AR15 Forend & Quad Rails F.A.Q.

Forends for AR15 style rifles are available in many different style and configurations. To make it simple we will break it down into 3 categories. Basic 2 piece snap on handguard, 2 piece clamp on handguards and 1 piece free float handguards.

Basic 2 piece snap on handguard - The 2 piece snap on forends is the same style as found on the old M16 rifle. This is a 2 piece design typically made of polymer material that uses a round metal band for connecting to the front sight base and then snaps in place to rear inside the delta ring. These are easy to install as they do not require removal of the front iron sight and usually require no special tools. They are lightweight, inexpensive and some units have rails for mounting tactical accessories. These forends tend to have some play and may fit a little loose as the 2 pieces do not clamp together and have no provision to keep them from moving.

2 piece clamp on handguards - The 2 piece clamp handguards are typically made of aluminum and they usually install in the same manner as the 2 piece snap on handguard except they are designed for the top and bottom half to be clamped together which makes for a very nice solid mounting platform. You can usually mount optics to these and they will hold zero.

1 piece free float handguards - Free floating handguards are designed so that the barrel will ride inside the handguard tube without touching any surface except for the barrel nut. This design offers the most accuracy benefits of all the forends because the free float tube allows the barrel to resonate freely shot after shot providing consistency that is beneficial to accuracy. The free float handguard will usually require an armorers wrench or other special tools to install. Depending on the length of your gas system and length of the handguard, the gas block on your rifle may be covered up partly or completely by the handguard. In these situations your gas blocks must have a very low profile design so that it can fit inside the handguard. You may also choose to set up your front gas block so that it is completely uncovered by the handguard. This is typically the option used when you plan on using a front iron sight mounted to your gas block. Regardless of the type of handguard used, the gas block will have to be removed in order to install the handguard. The exception is if your rifle has a low profile gas block installed, then the handguard can be fit without removal of the gas block. Various manufactures use different methods for attaching their handguard including new barrel nuts or locking set screws. Typically free float handguards will be the most solid of all the forends and ideal for attaching optics and accessories. These type of forends used to be very heavy and bulky but companies like Jp Enterprise, Midwest Industries and Troy Industries have brought new designs to the marketplace that are extremely solid yet lightweight. The other consideration when selecting a handguard whether you use a standard gas impingement system or gas piston type system. Most handguards are designed specifically for use with standard AR15 gas inpingement systems but there are several companies that do offer forends which are designed to accept some gas piston systems. Those handguards will have extra room on the inside to accommodate the reciprocating piston.

With the increased popularity for the AR15 family of rifles, the consumer can benefit from an amazing variety of handguard options for their rifles which include multiple colors, various materials, multi-rail setups, single rail setups, smooth handguards, different shape handguards and much more. Also make sure that you choose the appropriate handguard for your specific caliber rifle. AR15 and AR10/AR308 handguards are not compatible. We carry a wide variety of handguards for most applications so please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you select a handguard to fit your specific needs.


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