When it comes to your AR-15, the handguard you select can affect your shooting precision and functionality. Learn how to choose the best rail system or handguards for AR-15 rifles with this guideline.
What are Rails and Handguards
The rail systems are straight brackets mounted on firearms, be it fore-end stock, receiver, or handguards. Rails, on the other hand, refer to the component that covers both the rail pieces and the handguard.
Several types of rails are available on the market, such as the aero precision rails. Some of the common types of firearms rail systems are the Picatinny rail, Weaver rail, and the dovetail rail.
The rail system makes it possible for sliding various other attachments like the gun’s optical vision and accessories, including lasers, bipods, and tactical lights. It also allows the operator to attach other add-ons on their firearms. The aero precision rails, for instance, offers AR-15 tactical rail system with such function incorporated and superb finishes.
Handguards, on the other hand, are vital components that serve as shields to protect the operator’s hand from getting injured by the heat from the gun’s barrel. They are typically lightweight and durable. Some handguards have rails as their external parts.
How to Choose the Best Rail System or Handguard
Aside from giving you a stronger grip, handguards act as a shield for your hands and protect them from the heat generated from repeated firing. Hence, choosing the right handguards needs some considerations. The following are some of the crucial factors that you need to consider when choosing the right rail system or handguard for your AR-rifle.
Handguards have two primary substances—aluminum and polymer. Though both materials can be considered durable, aluminum is typically stronger between the two. However, aluminum guard also has its shortcomings. One is that it produces more heat during long shooting sessions.
- Accuracy of shooting
There are various designs for handguards, but the most prominent are the drop-in handguards and free-float handguards.
Drop-in handguards are the most common type and made of light material, such as a polymer. They are easy to install and are cheaper than free-float. While this handguard is more affordable, they tend to affect the shooting’s accuracy. Though such an effect is not a typical case, it is possible.
Unlike the drop-in handguards, free-float handguards have aluminum. Though they generally have a higher price range, they can help improve the shooting accuracy.
- Durability needs
Some handguards are made to last and more durable than others. The need for durability differs based on how the shooter is going to use the handguard – whether it is for a hunting range shooting or a shooting competition.
Making a budget plan before shopping for handguards can narrow down your selection. Still, a competitively-priced, high-quality handguard is your best bet rather than choosing a cheaper model.
- Accessory Mounting Systems
The mounting systems allow the operators to install a variety of accessories that boost the rifle’s performance and appearance. Some of the popular variations of the mounting systems are the M-LOK, Keymod, and Picatinny. Compared to the other two varieties, the Picatinny system is on the bulky side.
Keep in mind that adding too much weight to the front-end of the AR may affect the rifle’s overall balance so much that it hinders the grip.
Rifle owners who wish to buy handguards and rail systems should consider the above-mentioned factors.