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Old June 30th, 2020, 07:47 AM #1
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The AR Hand Guard Info Thread

I am going to make a stab at creating for those that are shopping for hand guards, a hand guard information thread. There are so many brands out there. Can include drop-in hand guards as well.

I was thinking thinking we comment on products we have used. Some ideas of what to include (but use what ever format you want):

1. overall finish (e.g. does it have a thin and chalky finish, or Cerakote, etc.)
2. what kind of special tools required (e.g. 1 3/16" crowfoot wrench)
3. design; MLOK or KMOD or neither, anti-rotational or not, barrel nut needs to be keyed or not, steel vs aluminum barrel nut, etc.
4. overall impressions, light/heavy, too thick or just right, fits a suppressor or does not, etc.
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Old June 30th, 2020, 07:47 AM #2
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Matrix Arms Foxtrot M-LOK Handguard 15"

An inexpensive free-floated hand guard that is solid but not steller. This would be a good choice for something you are going to paint anyways because the finish is think and chalky, and it has a grey tinge to it. It requires a 1 3/16" crow foot wrench. Accepts MLOK accessories. Does not come with any accessories.

About $65
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Old June 30th, 2020, 07:53 AM #3
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Leapers UTG PRO Model 4/15 Drop In Super Slim Handguard - Rifle - Black

These are pretty nice drop in hand guards. The fit and finish is really good. Comes with three rail sections, but the down side is the mounting is proprietary; no MLOK/KEYMOD. Even so, these are way nicer than the standard plastic and heat shield hand guards.
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Old June 30th, 2020, 08:00 AM #4
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A Couple of Brands I like in general; Midwest Industries and Seekins Precision

I have had really good luck with these. MI all seem to have a wrench included, my Seekins required a 1 1/4" crowfoot. Both seem to have some sort of anti-rotational design, steel barrel nuts that don'e need to be keyed, choice of type of accessory mount, very nice finish, etc.

[EDIT] The Seekins Product I have is the Seekins Precision AR-15 NOXs 9" Handguard - M-LOK. I have multiple MI guards.
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Old June 30th, 2020, 09:16 AM #5
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Not a comment specific to any particular brand, but when selecting your hand guard be careful not to choose one that is too close to the barrel unless you plan to add a vertical grip.

Put 100 rounds through one of my ARs a couple of days ago in about an hour and could barely touch the hand guard when I was done shooting it. Bought this upper assembled so I am not sure what they used for a hand guard. It looks really nice, but just does not do the job of protecting my hand from the barrel heat. Will be adding a vertical grip before the next outing with it.
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Old June 30th, 2020, 10:01 AM #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by calicojack View Post
Leapers UTG PRO Model 4/15 Drop In Super Slim Handguard - Rifle - Black

These are pretty nice drop in hand guards. The fit and finish is really good. Comes with three rail sections, but the down side is the mounting is proprietary; no MLOK/KEYMOD. Even so, these are way nicer than the standard plastic and heat shield hand guards.
I've used the free float versions on several builds. They are stout and well made.
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Old June 30th, 2020, 10:08 AM #7
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I'm a fan of Aero handguards, but have used a lot of others, almost exclusively free-float M-lok these days.

Enhanced gen 2
1.7" ID, 7",9",12",15", They mount either on Aero M4E1 Enhanced uppers(integral rail mount) or with the proprietary barrel nut on most uppers. The barrel nut kit includes shims, has to be timed, has anti-rotational tabs, and uses a standard "3 pin" barrel nut wrench. The rail mounts with 8 tapered torx screws.

They have M-lok or Kmod with a top rail, 4 rail, smooth/removable rail and 3 integrated QD sling studs.

The finish matches Aero receivers obviously, pretty much an average black or FDE color and texture(in the middle of the grey/chalky and black/glossy spectrum), so it works with a LOT of receiver brands The screws need loc-tite, which isn't included, or they come loose easily, there is some nice machine work and they mount solidly. They are a mid-weight design, and tough, the ID is big, so they work great if you run a suppressor inside the handguard.

