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What’s the Best AR 15 Handguard? Reviews & Buying Guide

Best AR 15 Handguard

Having just the naked barrel to hold on to may work when firing your AR-15 rifle. However, getting an excellent grip may come in handy when things get a little out of hand.

Choosing the best AR-15 handguard for your rifles could be challenging unless you’d check out this guide and see how easy it is to choose according to your needs.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Strike Industries M-LOK

OUR #2 RATED

Midwest Industries

OUR #3 RATED

Magpul MOE M-LOK

1. Strike Industries M-LOK

Why We Picked It:

The Strike Industries Strike Rail M-Lok Handguard is an excellent AR-15 handguard that provides a strong grip without any added weight. We liked how this AR handguard featured an ambidextrous QD socket placement. It was easier to attach a sling making it more comfortable to carry. 

We also loved how it came with a steel mounting nut and bolt, built to be tough enough to secure the fit to our rifle. We also liked how it included an integrated anti-rotation feature to ensure a steady fit.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Who Should Use It

This handguard is compatible with almost every AR platform and for any extended barrel length. This all-around handguard could be used for hunting, target shooting, and even competitive shooting. 

Summary:

This AR-15 handguard features an Ambi QD socket placement that makes it easier to attach to a sling. It also comes with a steel mounting nut and bolt and anti-rotation feature for a more secure fit. 

  • Length: 10 in
  • Handguard Weight: 12.7 oz

PROS

CONS

2. Midwest Industries

Why We Picked It:

The Midwest Industries handguard is another best handguard that provides a reliable grip and extra-long durability. This two-piece drop-in M-LOK handguard is constructed from 6061 aluminum, providing a reliable ruggedness without any added weight. 

We also find its monolithic type continuous top rail system perfect for placing any sights or any optional accessories in increasing the efficiency of our every shot. This is very easy to install, even without the help of a professional gunsmith, and is compatible with some gas piston systems.

Who Should Use It:

Our team recommends this drop-in handguard for close / intermediate engagement shooting purposes. This could be used for small game hunting and home defense rifles. 

Summary:

This drop-in handguard is compatible with AR and mid-length rifles. It provides a reliable grip without any added weight. This two-piece drop-in M-LOK handguard weighs 6.6 oz and is constructed from 6061 aluminum, and features a monolithic type continuous top rail.

  • Length: 7.5 in
  • Handguard Weight: 6.6 oz

PROS

CONS

3. Magpul MOE M-LOK

Why We Picked It:

The Magpul MOE Carbine Length Gas Systems M-LOK Handguard is one of the best handguards for AR-15. Furthermore, it allowed us to attach other M-LOK mounting accessories with no hassle. This handguard also provided an integral riveted aluminum heat shield and operator protection from the AR hot front sight assembly. 

It also snaps into standard AR with a delta ring and round/triangular front handguard cap. This carbine-length gas system handguard also works great with a front sight block. It is made from reinforced, heat-resistant polymer construction, making it ultimately durable. 

Who Should Use It

Our team recommends this handguard for occasional shooters, sports shooters, and hunters. This could also be used for self-defense and plinking. It could provide an excellent handgrip that could make your shooting escapades smoother without sacrificing accessory mounting options. 

Summary:

This AR-15 handguard is compatible with most piston-driven gas systems and both direct impingements. It is made from reinforced, heat-resistant polymer construction. This is a lightweight, durable, and easy to install AR handguard. 

  • Length: 7.1 in
  • Handguard Weight: 6.8 oz

PROS

CONS

4. Bravo Company GunFighter

Why We Picked It:

The Bravo Company GunFighter AR-15 Handguard is also one of the best AR-15 handguards we have discovered. It is built to fit low-profile gas block rifles and M-LOK platforms. It also gives you the freedom to choose between a low-profile gas block or a front sight base. 

This also includes a mechanical index to the 12 o’clock rail. Lastly, the weapon system’s position mounting hardware mitigates the movements caused by its heat generated. 

Who Should Use It:

We recommend this handguard to civilians, professionals, and even law enforcement gun owners.

Summary:

This handguard is a precision machined aerospace 606-T6 aluminum alloy that provides high strength, durability, and light. Like the BCM Quad Rail System, it also eliminates loads from the barrel that reduces deflection for more precise shots. This handguard also offers a hassle-free installation and a steel barrel nut to resist movement under heat. 

  • Length: 9.5 in
  • Handguard Weight: 8.8 oz

PROS

CONS

5. Seekins Precision NOXs M-LOK

Why We Picked It:

The Seekins Precision NOXs M-LOK handguard is a lightweight, ultra-thin handguard that is only 1.5 in wide. It is available in either the KeyMod or M-LOK mounting system at the three, six, and nine o’clock positions.

