To side charge or not side charge, that is the question. Deciding whether to leave your AR 15 with the traditional charging handle or modify to a side-charging handle is something most shooter may consider when on the journey to personalize their AR 15. ARs come with standard rear charging upper while side-charging upper receivers relocate the charging handle from the back to the side of the chamber.
There are four key benefits that we will talk about that make the side charging upper receiver a must-have when you begin personalizing your AR 15.
Benefit #1: Aesthetics
Side charging upper receiver standout in the crowd (or the shooting range). Due to the location of the side charging upper being just that, on the side and coupled with a badass handguard, those with traditionally placed charging handles will be sure to take notice.
Benefit #2: Functionality
Not only will your side charging upper aid in the badass look of your AR 15, but it will also improve the speed and efficiency of your shooting performance. The charging handle is off to the side of the chamber, so there is no need to readjust your body after charging the gun, allowing shooters to keep their eyes on the target. In addition, you can release the spent shell casing, load another round into the chamber from the magazine, and fire without moving anything. Still, your shooting hand thus increasing the speed and efficiency of your shots.
Benefit #3: Fewer Parts
This benefit is significant when cleaning and lubing up your AR 15. Fewer parts mean less to break or mess up. For example, when you switch to a side charging handle, you will have a rough total of about 17 parts that are no longer required (i.e., such as rear charging handle, spring, pin, forward assist, etc.).
Benefit #4: Legality
When dealing with firearms, laws are always very important and should be followed all the time. However, where side charging uppers are concerned, the stress of legal issues from states with strict assault weapon laws is relieved. Due to the side charging upper being a reciprocating upper, meaning that you must use the side handle to load and unload the chamber with a round, states with stringent automatic or semi-automatic laws will not penalize you.