The 4 Best AR-15 Carry Handles

The 4 Best AR-15 Carry Handles

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A carry handle is not just for carrying. One of the main purposes for adding a carry handle to your AR-15 is to elevate the rear sight. They come in handy for many AR-15 owners, and most are designed to not interfere with the original sights on your rifle. We’ve compiled a list of the four best AR-15 Carry Handles available in the market today:

  • TAC Vector Optics AR-15 Carry Handle
  • DPMS AR-15 Carry Handle
  • Colt AR-15 Carrying Handle Assembly
  • High Standard AR-15 Detachable Carry Handle

Here’s the thing about the market for carry handles: we are actually quite limited on what is available, compared to most other accessories. Normally, we have hundreds of choices, but there aren’t many brands that make AR-15 handles. Furthermore, they are prohibited on Amazon, severely limiting the market.

There are both negative and positive sides to this. On the one hand, this means that getting a good price will be difficult because there is little competition among brands. On the other hand, the carry handles mentioned are all pretty similar, so you can (for once) choose based on the lowest price and your favorite brand.  You can also select a carry handle based on minor details such as color and appearance that aren’t usually considered essential.


Feel free to jump to the conclusion to get our top pick. Happy shopping!

TAC Vector Optics AR-15 Carry Handle

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TAC Vector Optics AR-15 Carry Handle

Materials – The first AR-15 Carry handle on this list is constructed entirely of steel and is finished in black. This carry handle measures about seven inches in length and weighs just over half a pound. It’s tough and long-lasting, but it’s light enough that it won’t add too much weight to your AR-15 setup. It easily attaches to a Picatinny rail, and it has space on the top for an additional Picatinny rail attachment. The built-in rear iron sight is windage and elevation adjustable, and the carry handle has been proven to be shock-resistant – a must-have feature for an attachment like this.

Performance – At first glance, the TAC Vector handle appears to be identical to any other carry handle you might find online. The price tag is what makes us lift an eyebrow, but we’ll get to that later. This carry handle is one of the few choices that isn’t made of aluminum. It’s made of steel instead. Although it is finished, we don’t believe it has been finished with a highly protective coating. With this option, you’ll likely get some minor scratches along the way. All of the features on this AR-15 carry handle, on the other hand, are fairly standard, and it attaches and works flawlessly.

What we say – Vector optics offers this option for a reasonable price, that is nowhere near the price of all other carry handles. It’s definitely the low-budget option on this list and definitely worth a try.

Pros
  • Lowest cost
  • Constructed of steel
  • Shock proof and lightweight
Cons
  • Questionable price
  • May scratch easily
 
DPMS AR-15 Carry Handle

DPMS AR-15 Carry Handle

Materials – The second choice we have for you is made up of a high-grade aluminum handle with a hard, anodized finish and steel sight parts with a parkerized finish. This handle is also Teflon-coated. It’s just seven inches long and weighs about nine ounces. The rear sight is a Mil-Spec A-2 style that can be used as a main or backup sight. With a full-length clamping bar and two easy-to-grasp thumb nuts, installation is quick and simple. The original front sight can also be used with this carry handle since it is at the right height. It is compatible with all flat-top rifles and carbines equipped with a Picatinny base.

Performance – Ah! Now this is what we are talking about! The DPMS AR-15 carry handle is made from high-quality materials by top-notch craftsmen. This handle is barely heavier than some other options, but a top-heavy rifle is a critical consideration for this type of accessory. This product should last a long time and withstand harsh weather and a lot of recoil. In terms of style, this option has a two-toned look to it, and we would prefer a sleeker, lower-profile carry handle.

What we say – Quite a bit more expensive than our first option, we still talk about an average price for carry handles. This is why the previous option made us a little weary. It is a fantastic AR-15 carry handle for the price, if you can spare the cash.

Pros
  • Full finished aluminum and steel parts
  • Can utilize original sights
  • Mil-Spec rear sight
Cons
  • Multi-toned appearance
  • Slightly heavier than others
 
Colt AR-15 Carrying Handle Assembly

Colt AR-15 Carrying Handle Assembly

Materials – Like the DPMS, the Colt option is made from forged aluminum in a hard, anodized finish in matte black. The hardware is made of steel, which has been parkerized. The carry handle itself is a traditional design, allowing for Picatinny rails and optics to be attached to the top. This carry handle is made from the same material as military rifles, so you know you’re getting a high-quality product. The elevation of the Mil-Spec rear sight can be modified, and the regular A-2 adjustments allow for additional elevation and windage adjustments. There are two apertures in the rear sight: one small and one wide. Similar to the previous option, this AR-15 carrying handle attaches easily by way of a full length and two thumb nuts.

