Skip to main content

Devil Dog AR Hard Charger Review

Overall, the Devil Dog Hard Charger - a charging handle upgrade - is a well designed, well thought out design.

Devil Dog AR Hard Charger Review
The DDC Hard Charger mounts to a standard Picatinny flat-top upper, and transforms the charging handle in to a side-charging AR-15 upper.

The AR-15 has some of the best ergonomics of any rifle in production. But one of the lacking aspects of these ergos, is the charging handle.

Originally, the handle was designed to be used with the shooting hand’s middle and index fingers. The problem with this is two-fold: first, it causes the shooter to remove their shooting hand from the pistol grip, so they can’t fire the weapon if they suddenly need to. And second, it relies on somewhat fine motor skills to perform a common, but critical function of the gun’s manual of arms.

The latter being an issue during high stress moments, where adrenaline dumps cause a lack of fine motor skills. This could make a shooter fumble with the controls when a successful reload matters most.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/firearmsnews/content/photos/Devil-Dog-Concepts-Hard-Charger-1
When using the Hard Charger with an optic, be sure to clear the right side of the receiver. Thankfully Trijicon’s ACOGs can invert their mounts.

Years later, shooters learned to charge the handle from the left side with their support hand to mitigate part of this issue. This was done in light of experience gained from clearing malfunctions and running guns hard in competition, and combat.


The problem with this, is that the charging handle and its latch aren’t designed for the increased pressure and tension on one side. Thus, utilizing mil-spec standard charging handles in this manner can lead to premature wear and failure.


In response, many companies have come up with their own versions of the charging handle that incorporate larger handles and reinforced components. Yet, most of these solutions fail to address the core problem: the use of a charging latch.

So when I heard the folks at Devil Dog Concepts were taking a different approach, I jumped at the prospect of reviewing their new product.

Enter, the DDC Hard Charger.

While other side-charging AR-15 rifles, carbines and pistols utilize a custom upper receiver and bolt carrier, DDC’s Hard Charger actually works with a standard AR-15 upper and carrier. It does this by shifting the changes to the charging handle to the outside of the device.




//content.osgnetworks.tv/firearmsnews/content/photos/Devil-Dog-Concepts-Hard-Charger-2
The Hard Charger employs a telescopic rod that runs parallel to the charging handle to provide better tensile strength.

Essentially, they’ve built a side-charger that operates via a modified standard charging handle. While this might seem complex or possibly fragile, the truth is far from it. Because the DDC charger utilizes a Picatinny rail clamp to secure the forward portion of it, the Hard Charger has no additional leverage on the system.

Another advantage of the DDC system, is that is allows the gun to be charged like a standard AR-15 as well, since it uses a modified standard charger. This is ideal since it permits the system to keep operating even if the DDC special charger manages to fail. 

Plus, since it uses a standard AR-15 upper, if other types of uppers are similar - like Wolf’s A1 - the DDC functions flawlessly on them as well.


This all sounds great, but how does it hold up to hard use?

I’ve had the DDC Hard Charger on a BCM mid-length upper that my wife, and any range guests use, now for roughly four years. In that time it has seen upwards of 10 thousand rounds. More than that, it was utilized for malfunction clearing drills I was taught by the IDF a few hundred times. This means it has seen vastly more hard use over that time period than normal.

In all this time, I’ve never had the Hard Charger fail to operate or malfunction seriously. The only thing I’ve noticed, is after 2,000 suppressed rounds, it starts to drag a decent amount inside the receiver. Though, this is the case with nearly all charging handles after so much carbon build up.

It’s an ingenious system that seems to work very well in testing. But here’s the real question: “Is it worth $169?”

Arguably, that depends. It’s not a matter of whether the product is made well enough to justify the price - it certainly is. It’s more a question of whether it adds enough functionality or improves the ergonomics of the host rifle enough to warrant the extra money.

//content.osgnetworks.tv/firearmsnews/content/photos/Devil-Dog-Concepts-Hard-Charger-3
The DDC Hard Charger mounts to the Picatinny rail. So make sure your optics leave adequate space for clamping on the handle’s forward stabilizer.

For me, I would recommend for the shooter with tens of thousands of rounds downrange and hundreds of hours experience on an AR that it isn’t worth it. I say that, because that sort of shooter will already have so much muscle memory built up. So much so, that the different manual of arms necessitated by the Hard Charger will only slow down reloads and weapon manipulation.

