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#6923318 - 10/17/17 07:58 AM AR Carbine Length Handguards - Rail
TXBoss Offline

Registered: 03/25/15
Posts: 245
Loc: DFW
Looking for some feedback on Carbine length handguards... I've got an older Colt A3 tactical with the fixed front sight that I'd like to keep intact.

Seen that there are drop ins, free float, extended length (may need to remove swivel), etc. Daniel Defense, Midwest, Bravo Company, etc...

Don't want to get hung up on flashy marketing... just solid fit and finish. I'll probably post a wanted ad in the classified section, but wanted to get some feedback first.
"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment..." - W. Rogers

#6923363 - 10/17/17 08:33 AM Re: AR Carbine Length Handguards - Rail [Re: TXBoss]
Vern1 Offline
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 09/13/11
Posts: 2329
Loc: Pettytown, TX, US of A
The drop ins are easiest and simplest to implement.
They also have some influence on accuracy since they flex and are attached to the barrel right behind the sight just like the stock parts.

A free floating carbine length should still allow you to run the front sight as they will stop short of it.
Depending on the brand, you will probably have to remove and replace the front sight.
It's not hard but the pins are tapered and have to go out one way and back in the other.
You may also have to have a barrel wrench as MOST of them have a proprietary nut.
There are some that use factory barrel nut though.
The extended length free floating versions that have a cutout for stock sight are out there and a bit harder to install but work well.

I've mostly used Hogue round tubes or UTG Super Slim carbine length foregrips with stock front sights.
The Hogue is just a round tube with no provision for mounting anything.
The UTG Super Slim has drilled/tapped holes on sides and bottom and includes a couple of pieces of Picatinney rail so you can mount sling, flashlight, bipod, etc.

Hope that helps.
Texans since The Old 300 in 1824
NRA Lifetime Member

#6923400 - 10/17/17 08:51 AM Re: AR Carbine Length Handguards - Rail [Re: TXBoss]
Korean Redneck Offline

Registered: 06/24/09
Posts: 2622
Loc: Houston
A couple ways to answer this:

1. if you want the easiest path, then a two piece system that is commonly referred to as "drop-ins" are the easiest. It can be as cheap as a magpul moe or as expensive as the daniel defense or the knights armament.
a. pros: easiest to install because it uses existing hardware and no additional tools needed. So you won't need to removel the front sight at all. FYI, this is the sort of system that is currently on the M4 because the pinned fsb is considered to be the most reliable system.
b. cons: theoretically not as accurate because it's not free floated, but i think this point can be a bit overplayed/overrated. Is the statement true, yes but the difference is marginal and there are benefits. Besides, the standard marine can hit a man sized target at 300yards on open sights while sitting on ground. So that's good enough accuracy for a battle/tactical rifle.

2. The free float is the other options. This is a more modern system and lends itself to accuracy and tricking out your rifle. But this will require more work and tools if you don't have some already.
a. pros: like bolt guns, free floating maximizes the accuracy of a rifle. There are far more free float options available than drop-in potions these days.
b. cons: Significantly more work than option 1. A few of the free float system will use the same barrel nut that comes standard, but you have to remove the delta ring assembly. Most free float systems require a special proprietary barrel nut system to attach the barrel to the receiver and the handguard onto the barrel nut. So you have to remove the current barrel nut and use theirs. Any free float system will require you to remove your fsb, which means you have drive out the pins and slip the thing off. Oh, and you're gonna at least need to borrow or buy an ar armorer's wrench and something to hold the upper receiver/barrel while you do all this.

If it were me, I'd do a simple drop in Magpul Moe. It's cheap, around $30 sometimes. It has some limited ability for attachments; grip, lights, bipood mount. Super easy to install. Won't win you any benchrest rifle competitions in accuracy, but it will get the job done.

Edited by Korean Redneck (10/17/17 08:56 AM)

#6923432 - 10/17/17 09:12 AM Re: AR Carbine Length Handguards - Rail [Re: TXBoss]
chalet Online   content
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 11/08/09
Posts: 2763
Loc: North Side of the Metromess
I have 2 different rifles with drop in handguards and fsb's. One is a rifle length Knights Armament quad rail, other is a Magpul MOE. I like the MOE better, Knights is larger, heavier and unless you want to hang a ton of doo dads on your gun there isn't a whole lot of reason for that much rail.

I wouldn't modify a whole lot on a Colt, leave the FSB and go drop in in case you ever want to go back original with it.
Concho "I know enough to post here in redneck pot smoking bunker......that's for sure."

#6925431 - 10/18/17 10:26 PM Re: AR Carbine Length Handguards - Rail [Re: TXBoss]
TXBoss Offline

Registered: 03/25/15
Posts: 245
Loc: DFW
Appreciate all the feedback guys.

I called and talked to a couple of mfg's today to get some input as well.

I've already got a White Oak heavy upper that's for accuracy... or as good as I can shoot.

For the Colt... looks like I'll stick with the drop in as I don't want to lose the ability to go back to stock.
"Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment..." - W. Rogers


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