• Post category:Upper Receivers
  • Post last modified:August 27, 2022
  • Reading time:23 mins read

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Do you have an AR-15 and are looking to buy a side charging upper? If so, you’re in the right place. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing the best side charging uppers on the market today. We’ll also provide a buyer’s guide to help you choose the right one for your needs. So, keep reading for more information, whether you’re a novice or an experienced shooter.​

Best Side Charging Upper

Top 12 Side Charging Upper

#1 Tactical Edge Complete Upper Receiver

Tactical Edge Complete Upper Receiver

View on OpticsPlanet

Specification

Color: Black
Finish: Matte
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Barrel Length: 8.3 in
Barrel Twist Rate: 1-10
Handguard Length: 7 in
Gun Rail: KeyMod

The Tactical Edge RD-9 Side-Charging 9mm Complete Upper Receiver is perfect for the cutting edge, compact RD-9 sub-gun. With side charging capabilities, you can charge the chamber without changing your sight and shooting position. The receiver is made from solid billet construction and is fully compatible with forged or billet lower receivers. It comes with a KeyMod rail and Magpul MBUS flip-up sights, so you can add a weapon light, laser sight, red dot or any other accessories to complete your pistol build.

Pros:
  • Billet construction
  • Ergonomical AAH
  • Comfortable charging the chamber
  • Magpul MBUS flip up sights
Cons:
  • May not be compatible with all lower receivers
  • Some types of optics and accessories can be difficult to install

 

#2 Faxon Firearms ARAK-21 Upper Receiver

Faxon Firearms ARAK-21 Upper Receiver

View on OpticsPlanet

Specification

Color: Black
Finish: Anodized
Fabric/Material: 6061-T6 Aluminum
Gun Type: Rifle
Gun Model: AR-15

Regarding quality and performance, the Faxon Firearms ARAK-21 Upper Receiver is in a class of its own. Expertly crafted from tough yet lightweight aluminium, this upper receiver is designed to withstand the rigours of the most demanding shooting environments. The ambidextrous charging handle makes it perfect for both left and right-handed shooters. At the same time, the top full-length Picatinny rail and multiple other rails provide a comprehensive M4-style quad rail upper. If you want to upgrade your rifle build, the Faxon Firearms ARAK-21 Upper Receiver is a perfect choice.

Pros:
  • Tough and lightweight aluminium build
  • Ambidextrous charging handle
  • Fully machined from aircraft grade 6061-T6 aluminium billet
  • Top full-length Picatinny rail
  • Multiple other rails for a comprehensive M4-style quad rail upper
  • Folding stock option available
  • Self-contained firing pin retention system
Cons:
  • Some users have reported poor quality
  • Receiver may be too lightweight for some shooters
  • Higher price compared to similar products

 

#3 JP Enterprises CNC Billet Upper Receiver

JP Enterprises CNC Billet Upper Receiver

View on OpticsPlanet

Specification

Color: Black
Finish: Matte

Looking to add a touch of class and style to your AR-15 build? Then look no further than the JP Enterprises CTR-02 CNC billet upper receiver. This top-of-the-line upper receiver is machined from a solid piece of billet aluminium for strength and durability. It features a sleek, minimalist design that will give your rifle that high-end, custom look. The CTR-02 is compatible with any standard barrel extension, bolt and carrier assembly, and charging handle and handguard, so it’s easy to incorporate into any build. The receiver sides can be straight-finished for that trendy two-tone black/silver appearance. Whether you’re building a showpiece rifle or just want to upgrade your current setup, the JP Enterprises CTR-02 CNC billet upper receiver is a perfect choice.

Pros:
  • Machined from a solid piece of billet aluminium
  • Strength and durability
  • Sleek, minimalist design
Cons:
  • Pricey compared to standard forged upper receivers
  • May have slight differences in manufacturing tolerances, metal finishes and coatings

 

#4 Nordic Components Stripped Upper

Nordic Components Stripped Upper

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Specification

Color: Black
Finish: Matte
Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
Gun Model: AR-15

Do you want to build a custom AR-15 rifle but don’t need all the bells and whistles that come with a standard upper receiver? Nordic Components has you covered with their stripped upper receiver. This receiver is made from a 7029-T6 aluminium extrusion for increased rigidity, and is compatible with standard AR-15 bolt carrier groups, charging handles, and barrels. It also features a flat-top Picatinny rail for mounting optics or other accessories. Please note that due to the heavier receiver walls, this upper may not be compatible with all handguards.

