The SilencerCo Gas Defeating Charging Handle is an innovative solution to a nagging problem. In modest quantities the familiar smell of gunsmoke kindles the senses, conjuring visceral memories of fun, nostalgia and excitement. However, in excess that stuff is simply foul.
Why Use the SilencerCo Gas Defeating Charging Handle?
The ill effects range from inconvenience to emphysema and heavy metals poisoning with everything in between. Of all the sundry crap we dump cash on to trick out our favorite black rifles, the Gas Defeating Charging Handle from SilencerCo really can make a difference.
I don’t think anybody could have predicted the trajectory of civilian gun ownership in America since 1994. The Democrats shoved an Assault Weapons Ban down our throats at a time when relatively few folks were really into black rifles. Speaking on behalf of rednecks everywhere, the quickest way to make me want something is to tell me I can’t have it. As soon as the Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004, we cooped up gun nerds went to town.
The societal upheaval precipitated by 9/11 played a part, as did levels of political polarization not experienced since Reconstruction. When times are uncertain, folks covet the reassurance that comes from being armed. The end result was that Americans, to paraphrase Neo in The Matrix, wanted guns, lots of guns.
American industry churned out black rifles by the tens of millions. Though they came in all shapes and sizes, it was Eugene Stoner’s direct-impingement AR-15 that captured the lion’s share of the market.
For those of you who might’ve been living under a rock, the classic AR-15 action is simple, reliable, and accurate. Gas is tapped from the bore near the muzzle and piped directly back into the upper receiver via a length of stainless-steel hydraulic tubing. The jet of high-pressure gas then impinges upon the bolt carrier assembly. This effectively transforms this component into a piston and cylinder.
However, this system is undeniably messy and requires some regular maintenance. As a result, it minimizes moving parts and results in an inimitably smooth action. It also directs all that foul high-pressure gas back toward the shooter’s face. That’s all pretty tolerable until you hang a sound suppressor on the snout.
Suppressors = More Gas in the Face
In the free states, at least, sound suppressors are now de rigueur most everyplace Americans shoot. They make you a more neighborly shooter and generally improve both accuracy and the overall shooting experience. However, they also increase the back pressure on the weapon. In the case of direct impingement AR rifles and pistols, this means way more gas back in your face.
In an operational sense, this doesn’t make any difference. If you are breaching some maniacal despot’s evil lair to rescue the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, then you will be moving so much that you’ll never notice the gas blowback from your sound-suppressed rifle.
However, how many of us will really ever rescue the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders? Most of us have real jobs and just shoot at the range for practice and fun. Dump a couple hundred rounds through your favorite suppressed Stoner rifle, and that steak you eat on your way home is going to taste like a battery factory.
This actually is a really big deal. I once met an exceptionally cool guy who suffered some serious heavy metals poisoning as the result of a lifetime spent behind machineguns during operational testing for a defense contractor.
His was the coolest job in the history of jobs, but it came at a cost. Nobody knows what the safety threshold might be for exposure to the noxious components of gunsmoke. But less is always better.
I’m the plant doctor for an ammo plant. Modern ammunition involves elemental lead in both the bullet cores and the primer compound. I did a little research into the sorts of stuff you can inhale via gunsmoke, and it was terrifying.
Modern smokeless propellants are nitrogen-based and thus include nitroglycerin, nitrocellulose, and nitroguanidine. The resulting milieu contains oxides of nitrogen, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia, and sundry other vile gases.
Prolonged exposure can set you up for pulmonary edema, emphysema and a host of other unpleasant stuff. The best way to treat those problems is to avoid exposure in the first place.
We first learned at the 2021 Athlon Outdoors Rendezvous in Victor, Idaho, what the SilencerCo Gas Defeating Charging Handle is. At its heart, it’s a high-end ambidextrous charging handle that’s a drop-in fit for any standard AR-pattern rifle or pistol.
The wings are slightly oversized for easy manipulation, and the device can be unlatched with equal ease from either side. The components are machined in-house by SilencerCo, the nation’s premier manufacturer of innovative sound suppressors, out of 7075 billet aluminum. What makes it different is underneath.
There is a tiny U-shaped groove milled into the bottom of the device. This groove is scaled to accept a standard Dash 015 O-ring you can pick up at your local hardware store. The Gas Defeating Charging Handle comes with an O-ring installed along with a spare.
Should the seal become worn, you just snip a fresh O-ring into a string with a pair of scissors and press it into the groove.
SilencerCo produced a fairly compelling YouTube video (above) that used high-speed videography to capture the gas jet that launches out from underneath both standard GI and custom charging handles.
The volume of noxious fumes that squirt out directly into your mouth and nose is pretty unsettling. The Gas Defeating Charging Handle very effectively seals that space off and keeps that nasty stuff inside the weapon. Thus keeping it out of your lungs.
The first time I fired a full-auto HK MP5SD was sublime, but the gas blowback from all those 9mm rounds nearly knocked me out. The effect is worse on a sound-suppressed direct gas impingement AR-15. Once I retired to the range, I suddenly realized how bad things really had been.
I used an M4 rifle equipped with a SilencerCo Omega 36M sound suppressor. This rig is the most effective rifle suppressor I’ve ever used. However, when firing from a stationary position with no wind, the gas blowback really did burn my sinuses and cloud my vision.
Swapping over to the same setup with the Gas Defeating Charging Handle got rid of all that noxious stuff. You really don’t appreciate what a difference this makes until you shoot the two designs side by side. Make that a full-auto platform and the effect is multiplied substantially.
We’ve all used some lame excuses to talk our spouses into fresh new gun swag. My wife helpfully explained that it’s not really an investment if you’re never going to sell it. However, in this case, the SilencerCo Gas Defeating Charging Handle really can make a substantial difference in the volume of noxious gas you inhale on the firing range.
If you’re the sort who just shoots a couple of boxes a year, then don’t bother. However, if you like to run a gun, particularly if your favorite black rifle sports a sound suppressor, the Gas Defeating Charging Handle is the firearms accessory that really makes a difference.
For more information, visit SilencerCo.com.
This article originally appeared in May-June 2022 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Get your copy or digital subscription at OutdoorGroupStore.com.
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