Aero ATLAS guards.
1.3" ID, 7", 9", 12", 15" they mount with a round proprietary barrel nut with included tool, and use a 3 peice locking wedges/screw, integrated QD pockets, still have to be timed/shimmed and include the kit. The mounting wedge makes it extremely quick to remove or swap handguards. They are relatively skinny, and have options for m-lok, k-mod and a full top rail or the S-, which is a short section of rail at the front and rear. The design is too skinny to run a supressor under the guards, and with some heavy barrel profiles, you can run intoo clearance issues with QD sockets. I like the Atlas with slimmer/lighter builds, and with 308 platform builds, as the AR10/M5 is 1.5" ID, and feels about perfect where the AR10 Enhanced guards are a little big and bulky.
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Old June 30th, 2020, 10:41 AM #8
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My experience is as follows:

-UTG Pro Handguards, in my opinion are just OK - fine for a budget build. I don't like how the rail locks up to the nut with those 8 tiny screws. Just not nearly as robust as many other rail systems, but YMMV. I know UTG has come a long way since back in the day, but I still shudder slightly when I see UTG on anything on an AR.

- BCM MCMR type rails are outstanding. Total free float design and an anti rotation design that doesn't add pressure to your upper through large tabs contacting the upper surfaces. Also very tight fitting - need a heat gun or torch to heat up the rail to snug onto the bolt. They're super strong and still fairly light weight.

- Midwest industries - also outstanding rails, but to me, a slight edge to BCM when comparing the MI Combat Rail to the BCM MCMR - they're also same ballpark price. The MI Ultralight Combat rail is one of the best ultralight mlok rails i've come across. It did wonders to a stupid heavy hbar build I have.

- Daniel Defense MFR Mlok rail - Probably my nicest rail, although a royal PITA to mount and remove. By virtue of the design, the lockup is achieved through 4 horizontal bolts, therefore no unnecessary pressure is exerted around the nut to achieve lockup. Does this make a difference? Unlikely, but it's what DD did to achieve a sturdy lockup without any unnecessary forces against the nut or barrel.

PSA no name rails - I only have one complete upper from PSA and it's been trouble free and accurate at that. The rail is advertised as a lightweight rail, but it's definitely not. It does the job and I would have no problem putting one on another build if they sold them on their own and would prob opt for a PSA rail over a UTG.
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Old June 30th, 2020, 11:49 AM #9
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BCM KMR Alpha rail is a phenomenal handguard in my eyes. How the rail mounts to the barrel nut is kind of wonky at first, but once you get it on there, you'll understand why I was able to make some magic happen with a 300BLK.
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Old June 30th, 2020, 02:20 PM #10
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Odinworks o2 Lite
7.5", 9.5", 12.5", 15.5"

Have been somewhat disappointed with an Odinworks O2 lite rail on my 16" 3 gun lightweight AR. Bought it being the 15.5" handguard is a mere 9oz including the mounting hardware, and a fat controllable 1.6" ID with only short rail sections and QD pockets in the front and rear. The rail itself is great, super light and comfortable, it was part of a sub 5# build along with V seven receivers and Faxon gunner lightweight barrel. The problem is in the gawdawful mounting setup. It uses a 2 peice barrel nut, the outer peice/ mount is screwed onto the upper's threads, and lined up with a pin through the gas tube port, then a 2nd inner nut is torqued inside the outer mount's threaded sleeve against the barrel extension. Problem is this requires loc-tite between the outer and inner nut, the dowel pin has enough play that it would be off center if you rely on it, and the 6 tiny screws that clamp the rail to the mount leave a little wobble, and look like they will break or strip easily. Ended up building a vise block to clamp the outer nut/mount and help line the upper to the rail precicely, this got the rail on dead straight. there is still a little wobble when the mounting screws are torqued, should have been a friction or heat-fit between the rail and mount, a little bedding with epoxy helped snug it up. It works, it's stupid light, and I won't buy another one.
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