Top 3 Best AR-15 Side Charging Uppers (2020) – A Comprehensive Buyer Guide

Best Side Charging Uppers Feature Image

Are you currently looking for the best AR-15 side charging upper? If you are, then you will probably find one sooner than you think. That is because we have decided to put together a list of the 6 best AR-15 side charging uppers that are currently available on the market.

If you are in search of an upgrade or looking for a special kind of upper receiver for your AR-15 building project, this is your chance to take a look at an AR-15 side charging upper. If you have no idea what they are, you don’t have to worry. We will talk about what they are and their main purposes are.

Before we unveil our list, we will also talk about what you can expect from a side charging upper and provide you a compact guide on how to choose one for your own.

Side Charging Upper Receivers: A Brief Introduction

A side charging upper is a lot different from your regular AR-15 charge. A regular AR-15 charge comes from the rear of the rifle. In order to charge, you will have to pull back on the handle that extends from the back of the receiver. As a result, the bolt is retracted and it causes the gun to cycle.

For obvious reasons, a side charging upper allows you to perform the same charge. The difference is that the charge will be coming from the side of the AR-15 rifle, not its rear. Upper receivers have a groove that can accommodate the charging handle. These are situated on the left side.

This will need a specially-made BCG in order to run properly. These BCGs can be bought separately. You other option will be that if you have a currently existing BCG, you can modify it with the right kind of setting to accommodate the side charging upper.

The Expectations for Side Charging Uppers

Of course, you will be going to experience some advantages when upgrading to a side charging upper. What really sets this apart from the regular version though? Here are a few advantages that you can expect:

Great Aesthetics

There are quite a handful of gun owners who will often use an AR-15 side charger for the sake of its looks alone. If you are one of those gun owners who wants it for the sake of this advantage, we won’t blame you. A lot of gun owners want a cool-looking rifle that will turn heads at the range. However, don’t forget that a gun’s functionality should always be one of the main items of importance. You are not carrying around your rifle just to show off its looks, are you? Of course you’re not.

Fewer Malfunctions

There will be a time when you will deal with a malfunction or two. Your rifle may jam or the cycling will not be as reliable as it once was. In that event, you will be able to clear a jam and charge your AR-15 rifle without changing positions or breaking the rifle.

Rifles Will Still Function The Same

Even with a side charging upper, you will be able to operate your AR-15 rifle as you normally would. This also means that you won’t have to make any permanent changes to your rifle. And you don’t need to add on any additional parts (or get rid of any) to it. Your rifle will fire and function just as it normally would. The only difference is the style of charging the rifle.

The Criteria for A Great Side Charging Upper Receiver

The most important thing you need to do as you are looking for in an AR-15 side charging upper is to make a few merits. One of them is taking note of a great side charging upper from one that is considered cheap and inexpensive in quality. Yes, there are some differences in features and functions between a great side charging upper and one that is not as great. Here are what you need to look for as your search begins:

Price

As a budget gun owner, you are always going to look at price as being one of the biggest factors in your buying decision. It should not be the only reason you should buy a side charging upper, though.

One of the criteria that should be placed as a high priority over price should be the quality. There are high-quality side charging uppers priced within your price range. However, some price tags are low for a reason: they are of low quality and can break easily. Choose carefully if you are on a budget.

Compatibility 

One of the things you need to ask is whether or not a side charging upper is well-matched with your currently existing BCG. If so, it is possible some alterations might be needed. Your other option is that you may need to consider purchasing a special BCG to put up with these side charging uppers. When considering either choices, find out which one will be cost-effective on your end so you won’t have to spend more than what you planned for.

Build or Upgrade

Another question that gets frequently asked is this: Is it better to get a side charging upper when you are building an AR-15 rifle from scratch? Or is it all right if you have a currently existing rifle? If you are building one from scratch, it will be a lot easier to install a side charging upper since you may not have a BCG to fit it just yet.

If you already have an AR-15 rifle, the odds are that you may need to consider what was previously stated: either changing your current BCG or getting a new one that will work better with side charging upper receivers.

Top 3 Best AR-15 Side Charging Uppers You Can Get Today

Below are some of the best AR-15 side charging uppers that are currently available on the market. As you are looking through each of them, please carefully take note of the best features and functions that may be the best fit for you.

