I like a bit of a traditional look in my guns, which is why my AR-15 wears an aftermarket carry handle — specifically the UTG PRO Carry Handle Sight, which retails for $74.97. Oh, I certainly love the electronic optics available today … more on that below. But every now and again it’s just fun to have a carry handle with the integrated sights. Here’s what I love — and hate — about the UTG.
Love: Well-Built and Functional
This carry handle is made in the USA with a 7075-T6 aluminum alloy base. It’s matte black hard-coat anodized, which means it’s strong, light and tough. It’s called a carry handle, but also houses a steel A2 rear sight assembly, allowing for elevation and windage adjustments. Moreover, two aiming apertures allow near- and far-sighting applications. Retention thumb nuts allow for easy clamping, and the rear sight matches up perfectly to a standard front sight. In addition, the sights are easily adjusted utilizing clearly marked knurled dials. I can even manipulate the controls while wearing gloves. If I need to adjust an electronic optic, I have to embark on a more arduous process requiring more manual dexterity — something not always possible even when shooting at the range.
Love: Traditional Look
This is a functional handle and sight, to be sure, but I mostly just enjoy the aesthetics of an AR-15 with a carry handle. Even though red dot and other electronic optics are ubiquitous, there’s just something traditional … nostalgic … old school … about the look of the carry handle. I love the amazing functionality of flat-tops, but they just look like unfinished guns to me. The carry handle completes the look. The weird part is…
Hate: I Virtually Never Carry My AR This Way.
I carry my AR with a two-point sling. In this configuration, the muzzle points straight down and the gun is close to my body where I can deploy it quickly. If it’s not in this position, then my two hands are controlling it. I may be at low ready or I may have the gun up, ready to engage a target. When I’m done shooting, my AR goes right into a rifle bag, unloaded. This helps indicate that it’s unloaded and out of service. I just don’t ever carry it using the carry handle.
Neutral: Not an Electronic Optic
Here’s both a love and hate in the same element: I love the fact that the UTG PRO is not an electronic optic. Although today’s optics are exceptionally tough and reliable, I don’t have to worry about damaging an expensive piece of gear if my rifle gets trashed and thrashed. I don’t have to worry about turning it on and off. I don’t have to worry about the batteries running low or out of power. I don’t have to worry about protecting and cleaning the glass. However, I also don’t have that simple red dot or other aiming reticle available to me, showing the exact point of impact even if my eye isn’t fully aligned with the optic.
Do you have an aftermarket carry handle installed on your AR-15? If so, what do you love (or hate) about it?
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