I like to do all sorts of gun reviews. Honestly I do. Sure I like some more than others, and there’s no question others are just plain more reliable than others and less ugly than others, but I really do love all guns. I ALSO love it when gun companies refuse to sit comfortably where they are, and dream up an innovative twist on an old design then make it readily available to average Joe shooters like you and me. I may have expressed these feelings multiple times with my Remington R-15 review.
Enter in American Spirit Arms. ASA has taken your standard and now almost traditional AR-15 platform and made a standard offering out of their side charging upper receiver in their AR-15 models. Sure, ASA isn’t necessarily the first to do it, but by my radar, they appear to be the most affordable to have done it out of a factory made AR-15 platform rifle.
The general idea with a side charging upper on an AR-15 style rifle is rather than the charger handle being located on the rear side of the receiver. This requires (in most cases) the shooter to take one hand out of battery in order to re-engage the charging handle. The side-charger has two tabs located on either side of the upper receiver allowing the shooter, with a quick slap of the hand, to release the charge and chamber a round much faster than normal. The fact that the upper charges from the side isn’t the only difference of this piece. Secondarily, the side charger requires a modified bolt carrier as well.
Check out the video below to hear (and see) it directly from the Horse’s mouth:
Lastly, while ASA is one of the most available AR-15 side chargers out there, you can expect to pay for the subtle difference to the tune of a few hundred dollars. Having shot a side charger before, I can say that it’s addicting enough that the few hundred dollars doesn’t feel much like, especially if you’re trying to (though I would argue you back) make the transition from AK-47 to AR-15 and prefer the side charging format.
Enough said. American Spirit Arms appears to be a viable option if looking to go the side charger route on your AR-15 route and are trying to keep the cost down.