fine.

    • CommonSense23

      You mean to tell me that you don’t need to do the exact same manipulations as a righty efficiently?

      • valorius

        I’m not sure i follow? The design of the OEM charging handle is very left handed friendly. In fact with the exception of the A1 style selector lever, all the controls of an AR are super lefty friendly.

        • CommonSense23

          That was sarcasm. I’m left handed also. I don’t even mind safety selector. More just making fun of the fact that people think us lefties need a perfectly mirrored set of controls. The only thing that really isn’t left hand friendly is the mag release. Which is what the righties found out when patroling with the MK17s.

          • valorius

            Even the mag release isn’t terrible, especially if youre a magwell grip kind of guy.

          • CommonSense23

            I don’t think the mag release is bad at all for a lefty to use. Its actually pretty nice cause the vast majority of time you are pocketing your mag. So it is still pretty efficient. The major issue is with plate carriers, when slung its really easier for a magazine on the front of your kit to hit the mag release. Which is something the right handers found out with the MK17s running around. You got to be far more conscience of it. Which isn’t horrible but after 10klicks of patrolling or running around in LADs can slip your mind.

          • valorius

            Very true- I’ve inadvertently popped a mag after bumping it on my web gear mag pouches a few times during a field problem. Once i figured out what happened i was conscious of it and it never happened again though.

            Still- it could be considered a design flaw i suppose.

  • David

    I came here expecting something made on a DMLS machine!

    A little disappointed in the lack of laser sintering, but at the same time it is an interesting option. I don’t care much for the extended latches and have no desire to shell out $80 for a fancy charging handle that would give little benefit for how I use my rifle. Definite bonus points for a simple retrofit system.

    For under $12 and a quick install, I’d be willing to give one a try and see if it’s that much better. The idea of not having to lever is neat.

    • Sintercore – Neal

      Sorry about not sintering this product. 🙁 Haha. I’ve had a lot of fun marketing 3D printed parts in the past, but this is a high-demand item and the economies of scale just aren’t there for 3D printed parts. If you decided to try it out, I hope you enjoy your xRS kit.

      • David

        Yeah, I always have to roll my eyes when people thing additive manufacturing is going to take over with respect to other processes. This is especially true with products that already have a easy means of production and/or have no need for the benefits of additive. Now muzzle devices that can benefit from unique geometries that can’t be done by traditional machining, that’s a different story and a really cool application.

        I’ll probably grab the xRS kit this weekend. Might as well give it a try and I can also test it on the Nordic Components “heavy duty” charging handle I have to see if there are compatibility issues.

  • jerry young

    I guess it’s because I’m right handed I don’t see what all the hype over the normal charging handle VS the ambidextrous handle is, I’ve tried to pull the charging handle on mine that has the plane Jane charging handle and other than being a little jerky at it because I’m right handed I had no problem and I’m not the most coordinated guy, I just used my middle finger on the release latch what’s the big deal? Just another way to get people to spend money on a part that isn’t really needed

  • Dracon1201

    I had one of the tripwires, I really loved it. It seemed to simplify the CH in a way that shouldn’t have been a problem in the first place. It was a lot of fun to use.

  • Cody Becker

    I wanted to update this forum after I recieved my latches from sintercore.

    I ordered 3 kits. All came in one small plastic bag. would have been nice if they could spare a couple extra baggies. each kit packaged on its own would be nice.

    They “latch” is made of plastic. i dont remember reading that on their site. it installed fine but i am slightly dubious as to the quality now. i will begin beating it and report back if it fails in any short time frame.

    • Neal – Sintercore owner

      I look forward to hearing what you think. I have yet to have a customer report a latch failing with our current generation material. It’s acetal homopolymer and has a super low coefficient of fiction (won’t damage the upper receiver) and is extremely tough (won’t fracture, but will just bend and return to shape if knocked around).Regarding baggies, I haven’t heard that feedback yet and will probably add that as an option on the website. I thought that most people would prefer less waste. I appreciate your comment.

      • Neal – Sintercore owner

        The separate baggies option is now live on the website.

      • Adam D.

        If I understand this correctly, the latch basically replaces lock up with spring tension, so a certain amount of force can move the handle without releasing anything.
        This raised two questions for me:
        -is it noticeably harder to charge the weapon?

        – Won’t the dead weight of the charging handle pull the BCG out of battery if the rifle is dropped, landing with the buttstock?

        I’ll admit, I see little to no chance for this, but firearms safety and reliable operation is not about taking chances.

        Otherwise, I like the basic idea. Cheap solution for anyone who doesn’t like “T-Rexing” the charging handle, like me.

        • Neal – Sintercore owner

          Adam,
          Your assumption on operation is correct. It’s tension based, and the latch looks like it has a cam lobe / hook. Depending on various factors, it takes about 11lb of rearward force for the latch to disengage, so it’s equivalent to pulling a revolver trigger. Because the required pull force to disengage is less than the action spring (buffer spring) biasing force, it’s mostly impossible to feel any latch tension. In other words, no, there’s actually no change in feel when charging a firearm; however, when the BCG is locked to the rear, disengaging or reengaging the handle feels like pulling a smooth, 11lb trigger.

          Regarding the second question, the answer is no for any rifle tested so far. This is because the forces holding the BCG in battery far surpass the Tripwire dead weight. It’s actually the lightest ambi handle on the market (1.0xx oz), so that helps. There’s a review on the website by a guy named Harry and he left this: “I have slammed my rifle on the deck trying to get this thing to unlatch (so hard that my handguard actually came off), but the latch held tight.” There are also some other anecdotal reviews online stating the same thing, but I cannot remember where they are at this time.

          If you want to try out the system, I’m happy to send you one for testing for free. My email is neal@sintercore.com.