When it comes to upgrading the front end of their AR-15, many shooters focus on their muzzle mounts, with what goes on over the barrel often coming as a secondary concern when weighed against the rest of the gun’s parts. However, handguards and rail systems can define the gun’s look, feel and functionality, so it’s best to take care because choosing what’s best for your rifle means that you’re ultimately going to be choosing what’s best for you.
You may prefer custom ar handguards or custom ar-15 handguards. You could be looking at custom ar-15 free float rails, custom KeyMod rail systems or custom AR-15 furniture kits. You may weigh free float ar-15 handguards vs. free float ar-15 rail systems. Whatever your interest, our guide can help you figure out which is right for you.
Handguard vs. Rail
So what’s the difference between a handguard and a rail system?
A handguard is simply a way to protect your hand from the heat generated by the barrel as you fire the gun. Handguards do not necessarily need to have points that allow for the attachment of accessories, though custom handguards with such options are becoming more and more readily available and even come standard for some builds.
However, handguards without places for the mounting of accessories or optics are often popular with shooters who like the no-frills look such handguards present. Probably the most traditional examples of handguards that offer no space for attachments would be the A1, A2, A3 and A4 model handguards that came standard with M16 rifles, as well as the wooden handguards supplied with the initial AK series of rifles.
Rail systems are very similar to regular handguards. Much like a regular handguard, a rail system also serves to protect the hands from heat generated along the barrel when the weapon is fired. However, rail systems also offer an area or areas for the attachment of accessories, usually via a rail along the top portion of the handguard, though rail systems also exist that feature rails on the bottom and sides as well.
Whether you use a regular single-rail system or one that includes attachment points along the sides and bottom, using a rail system is one of the quickest and easiest ways to build your own custom AR-15 handguard.
The most common form of rail used for the attachment of accessories is the Picatinny rail, which takes its name from the Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey that evaluated the rail systems to ensure that they met federal standards.
Types of Handguards We offer
There are two main styles of mounting systems for handguards — free-floating and standard/drop-in. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, but it’s ultimately up to you to choose which one you prefer.
Free-floating handguards, so named because they “float” around the barrel of the rifle without actually touching it. They’re often heavier and more expensive than drop-in handguards and offer better accuracy than other options due to the fact that the handguard does not interfere with the barrel. Free-floating handguards are some of the most popular choices for handguard selection.
Drop-in handguards are usually a much simpler option than free-floating handguards. They’re held place by pressure from the handguard cap and delta ring assembly, which means they have more points of contact than a free-floating handguard, resulting in less weight. While drop-in handguards are not as popular as free-floating ones, they are a much more plentiful, much more cost-effective option, especially for the budget or novice shooter.
Since there’s such variety in the choice of custom AR-15 rail systems you can use when designing our gun, so too do they have a large selection of parts to choose from, with a huge number of companies making after-market parts in any style or combination you could think of.
Picatinny Rail Sections
KeyMod Rail Sections
M-LOK Rail Sections
High Rise Mount
Wing Tactical Is Your One-Stop Shop for AR-15 Parts
Whether it’s custom AR-15 rail systems, custom AR-15 rails, or even just a simple custom handguard, Wing Tactical has it all. Founded in 2013, we pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service and quality merchandise, whether you’re here looking at parts for your first rifle or your fifteenth. We cater to the needs of law enforcement, military personnel, hunters, target shooters, your regular run-of-the-mill civilian gun enthusiast or anyone else who might need or want some of the best quality firearms accessories, parts and kits on the market.
In addition to our AR-15 rails and rail systems, we offer a wide variety of rifle and handgun accessories and parts, including:
No matter what you’re looking for, Wing Tactical has the part or parts you need, whether it’s something simple like a new barrel or something more complex, like a brand new rifle. If you’re looking to get parts to customize your AR-15 or build your own custom AR-15, we can help. Contact us today.