This may give you a good general idea of whether or not they may be a better fit based on your own needs and preferences. Some may blow your socks off and are enough to give it a closer look, while some others may not strike your interests. 

Either way, take your time and look through each of them so you know what to expect – should you choose to buy it. Now, let’s have a look at our list by seeing what choices are currently available on the market.

1. Gibbz Arms AR-15/M16 G4 Side Charging Upper Receiver

Gibbz Arms AR-15 M16 G4 Side Charging Upper Receiver

New gun users are really happy with its overall quality. However, they are even happier with their ability to install the parts they needed to make a complete charging upper. This made the operation for shooting much smoother and a lot easier to get the job done in any shooting activities. One gun user said the ejection port was correctly sized to properly eject his cartridges, which means you never have to deal with jamming. 

This side charging upper is made from high-quality materials and coated with melonite to ensure better durability, this is an upper that will be able to endure scratches and scuffs. You will be able to install this on your rifle in no time even with a compatible lower receiver. Side charging handles have become a popular thing as of late and you will definitely want a charging upper that will be able to handle most of them. Furthermore, with a sizeable enough rail at your disposal, it will be an upper that works great for customization.

First and foremost, we will be taking a look at this Gibbz Arms AR-15/M16 G4 Side Charging Upper Receiver. One of the few things we have noticed about this upper receiver is the addition of a Picatinny rail. If you are looking for something that is not only a side charger but an upper receiver that will allow full customization, then you should give this one a try.

A good Picatinny rail will allow the addition of any other scopes or optics. Nothing brings out the best in a rifle like something that can improve your accuracy. Aside from the rail, this has a bevelled ejection port so your brass can be easily be thrown away after each shot. It also allows for easy elimination of the bolt carrier and gasses while in operation.

If you are looking for something that is well-suited with mil-spec or all other lower receivers, the Gibbz Arms might be the best possible choice for you. Never will you have to play any guessing games on whether or not an upper receiver will fit your lower receiver or not. This side charging upper has a de-tent that allows the charging handle to keep going forward while you are perusing the rifle.

If you want a product that is reliable and easy to use while you are using your rifle for any application, then this Gibbz Arms side charging upper receiver may be exactly what you are looking for.

This is a universal side charging upper receiver that will be fitting for most rifles. If you are looking to change your rifle’s charging handle into a side model and need an upper that will be able to handle it, then this can be what you need in order to make it very functional right from the start.

The Gibbz Arms AR-15/M16 G4 Side Charging Upper Receiver can be the go-to choice for a lot of new gun users. Whether you are building a rifle from the ground up, or if you are making a switch from your existing setup, this side charging handle will be easy to install and will handle shot after shot no matter the use.

As far as this goes, it is workable with almost any lower receiver. So if you are looking for a side charging upper receiver that will save you a lot of time and headaches, the Gibbz Arms side charging upper receiver will probably be the best thing you have probably invested in.

The bottom line is that as it stands, this appears to be one of the main rivals of the JP Enterprises side charging upper. For something that will not malfunction after a thousand or more rounds, you can expect this to be a reliable upper receiver for many years to come.

2. Quarter Circle 10 Side Charging Upper

Quarter Circle 10 Side Charging Upper Receiver

This was a charging handle that is a perfect choice for left-handed shooters. And it wasn’t much of a surprise that they are rejoicing for this upper receiver. One gun user said that the ejection port was away from his face and he no longer had to deal with the risk of getting hit with a discarded casing. He also further added that the install didn’t take too long for him to go out to the range shortly thereafter to give it a test drive.

This side charging upper is well-made and well-built. It is about what you will expect from a side charging upper that will get the job done for a lot of left-handed shooters. And what is even better is that the ejection port is located on the left side, which makes it safe for left-handed shooters.

One of the biggest problems a left-handed shooter face with right-handed rifles is the fact that you risk injury because of consistently flying cases that are discarded from the ejection port and hitting you in the face. Why should anyone risk scratches and burns from all of that? This upper takes care of the problem while working with your side charger of choice. 

Up next on this list, we will be taking a look at the Quarter Circle 10 Side Charging Upper Receiver. This may be something you are interested in if looking for a side charging upper for your AR-15 rifle, but not wanting to break the bank.

