Solid Quad Rail?
Ok I'm upgrading my first AR (for use on patrol) and want to put a quad rail for foregrip, light, sling mount, ect. I've looked around and I see one piece and two piece and free float rails, and well I'm just a little confused on the differences. Can someone please explain?
And also recommendations for a solid quad rail that's budget minded would be greatly appreciated.
There's a few factors I think you need to look out for.
First of all, what kind of setup does your AR have by the gas block right now? Is it your avatar?
Theres a couple different options. You can get a non free float type rail or hand guard that will be a direct replacement for the carbine (I think) ovals that you have on your AR right now. These are usually the cheapest option, 2 peice types that will will take like 20 seconds to replace your old hand guards. These do not free float around the barrel.
Free floated rails are a more expensive option, and installation will be more involved. These are usually 1 peice units. Unless you choose a carbine length FF unit, you will probably have to remove and replace your gas block. Its looks like (sorry the picture is small) you have a railed GB and it will interfere with the install of a free float unit. The advantages of a free floated rail/guard is that since it does not contact the barrel at any point (besides the by the barrel nut/extention) it improves the accuracy of your AR. This may or may not be issue for you. For shorter distances (<150 yards) a FF rail will not make much of a difference. For intermediate and longer distances it will. Most people only choose to use FF units for precision builds.
The biggest advantage of FF units is that you can go long, 11, 13, 15". You will definately need to remove and replace your gas block with a low profile unit at these lengths. Tho these lengths will be heavier, you will be able to put your support hand closer to the muzzle making transitions faster, and stabilizing your muzzle easier. Also you will have more options to attach your gear.
You can opt of a full rail setup, it will usually be a little heavier than say handguards with modular rail attachments. You say you need a foregrip, light, and sling attachments, that's not a lot of gear so a free floated handguards with modular rails will more than adequately suit your needs. If can opt for a full quad rail and it will give your added flexibilty to add more gear on later should the need arise. The lightest and best quad rail I've personally handled is the Daniel Defence lite rai. Its amazingly light and also one of the most expensive quads available. I personally have the Samson Evolution line of handguards which are even lighter and just as sturdy. For civilians, I would recommend the handguard, but for duty, you may need to consider the utility of a quad rail.
Also you need to research how the FF unit attaches to your AR. I tend to shy away from units that require a special barrel nut, as I think its a pain in the @ss to remove and replace the nut. If you have a barrel wrench, torque wrench, receiver block and vise, changing your barrel nut should be too much of a problem.
I think first you should figure out what you need,
then you will have an easier time to find what you want,
lastly choosing which ones fit your budget is how you should approach this.
Hope this helps ya! Good luck! :D
Ok Tikki, so I have you to blame for this, but I continued my research on here and other sites and well I do believe I love the Daniel Defense Omega 7" quad rail. Now from what I can tell its a two piece and it says free float(correct me if I'm wrong please) that would fit my rifle without having to change the railed gas block I have currently. And I can pinch a few extra pennies for the cost, I was ready to spend almost that much anyway.
What do you think?
Daniel Defence is a great company. My friend has a 12" lite rail and its really nice and light, feels good in the hand too. I don't think you can go wrong with DD. Tho I did observe that unit that you are interested in is only 7" long and weighs 9.7 ounces. My 12" hand guards are 11 oz. The Midwest SS gen2 are 12" and weight less that 10 oz too.
I did ask a couple questions in my previous post, I can try and help with a little more information.
Is that your rifle pictured on your avatar?
This is a carbine length gas system right?
Are you looking for a quad rail design or smooth handguard with modular rails?
How long do you want your rail/guard?
Do you feel comfortable with working on your upper? Changing the barrel or the gas block?
Yes my avatar is my rifle, and it's a carbine length gas system. I would actually prefer a quad rail, due to personal preference and needing more uninterrupted rail to move my EOTech forward to add backup sights. Also due to more personal preference I'd like to keep the rail short, around 7". And I've got a great local gunsmith with a ton of expertise on AR's to bail me out if I get in too deep lol, with that being said yes I'm comfortable working on my gun!
