Lessons on AR-15 accessories that you only learn from watching lots of students.

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This past weekend marked the last rifle class my friend Georges Rahbani is teaching for the year. As I often do, I assisted him with his class and, as often happens, we came away with what some  people consider unusual opinions about rifles and gear validated and vindicated.

Georges has a funny saying: “thou shalt not hang sh*t on thy rifle!” His point is that adding geegaws to a basically sound firearm rarely improves shooter performance, and often results in lessened mechanical performance. The ever-popular “tactical latch” for the AR-15 is such an accessory, and the installation of one may pose an unforeseen risk.

For those who’ve never seen a “tac latch”, it’s a large appendage that replaces the standard latching lever found on the left side of the AR’s charging handle. (I’m still not really sure of it’s purpose, but all the “high speed, low drag” folks appear to have them on their rifles. The latch’s large “wing” would, it seems to me, in fact increase drag and decrease speed – but hey, what do I know?)

In all fairness, it should be mentioned that there is one good use for the tac latch: to be able to operate the charging handle with a low-mounted scope, in the same way that a hammer extension performs on a lever-action rifle. Outside of that, however, they serve no useful purpose that I can discern.

If you’re absolutely convinced that you really need this accessory, take a piece of friendly advice: DON’T install it on the stock aluminum charging handle! The increased leverage from the oversized latch causes fractures to develop around the charging handle’s pivot pin; the “t” part of the handle can then snap off at inopportune times. Yes, I’ve seen it happen.

There is an all-steel charging charging handle available from Brownell’s (and no doubt other fine retailers), and it is a far better choice for the installation of the tac latches. Do yourself a favor and spend the few extra dollars; it’s worth it to avoid the problem.

-=[ Grant ]=-

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About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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