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Old 08-13-2015, 11:26 AM   #1
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Just wondering

It's not exactly an earth shaking question but I'm wondering why so many rifles seem to have gone to placing the charging handles on the left side when I grew up with them on the right side. When I say grew up I'm referring to the common United States Battle Rifles of the World War II and Korean War eras such as the M1, M1 Carbine and M1A/M14.

I can understand (sort of) the AR types going to the center due to their design since to me it just falls naturally there.

But then you have the more "modern" rifles that I'm familiar with such as the FAL, PTR, ACR and SCAR that for no evident reason to me have moved the charging handle to the opposite side. I may be displaying my provincialism by saying moved since to be honest I have no idea if the other rifles of those eras actually had the charging handles or bolts on the right side or not.

Since I'm left handed and I do many things right handed including shooting I'm obviously messed up but the charging handle on the left side just feels wrong to me.

Like I said, not an earth shaking question but I'd welcome any insight you might have.
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Old 08-13-2015, 11:30 AM   #2
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It's so a right handed rifleman can perform most operations without letting go of the pistol grip. Theoretically it gets you back into action quicker.
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Old 08-13-2015, 12:28 PM   #3
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afaik, that's exactly right- although charging handle placement is by no means universal- ie on the g3 and other h&k products- 90 series, the charging handle is up on the left side on the front end of the gas tube, the ar series has its charging handle in the middle b/c the ar10, which was the granddaddy of the ar had its handle there- we called it "funnylookin" at the time- but most rifles have their charging handles in that spot b/c the ancestor was designed that way- and don't forget you can get different bolts that change it "right hand drive"- or fabricate some in the field- you often see these on the g3 as the average troop doesn't like to have to travel his left hand all the way forward to recharge- I've also seen some m16s modified in a similar pattern
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Old 08-13-2015, 12:59 PM   #4
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As I Recall...

...the BAR [M1918] has the operating handle on the left side.
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Old 08-13-2015, 02:27 PM   #5
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The new Baretta is so adaptable the average fire team may have no two rifles alike!
Geoff
Who didn't get his assigned rifle when all heck broke loose, nothing fatal, thank goodness!
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Old 08-14-2015, 04:56 AM   #6
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Thanks .. though I realize being able to use both hands though neither of them well means I'm not the target audience it just doesn't feel right to me.

I had forgotten about the BAR and had to go look at a picture and sure enough you're right. So much for the conspiracy theories that I had running through my head.
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Old 08-14-2015, 07:47 AM   #7
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Aside from the WW2 BAR, there was the Thompson SMG. The early models were the 1928 Thompson and like every other it had the cocking knob, or actuator, on top. When the design was simplified due to cost, it became the M1, and later, the M1A1 Thompson and the actuator was moved to the right side, following the M1 Garand and the M1 Carbine model.
It would never be produced (IIRC) but had the Thompson development continued, the M2 variant would have had the cocking knob on both sides of the receiver, therefore emulating (sort of) the BAR style....and also it would have been made in .30 Carbine caliber. This model was however, never actually made, due to (probably) the introduction of the TRULY cheap-to-manufacture M3 Grease Gun.
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Old 08-14-2015, 12:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyGunn View Post
Aside from the WW2 BAR, there was the Thompson SMG. The early models were the 1928 Thompson and like every other it had the cocking knob, or actuator, on top. When the design was simplified due to cost, it became the M1, and later, the M1A1 Thompson and the actuator was moved to the right side, following the M1 Garand and the M1 Carbine model.
It would never be produced (IIRC) but had the Thompson development continued, the M2 variant would have had the cocking knob on both sides of the receiver, therefore emulating (sort of) the BAR style....and also it would have been made in .30 Carbine caliber. This model was however, never actually made, due to (probably) the introduction of the TRULY cheap-to-manufacture M3 Grease Gun.
That would be an interesting conversion for a Kahr--rework a semi faux-M1 for .30Car and both-sides bolt. Better yet would be combining the redesigned ambi bolt with the other ergonomics of the original 1921... how much would it need the magwell stretched in the chamber change, and what kind of redesign would it mean on drums and sticks?

A hundred rounds of .30 Carbine ready to play a Home Invader some serious Chicago Piano? YES PLEASE!
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Old 08-14-2015, 12:45 PM   #9
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That was interesting Tommy. Guess the old saying about us old dogs and new tricks still holds true.
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Old 08-14-2015, 05:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TommyGunn View Post
Aside from the WW2 BAR, there was the Thompson SMG. The early models were the 1928 Thompson and like every other it had the cocking knob, or actuator, on top. When the design was simplified due to cost, it became the M1, and later, the M1A1 Thompson and the actuator was moved to the right side, following the M1 Garand and the M1 Carbine model.
It would never be produced (IIRC) but had the Thompson development continued, the M2 variant would have had the cocking knob on both sides of the receiver, therefore emulating (sort of) the BAR style....and also it would have been made in .30 Carbine caliber. This model was however, never actually made, due to (probably) the introduction of the TRULY cheap-to-manufacture M3 Grease Gun.
In the '60s and '70s, there was a legal, semiauto Thompson lookalike (sorta) called the Commando MK III that had the charging handle on the left. It used (then) common, cheap M3 magazines. The MK IIIs used to be cheap at gun shows. The last one I saw had a breathtaking price tag. Wish I'd picked one up back in the day.

