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How To Replace AR Handguards With Rails

by Jen Hensey 12 days ago in gear

Here you will get to learn some instructions on how to modify the rails on your AR-15 handguards. Keep on reading.

The AR-15, America's most popular contemporary sports rifle, has improved significantly in the last decade. The age of simple plastic handguards has come to an end. It's cool to upgrade your AR-15 handguards to a rail system.

When it comes to rails, you typically have two choices: free-float handguard and non-free-float, often known as drop-in options. Due to barrel harmonics, free-float rails do not make touch the barrel, improving the rifle's accuracy.

As a result, mounting systems for free-float rails are generally stronger and stiffer, but they frequently require the use of tools to install. Drop-in alternatives are considerably simpler to install and generally don't need any equipment. To make things simpler for you, we've included instructions on how to modify the rails on your AR-15 handguards below.

Upgrading Your AR-15 Handguards to a Rail System

AR-15 Rail Patterns and Designs

Picatinny or MIL-STD-1913 rail, Keymod, and M-LOK are the three most common-rail designs. Interface systems are used in all three designs to attach sights, optics, and accessories. Picatinny rails are the oldest of the three designs. The Picatinny rail was developed in the 1980s by businesses attempting to standardize the Weaver design. In the 1990s, Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey finalized and standardized the design.

The upper receivers of M16 rifles and M4 carbines were among the first to have a Picatinny rail, making it simpler to attach optics. The Picatinny rail was eventually integrated into handguard designs by entrepreneurial gunsmiths.

Three Main Options

As "quad rails," these Picatinny-railed handguards garnered popularity and attention. Furthermore, the Picatinny rail design is older and heavier than the other choices listed, yet it is still extremely important in the field of rail interface possibilities. They are still in use by the US military and law enforcement organizations throughout the country. Most rail manufacturers continue to provide quad rail alternatives. After Picatinny had been the industry standard for a few decades, Keymod entered the market.

Because of their lightweight skeletonized construction, keymod rails rapidly gained favor. They are also much thinner than Picatinny rails. People who currently own Picatinny accessories may save money by using Keymod adapters and Picatinny rail sections instead of buying new ones.

The Keymod design, which is open to the public, is well-known and industry-standard. M-LOK, which stands for "Modular Lock," is Magpul Industries' newest mounting method. M-LOK, unlike Keymod, is not open source. With Magpul's approval, any manufacturer may get a free license. M-LOK seems to be the most popular right now, with Keymod not far behind.

Installation of Drop-In Rails

The complexity of installing a new rail is determined by your technique of ‘mounting.' Drop-ins are usually extremely simple to install. Most drop-in rails may be installed by a layperson using just simple hand tools or none at all.

The delta ring (or slip ring on "retro" rifles) must be pulled back to provide enough slack for the stock handguards to come free. The new rail should be installed in the same manner that the old one was removed.

The front section of the rail should fit under the end cap at the back of the front sight/gas block. Pull the delta ring back and align the rail's two halves.

Installation of Free Float Rails

Installing free float rails may be more complex and may need the use of tools. This procedure usually necessitates the removal of the barrel nut and, in some cases, the barrel itself. We suggest that you have a professional gunsmith supervise or install your firearm.

First, get rid of the old furnishings. The muzzle device, gas block/front sight base, and handguard end cap may also need to be removed before installation. Remove the barrel nut using a barrel nut wrench or AR armorer's wrench after you've removed the furniture and any required minor components.

The delta ring assembly may be removed after the barrel nut has been removed. If the barrel needs to be repaired or replaced, now is the time. The replacement barrel nut that came with the rail should now be fitted and torqued to the manufacturer's specifications.

What to do with Rails

When the rail is not intended to operate with an A2-style FSB, a low-profile gas block, as well as other gas system components, needs to be bought and fitted. Longer handguards that reach over the gas block, such as the Firefield Verge Slim rails, are gaining popularity.

Set aside or discard the handguard end cap. Replace the gas system, then slide the rail over the barrel and tighten the barrel nut. The final attachment technique differs depending on the rail. Some rails clip onto the barrel nut, while others are attached with screws. For this procedure, follow the manufacturer's instructions.

Attach the rail to the barrel nut and tighten it correctly. Then, to finish the installation, replace the 308 muzzle brake. A professional gunsmith should now inspect the firearm for appropriate installation.

AR Rail Handguards in a Nutshell

Rails are an excellent choice for individuals looking to "modernize" their rifles. They make it simple to attach important accessories like lights, lasers, and grips. Remember that, depending on the shooter's grip and shooting posture, having more real estate on a rail may also assist with stability.

Lastly, keep in mind that upgrades and modifications do not make a person a better shooter; rather, training does. After you've installed the rail, go to the range and start practicing. If you want to improve your shooting abilities, OutdoorLife has a great article on training and increasing accuracy.


Jen Hensey

Call me Jen, a writer and blogger of LifeStyleConvo & UrbanHouses, who worked as a full-time content creator. A writer by day and reader by night.

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