We liked how it featured anti-rotation QD sling attachment mounting points that provide maximum airflow. This feature also prevents the barrel from overheating. It ensures that anti-rotation is built into the steel barrel nut, making installation simple but rock solid.

Who Should Use It:

You can use this handguard when you are out hunting, plinking, or even during a competition shooting. 

Summary:

This lightweight handguard features a patent-pending cross-LOK mounting system that ensures a solid fit and prevents the barrel from overheating. It also comes with anti-rotation QD sling attachment points for maximum airflow. 

  • Length: 12 in
  • Handguard Weight: 8 oz

PROS

CONS

6. Aero Precision ATLAS R-ONE

Why We Picked It:

The Aero Precision ATLAS R-ONE Handguard is precision machined from 6061-T6 Aluminum, providing extreme durability for your lightweight build. We liked its slim profile because it made our shooting experience smoother and easier to handle. 

The new Aero Precision Aero Taper Lock Attachment System (ATLAS) R-ONE handguard features two mirrored tapered locking nuts. These nuts provide evenly distributed clamping pressure across the proprietary barrel nut. This is an excellent and aesthetically pleasing replacement for the factory plastic handguard.

Who Should Use It:

This handguard is an all-around handguard that can be used for self-defense, tactical and target practice, competitive shooting, and hunting escapades. You can always choose this if you want to opt for a handguard with a slim profile. 

Summary:

The ATLAS R-ONE Picatinny railed handguard features a slim profile and extreme durability. It is constructed from 6061-T6 Aluminum, giving the perfect weight for your AR-15 build. It comes with two mirrored tapered locking nuts that evenly distribute clamping pressure across the barrel nut. 

  • Length: 15 in
  • Handguard Weight: 9.07

PROS

CONS

7. Centurion Arms

Why We Picked It:

Centurion Arms CMR MLOK Handguard is also one of the best AR-15 handguards. It has a tight fit, and it definitely provided us with a solid grip when we tested it at the shooting range. Materials-wise, this is a high-quality and lightweight option for a factory handguard option. 

This free-float handguard is highly configurable upon removing the gas tube. It also features a firm, full Picatinny rail system perfect for mounting iron sights and other aiming devices. It also comes with four anti-rotational QD sling sockets, so we carried our rifles with ease.

Who Should Use It:

This can be used for almost every AR-15 build. However, we highly recommend Surefire Scout light users to use this new handguard, as it provides a solid and secure grip. 

Summary:

This handguard comes with a Picatinny rail, so you can perfectly mount iron sights and other accessories. It is constructed from 6061-T6 aluminum and is hard-coat anodized. It has four QD sling swivel slots and M-LOK compatible slots. 

  • Length: 10.5 in
  • Handguard Weight: 9 oz

PROS

CONS

8. Aero Precision S-ONE M-LOK

Why We Picked It:

The Aero Precision ATLAS S-ONE M-LOK handguard is a free-floating handguard machined from 6061-T6 aluminum. This is another durable and lightweight free-floating handguard designed for MSR builds. 

This free-float handguard uses the new Aero Taper Lock Attachment System (ATLAS) like the Aero Precision R-ONE M-LOK. This functional Aero Precision handguard features two mirrored tapered locking nuts that evenly distribute clamp pressure across the barrel nut.

Who Should Use It:

This free-floating handguard could be useful for competitive shooting, hunting, self-defense, tactical, target practice escapades. 

Summary:

This is another free-float handguard with a slim profile design that provides a secure fit for MSR builds. It also has the new Aero Taper Lock Attachment System that features two mirrored tapered locking nuts. 

  • Length: 12 in
  • Handguard Weight: 7.66 oz

PROS

CONS

9. Odin Works O2 Lite

Why We Picked It:

The Odin Works O2 Lite is thus far the latest and lightest of all the M-LOK forends of ODIN Works. We liked how it was 20% lighter than the previous models of ODIN Works. 

This free-float handguard is precision machined from hard anodized 6005-T651, providing durability and less weight than actual stainless steel. It also provides better accuracy and features at least four QD anti-swivel attachment points.

Who Should Use It:

This free-float handguard is best used for competition shooting and tactical shooting. We also recommend this to big game hunters. 

Summary:

This free-float handguard perfectly fits MIL-Spec AR-15 uppers and most billet uppers. It is ergonomically enhanced with a semi-oval profile. This M-LOK compatible handguard also includes all necessary mounting hardware, such as the barrel nut, for easy installation. 

