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AR-15 Handguards: What You Should Look Into

As some of you may know, the M-16 is actually a militarized and arguably less reliable version of the AR-15. Both guns were developed by Eugene Stoner, a firearms designer from Indiana USA. The M-16, America’s response to the Kalashnikov AK-47 did not deliver as expected. Prone to jamming and sensitive to dirt and moisture, the M-16’s efficiency as a weapon was questionable.

The AR-15 however, considered the civilian version of the M-16 was far more successful, reliable, and dare we say, lethal. For this reason, it enjoys the reputation of America’s favorite rifles, revered by hunters, sports shooters and professional marksman alike.

Equipping your AR-15

Picture showing handguard

If you purchase a stock model of an AR-15 (requiring self-assembly), or wish to re-equip or re-accessorize an AR-15 you own, handguard is one of the essentials. There are two prime categories of handguards. These are drop-in handguards and free-floating handguards. The two offer different features which is why you need to think of these things before taking your pick.

Installation Convenience

If you’re simply looking for quick and easy installation without the need for any rifle modification, drop-in handguards are the way to go. These can be installed directly onto a bare stock AR-15 rifle and can be removed as easily as they are placed. All installation requires is pulling back the delta-ring on your AR-15 and clamping them into place.

Additional Mounting

 If you feel you’re going to need to mount additional accessories on your handguard (which is often the case), you’re going to need to go for a railed version. Railed handguards are available in both drop-in and free-floating types and allow for the attachment of other accessories such as scopes, lasers and bipods among others.

Picture showing red dot sight

Again, different free-floating railed handguard models may offer varying attachment options. Think about how much and what stuff you need to attach to your rail before you buy. It also helps to remember that if you’re going drop-in, attaching accessories to a drop-in railed handguard can negatively affect accuracy.


Weight always plays a part in your handling of a firearm which is why you need to think about how much weight you can comfortably add to yours. You have different handguard systems offering different weight options. M-Lok and Keymod free floating handguards are known for their light weight.

Drop-in handguard systems without rails (hence no room for attaching accessories) however are generally considered to be the lightest option by weight.


This is where free-floating handguards win hands down. When it comes to providing additional accuracy it is the handguard attaching mechanism that makes all the difference. Where drop-in handguards make direct contact with your barrel, free-floating types are attached to the rifles upper receiver. This gives the barrel room to resonate when shots are fired.

This is also why free-floating railed handguards can accommodate numerous accessories and attachments without having to compromise accuracy.

Heat Resistance

Different handguard designs offer different amounts of heat resistance. Railed handguards however, due to the ventilation provided as well as lack of contact with the barrel are usually preferred when an overheated barrel is expected.


Last of all we have aesthetic. Even though most serious markspersons prize functionality, there are many of us who don’t mind giving our weapons a facelift! AR-15s are available in a variety of styles and so are the handguards that go with them.

Think about what look you’re going for. Mix and match, solid theme, something else maybe? You can also purchase other accessories like optics, muzzle brakes, red dot sights and foregrips that match the look of your handguard.  

In Conclusion

If you’ve carefully gone over the instructions above, all that is left now is for you to get out there and find a reliable AR-15 accessories store and buy the accessories you need. Good luck!

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