What to Consider When Choosing a Handguard

Are you building your first AR? Starting a second AR project? Or maybe you're just helping a friend with his project. Either way, the question is what handguard and mounting system is best for this firearm.

Mounting Options

Since your handguard may be holding your front sight, foregrip, laser, light, bipod or sling mount, you'll want to choose the right one.

Picatinny Rail System

Also known as pic rail, this system has been around since the 1980's and was the standard for the US Military known as the Mil-STD-1913 designation for many years. The Picatinny system is a solid system with a wide range of accessories available due to its long lifetime on the market. The pic rail system is also considerably heavier than the more modern KeyMod or M-LOK systems.

Keymod Mounting System

Due to the keyhole-like shapes on this handguard, you can imagine how the system got its name. The KeyMod is not as bulky as a Picatinny handrail, thus weighs less. Aligning accessories are simple, due to the design of the KeyMod system.

One of the only downsides to the KeyMod system is that accessories are limited due to bigger companies jumping on the M-LOK train.

Modular Lock System,

For short, everyone referrers to this as M-LOK, which was introduced in 2007 by Magpul Industries. The military chose the M-LOK system as their new standard in 2016 for any firearm that needed a handguard. Having the military make this commitment had a ripple effect on the gun industry as companies started to gravitate to manufacturing mainly for this system.

One of the key benefits of the M-LOK is that accessories can be mounted in the front or back of slits in the handguard giving the user a wider range of positioning options for accessories. And, like the KeyMod system, M-LOK is lighter in weight than the Picatinny system.

Make your Choice

As you can see, there are many, many variables to consider when choosing the right handguard system for your AR venture. If you have any questions about our magnesium handguards or any other AR products we carry, please don't hesitate to reach out!


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