Check out Yankee Hill products, especially the specter length rail. http://www.ar15.com/mobile/topic.html?b=2&f=142&t=142581
First, is cost. A nice 2 piece quad rail set up can be had in a carbine length for $110.00. Midwest Industries makes a really nice one. The second is ease of installation. A 2 piece rail can be installed in under 5 minutes by most anyone. About the only tool you need is a Delta Ring wrench which can be had for around $15.00. That is not a must, but it makes things a lot easier. These rails fit beautifully and are very solid. They can be used to mount a variety of accessories like the ones you mentioned in your post.
The biggest problem with a free float forend is they are much more involved to install. It requires more tools and a lot more work. About the only gain you'll get with a free float tube is slightly more accuracy. With a 16" Carbine you're not going to notice the difference. I have both on my AR-15's, and personally I'm not seeing enough of a difference to warrant going through the added labor and potential problems of a free float installation over a 2 piece.
Another thing to think about is if you go with the free float model and you have a gunsmith perform the install, that will also add more cost. Not to mention there is always the chance they could do something wrong. While unlikely, I've seen it happen. These are a couple of AR's I installed 2 piece forends on. Both are Midwest industries Models that I purchased here:
I was really impressed with the overall quality for the price. While there is nothing wrong with Daniel Defense, their 2 piece quad rails are substantially more expensive, and basically accomplish the exact same thing. I was a bit leery of going to a 2 piece model, but after I saw how solid they are once installed, I ended up putting them on 2 more rifles. I couldn't be more pleased with all 3.
In practicality, I don't think you will notice. If you have a good rail, it won't move. In extreme distances you might notice a shift in poi. If you barrel is rested against a wall or supported directly you will notice a shift in poi. But since your optic is going to very close to the fulcrum point even if it did shift I wouldn't be much. I believe that if you optic was on the far end of your rail there would be a more noticeable shift, but I wouldn't worry about that. If you were going for a precision rig, I'd keep your optic on your upper and not on the rail.
I agree with Bill. But I will add that I like your choice. A two piece design allows installation without having to remove the front sight (or high profile gas block in your case). Its usually stronger, but also usually a bit heavier. Honestly tho I haven't done much research in 7" rails, so my knowledge of products on the market is limited.
If you are comfortable with removing the gas block I'd highly recommend going with a YHM low profile gas block, and free floating a longer rail over the GB. I think the YHM is the most inexpensive gas block I've seen ($35 ish). I'm almost 100% sure that that railed GB you have needs to go if you want a longer rail. Another even cheaper option is to buy a front sight post (i'm sure your armorer in your dept prolly has an extra lying around) and cut off the upper portion (the sight) leaving the lower gas block portion on. Besides being a cheaper option, these fsb are usually pinned on. Pinning is very stable. Pinned gas blocks are good.
Yes, I'm pushing for a longer rail. Here's why.
1) Muzzle control, with your support hand closer to the muzzle your will be able to control the muzzle better making follow up shots faster and more accurate.
2) Muzzle control allows you to track/transition between multiple targets faster.
The downside is that with you arm more extended you will fatigue faster. Not much, but you will notice it after a while, how much depends on your body.
I wear X-large gloves, but I still recommend getting the thinnest possible rail possible. I am only 5"10 and I like having 12" rails with my hand being pretty close to the far end of the rail (mostly limited by my choice or sling mount). Daniel Defense makes an amazingly comfortable rail. It feels like more of an oval as opposed to the quad rails by other manufacturers. If you look at a cross-section and compare outer dimensions DD's are taller than they are wider. I've handled MI YHM UTG cheap rails, and they are fat and usually heavy. Fatter when you put rail guards on them. Now I'm not saying all there models are fat and heavy, but the ones I've handled through friends guns and at gun shows turned me off. I do admit I didn't bother remembering what models they were.
I'm more a practical type shooter. I do like slow fire free hand shooting, but to me I like to hear the ping of metal as opposed to resorting to my spotting scope. The biggest benefit for me with free float rails is not the precision it affords, it's control.
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