But for shooters either new to the platform, or those more acquainted with side-charging designs like the Galil or the AKM, will likely find the DDC very comfortable and familiar. Overall, the Hard Charger is a well designed, well thought out design. If I really didn’t like the controls on the AR, the Hard Charger could easily remedy that. While its a neat addition to the AR-15, it would be a must on AR-inspired designs like the MPX.

Shooters interested in purchasing one, can do so over at DDC’s website.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

3 Ring Silencers

3 Ring Silencers

Patrick Sweeney heads to the range to look at suppressors from 3 Ring Silencer Corporation.

Gemtech Suppressors: Testing the Patrolman, the One and the Tracker

Gemtech Suppressors: Testing the Patrolman, the One and the Tracker

Patrick Sweeney tests and reviews a trio of Gemtech suppressors.

Firearms News Reviews the S&W M&P 2.0 9mm Compact Pistol

Firearms News Reviews the S&W M&P 2.0 9mm Compact Pistol

Firearms News editor Vince DeNiro runs the Smith & Wesson M&P 2.0 9mm compact pistol through a self-defense drill.

Hornady Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Hornady 4DOF

Hornady Kestrel 5700 Ballistics Weather Meter with Hornady 4DOF

The Hornady Kestrel 5700 combines complete onsite environmental measurements with Hornady 4DOF trajectory solutions.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Unless Democrats rescind their proposed Gun Issuing Board, threats and anti-rights promises don't matterGun Control Speeches at DNC Misleading 2nd Amendment

Gun Control Speeches at DNC Misleading

JPFO - August 21, 2020

Unless Democrats rescind their proposed Gun Issuing Board, threats and anti-rights promises...

The Mossberg 590A1 Retro offers the proven durability and reliability of the M500 and M590 models with the enhanced combat utility of a military “trench gun.” Mossberg 590A1 Retro Shotgun Review Shotguns

Mossberg 590A1 Retro Shotgun Review

Leroy Thompson - August 24, 2020

The Mossberg 590A1 Retro offers the proven durability and reliability of the M500 and M590...

Virginia Republican Rep. Glenn Davis introduced two pro-2A measures in a special session that are designed to partially roll back some restrictive laws.Fighting Back in Virginia 2nd Amendment

Fighting Back in Virginia

Mark Chesnut - August 24, 2020

Virginia Republican Rep. Glenn Davis introduced two pro-2A measures in a special session that...

Developed to replace the venerable AK-74, the Blow-Back Shifted Pulse AN-94 Nikonov is a fascinating hyper-burst design which faded away after the death of its designer.Russian 5.45x39mm AN-94 Nikonov Review Rifles

Russian 5.45x39mm AN-94 Nikonov Review

David M. Fortier - August 14, 2020

Developed to replace the venerable AK-74, the Blow-Back Shifted Pulse AN-94 Nikonov is a...

See More Trending Articles

More Accessories

The evolution of Night Vision and what you need to know before you buy!How Does Night Vision Work? Accessories

How Does Night Vision Work?

David M. Fortier - July 24, 2020

The evolution of Night Vision and what you need to know before you buy!

They said it couldn't be done! Amend2 Magazines introduces the first polymer 6.5mm Grendel/6mm ARC AR-15 magazine to hit the market!Amend2 Polymer 6.5mm Grendel AR-15 Magazines — First Look Accessories

Amend2 Polymer 6.5mm Grendel AR-15 Magazines — First Look

Samantha Knight - July 16, 2020

They said it couldn't be done! Amend2 Magazines introduces the first polymer 6.5mm Grendel/6mm...

Birchwood Casey introduces five new shooting rests: Alpha, Bravo, Echo, Foxtrot, and Tango.New Birchwood Casey Shooting Rests for 2021 Accessories

New Birchwood Casey Shooting Rests for 2021

Birchwood Casey - February 18, 2021

Birchwood Casey introduces five new shooting rests: Alpha, Bravo, Echo, Foxtrot, and Tango.

Walker's new Raptor offers a fresh approach to hearing enhancement & protection through bone-conduction technology which amplifies ambient sounds by transmitting sound waves through the bones in your head!Walker's Raptor Bone Conduction Headset – First Look Accessories

Walker's Raptor Bone Conduction Headset – First Look

Samantha Knight - July 20, 2020

Walker's new Raptor offers a fresh approach to hearing enhancement & protection through...

See More Accessories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Firearms News App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Firearms News subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now