Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Mech Armor Defense TacOps-1 Ambidextrous Charging Handle :: REVEIW

For how often charging handles are used they are often overlooked and ignored. Many people just think they will have to make due with what is provided with the rifle. Some take the time to research other charging handle options to better suit their needs. A few of those folks end up purchasing an after-market charging handle that is often better than the standard. But there were some folks that thought they could make a better one. Out of frustration came an idea and with aerospace engineering know how and true combat experts the Mech Armor Defense TacOps-1 Charging Handle was forged.

The Claim
TacOps-1 Ambidextrous Tactical charging handle is the newest and most effective ACTUAL combat innovation that has been designed specifically for the AR platform in some time.  Not just another accessory; but a well thought out concept that dramatically changes and enhances the way your weapon is deployed, especially with optics on-board!

After watching our Charging Handle Comparison Video; Mech Armor Defense contacted us to see if we wanted to run their TacOps-1 ambidextrous charging handle through the ringer. They were very confident in their product and stated that their design had been tested and selected by several Police and Military Units along with independent reviews from folks; such as Paul Howe and Todd Jarrett. How was this handle not on our radar? We had to see one for ourselves!

  • CNC Machined 7075 T6 Aluminum Billet
  • Matte Black Anodized
  • 40% Larger Roll Pin
  • 7 lbs. Spring to Prevent Blowback during Suppressed Fire
  • Ergonomic, Ambidextrous Design
  • T-Handle is twice the size of a standard handle 
  • Available for 5.56 or 7.62

First Impressions
When the TacOps-1 arrived my first reaction was that the handle was huge! I wasn't sure what to think of it. It was defiantly solid, being built of 7075 Billet, I expected as much. At first glance the design seems complex, but on closer inspection it is caveman simple. A larger roll pin for increased surface area, a large one-piece latch that operated consistently and smooth, and finally a stainless steel 7 lbs. spring for strong lock-up. As an added feature the latch is designed to bottom out internally against the handle body restricting latch travel and thereby relieving roll pin pressure. Then I saw a glint of 'gold'! I had no idea what it was or its intended purpose, so I called the TacOps-1's engineer. He told me that it was a brass insert that accomplishes three things:
  1. Stabilizes the spring travel
  2. It's domed and acts as a self lubricant to the mating surface of the steel latch for smooth action
  3. Fits inside the spring hole to block debris from entering 
The majority of ambidextrous handles on the market seem to be an after-thought. A manufacture will take an existing OEM charging handle and 'make it work' from either side. The TacOps-1 is different; you can tell right away that it was designed from the ground-up to be operated from either side more efficiently and with fewer parts than any other competitor. Was this the one charging handle to rule them all?

The Test
I headed out to my local range to put some rounds through the TacOps-1 to see how it operated. Being mid-November in Wisconsin I was wearing gloves to guard my hands from the cold and did not realize it right away, but the TacOps-1 was a dream to operate with gloves. The large T-Handle lends itself to easy manipulation with or without gloves.
I first loaded three magazines with a mixture of live and dummy rounds to force the need to clear a 'malfunction'. I did this from the right and left shoulder to see if the operation of the handle changed from either position. I didn't encounter a single issue working the handle from either shoulder (see video of demonstration).
The first three magazines were fired using a red-dot, but Mech Armor says that this handle really shines once you have a scope over it. I don't have any large optics but I still mounted a scope to see if I would be able to operate the TacOps-1 as well as before. Even with an optic over the t-handle I had no trouble clearing any malfunctions. Also worth noting was that at no point did I knock my knuckles into the forward assist; which I do repeatedly with other designs.
An issue that plagues several ambi charging handles is that in an attempt to design a truly ambidextrous handle engineers end up adding more parts (springs, pins, handles, etc.). This increases chances of a part failing, especially once debris is introduced. Not the TacOps-1; the section you engage on the rear of the t-handle and the latch in the standard location are the same piece. I wanted to see what would happen once debris was added to the equation. What I found was the TacOps-1 runs like a CHAMP! Remember that brass fitting from earlier? It ensures that sand, rocks, and mud stay away from the spring hole ensuring that, even in the worst possible conditions, you will still be able to charge your weapon.

While our tests may not have been as strenuous as Colt Arm's Engineering Laboratory (tested in 2010; it passed all of them); it has proven to be a 'to-hell-and-back' design. It is my firmly held belief that once the word gets out; the TacOps-1 will be the most sought after charging handle on the market. I don't think I will ever use another charging handle again and I'll be able too because the TacOps-1 is guaranteed for life.

Support the Wounded Warriors Project
As an added benefit of purchasing the TacOps-1; Mech Armor will donate $5 to the Wounded Warriors Project. Just Head over to the Mech Armor Website and place your order. You will receive a call from the folks at Mech Armor to ensure all of your needs are being met and don't forget to tell them RomeoTangoBravo sent you!

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