One of my new favorite blasters is FoxTrot Mike‘s FM15 Gen 2. It leaves very little to be desired. It’s a flat shooting little monster that performs, however, there is one area that could be improved. The charging handle or as I liked to call it, the finger eater.
The FM15 Gen 2 is different from your typical AR15 in many ways. Most notably in how you charge the the firearm. It is a side charging non-reciprocating system which charges from either side of the handguard, depending on your preferences and how you set it up. It is also bent so that it can be installed to angle either up or down sightly. The factory charging handle leaves a lot to be desired. While it does get the job done, it’s definitely not comfortable. If you have a cluttered handguard, then you may also have trouble getting purchase on the charging handle.
The factory changing handle is contoured toward the middle of the handle. Ideally your finger would fall into the middle of the charging handle, right into the contoured section. This leaves a point on the outer edge of the handle. Catching the more pointy edge while charging is uncomfortable and what makes this worse is that the charging handle is also thin. If you’re running drills which require you to repeatedly charge the rifle, then they may get old very fast and you’ll more than likely start to dread charging the rifle. My girlfriend’s primary complaint about the FM15 is the force that it takes to charge the weapon. While it doesn’t bother me, it adds to the discomfort.
Enter Applesauce Engineering
Full disclosure, I was approached by Applesauce Engineering and given the opportunity to test one of their charging handles. I took said opportunity. There was no monetary exchange or anything else.
ASE’s charging handle is a big departure from FM’s charging handle. Where the FM charging handle is flat with a contour for your finger, the ASE charging handle is thick and round. It also comes straight out of the side of the handguard, rather than bent at an angle. To top it all off, it is also a visually appealing.
ASE’s charging handle is a multipart ordeal. At its core, it’s a piece of black oxide coated chromoly steel. This leaves very little concern over durability or corrosion resistance. The core is then coated in Nylon, giving it a cylindrical shape. On top of that, it’s not too short and not too long. It’s just right. It doesn’t hang so far off the side of your rifle that it snags on your gear, but it’s also not so short that it’s hard to grab when you have lasers and tape switches on the top of your handguard.
I’ve been running ASE’s charging handle for a little while now and I will never go back. In fact, I plan on getting another FM15 and it too will get an ASE charging handle. It makes charging the weapon comfortable and its easy to get purchase on. Even if your finger only catching the edge of the charging handle, it is still comfortable. It doesn’t feel like you’re being jabbed. The thickness of the charging handle massively adds to the comfort. This eliminates the pressure point that you get from the thin factory charging handle. It is unreal how big of a difference the ASE charging handle made in terms of comfort.
Installing the ASE charging handle is relatively easy. In fact, the hardest part of the install was actually getting the old handle out. In order to remove the factory charging handle, you’ll need a long 3/32″ allen wrench. There is a set screw that you access from the end of the handguard with the long allen wrench. Once you’ve removed the set screw, then the old charging handle should slide out the side of the handguard. Of course that’s not how it worked for me. In my case, I had to use a hammer and punch to lightly tap on the back side of the charging handle to get it to pop out.
Once the old charging handle is removed, then you simply slide the new charging handle into the charging handle slot. The ASE and factory charging handles both have notch’s in them on the front and back sides. These are for that set screw that you previously removed to seat into. Slide the charging handle in so that the notch lines up with the set screw and then tighten it all back down. It’s literally as simple as that.
I’ll be blunt. I freaking love ASE’s charging handle. It is perfect in terms of feel. It is the right size, it clears everything on my handguard, and it eliminates all the pressure points and discomfort of the factory charging handle. To top this perfect package off, it comes in at a very affordable $30. There’s no excuse not to get one if you find that the factory charging handle is uncomfortable in any way. Its great. The other upside is that you’re supporting a small business that is right here in the USA. It doesn’t get much better than that. If you’ve got an FM15, then you should definitely check out Applesauce Engineering’s charging handle.