Introduction

For me, the Geissele Airborne Charging Handle (or ACH) in Desert Dirt Colour (or DDC) is an unashamed item of functional personalisation.

Or, simply put – ‘flair’.

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After using the L119A2 type Colt Canada charging handle in its original format, I realised that one of three courses of action was required:

  1. Put up with the left side of the handle’s latch hanging up on kit
  2. Ghetto mod (shorten) the left side of the handle’s latch, to prevent it hanging up
  3. Select a new charging handle with a lower profile latch

Followers of this blog will know by now that the issued L119A2 charging handle is often modified by UKSF to prevent snagging.

Here are a couple of examples:

Reference pic: Nairobi, Kenya – January 2019
Reference pic: Newcastle, UK – December 2018

The original design is great for magnified optics, where a conventional charging handle may be inaccessible due to aft overhang. However, where clearance is abundant – such as with red dots and flip to side magnifiers – something less intrusive is the order of the day.

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Rough comparison between the two charging handle silhouettes in situ

But what to choose? Well, I ended up getting my Colt Canada charging handle ghetto modded, which you can read more about here.

Revised comparison between the two charging handle silhouettes in situ; there’s not much in it, now that the Colt Canada item has been ghetto modded

Ghetto modded Colt Canada charging handle

Modding is by far the cheaper option. It’s legit and to be perfectly honest, the left side is now about as lo pro as you can go.

However, prior to that I bought an alternative charging handle. It’s been stuck in my bits box until now and will probably go back there after I’ve made my point in this article.

In searching out an alternative charging handle, I thought why not go for something low profile which would also help with the over-gassed nature of a real SBR when suppressed?

I kept reading on AR forums about this aspect of shorties and I doubted very much whether the L119A2 was immune. A friend who runs a real L119A2 upper and the issued suppressor confirmed this to be so, without remedial modifications in place.

There are a few such ‘gas busting’ charging handles on the market, but the one I liked best was the Geissele Airborne Charging Handle or ACH. Geissele’s website says this:

A taller fence at the rear of the ACH aids in redirecting gas blow back when shooting with short barreled and suppressed weapon systems.

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Geissele ACH showing taller ‘fence’ and checkered grip profile

 

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The Geissele ACH’s distinctive underside design; note also that the latch is DDC as well as the tanodized aluminium parts

Methodology

When I consider deviating from canon, the way I evaluate a functional personalisation  – or ‘flair’ accessory – for a build is this:

  1. Does the item offer additional utility when compared to an alternative which is issued and therefore free?
  2. Is the item easily available in the UK?
  3. Is there already too much flair on my blaster?

The ACH had to satisfy these three tests.

The following is hypothetical, because the ACH will only stay on my blaster while I take pics for this article. However, this would be my justification for using it permanently:

Does the item offer additional utility when compared to an alternative which is issued and therefore free?

We know for a fact that at least some UKSF guys are interested in kit (e.g. Obi Wan Nairobi). I’d wager that someone such as this would spend on something which is both lower profile and ameliorates the presumptive over-gassed operation.

There’s also the utility of simply owning a Geissele item to be taken into consideration. For someone interested in kit, that’s possibly as important as the purely functional aspect.

Going DDC instead of black is a bit cheeky – but who wants a ‘matchy’ A2 anyway?

Lastly, like grips and stocks, the charging handle is dead easy to swap without armourer intervention.

Is the item easily available in the UK?

I bought the ACH from Brownells UK, so that fulfils the second requirement.

Is there already too much flair on my blaster?

I thought about this and to be honest, as long as items are coherent and believable, it’s difficult to put too much flair on an L119A2 as the upper is so distinctive. You just have to avoid doing something stupid with flash hiders, cans, optics, buffer tubes and other non-negotiable items.

Conclusion

If I’m not going to use the Geissele ACH on my build, what’s the point of this article? I suppose it’s a proof of concept.

Think it through, know the constraints of your build and develop that confidence in your subject area. Then you can go that bit bolder. Not everyone will like what you’ve done, but if your reasoning is informed and coherent then it’s just a matter of taste; and no one has a monopoly on that.

Articles about the real steel UKSF L119A2:
  • The Comprehensive UKSF (SAS/SBS) L119A2 Parts and Accessories List
  • The original L119A2 primer, here
  • GG&G AR15 vertical fore-grip in use here
  • Magpul QDM and ASAP QD in use here – part 1
  • Magpul QDM and ASAP QD in use here – part 2
  • 15.7″ L119A2 upper in use here
  • Surefire FA556SA Suppressor here
  • GG&G Aimpoint T1 mount in use here
  • Magpul MS3 sling in use here
  • Magpul ACS stock in use here – part 1
  • Magpul ACS stock in use here – part 2
  • Colt Canada parts – as used on the L119A2 – here
  • Manta Very Low Profile Rail Covers here
  • S&S Precision Sling Clip – Old Gen – here
  • Inforce WML-type lights in use here
  • UKSF Manchester UK incident video here
  • UKSF Manchester UK incident L119A2 here
  • UKSF Newcastle UK incident part 1 – here
  • UKSF Newcastle UK incident part 2 – here
  • UKSF Nairobi Kenya incident L119A2 parts breakdown here
  • UKSF Nairobi Kenya incident Proctor Way of the Gun Sling here
  • UKSF Nairobi Kenya incident LaRue RISR here
  • UKSF Nairobi Kenya incident Surefire RM45L M620 Scout mount here
  • UKSF Belize ‘Jungle Set-up’ L119A2 parts breakdown here
Obi Wan Nairobi patch from Platatac

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