Steve Coulston Gives an Update on the Groundbreaking Avalanche Charging Handle.

A while back I had the opportunity to get my hands on a series of prototype charging handles designed and made by Rainier Arms. They named their new creation the Avalanche and I gave my first impressions in a past Guns & Tactics post. There was a lot of hype around this charging handle primarily as it gives the shooter the opportunity to swap out the wings giving a wide variety of customized looks, textures, shapes and color combinations. There is no other charging handle to my knowledge that does that.

Fast forward a few months and the production model is finally available. Currently it is only made for the AR15 however AR10 variants are in the works. The production version is very similar to the prototypes I used. It is still made from 7075 aircraft grade aluminum and continues to utilize the same beefy roll pins for the wings and latch. The latch has been changed some. The prototype had a stainless latch, however the production latch is made of aluminum and features "softer" edges. The aluminum latch gives a smoother, rearward "un-latching" and isn’t as rough on the aluminum upper. Lastly, the knurled wings on the prototype only had machine screws in the ends to secure the wings to the handle. The production version has added a blind pin to the underside of the wings for peace of mind the handle wont rotate off when you least expect it. It is still good practice to use a dab of blue Loctite or similar to keep the screws from backing out.

Another nice option is the Avalanche now comes in both a NiB "silver" version as well as a hard type III anodized "black" version. It can be bought as a stand-alone charging handle with a single set of wings or as a kit with two sets of wings. Wings can also be purchased separately. Currently the wings come in three different profiles: Octagonal, Knurled and a winged shaped version Rainier Arms calls the "Tac Latch". Wing colors currently available black and NiB silver for the knurled and Octagonal wings. The knurled version is also offered in Red anodized. Currently the Tac Latch is only offered in black. I have seen other colors in the works so stand by for more options in the future.

The Avalanche is offered directly through Rainier Arms and comes in at a variety of different price points depending on what version you buy. A complete list of Avalanche products can be found HERE.

For those AR aficionados who like options (don’t we all?) the Avalanche is definitely worth looking at.

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Steve has been a firearms enthusiast for over 20 years and is currently an NRA lifetime member. In 1996 he joined the United States Navy and served as a Special Warfare Combat Crewman (SWCC) at Special Boat Unit 12 (Now renamed Special Boat Team 12). He made two tours during his time of service and spent most of his time in southeast Asia and the Middle Eastern theaters. Upon his Honorable Discharge in 2000, Steve spent the next 10 years earning his Masters Degree and state license as an Architect. Steve brings a unique perspective from both his tactical and design background and is a reviewer and contributor for Guns & Tactics Magazine, Defense Marketing Group and other media outlets.


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