Pros:
  • Increased rigidity
  • Compatible with standard AR-15 parts
  • Optimal weight is 10 oz. weight
  • Flat-top Picatinny rail for mounting optics or accessories
  • Machined from 7029-T6 aluminium extrusion
Cons:
  • May cause interference with certain handguards
  • May not be compatible with all types of optics and accessories

 

#5 New Frontier C4 Upper Receiver

New Frontier C4 Upper Receiver

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Specification

Color: Black
Finish: Matte
Fabric/Material: Aluminum
Caliber: 5.56x45mm NATO
Gun Model: AR-15
Dimensions: 3.40 X 3.40 X 9.75 in

New Frontier C4 Upper Receiver is the perfect platform for custom AR builds. Unlike traditional stamped uppers, the C4 is cold-hammered stamped from a single piece of billet aluminium, providing greater strength and durability. The oversized windows allow for a clear sight picture, while the comfortable hand guard with soft rounded edges provides a perfect grip. Precision machined lead-free solid block spacers are used to ensure accuracy, making this upper receiver perfect for both recreational and competitive shooters.

Pros:
  • Cold-hammered stamped from a single piece of billet aluminium for greater strength and durability
  • Oversized windows provide a large, clear sight picture
  • Comfortable hand guard with soft rounded edges provides a perfect grip
  • Precision machined lead-free solid block spacers ensure accuracy
Cons:
  • Some fitting may be required
  • Lead-free construction is not ideal for some shooters

 

#6 Angstadt Arms Complete Roller Delay Upper Receiver

Angstadt Arms Complete Roller Delay Upper Receiver

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Specification

Color: Black
Finish: Matte
Caliber: 9mm Luger
Overall Length: 14 in
Barrel Length: 5.85 in
Attachment/Mount Type: Picatinny
Weight: 3.7 lb

Whether you’re a professional operator or simply a prepared citizen, the Angstadt Arms MDP-9 Complete Upper Receiver is an excellent choice for your personal defence weapon. This ultra-compact receiver is built for the modern age, with a proven roller-delayed action and compatibility with Mil-Spec AR-9 lower receivers. The MDP-9 is chambered in 9mm and includes a 5.85″ MP5 profile barrel with 3-lug. It also features a 1913 Picatinny end plate that accepts a wide variety of stabilizing braces and rifle stocks. The MDP-9 is the perfect choice for those who demand the highest level of quality and reliability in their personal defence weapon.

Pros:
  • Proven roller-delayed action
  • Extremely lightweight – less than 3.7lbs
  • Ultra-compact – Just 14″
  • 5.85″ MP5 profile barrel with 3-lug
  • Charging handle can be swapped from left to right side
Cons:
  • Lower reliability and endurance
  • Expensive
  • Complicated assembly

 

#7 GIBBZ ARMS SIDE CHARGING UPPER RECEIVER

GIBBZ ARMS SIDE CHARGING UPPER RECEIVER

View on Brownells

Specification

Beveled Ejection Port
Full 15 Slot Picatinny Rail
Bolt carrier door in the rear to allow for easy bolt carrier removal and gasses during operation (important for suppressed fire).
Compatible with Mil-Spec and most other lowers receivers
Enhanced cam-pin optimized for side charge upper with Melonite coating is included
Charging handle cover keeping operating gasses in (also important for suppressed fire).
Weight: 13.0 oz.
Dimensions: 8.9 x 2.9 x 2.9 in
Made in the USA

The Gibbz Arms G4 Side Charging Upper Receiver is the perfect choice for those looking for a non-reciprocating upper receiver that is reliable and easy to use. Featuring a detent to keep the charging handle forward during operation, the G4 is compatible with all mil-spec and most custom bolt carriers without modification. Additionally, this upper receiver features an enlarged ejection port and will work with AR-15 calibres from 22LR to 50 Beowulf. Other notable features include a full 15-slot Picatinny rail, a bolt carrier door in the rear for easy bolt carrier removal, and a charging handle cover to keep operating gasses in (important for suppressed fire). The G4 is also lightweight at just 13.0 oz., making it ideal for both tactical and competitive applications.

Pros:
  • Non-reciprocating upper receiver
  • Beveled Ejection Port
  • Full 15 Slot Picatinny Rail
  • Enlarged ejection port
  • Works with AR-15 calibres from 22LR to 50 Beowulf
  • Lightweight at 13.0 oz.
Cons:
  • Must use only G4 Enhanced Cam Pin – use of standard cam pin will cause BCG to lock up and cause potential damage
  • May be not compatible with some lowers receivers

 

#8 J P ENTERPRISES – AR-15 PSC-11 SIDE CHARGE GUNSMITH KIT

J P ENTERPRISES - AR-15 PSC-11 SIDE CHARGE GUNSMITH KIT

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Specification

PSC-11 dual charging upper receiver retains the traditional top charging handle while including the JP side charge system
Side charging handle is much easier to operate when using optics and can be especially useful when holding the rifle at the ready
Cheekweld does not have to be lost when charging the rifle
Precision machined components ensure smooth cycling and charging
Included JP low mass bolt carrier groups make this upper ready for a custom build
JP enhanced bolt will ensure the highest reliability and service life of up to 60,000 rounds

