In its most basic form, the handguard is designed to do as its name says: protect the shooter’s hands from the hot barrel. Modern AR-style rifles have expanded the role of the handguard so that many of these basic parts are now intricate mounting platforms for a wide variety of rifle enhancements. Everything from vertical foregrips to white lights can now be easily mounted to a handguard, or rail system, to improve the usefulness of the rifle.

There are a variety of mounting systems on the market. Picatinny rails are the standard for most manufacturers. Ladder-like in appearance, Picatinny rails are compatible with nearly all sights, lasers and lights on the market. However, unused portions of rails add unnecessary weight to a gun.

Other attachment systems include the KeyMod and M-LOK. These systems remove the excess rails to save weight, yet allow a shooter to add those accessories that are needed. For equipment that is only compatible with Picatinny-style attachment points, there are Picatinny rails of varying lengths that can be attached to these KeyMod and M-LOK systems.

Scroll through the gallery above for a few of the best handguard systems available from some of the major players in the aftermarket AR parts world today.

For more information, please visit the websites listed here:

Up Next

Gun Review: Bushmaster MOE Enhanced ORC in 7.62mm

Big-bore powerhouse streamlined for fast-handling performance!