When it comes to firearms and your shooting experience as a whole, your handguard is a really important aspect to consider. A handguard is a form of protection for your skin as they are often heat insulated to stop your getting burned by the barrel which often gets very hot when firing.
As well as this, it also serves as a grip, allowing you to hold on to your weapon far more easily, ensuring your experience is safer. A handguard can also be used to hold extra weapons and accessories if that is something you deem important.
For example, you could attach a grenade launcher or shotgun to it. Accessories that could be attached include tactical lights, slings, and laser lights. Of course, we cannot forget the fact that handguards can add to the overall appearance of your gun, too.
We all want to have a gun that looks good, and a handguard can add to this, or, make it worse. It can really affect how your weapon looks aesthetically, and so you will likely want to find one that suits the rest of your rifle.
Having the right handguard can make or break your entire shooting experience. The handguard must suit you and your needs. It should fit your right, serve the purposes you need it to, and of course, look good.
If your handguard doesn’t fit you right, it can have an impact on your shots too. Signs that your handguard is not right for you include feeling uncomfortable when shooting, or having more inaccurate shots where you used to be very accurate.
SO, does it sound like you need a new handguard? Maybe you’ve never had one before and are in the market for your first ever. Look no further because that is where we come in.
We have compiled a list of five of the best AR-15 handguards for you, giving each of them an in depth review along with a pro and cons list. To help you out even more we have also compiled a super informative Buyers’ Guide for you to check out.
This Buyers’ Guide will tell you exactly what features you should look out for on your AR-15 handguard, as well as any factors you may need to consider before buying it.
If this sounds like the article for you then keep on reading.
In a rush? Check out our top pick…
Our top pick just had to be Aero Precision ATLAS R-ONE Handguard. Here’s why:
- Aesthetically pleasing design that comes in various sizes to fit most rifles and preferences
- It feels secure when in place and fits easily
- Installation is simple and it comes with easy to follow instructions
- The material is durable whilst being lightweight thanks to the high quality aluminum
OUR TOP PICK
This handguard is the latest addition to Aero Precision’s repertoire. It is made from excellent quality aluminum and designed to be lightweight and durable.
The mounting platform is stable and dependable, and it allows you to ensure that your firearm has a slim profile whilst still providing the strength and power you need.
It is currently available in two sizes (12 and 15 inch), but with plans to release two more sizes soon. It features a lock attachment system that is both functional and easy on the eye, ensuring your firearm looks good.
This locking system ensures that there is no distortion of the handguard, keeping it in pristine condition for you.
- It is both functional and aesthetically pleasing
- Installation is simple
- It feels comfortable when in use as it does not add any unnecessary weight to your firearm
- It is made from durable aluminum to ensure longevity of the product
- Some other customers found that they had to file down small parts of it to fit their firearm. This is not a common issue but worth noting all the same.
Bravo Company has designed BCM MCMR to be a handguard that gives you lots of room for mounting accessories onto your firearm.
The aim is to give you everything you need in a handguard while still minimizing bulk and ensuring it will be streamlined and lightweight for you.
The result is a firearm that is easy to maneuver and comfortable to hold. It is important that handguards (and indeed any additions to your firearm) do not impact the accuracy of your shots.
It is available in a number of lengths so that you can choose one to fit your rifle and your needs.
- The durable aluminum has been coated with an anodized finishing to ensure excellent levels of durability and strength. It also helps prevent the corrosion of your handguard
- It fits well and tightly on your rifle
- It is aesthetically pleasing
- It comes in a variety of lengths to suit most rifles
- Some reviewers have commented on the fact that this handguard can be a little tougher to install
Troy Industries are known for their quality products, and this is no different. This handguard has excellent levels of ventilation to ensure the rifle and guard will not overheat upon firing.
The ventilation also helps to keep the lightweightness that is needed in a rifle. It fits securely, and has a built-in stop to make sure that it does not get too tight.
This also comes with a no-slip grip to ensure that you will safely be able to hold and use your firearm without worrying about dropping it.
- It helps to ensure comfort when using it
- Grips to ensure you can hold it securely
- Tight fitting whilst still ensuring it is not overly tight to the point of damage
- Excellent levels of ventilation
- Whilst the grip does its job well, some people may find it a little too rough. One reviewer compared it to a “cheese grater”. That said, if you are wearing gloves., you will not notice this.
This next item on our list is by Yankee Hill Machine Co., Inc. Their Free-float handguard comes with a super distinctive diamond pattern on there thanks to the vents.
The look that it achieves is that of latticework. Not only does it look good but it also serves a purpose.
These diamond shaped vents provide excellent airflow so that your barrel will not overheat after each shot as well as keeping your hands safe and ensuring they do not get burnt.
It is made from high-grade mil-spec aluminum and covered in a hard coat anodized to ensure that the handguard is durable.
That being said, it is super lightweight, ensuring that the handguard does not add any unnecessary weight to the rifle overall. It comes with everything you need to install it quickly onto your rifle.
- It looks good. This is always a plus for us - after all, who wants anything ugly on their gun?
- It snaps in place easily and feels very secure when it is installed
- Installation is quick and easy
- It works universally with many guns
- Great for hunting and competitive shooting
- It does not include a wrench to tighten the nuts and some customers may find it hard to tighten it themselves
This handguard is yet another free-floating model. Aero Precision has designed this slimline aluminum handguard with size and weight in mind.
Both of these are very important considerations as you do not want anything to add to the weight of your rifle and potentially cause accuracy issues.
Even though it is super lightweight, this model does not by any means compromise stability and sturdiness. You can rest assured that this handguard will have strength enough for your needs.
