While there is a specific aesthetic that most AR 15 owners are looking for in their weapon, there is always a practical nature to each component. When choosing a new AR 15 handguard, taking the time to consider the function of the part, as well as the overall look of the weapon, is always important.
The role of the handguard on the AR 15 is basic. It is designed to allow the shooter to have protection from the heat produced with rapid firing to hold and aim the weapon. It is possible to shoot the AR 15 without a handguard, but this never a recommended option.
The Comfort Factor
Having an AR 15 handguard that is comfortable for the shooter to use is critical. If the handguard is not comfortable, it can distract during aiming and shooting. Additionally, if the handguard is not long enough or is too bulky, it is going to have an impact on shooter concentration and accuracy.
What is comfortable on the firing range may also not be the same system that is ideal for hunting. Streamlined handguards without the rails for accessories may be more practical in the bush or when walking for long distances where every extra bit of weight can really add up.
Rail System Compatibility
For an AR 15 handguard with a rail system, choosing the system wisely will make it easier to find accessories that are easy to attach and use. The Picatinny rail system is the most widely used, including by the US military, which means most accessories are made to mount to these rails.
However, there are several other rail systems that can be used with a handguard, all which are relatively new on the market. This limits the options for accessories, but these open-source types of designs are more flexible and offer fewer restrictions for attachments.
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