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    Grandmaster phylodog's Avatar

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    Review: Armageddon Tactical GMS-15 Charging Handle

    There was a discussion recently about various ambidextrous charging handles for the AR15/M16 rifles. The main topic of the discussion was the Rainier Arms Raptor charging handle. I've been using the Raptor since SHOT show 2013 and have been very pleased with it. It works well from either side of the rifle and I have not had any issues with it catching or snagging on my gear. The topic of gas coming back to the face of the shooter was raised and this is the only area I can find fault with the Raptor, it does nothing to prevent this and since I shoot with a suppressor it is a small issue that I had simply gotten used to. That thread got me curious about alternatives so I went a Googlin' to see what was out there. I was familiar with the PRI Gasbuster but was never fond of the design.

    My search led me to the Armageddon Tactical website and the GMS-15 (Charging Handle | Armageddon Tactical). I liked what I saw on the website and found a positive online review so I decided to give one a shot. It showed up a few days ago but this is my first day back at the office so I tested it out this morning.

    Initial thoughts:

    Fit and finish are good, no discernible machining marks and the anodizing seems smoother and offers less resistance in the rifle than some other charging handles I've used.

    I first set out to compare it in size and function to the Raptor I have been using. The size of the pull levers are very similar between the Raptor and the GMS-15. The Raptor levers have a swept forward design where the GMS-15 runs more perpendicular to the rifle. While I've never had an issue with the Raptor snagging on my gear, my thought is that the GMS-15 is less likely to do so.

    Operation of both the Raptor and GMS-15 is essentially the same (both can be operated by simply pulling rearward), the means by which they unlock is significantly different. The Raptor levers are connected and pulling back on one side cams the other side back as well. This system works very well and tolerances are precise, I cannot find any "play" between the left and right levers.

    The GMS-15 uses a straight pull mechanism which works as well as the Raptor and allows the CH to be unlocked by pulling back anywhere along the forward surface on either side of the rifle. The pull lever slides back on the body of the CH and has just a bit more "play" in it than the Raptor. My rudimentary tools tell me the lever moves approximately 1/32" to the rear before engaging the locking bar and beginning the unlocking process. This is hardly a concern and is likely an unavoidable result of the design.

    Here is a pic of the GMS pulled just far enough back to unlock from the receiver but not yet pulling the BCG out of battery.

    With the GMS-15 in the fully closed position, there is a tab in the center which protrudes to the rear.

    This tab appears to be an extension of the main body. It comes into play during the only aspect of the GMS-15 that I find unusual. The operation of the GMS-15 changes if the BCG is locked to the rear or if the receiver has been pivoted open to remove the BCG. It appears that the GMS-15 uses the resistance provided by the recoil spring to operate with a simple pull to the rear. If the BCG is locked back or the reeiver is open this resistance is no longer present and onlocking the GMS-15 requires the user to place their thumb on the tab while pulling the lever to the rear.

    With the receiver open, the GMS-15 does not want to unlock with a simple pull to the rear

    Placing the thumb on the tab and using it as leverage allows the user to unlock the GMS-15.

    While I find this a bit unusual, it does not concern me. If my BCG is locked to the rear due to an empty magazine, I slap the bolt release with the palm of my support hand. I operate the CH with my right hand when locking the BCG back and end up placing my thumb on the tab naturally so clearing malfunctions is no different for me. Disassembling the rifle is not something I am required to do under stress so using the tab for leverage to unlock the CH shouldn't be an issue, simply something to get accustomed to.

    The GMS stands for "Gas Managements System" and this CH accomplishes that task via an angled port through the body just forward of the pull lever and a semicircular cut into the handle itself.

    As excess gas blows back through the upper receiver it vents through this port and into the cut which forces it forward and away from the shooter's face. I shot my rifle with the GMS-15 installed and noticed an immediate change in gas blow back, there was none. The only issue I could see this design causing would be that it pushes the gas forward toward any receiver mounted optic. On my rifle this gas is going to hit the rear sight which should act as a barrier and prevent this from occurring. The absence of a rear sight coupled with an optic mounted farther to the rear than I've seen would likely be required for this to be a problem. I'll know more once I get a few thousand rounds through the rifle with it.

    All things considered I'm very pleased with the GMS-15. It appears to work equally as well as the Raptor as an ambidextrous charging handle but with the added benefit of eliminating gas to the users face. It feels well built but I cannot see the internals to pass judgement on whether I believe it will hold up long term. At this point I have no reason to doubt that it will. Time will tell and after I have the opportunity to run it through it's paces I'll be looking for another GMS-15 for my coyote upper.

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    Last edited by Roadie; 08-08-2014 at 20:38.
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