If you've never seen one, you can google-image it.
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:53 PM   #11
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The first "assault rifle" the German MP44/StG-44 had the op handle on the left side.
I don't recall seeing many auto or semi auto weapons with that left side arrangement.

These days it does seem to make more sense because you can do most operations without taking the rifle off your shoulder, your right hand off the grip, or your eyes off the target.
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Old 08-14-2015, 06:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
The first "assault rifle" the German MP44/StG-44 had the op handle on the left side.
I don't recall seeing many auto or semi auto weapons with that left side arrangement.

These days it does seem to make more sense because you can do most operations without taking the rifle off your shoulder, your right hand off the grip, or your eyes off the target.
All well and good if you're one of the steadily-declining right-hand majority. SUCKS when you're a southpaw in a survival situation though... because you either have to have your hardware tweaked, or come up with cumbersome, time-consuming improvised methods.
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Old 08-14-2015, 07:44 PM   #13
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TooTall,

SIMPLE: Because weapons designers want shooters "who are in their RIGHT minds".
(CHUCKLE)

yours, sw

Last edited by stand watie; 08-14-2015 at 07:45 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 08-15-2015, 05:46 AM   #14
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Well that's something I've never claimed to be. Wonder which mind I'm in since I use both hands with equal clumsiness?
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Old 08-15-2015, 05:46 PM   #15
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The Brits answer to left-handed people who are issued with the British bullpup rifle is that since few Brits have ever fired a rifle, it's just easier to teach them to shoot right-handed from the start.

I don't know whether to agree or cry. That so few formerly Free Englishmen have no experience with arms and are no longer Free is a crying shame.

This is what happens when you're a subject, not a citizen, and have a Parliament not a Constitution.
A Parliament can take away a subjects "Rights" by passing a law.
In America we have a Constitution that can't be easily changed.

That's stood us in good stead for 230 some odd years, and stood until the Progressive Left under Obama decided that enough time had passed and enough people forgot what we were all about that they could finally just start ignoring it.

Last edited by dfariswheel; 08-15-2015 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 08-15-2015, 11:16 PM   #16
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All well and good, IF you have the right-arm strength. Wouldn't have worked in my case, I'm so left-dominant I'm bordering on "human fiddler crab" and it took several years worth of concentrated effort and muscle-building to get my right arm and hand up to a point where I could BARELY lift and control a 1911. (Now I'm an OK shot with my off-hand, though, but still nowhere near where I or anyone else would want it to be.)
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Old 08-16-2015, 04:17 AM   #17
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Having them shoot (R) handed is probably a good choice if the (L) hander is cross-dominant. I think teaching them to shoot on the "wrong" eye is harder than teaching them to shoot on the "wrong" hand.
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Old 08-16-2015, 04:48 AM   #18
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In My Mind...

Quote:
Originally Posted by dfariswheel View Post
The Brits answer to left-handed people who are issued with the British bullpup rifle is that since few Brits have ever fired a rifle, it's just easier to teach them to shoot right-handed from the start.
...the bigger issue with most bullpup rifles is that the ejection paths inhibit being able to switch them from shoulder to shoulder. This is a crucial option for better coverage of potential threats at intersections - whether of streets or of hallways.

Some of the newer bullpup designs offer the operator the option to switch the side to which empty brass ejects, to suit primary handedness, but that's no an operation that can be done in seconds.

And if memory serves, Lee Harvey Oswald is supposed to have complained to his mother that the USMC and the M1 Rifle forced him to fire from his right shoulder while his left was his dominant eye.

Back to the previously scheduled topic in this thread...
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Old 08-25-2015, 08:10 PM   #19
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As a followup on my original post I was cleaning my Bushmaster ACR this evening and noticed that there was a matching slot on the right side exactly like the slot on the left side that the charging handle was mounted through. I then did something extremely radical and actually read the instructions and found that the charging handle can be swapped from one side to the other using either a punch or just a bullet tip. It took me all of three minutes to move the charging handle from the left side to the right side. I'm not sure if it's ergonomically best on the right side but there's no doubt it's best for me. After discovering how easy it is to reconfigure the rifle and paraphrasing Skeptic49 I guess the new standard for modern rifles is that there is no standard.
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Old 08-25-2015, 10:43 PM   #20
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D.J. Saive or one of FN's other representatives reportedly did a demonstration for US Army Ordnance when the FAL was being tested as the T48. As mentioned above, it came down to the firing hand not leaving the pistol grip while charging the rifle. Thus, the FAL user could get his first shot off before the individual wielding one of the US prototypes.
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