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Gas! Gas! Gas!: SilencerCo Gas Defeating Charging Handle [Review]

GAS IN YOUR FACE HURTS, IS BAD FOR YOU, AND CAN REALLY DISRUPT YOUR SHOOTING. A NEW CHARGING HANDLE MIGHT HELP

It’s a tale as old as time: Someone hits the range with their brand-new 5.56 silencer, tax stamp still fresh off the printer — and when they pull the trigger for the first time, they start gagging on gas, their eyes watering from the assault on their senses.

Not all silencers increase gas pressure by pushing it back through the bore, but most of the good ones do. Adding this pressure back through an AR-15 not only increases cycling speed but parts wear too. 

Not to mention that face full of leaded gas — assuming your gun even runs, that is. 

Decades ago, we’d sometimes swap buffer weights and springs when attaching a suppressor, effectively bringing cyclic rates closer to the norm, but that doesn’t really help you avoid inhaling poison. 

If you’re getting compressed gas shoved into your eyes and mouth when you shoot an AR-15 suppressed, you either have to mitigate the gas before it gets close to your face, migrate it elsewhere, or wear a gas mask. Incidentally, this is part of the reason the Ops-Core SOTR and similar half-masks were developed in the first place.

CHOOSE A PATH

There are numerous approaches to play the algebraic balancing act of adding a silencer to a rifle, including adjustable gas regulators, gas keys, bolt carriers, and even the gas tubes themselves. But the first line of defense for your face was always a gas-busting charging handle.

“It works alright” is the refrain we constantly hear whenever asking about the gas-reducing qualities of charging handles advertised as mitigating gas. This isn’t terribly surprising, as even a slight improvement can move away a significant amount of gas. 

There are more than a dozen options, with different ledges, bleeds, slots, and cuts. But today we’re looking at one from SilencerCo that works exceptionally well, the Gas Defeating Charging Handle (GDCH).

With the GDCH, SilencerCo took a different route by adding an O-ring. And it’s not at the top of the charging handle where other companies have focused (with some shooters adding RTV silicone to the mix themselves) — it’s at the bottom. 

Yes, some would argue that a gas-busting charging handle simply treats the symptom (gas in the face) rather than the disease (excess gas), but the most important thing is to avoid a face full of atomized lead with every shot. 

Close up of gas venting around the charging handle

We can confirm the SilencerCo GDCH works as designed, even making a particularly troublesome CQBR much more pleasant. As a bonus, each GDCH comes with an additional O-ring; a quick trip to a well-stocked hardware store can get you more if required. 

Even if you don’t have a gassy suppressor, the SilencerCo Gas Defeating Charging Handle is a good charging handle in its own right. The levers are ambidextrous, gently curved, and in the Goldilocks-zone in terms of size. 

You’ll pay a little more for the GDCH than other advanced ambidextrous charging handles, but perhaps not as much more as you’d expect. 

The SilencerCo GDCH MSRP is $114.

Ready for more suppressor reading? Take a look.

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