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Rails and Handguards—What’s the Difference?

free float handguards handguard Mentium USA reviews Vertical foregrip

Guns generate an immense amount of pressure and heat each time they’re fired. A bullet leaves the barrel at a pressure of 12,000psi and military gun temperatures can reach up to 300 degrees when repeatedly fired. The high pressure and temperature readings exhibited by a firing gun make it unbelievable that anyone can aim accurately with these. Training has a lot to do with accuracy, but many people get a little extra help from their handguards and rails.

Handguards and rails are often confused with one-another because a lot of handguards also serve as rails. The modifications to handguard/rail designs to fulfill the purposes of either individual component don’t change the purpose of these.  There are plenty of handguards that don’t act as rails and plenty of rails that don’t work as handguards.

Why Use a Handguard?

With each successive shot, the gun barrel gets increasingly warm. Sometimes the gun temperature rises so high that you won’t be able to hold it. People who go to gun ranges or fire their guns repeatedly can seriously injure themselves from burning gun barrels. Whether you’re firing a handgun or an AR-15, the heat will start getting to you.

A handguard allows the shooter to hold the gun by the barrel, so they can aim much better and not burn their hands. Since gun barrels are really long, even the slightest shift in the winds can make the shot go awry. People prefer shooting while holding the barrel for greater accuracy and risk burning their hands in the process. A handguard eliminates the risk of burning by acting as a shield between the shooter’s hand and the gun barrel. Additionally, handguards allow shooters to hold the guns in place against the force exerted by the gun as recoil.

What’s a Rail and Why Use it?

Image showing flat dark earth handguards

“Rails” is a confusing term because it doesn’t fully convey the purpose these components fulfill. Rails are also attached to the gun barrel to create a space to attach accessories. The proper term for a rail is “gun-rails” or “accessory-rails” which have holes to attach accessories to. A Key-mod rail, for example, has these key-holes like spaces that you can fit your accessories into.  

Since accessory rails are attached to the barrel, manufacturers just combine rails with handguards to fulfill both attachment and protection purposes simultaneously. Examples of dual-function rails include free-floating handguards that allow you to attach flashlights, foregrips and scopes to the gun while protecting the hands.

Mentium USA is a manufacturer of premium gun accessories in Texas. Our products include 10-inch Keymod handguards, ultra light AR handguards, flat dark earth handguards and much more. Speak with us today for more information on our products or to order from our list of accessory rails and handguards.

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