One of the things that stick out as impressive is the spring-loaded rear door. This is designed to avert any kind of gas blowback. So if you hate the idea of having gas blowing back in your face each time you fire your AR-15 rifle, this may be something you will want to add on your current build or on a rifle you are building from the ground up.

This has the aptitude to take on large bore cartridges, thanks to the widened ejection port. The ejection will be nice and spotless. No jamming at all. If that isn’t impressive enough for something that is considered a budget upper receiver, we can’t decide for certain what is.

This includes side charging handles that allow for reliable feeding and operation. It will also clear any failures, like jamming. Yes, things happen when you are firing an AR-15 rifle. But you will be able to get rid of those problems if you have something as reliable as this. The best of all is that you can get it at an affordable price.

This will be a great option for a lot of left-handed shooters. If you are using an ambidextrous charging side charging handle or anything else similar, then this upper will definitely be the best one you can choose. Once you have installed this, you will be ready for action at the range or while you are out in the field. Whatever your application, your AR-15 rifle is one of the most important rifles for getting it done.

The Quarter Circle 10 Side Charging Handle Upper Receiver is possibly one of the better charging handles on the market compared to your factory default. But this is a godsend for any left-handed shooters who wants nothing more than to fire off as many rounds as possible without having to worry about switching their hands. 

If you are looking for an outstanding side charging handle with a price tag that is affordable for most budgets, the Quarter Circle 10 Side Charging Upper Receiver may be the best possible option. This is probably one of the many accessories you will love to have on your AR-rifle because of the gas blowback prevention alone.

Not bad if you don’t have a muzzle brake handy for that purpose. Other than anything else, this side charging upper is smooth in its operation, and feeding is quite reliable. If you are looking for something that will make your shot cycling smooth and free of any malfunctions, then this Quarter Circle 10 could be yours for the ordering.

3. New Frontier Armory C-4 Side Charging Upper

New Frontier Armory C4 Side Charging Upper

If you are looking for a non-reciprocating model that is the best in the category, the New Frontier Armory C-4 Side Charging Upper is your best possible option that fits that bill. This side charging upper is made from high-quality billeted 6061 aluminum, which makes it a very durable unit that can withstand any kind of abuse. For extra durability, this also has an anodized matte black hard coat.

This also has the capability to handle large-caliber rounds like .458 caliber SOCOM shells. To make sure that they can be fired properly, the ejector port is made to be large enough for these shells to be ejected without many jamming issues.

This is also best well-suited with the Magpul brand BAD lever. So if you have one of those lying around, why not put it to good use with this side charging upper? This is also made to handle almost all lower made by New Frontier Armory.

So if you do not have a lower receiver for your current rifle build, you may want to consider buying one from New Frontier Armory separately. For the best outcome, you will probably benefit from that brand alone.

This can also fit any mil-spec AR-15 magazine. So if you are a big fan for any and all things mil-spec, this upper could be the best addition to your rifle. New Frontier Armory is a veteran-owned brand, so they always keep their fellow gun owners in mind when making accessories like this.

Furthermore, they strive to be one of the best brands you can depend on. If you don’t have a go-to brand, New Frontier Armory may be one of the brands to take a closer look at.

This side charging upper receiver is the closest thing you can get to a mil-spec style. This would be a great upgrade for your current rifle. Likewise, if you are building out your AR-15 rifle, then you may want to consider this a worthy addition.

Not only does it work very well, but it also looks quite sharp in terms of aesthetics. If you are looking for something that will turn heads at the range in terms of looks and overall functionality, this side charging upper may be worthy of your investment.

Our Verdict

Finding the best AR-15 side charging upper does not have to be a challenge for anyone, including you. Knowing what to look for and what you can get out of one will make your quest easier. Find the best one to fit your rifle so you can experience the smooth and reliable operation of a charger that may be more beneficial as opposed to the usual rear charging most AR-15 users are accustomed to. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) some gun owners may have.

Q: What is a charging handle on an AR-15 rifle?

A charging handle on an AR-15 rifle, or any rifle, is a manual mechanism which when pulled and released, loads a round into the firing chamber when a magazine is loaded and when the chamber is empty. On an AR-15 rifle, it is located in the rear section of the weapon, above the buffer tube which connects the buttstock to the main body.

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