The PSC-11 includes the standard AR15/M16 charging handle and the JP side charging handle. This provides a more convenient means of charging the weapon and is ideal for those who prefer not to have to deal with an ejection port cover. The forward assist and hardware are also included. The bolt carrier is available in either low mass or full mass versions and is constructed of 416 stainless steel with a polished black QPQ finish. The bolt group is precision machined from SAE9310 nickel chromium molybdenum steel, and the locking lugs are radiused on all 90-degree corners for smoother operation. The side charging handle can be removed for cleaning and engages the bolt carrier on the front side, opposite the extractor. This kit is perfect for those who demand the utmost in quality and performance.

Pros:
  • More convenient means of charging the weapon
  • Forward assist and hardware included
  • The bolt carrier is precision machined from SAE9310 nickel chromium molybdenum steel
  • Locking lugs are radiused on all 90-degree corners for smoother operation
  • Side charging handle can be removed for cleaning
Cons:
  • Low mass carrier does not function with the forward assist
  • High cost compared to others

 

#9 FOXTROT MIKE PRODUCTS  ENHANCED CHARGING UPPER RECEIVERS

FOXTROT MIKE PRODUCTS  ENHANCED CHARGING UPPER RECEIVERS

View on Brownells

Specification

Cartridge: 9 mm Luger
Finish: Black
Style: Complete
Contour: Medium
Length: 10″
Twist: 1-10

The Foxtrot Mike Products Enhanced Upper Receiver is a top-of-the-line PCC Upper that sets itself apart from the competition. This upper features a unique Charging Handle, positioned much like an MP5, making the operation of the Upper fast and straightforward. The Enhanced Upper also includes a set of MLOK rail covers, ready to install! The barrels on this Upper are black nitrides for a robust and durable finish. Additionally, the included Bolt is compatible with lowers that accept Glock 9mm Magazines. Finally, the handguards neatly extend close to the muzzle. The 10-inch model features a blast diffuser on the muzzle, that projects concussion forward. The 16-inch model features a muzzle brake that times muzzle flip. Get the best of the best with the Foxtrot Mike Products Enhanced Upper Receiver!

Pros:
  • Fast and straightforward operation
  • Compatible with lowers that accept Glock 9mm Magazines
  • Robust and durable finish
  • Includes a set of MLOK rail covers, ready to install
Cons:
  • May be difficult to operate for some users
  • Does not as durable as others

#10 J P ENTERPRISES  SIDE CHARGE GUNSMITH KIT

J P ENTERPRISES  SIDE CHARGE GUNSMITH KIT

View on Brownells

Specification

The PSC-11 includes the standard AR-15/M16 charging handle along with the JP side charging handle
Includes ejection port cover and hardware
Forward assist and hardware
Available with the JP full mass bolt carrier
Includes JP enhanced bolt group (including bolt, cam pin, firing pin and firing pin retaining pin)
JP enhanced bolt is precision machined from SAE9310 nickel chromium-molybdenum steel
Locking lugs are meticulously radiused on all 90-degree corners of the locking lugs
The side charging handle can be removed for cleaning
Side charging handle engages the bolt carrier on the front side, opposite the extractor

Looking for a top-quality side charge gunsmith kit? Look no further than the JP Enterprises side charge gunsmith kit! This kit includes the standard AR-15/M16 charging handle and the JP side charging handle, making it perfect for those who want the best of both worlds. The kit also includes an ejection port cover and hardware, as well as a forward assist and hardware. Plus, the JP full mass bolt carrier and JP enhanced bolt group are also included (bolt, cam pin, firing pin and firing pin retaining pin). The JP-enhanced bolt is precision machined from SAE9310 nickel chromium molybdenum steel, and the locking lugs are meticulously radiused on all 90-degree corners of the locking lugs. The side charging handle can be removed for cleaning and engages the bolt carrier on the front side, opposite the extractor. Get the ultimate in versatility and performance with the JP Enterprises side charge gunsmith kit!