Performance – We listed appearance earlier, and we’re very pleased with the way Colt’s handle looks. It’s completely black and has a much more refined appearance than the DPMS alternative. The design and rugged construction of this carry handle is incredibly durable, so you can expect it to be completely shock proof. We like the rear sight and will happily use it as a backup sight alongside our rifle’s original sight. This one is more expensive, but even a few dollars will make a difference in this study.

What we say – It’s a little more expensive than the DPMS one, but it may also have a more appealing look that many gunowners might prefer. As stated before, it comes down personal preferences.

Pros
  • Full finished handle
  • Two aperture rear sight
  • Sleek, black appearance
Cons
  • More expensive option
 
High Standard AR-15 Detachable Carry Handle

High Standard AR-15 Detachable Carry Handle

Materials – This aftermarket carry handle is, much like the other options, constructed of an aluminum handle that has been anodized in a matte, black finish and parkerized steel sight parts. There is a full-length bar for attaching to your AR-15, as well as two thumb nuts. The nuts have additional grooves for hand tightening, and they accept nickels and quarters so you can get it nice and tight without needing a tool. The carry handle provides enough height to use the factory sights, and there is an iron sight that makes a perfect backup sight. A platform on the top of the carry handle may be used to mount optics such as ACOGS or Picatinny rails for other scopes.

Performance – We couldn’t really tell the difference between the Colt carry handle and this one. This carry handle is made of the same materials as the previous one, has a nearly identical look, and is priced similarly. The thumb nuts for connecting to a rail are the main difference in this option. These thumb nuts offer a little more room for tightening, which is great for a rifle that never tires of recoil.

What we say – As mentioned before the last option comes in the exact same price range as the Colt carrying handle. It’s the most expensive option, but only by a few dollars.

Pros
  • Very durable construction
  • Thumb nuts have extra grooves for tightening
Cons
  • Most expensive option
 

Our Favorite AR-15 Carry Handle

If you couldn’t tell from the way we described it, the Colt carry handle is our top choice for the best AR-15 carry handle. We don’t feel bad about choosing the “most expensive option” for this round since three of the four options in this analysis were all in the same price range. It’s still a great deal for a carry handle, and you’d be getting a high-quality item. This carry handle will never be affected by recoil, and you should expect it to last a long time without cuts or scrapes. The sleek, black look will complete the appearance of your AR-15, all in all, you can’t really go wrong here.

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5 comments
  1. Guys, or gals, good comparison except for one thing: there is no reason for the piece of metal that ties the two mounting points together and covers the rail under the handle except to make the removable basically useless AS a carry handle. I’m old and old school and started out with M16 and have carried iterations of the weapon for thousands of miles. I’m just 5’8″-5’9″ and have fairly small hands and when all these flat top ARs started showing up I bought the removable handles and could barely get my hand thru there. Forget gloves and hell, I sleep in gloves….kidden, but wear em whatever mission specs are. I thot they must come in sizes like low mount and high mount. As you know that’s a nope. So I finally figured out the problem and why younger guys don’t like em. So I hacksawed that piece of metal out. If had way to remove that piece of rail it would be bout full size opening as my first Colt which I still have. Course need to file the cut parts and maybe spray em to match. I called every manufacturer of carry handles and told them idea/solution. They all thanked me, kinda and did nothing except a place called Lion Gears that I found later by accident. You will not find the handles with any known search words unless you know about Lion Gears BMCH18 Lightweight AR15 carry handle. Only a few places carry them. Cheaper than Dirt has best price at $24 and company also makes an open end handle that works good in some applications. I tried to get Lion Gears to add some key words to search engine but didn’t seem interested. They sell lots more quality items. So give one a try and at least spread the word….either about them or to get out the saw or Dremel. Military sez its NOT a carry handle but luckily I have spent nearly 40yrs working with em , not for them. And where the hell else you gonna grasp ur tactiCOOL AR to carry it for days on end or just from house go truck or police vehicle with 10lbs of gadgets attached. Hope this makes it to yall and that you give it a try and put the carry back in the handle. ANY brand handle after 10 minute modification. Thanks. Keep up the good work and powder dry. We in for rough times. rick

    1. Hi Rick, thanks a lot for your advice! Much appreciated! We are sure many people will find this helpful.

  2. I own Colt AR15A4 and have a Vortex 6x18x44 scope on it now.It shoots well but this rifle just looks so much better with the open sight handle on it.This spring I’m going back to the factory open sight .My Armalite AR10 came with no sights and I’m running a Romeo 5 dot and MaTech irons for back up.Im also interested In how good I can get with the iron sights on the AR15A4.

  3. i really wish i could get a carry handle with factory fit matched drop in pic rail to hold a quick scope mount on top of the handle that’s parallel without any filing needed ..and an aluminum possibly billet machined carry handle with allen head screws flush set in the handle with holes to use a nail or anything to detach the handle or some other minimalist attachment method not 2 big huge annoying “”cabinet knobs” that snag on stuff ..

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