  • Length: 9.5 in
  • Handguard Weight: 7.51 oz

PROS

CONS

10. Geissele Automatics

Why We Picked It:

The Geissele MK14 Super Modular Rail handguard is also one of the best AR-15 handguards we have come across. We liked its slim cross-section because it provided us the thumb-over-the-bore support hand grasp. 

It also comes with three M-LOK mounting slots at full length at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. We also liked how Geissele super modular rails included sockets for its QD push-button sling swivels at the rear’s 1 and 11 o’clock positions.

This is ideal for shooters who use rail covers, a vertical, and a forward grip. If you also employ the thumb-over-the-bore support hand grasp, this could be the perfect choice for you. 

Summary:

This high-quality handguard is strong and lightweight, as it is constructed with 6061 T6 aluminum and Type III hard-coat anodized. There is no barrel nut wrench and gas block included with this handguard.  

  • Length: 15 in
  • Handguard Weight: 13.2 oz

PROS

CONS

Your Guide To Buying

buying guide

Material

We suggest looking for other handguards made of 6061-T6 aluminum alloy like most quad rails because it’s strong and lightweight. It also conducts and dissipates heat well. [1] Some may also offer carbon fiber and reinforced, heat-resistant polymer materials that are almost equally strong and lightweight. You can also find carbon fiber handguards and even a titanium barrel nut. 

Easy Installation

You also need to be wary of purchasing a handguard that offers an easy installation process. It would be a hassle to buy a handguard that needs the help of a professional gunsmith or special tools just to install them. Most free-float handguards aren’t easy to install, but sometimes, reading its manual would suffice. 

Durability & Finish

Since handguards are essential parts of your AR-15 builds, it is recommended to look for something durable so it would serve you longer. As always, we recommend handguards made of aluminum alloys or reinforced polymer materials. 

The finish of the handguard makes it appealing to look at and could also help it become more durable. You can buy aluminum/polymer handguards that are either anodized or cerakoted.

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Length & Weight

The handguard length and weight of your handguard may affect the overall weight of your rifle build. Hence, if you love hunting in the wilderness for long hours, we suggest looking for lightweight handguards to match your rifles. 

However, the length and weight of your handguards must fit your rifle’s barrel length. Hence, it would be best to ensure that the size of the handguard and your barrel length to be of a perfect fit. 

Heat Resistance

If accuracy is on top of your list when deciding to buy a great handguard, we suggest looking for free float handguards. They do not interfere with the barrel when fired, so your shots become more accurate. A handguard made with 6061-T6 aluminum alloy may also help since it could also serve as a conductor and offers heat dissipation.  

Free Float or Drop-In

For handguards that are easier to install, drop-in handguards are a perfect choice. However, if accuracy weighs heavier for your buying consideration, then free-floating handguards are mode ideal. Drop-in handguards are generally more affordable, but free-floating handguards offer better space because they are longer. 

Pricing

It is relevant to determine how much you are willing to invest when buying the best AR-15 handguard. Generally, a rail system and a handguard are affordable. However, if you aren’t on a tight budget and willing to spend a few more bucks to invest in a better quality handguard, it would be better to get some free float handguards.

Our Team's Selection Process

Overall Performance

To have an unbiased result in the overall performance of these handguards, we decided to put them to the test. One by one, these handguards were tested for hours in the shooting range. We also opted to use the same shooters with the same environment for better results. 

Weapon Compatibility

Handguards may be used with different weapons. Some may or may not work when installed into a particular AR-15 build. Thus, we had to spend hours of tests to ensure that we had tried these handguards to every weapon we brought. 

Product Quality

We had assigned a team to carefully scour the internet to find reliable reviews and customer feedback regarding these handguards. They also had to spend ample time doing their task while other teams had to test their qualities through experience.

FAQs

Generally speaking, the free float handguards are expensive because they are usually made from higher quality materials. They also need a few setups, such as additional screws, because they aren’t as easy to install as drop-in handguards.

The handguard should fit the barrel length of your AR build. It should extend from the front of your upper receiver to the gas port until it hits toward the barrel end, excluding the muzzle device.

What’s the #1 Handguard for an AR-15 Rifle?

According to our test results and careful research, the #1 handguard for an AR-15 rifle is the Strike Industries M-LOK handguard. It is easy to install and is compatible with both direct impingements and almost every piston-driven gas system. It is made from reinforced, heat-resistant polymer construction, so it is rigid and long-lasting. 

This polymer handguard also comes with an integral riveted aluminum heat shield inside. And lastly, its operator protection from the hot front sight assembly also features lower lip and front extensions.

EDITOR’S CHOICE

Our #1 Recommendation

Strike Industries M-LOK

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