In its most basic form, the handguard is designed to do as its name says: protect the shooter’s hands from the hot barrel. Modern AR-style rifles have expanded the role of the handguard so that many of these basic parts are now intricate mounting platforms for a wide variety of rifle enhancements. Everything from vertical foregrips to white lights can now be easily mounted to a handguard, or rail system, to improve the usefulness of the rifle.
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There are a variety of mounting systems on the market. Picatinny rails are the standard for most manufacturers. Ladder-like in appearance, Picatinny rails are compatible with nearly all sights, lasers and lights on the market. However, unused portions of rails add unnecessary weight to a gun.
Other attachment systems include the KeyMod and M-LOK. These systems remove the excess rails to save weight, yet allow a shooter to add those accessories that are needed. For equipment that is only compatible with Picatinny-style attachment points, there are Picatinny rails of varying lengths that can be attached to these KeyMod and M-LOK systems.
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Scroll through the gallery above for a few of the best handguard systems available from some of the major players in the aftermarket AR parts world today.
For more information, please visit the websites listed here:
- BlackHawk Quad-Rails: blackhawk.com; 800-379-1732
- Bravo Company KMR: bravocompanyusa.com; 877-272-8626
- Command Arms M4S1: commandarms.com; 866-611-9576
- Daniel Defense SLiM Rail: danieldefense.com; 866-554-4867
- Diamondhead VRS T-556: diamondhead-usa.com; 413-739-6970
- Ergo KeyMod Forward Rail: ergogrips.net; 877-281-3783
- Fortis SWITCH 556: fortismfg.com; 253-277-3211
- Geissele MK4 M-LOK Super Modular Rail: geissele.com; 610-272-2060
- Hogue Free Float Forends: hogueinc.com; 800-438-4747
- Magpul MOE M-LOK: magpul.com; 877-462-4785
- Midwest Industries SSK-KeyMod: midwestindustriesinc.com; 262-896-6780
- PWS DI Handguard: primaryweapons.com; 208-344-5217
- Rainier Arms Force Mod 2: rainierarms.com; 253-218-2999
- Samson Evolution: samson-mfg.com; 888-665-4370
- Seekins Precision MCSR V2: seekinsprecision.com; 208-743-3400
- Troy M-LOK: troyind.com; 866-788-6412
- Wilson Combat TRIM: wilsoncombat.com; 870-545-3618
- Yankee Hill Machine KR7: yhm.net; 877-892-6533