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dragunovsks 08-31-2008 01:00 PM

Tactical handguards
Anyone had any experience with aftermarket tactical handguards for the AR platform? I have an AR-15A2 with 20" barrel and standard handguards and I want to get a set of tactical handguards so I can mount a bi-pod and maybe a surefire or similar light with a remote swtich. My cousin is a Indiana State Trooper and he has 3 AR's and he told me it's kinda a hit-or-miss situation with those aftermarket handguards. He said sometimes they fit and sometimes they won't.

I'm looking for a good high qual. set that is relatively cheap.

jeepcreep927 08-31-2008 01:15 PM

Yankee Hill Machine is in my opinion, the best quality for the best price. And I don't mean this as a compromise. Yankee Hill makes VERY good stuff. It's not "cheap", but it's about as cheap as you will find.

They have both free float tubes and replacement 2 piece handguards in several vriations.

I have two of the customizable free float tubes. I like these because you can add rails at 3,6,9 and 12 o'clock in three different lengths to suite your needs. I would never mount anything at 3 or 9, so I didn't want permanent rails in these positions. Plus, I think four permanent picatiny rails makes a rifle look like a cheese grater. Aside from a flashlight I don't have anything else that needs to be forend mounted.

dragunovsks 08-31-2008 02:26 PM

I have a question that your reply reminded me of. I'm still relatively new to the AR platform and it's accesories and I've heard a lot about free float. What is the diff. between free float handguards and "regular" ones. I would assume that free float is an upgrade and that bone stock, my AR came with regular handguards. True?

jeepcreep927 08-31-2008 04:01 PM

The standard hand guards snap into a retainer at the front, behind the rear sight base, and at the rear to corresponding recesses in the "delta ring" (the round spring tensioned piece you have to pull rearward to get the hand guard to disengage). This means the hand guard is supported partially in the front by the barrel. Any load you put on the hand guard is transferred to the barrel which affects accuracy.

A free floated hand guard usually has a replacement barrel nut with threads on the front as well, and if it has rails or provisions for rails, will have an indexing ring for proper alignment. The actual hand guard, or "tube" then threads onto the barrel nut and is entirely supported by the upper receiver via the barrel nut. it doesn't (shouldn't) touch the barrel at all therefore pressure on the hand guard never transfers to the barrel.

Secondarily, they aid in heat dissipation if F/A or rapid fire is your thing. Some are vented to further help disperse heat. Even if they're not, no contact with the barrel means no heat conducted to the hand guard surface.

Some manufacturers offer factory free float hand guards. If yours is bone stock base model and slips into the retainer behind the front sight post it's not a free float. Or, if it's plastic, chances are pretty good it's "standard". Free float "tubes" are just that. Usually a one piece cylindrical tube (some have various recesses cut or machined in). JP does offers a trapezoidal
design though.

Dillinger 08-31-2008 05:39 PM

+1; +1 To what Jeep put in those responses....


balloo93 09-08-2008 10:04 PM

I have a set of YHM and a set of Surefire quad rail hand guards. I like both, but be aware that some YHM rails use a split pattern on the rail and not solid like others. Not a huge deal unless the accessory you plan on using need the solid rail. Like some vertical grips that use a screw in piece that has a knob up top that sits between the rails to lock it in.

There are ways to get the accessories you want on there without going full on quad rail. Examples are the GGG and various other bolt on rails that attach to the standard hand guard. The cost difference is quite large.

Factor in the covers when/if you get a quad rail. You will want to get some. That can also get pricey, but do not skimp on those with Chicom crap. Magpul, KAC, and Tango Down make great covers.

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