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5 Best Side Charging AR Uppers For 2022

Side upper receivers used to be custom jobs to give your competitive precision rifle the upper edge, but now they are available straight out of the box.

Besides making you look cool, side-charging upper receivers offer several benefits to give you an enhanced shooting experience.

A side charging upper is an excellent upgrade to get the most out of your AR-15.

Below are the 5 Best Side Charging AR Uppers For 2022.

#1. Lantac USC Billet Upper Side Charging Receiver

Lantac USC Billet Upper Side Charging Receiver

  • Material: Billet 7075-T6 Aluminum
  • Model Fit: AR Platform
  • Includes Bolt: No
  • Finish: Black Anodized

The Lantac USC Billet Upper Side Charging Receiver offers a super-smooth operation with a low friction cam pin and a domed head.

Weighing just 11.3 ounces, the upper receiver is lightweight and features a shrouded bolt catch area for reduced snagging.

It also features a mil-spec class 2 deep black hard coat anodized finish for added protection.

Its cam pin recess has a smooth surface, and the domed head cam pin provides additional longevity with a sturdy low-friction design.

It supports a fixed assembly with a high-precision mill and has strengthened sidewalls to minimum barrel deflection and maximum rigidity.

The upper receiver has a CP-R360 cam pin with no moving parts for enhanced reliability.

They constructed the pin with stainless steel, featuring a polished, super smooth surface.

It also features a Picatinny rail on the top end to add a sight or optics.

If you are looking for an upper receiver built to last, the Lantac USC Billet Upper Side Charging Receiver is an excellent option.

It is available from Sportsman’s Warehouse. Here’s where to buy it: www.Sportsmans.com

#2. AR-15/M16 G4 Side Charging Upper Receiver (Gibbz Arms)

Gibbz Arms AR-15 M16 G4 Side Charging Upper Receiver

  • Material: Not Specified
  • Model Fit: AR-15
  • Includes Bolt: No
  • Finish: Black

The AR-15/M16 G4 Side Charging Upper Receiver by Gibbz Arms is constructed to be compatible with Mil-Spec and most lower receivers.

It features an enlarged beveled ejection port that will work with all AR-15 rounds from 22LR to 50 Beowulf.

One of the many excellent features is that it can use all mil-spec and most custom bolt carrier groups without modification, allowing you to fully customize your rig.

It features a premium cam pin optimized for side charging and a Melonite coating for additional protection and longevity.

It also features a full fifteen-slot Picatinny rail to install your favorite sights or optics.

Gibbz constructed the upper receiver with a bolt carrier door for simple disassembly and cleaning.

It is important to note that you must use the included G4 Enhanced Cam Pin with the upper receiver to prevent malfunctions.

The AR-15/M16 G4 Side Charging Upper Receiver by Gibbz Arms is a solid choice for any gun enthusiast because of its compatibility with custom parts, which allows you to create a premium custom rig.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#3. BRN-180 Gen 2 Complete Upper Receiver Assembly

BRN-180 Gen 2 Complete Upper Receiver Assembly

  • Material: Machined 7075 T6 Aluminum
  • Model Fit: AR-15
  • Includes Bolt: Yes
  • Finish: Black Anodized

The BRN-180 Gen 2 Complete Upper Receiver Assembly by Brownells gives you everything you need for a high-quality upper receiver package built for performance.

This package comes with a 16” carbon steel barrel with a 1:8” twist ratio and matte black Nitride finish for added protection and has a three-prong AR-180 flash suppressor.

It comes equipped with a BRN-180 bolt carrier group with a nitride finish for enhanced longevity.

It is compatible with mil-spec AR-15 lower receivers and is chambered for .223 Remington and 5.56mm NATO ammunition.

This package has different options that may include an MI side folding stock for a complete package.

It features a full Picatinny rail on top to add your favorite accessories.

If you are looking for the complete package, the BRN-180 Gen 2 Complete Upper Receiver Assembly by Brownells is your best option.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#4. AR-15 Hard Charger Side Charging Handle System (Devil Dog Concepts, LLC)

AR-15 Hard Charger Side Charging Handle System Devil Dog Concepts LLC

  • Material: 7075 Aluminum
  • Model Fit: AR-15
  • Includes Bolt: No
  • Finish: Black Ceramic

The AR-15 Hard Charger Side Charging Handle System by Devil Dog Concepts is not a side charging upper receiver, but ‌a modification kit to allow side charging on a standard flat top AR-15 with a non-reciprocating design.