As well as this, the company puts precision first so you can stop worrying about the accuracy of your shots and rest safe in the knowledge that it is an important factor for this manufacturer.
It is functional and aesthetically pleasing - what more could you want from a handguard?
- Aesthetically pleasing design
- Super easy to install onto your gun
- The material is of good quality and is sturdy
- It does not add any extra weight thanks to how lightweight it is
- It may require fitting as some customers found that it does not fit on as easily as it claims
Best AR-15 Handguards Buying Guide
When it comes to shopping for your AR-15 handguard, there are several things you should keep in mind in order to make sure you choose the perfect handguard for your needs.
We have discussed each of these factors for consideration in our Buyers’ Guide below so do take the time to read and understand each one so you can feel confident in your abilities to choose the best AR-15 handguard for you.
What’s the purpose of the AR-15?
The first of the factors that you should consider is the purpose of your AR-15. What will you be using it for? What’s the reason for needing a handguard in the first place? Maybe you are trying to build your own military replica. Perhaps you are using it for hunting or shooting as a hobby.
Consider whether it will be used often, or whether it will be going on display. Perhaps it will merely be locked inside a gun safe in case of emergencies.
If you are going to be using your AR-15 in a shooting or competition, then your needs will be far different from someone who wants to display it as a tribute to the military.
Likewise, if you want to use it for hunting or target practice, you will need the AR-15 to be far more accurate. Consider the purpose before you buy any part of the gun, not just the handguard as that will determine what you need from your parts.
Now that you know exactly what purpose the AR-15 and its related parts (including the handguard) will fill, you can begin to think about what type of AR-15 handguard you need.
There are two main types: drop-in and free float. Let’s explore them separately.
Drop-in handguard - this type of handguard is the most common, as well as being the simplest to install. Typically they are made from a polymer which is a very lightweight material meaning it will not add much extra weight to your already heavy forearm.
They are made from two pieces that each fit around the barrel of the gun and are held in place by the handguard cap and secured by a Delta Ring. They are so called because of their ability to just drop into place.
They tend to be the best value option due to their cheaper material and ease of use. However, their one drawback is that they can affect accuracy a little more than free float handguards due to the handguard cap which is often in direct contact with the barrel.
Free float handguard - Free floating handguards are mostly made from aluminum which is a far sturdier material than the polymer used on drop-in handguards. This does make them a little bit pricier than their polymer counterparts.
That being said many people believe the extra price is worth it as they promise more accuracy than drop-in handguards due to the fact that they do not interfere with the barrel in any way.
Unlike the drop-in handguards, these ones come in one solid piece that goes around the whole barrel. They then get attached to a Barrel Nut to hold the handguard in place.
A good choice for material is metal. One of the most common of these is aluminum. Of course, due to aluminum being a metal you can expect it to fare just that little bit better compared to, say, polymer which is much cheaper and more flimsy.
This is because metals tend to be hardier by nature. That being said, metals tend to get very hot very quickly, and so in comparison to a polymer handguard, you may find that your aluminum handguards emit the most heat out of the two.
This can be identified after a particularly long shooting session, for example in target practices. You can buy handguards that are made from a mixture of both. For example, some polymer handguards have metal heat shields made from aluminum or steel.
Whatever material you choose is up to you, there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to choosing a material for your handguard.
Rifles can quickly become very heavy due to the added extras that are placed on them. A handguard is a necessity, but it does not mean that it needs to add unnecessary weight to your rifle.
Think about the overall weight of your AR-15 and how much weight you can afford to add to it from your handguard. Check the weight of each handguard to see if you want to bear that extra weight.
You also need to consider how important accuracy is to you. Many factors contribute to the accuracy, or indeed lack of, of your shot. One of these is the handguard. As we mentioned a little earlier on in the article, a drop-in handguard interferes slightly with the rifle barrel.
In turn, this can affect your accuracy levels. This may not be such a big deal if you will barely be using your ARR-15 or if you are planning on displaying it. However, if you plan to use it for target practice and competitions, accuracy is a big consideration to make.
The last consideration you should make is that of accessories. The handguard is often the palace on the gun where any extra accessories get added.
As well as this you can also use it for extra weapons. Ensure that you choose a handguard that allows for this if it is an important consideration for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions that we tend to get related to AR-15 handguards.
We highly recommend checking them out if you have any burning questions of your own. You will probably find your question has already been answered.
Are AR-15 handguards universal?
Typically they are universal. Free-form handguards tend to be able to fit any AR-15 model. It is worth remembering though that each handguard needs its own specific barrel nut.
They are designed to mil-spec and so you will likely find that your handguard is interchangeable for all of your models.
What does ‘15’ mean in AR-15?
The AR-15 is also known as the ArmaLite Rifle (not an assault or attack rifle as many people falsely claim).
The number fifteen simply means that it was the fifteenth rifle made by the manufacturer. Nowadays, all AR-15 rifles made are called the same. It simply means that it is gun number 15.
How fast can an AR-15 shoot?
There is a lot of debate over this topic, but the consensus is that an AR-15 can shoot at speeds of around 45 rounds per minute. This can be made even faster with a bump-fire stock.
Although, we see no reason why someone would want their AR-15 to shoot that fast and at that volume. 45 rounds per minute alone is a staggering enough amount!
We hope that our article has helped you to find the best AR-15 handguard for your needs. We have listed five of the very best we could find and given you a detailed rundown of all the important things you need to know about them.
If you could not find the handguard of your dreams amongst our list, don’t forget that you can use our informative Buyers’ Guide to help you make the best choice possible.
It details all of the features and factors you should look out for when choosing a handguard. This will ensure that you feel confident when buying your handguard and will allow you to choose the best quality handguard possible.
Thank you for taking the time to read our article. Safe shooting!