As many of you know, carbon fiber seems to be popping up everywhere. Smoke Composites is one of those companies. They recently started making carbon fiber parts for AR style rifles and pistols. Their history of making parts for the defense industry, has had a definite benefit for those of us looking for lightweight AR parts. I will take a look at their 12" handguard.
Smoke composites sent me one of the 12" M-Lok handguards to review. The first thing I noticed was how spectacular this handguard looked. It has a cool, non-symetrical, look to it. Not the standard grid pattern one would expect. I also noticed the quality put into the handguard. But then I picked it up, and wow, it is light.
Now it's on to the tech specs. When I said it was light, well, it weighs in at 7.3 ounces complete with all the hardware. It might not be the lightest, but accessories can easily be added by using the M-Lok slots, something other manufacturers don't offer in carbon fiber. Speaking of M-Lok, it uses the standard 5 slot M-Lok rails. The handguard has 4 M-Lok slots on each of the 8 45 degree sides. The slots aren't evenly spaced, they are grouped by 2's and then a space between the 2 groups. Also the slots on the top, bottom, and sides are more toward the front of the rifle. With the 45 degree ones set back slightly from the front of the rifle. Construction is from 35-50 carbon fiber and 7075 aluminum, so as far as I could tell, good stuff. At 1.88 inches outside diameter, it felt really good in the hand. I thought maybe the smooth carbon fiber would be hard to grip, but my hand seemed to kind of dig into the slots to provide grip. Smoke Composites forms a ring at the front of the handguard, I would guess to protect the front from getting chipped, it would be quite thin otherwise. The inside of the ring measured 1.53 inches, so some suppressors will fit inside the handguard. Don't worry about heat when doing this, the carbon fiber mitigates heat great!
Installation of the handguard is pretty straight forward. Make sure the firearm is unloaded and safe. Once you have removed your old parts, take the supplied barrel nut and tighten it over the barrel to normal specifications. Line up one of the threaded holes of the barrel nut, with the top of the receiver. Now put your low profile gas block and gas tube on. Then slide the handguard over the barrel nut. Loosely install the 6 supplied screws into the holes. Line the handguard up, and tighten down the screws. Now your done with the installation.
When using the handguard, I found it worked nicely. The rifle swings fast, but also stops pretty well. If you are looking at getting this type of handguard, I would recommend getting a lightweight stock also because just the handguard alone might throw the balance of the rifle off. I did try this upper on a rifle with a standard M4 style stock and one with a Smoke Composites' stock. The M4 didn't seem to swing as well as the carbon fiber stock did, at least for me. One option I would have liked to have seen is the addition of some QD mount holes built into the handguard. I may drill some myself. When shooting fast, I did notice that the carbon fiber did an excellent job of not heating up.
Smoke Composites is doing some awesome stuff with carbon fiber. This handguard is just one of them. Plus, if you want a custom length, they can do that also. I think these guys are going to be a company to keep an eye on. Great service, great products, and made in the United States of America!
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points
Claim to Fame:
Lightweight Carbon Fiber M-Lok handguard
Lightweight AR builders, 3-gun, anyone wanting a superlight handguard for an AR style rifle
FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):
- Lightweight at 7.3 ounces complete for the 12" version
- 35-50 Carbon Fiber / 7075 Aluminum construction
- M-Lok slots
- Rapid heat dissipation
- Custom lengths available ($75 extra)
- Thick ring at front of handguard
- Easy installation
- 1.88" outer diameter
- 1.53" inside diameter
- Made in U.S.A.
What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?
Also available in 7.25", 10", and 15.15"
What others are saying?:
Shawn on Facebook: 5 stars
Had a minor issue with a handguard, contacted Smoke for advice- They went above and beyond in getting me a replacement(which wasn't necessary, but they insisted). Phenomenal service! They really take pride in their work, it's obvious not only by their product, but their customer service.
Link to other reviews:
MSRP = $289.00 as tested
Retail = $249-299
I need it now! Availability:
- 7.3 ounces
- M-Lok slots
- Easy install
- Large enough to fit over 1.5" diameter suppressors
- Beautifully crafted
- Not your typical carbon fiber look
- Very strong
- U.S.A. made
- Does not use standard AR barrel wrench for installation
- M-Lok rails, when mounted on the top, sit higher than receiver
- No QD mounts built in
Score: 8.0 Great
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