It is simple to use and quick to install with no machining or modifications to the upper receiver.

The kit is interchangeable and field strippable with no need for tools.

The design removes the stress on the roll pin, and it reduces torque on the charging handle.

It is designed to be compatible with most optics and mounts and comes with a five-year manufacturer warranty.

Customizing a rifle with a side charging upper receiver can be expensive, but with this kit, you can do it easily on a budget.

If you want to have side charging on a standard flattop AR-15, the AR-15 Hard Charger Side Charging Handle System by Devil Dog Concepts is an excellent option.

It is available from Brownells. Here’s where to buy it: www.Brownells.com

#5. JARD AR Side Charge Complete Upper Receiver Assembly

JARD AR Side Charge Complete Upper Receiver Assembly

  • Material: Not Specified
  • Model Fit: AR Platform
  • Includes Bolt: Yes
  • Finish: Black

The JARD AR Side Charge Complete Upper Receiver Assembly is a quick, simple, and reliable way to complete your .233/5.56mm AR-15 build.

It comes with a .233/5.56mm bolt carrier group with a .378 bolt face for the complete package.

The simple bolt release makes it simple to field strip your weapon and allows you to clean your AR easily.

The upper receiver includes a Picatinny rail for mounting optics and accessories, while the side charge design allows you to rack your weapon quickly.

It is durable and reliable, with a simple design that works well with any lower receiver.

If you are looking for an upper receiver that comes with a bolt carrier group, the JARD AR Side Charge Complete Upper Receiver Assembly is a great choice.

It is available from Optics Planet. Here’s where to buy it: www.OpticsPlanet.com

Benefits of a Side Charging Upper Receiver

There are several benefits to owning a side charging upper receiver, including:

Improved Reliability

Side charging uppers have fewer parts, meaning there are fewer things that can go wrong.

It eliminates the forward assist and racking it back to clear a jam is easier than ever.

The handle also allows you to quickly clear jams and easily manipulate your bolt carrier group.

Easy To Operate

When operating a standard AR-15, you need to break your grip and weapons placement to rack it back.

However, with a side charging receiver, you can keep your eye on your target while charging your weapon.

An ergonomic design makes it easier to yank on the handle from your shoulder.

It is also easier to rack with better leverage for those with diminished grip strength.

Optics Placement

With standard rear charging handles, your optics can easily get in the way, making it difficult to operate.

The side placement of the handle allows for a more extensive selection of optics to be used on your rifle without getting in the way.

Compatibility

Side Charging upper receivers are compatible with most mil-spec lower receivers and allow you to customize your rig the way you want.

Sound Reduction

Hunters will love the fact that side-charging upper receivers are quieter than the standard receiver.

This is because you have complete control over your bolt, allowing you to control its speed rather than just racking it back.

The below Youtube video discusses in detail the benefits of buying a side charging AR-15: 

Disadvantages of a Side Charging Upper Receiver

There are a few disadvantages to owning a side charging upper receiver.

Snagging

With standard upper receivers, the charging handle is in the rear of the weapon and is relatively flush with the weapon.

With the extended arm on the side, it gives you a higher chance of snagging your weapon on your clothes or other gear.

There Is No Ejection Port Cover

Ejection port covers help prevent dust and debris from entering your upper receiver.

This may be worrisome for some AR-15 owners, but your weapon will still operate perfectly fine without one.

You just need to consider that when you are in the field, and you need to be prepared to clean it more often.

Not Left Hand Friendly

With a standard rear charging platform, it offers easy ambidextrous operation for left or right-handed shooters with a handle available on both sides of the weapon.

Most side charging upper receivers are designed with right-handed shooters in mind.

However, there are left-handed models out there, but left-handed shooters can still operate a right-handed upper receiver without too much of an issue.

More Expensive

If you already own a standard platform AR, you have everything you need right out of the box, but with any custom modification, it will run you several hundred dollars to upgrade your upper receiver.

Verdict

Most shooters will benefit from the advantages you receive from owning a side charging upper receiver.

If you are on the market to modify your rig, purchasing a side charging upper receiver will take your precision shooting to the next level.

References

Why Side-Charge Your AR-15?

AR15 Rear vs Side Charging Handle

See Also

10 Best Lasers For AR-15 Rifles

12 Best 308 Rifles

12 Best Long Range Rifles

15 Best Spotting Scopes For Hunting & Target Shooting

 
Rob V.
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Side Charging AR Upper Receiver

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Check out our top 3 choices for the best side charging upper receivers for AR-15's for 2022.
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