Pros:
  • The set is made of durable materials
  • All parts meet standards
  • Ultimate in performance and durability
  • Unbeatable versatility and firepower
Cons:
  • Kit is a bit on the expensive side
  • Some users have complained that the ejection port cover and hardware are of low quality

 

#11 BROWNELLS BLEMISHED SLICKSIDE UPPER RECEIVER

BROWNELLS BLEMISHED SLICKSIDE UPPER RECEIVER

View on Brownells

Specification

Made from 7075-T6 aluminum forging
Marked 5.56 NATO
Completely stripped

Looking for a quality upper receiver for your next AR build, but don’t want to spend a fortune? Check out Brownells’ blemished M16 A1 upper receivers! These upper receivers didn’t meet Brownells’ high standards due to a slightly offset sight channel, but they’re still solid components that are perfect for budget-minded AR fans. Made from 7075-T6 aluminium forging, these blemished upper receivers are marked 5.56 NATO and are completely stripped. They feature the original shape of the M16 A1, including no shell deflector and an A1 rear sight. So if you’re looking for a quality upper receiver at an affordable price, be sure to check out Brownells’ blemished M16 A1 upper receiver!

Pros:
  • Increased speed of shooting
  • Less stress on the shooter’s arm
  • No need to take the rifle off the shoulder to charge
  • Reasonable price
Cons:
  • Slightly offset sight channel
  • Adjustment required
  • May require special tools for installation

 

#12 BROWNELLS  SLICKSIDE UPPER RECEIVER

BROWNELLS  SLICKSIDE UPPER RECEIVER

View on Brownells

Specification

Correct early-style carry handle contours
No shell deflector
No forward assist
A1-pattern rear sight housing

Looking for a precise mirror of the original early AR-15 upper receiver? Look no further than the Brownells Slickside Upper Receiver. Featuring the correct early-style carry handle contours, lack of shell deflector and forward assist, and A1-pattern rear sight housing, this upper receiver is perfect for your next “Retro” or reproduction building. precisely machined from 7075 T6 aluminium forgings to match the dimensions of the originals in every way, this upper receiver is sure to give you the perfect fit for all current mil-spec AR-15 components. Don’t settle for anything less than the best – trust Brownells for all your gunsmithing needs.

Pros:
  • Precise reproduction of the contours of the original, early AR-15 upper receiver
  • Perfect for your next “Retro” or reproduction build
  • Machined from 7075 T6 aluminium forgings
  • Durable hard-coat anodized finish
Cons:
  • Does not have the M4-type feed ramps found on most current-production AR-15 flattop uppers
  • No shell deflector and forward assist

 

FAQ

What is the benefit of a side charging upper?

Side charging uppers offer a faster, more efficient way to reload your weapon. They are also easier to use and can help improve your accuracy.

What does side charging upper mean?

Side charging upper means a rifle that has the charging handle located on the side of the firearm as opposed to the top. This allows the shooter to charge the weapon without changing their grip on the weapon.

Is side charging better?

The short answer is: it depends.

Side charging can be quicker and easier in some cases, but it also has some disadvantages. For example, if you have to reload your weapon while under fire, it can be more difficult to do with a side-charging upper receiver. Overall, whether or not side charging is better depends on your specific needs and preferences.

What side should the charging handle be on?

The charging handle should be on the same side as your firing hand. This will make it easier to access and operate.

How does a charging handle work?

The charging handle on a rifle primarily is used to chamber a round and to clear a jam. It is also used as a forward assist to push the bolt carrier group into the battery. The charging handle typically is grasped with the support hand and pulled rearward. On most rifles, it will have a detent that holds it in either the forward or rear position. Pushing it all the way forward will release the detent so that the handle can be rotated downward and locked in place for storage. Releasing it will rotate the handle back up into the firing position.

Are side charging AR uppers good?

Side charging AR uppers are becoming more popular and for good reason. They offer a number of advantages over traditional AR uppers.

First, they are easy to use. With a side charging AR upper, you don’t have to worry about reaching up to the charging handle to chamber a round. Instead, you can simply pull the charging handle to the side. This makes it easy for people with smaller hands or those who are wearing gloves to operate the weapon.

Second, side charging AR uppers are more reliable than traditional AR uppers. Since there is no need to reach up to the charging handle, there is less chance of something getting in the way and causing a malfunction.

Third, side charging AR uppers allow you to keep your firing hand on the grip at all times. This makes it easier to control the weapon and increases your accuracy.

Fourth, side charging AR uppers are easier to clean than traditional AR uppers. There is no need to remove the barrel in order to clean the charging handle mechanism.

Overall, side charging AR uppers are a great option for anyone looking for an easy-to-use, reliable, and accurate rifle.

Conclusion

Side charging uppers have been growing in popularity and for good reason. They offer a number of advantages over traditional top-charging uppers. In this buyer’s guide, we’ve highlighted the best side charging uppers on the market. We’ve also answered some common questions about these products to help you decide if a side charging upper is the right choice for you. Thanks for reading!

Tags: #best side charging upper / #best side charging ar upper / #best side charging upper receiver / #side charging ar upper best / #best ar 15 side charging upper

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