There is no question that running a suppressor makes shooting 5.56 NATO, particularly indoors, a lot more pleasant to your ears. However, the downside with many suppressors is that it results in more gas in your eyes/face from the increased back pressure.
Options that can reduce gas to the face or eyes.
Getting an adjustable gas block is one of the first things you may want to consider when running a suppressor on your 5.56 NATO AR-15. I like the Aero Precision adjustable gas block. The Aero Precision adjustable gas block is an inexpensive (street price of about $55) and convenient way to reduce the amount of hot gas that enters the receiver. This also helps to reduce recoil and saves some weight by not having to go with a heavier H2 or H3 buffer.
However, you may still find that your suppressor is sending too much gas to your eyes. This is when a “gas buster” charging handle can help.
What is a Gas Buster Charging Handle?
A gas buster charging handle is one that diverts or blocks hot gases and blowback away from the shooter.
What is the Griffin Armament SN-ACH?
The Griffin Armament SN-ACH (Suppressor Normalized Ambidextrous Configurable Handle) is a charging handle that is specially designed to redirect and vent excess gas away from your eyes/face. Since the Griffin SN-ACH vents the excess gas to the right side, if you’re a lefty, this may not work for you.
Features of the Griffin Armament SN-ACH
- Made from 7075-T6 aluminum for optimal strength and durability
- The bolt carrier engaging hook has been reinforced making it 30% stronger than MILSPEC charging handles
- Levers can be changed out to smaller ones (purchased separately) if desired
- Hard coated for outstanding resistance to wear
Price of the Griffin Armament SN-ACH Charging Handle
The MSRP is $89.95 for AR-15
The MSRP is $109.95 for AR-10
The street prices for both are pretty close to the MSRPs.
At the Range
On a POF Renegade Plus (16.5” barrel), with the gas properly dialed in using its “DIctator” adjustable gas block, and running a YHM Turbo (gen 1) suppressor, the gas to the eyes was still quite overwhelming. With the original charging handle, just shooting a few rounds forced me to stop for a few seconds and look away.
Once I switched to the Griffin Armament SN-ACH charging handle, the difference was night and day. WOW. I would say that the gas to the eyes was reduced by maybe up to 70%. In fact, the Griffin Armament SN-ACH significantly reduced the amount of gas to the eyes on various suppressed hosts with barrel lengths from 10.5” to 16.5”. Yes, it is that effective, which is why I use the Griffin SN-ACH gas busting charging handle on all but one of my suppressed hosts.
That said, there was still a little bit of gas escaping from above and beneath the charging handle. Therefore, I ended up doing a few things to fix these issues as noted below.
Don’t Use RTV, use an O-Ring Instead
Despite the significant reduction in gas to the eyes that the Griffin SN-ACH provides, there was still some gas escaping through a tiny gap between the top rear of the upper receiver that fits into the curved “U” top wall of the charging handle. There are a number of videos online recommending the use of RTV along the curved “U” top wall of your charging handle, into which the upper receiver fits. However, a simpler solution is to cut a section of O-Ring (Danco #15 O-Ring) and Gorilla glue it to the charging handle.
I also Gorilla glued a small, flat strip of oil resistant rubber along the bottom rearward part of the charging handle (between the levers). The thickness of the rubber I used was 1/32″, but it really depends on the size of the gap between the bottom of your charging handle and the lower receiver beneath it.
For some receivers, I needed to use a 1/64″ thick strip of rubber. Plugging up this small sliver of space further reduces the residual gas that would otherwise escape using any charging handle, including the Griffin SN-ACH. In fact, Silencerco just released a gas busting charging handle that has a partial O-Ring integrated into the bottom of its new charging handle. I’m puzzled as to why Griffin or anyone else doesn’t incorporate all three methods of gas mitigation (O-Ring on top, O-Ring on bottom and a gas venting port on the side).
I also glued a 1/32″ strip of rubber to the rear, vertical side of the charging handle (covering up the spring between the left and right handles). With these 3 modifications, the Griffin SN-ACH charging handle almost completely eliminated all of the gas to the the eyes while shooting suppressed.
If you enjoy the sound reduction from using a suppressor, but are turned off by the intense burning gas to your eyes, you may want to seriously consider getting the Griffin Armament SN-ACH charging handle. It makes a huge difference, especially when used together with an adjustable gas block or adjustable bcg.