Handguards and Rails

Guntec 15" Compression Handguard

 Guntec Usa sent me their new compression M-Lok handguard for review. They were also kind enough to send an extra one that we gave away on the podcast. This particular handguard is a 15” free float and anodized black. Guntec has been making AR accessories in the US for decades.

 I noticed a few new things about this compression handguard. Guntec put some QD mounts at the rear of the handguard. In my opinion, this is a great asset. It also came with 1 QD swivel. This handguard also has M-Lok slots all the way down both sides as well as the bottom. That was one of my complaints with their Air-Lite that I reviewed some time ago. This one also has a full length top picatinny rail. As well as diamond cuts throughout to reduce weight. The black anodizing is also a little dull looking, more of a matte finish as compared to a gloss one. It doesn’t scratch off or anything, so there is no need to worry about it.

You can see the slight misalignment of the rail to the receiver

 Installation on the compression handguard is super easy. All you really need to do is install the barrel nut and tighten to manufacturers specifications (standard AR15 barrel nut torque). There is no need to index the barrel nut. Slide the tube on. Line up the top rail with the receiver rail. Then tighten down the 4 clamp screws. I put some medium threadlocker on these 4 screws, but it probably isn’t needed. That is really all there was to it. One slight problem with this particular handguard, is that the rail on the handguard sits a little bit lower than the receiver’s rail. Not enough that flip up iron sights won’t zero, but enough to notice.

 At first I was a little hesitant about the compression style of handguard. But after crashing it up against some 2x4 barricades, I’m not worried about it twisting or not lining up. The clamping force around the barrel nut seems more than enough to hold everything lined up. I really liked the feel of the handguard. It is small enough for me to get my hand around. This makes it very easy to drive the muzzle from target to target. It is just under 2” from the top of the rail to the bottom of the handguard and 1.5” outside diameter everywhere else. The inside diameter measures 1.34”, so don’t expect to put a suppressor under it. And you will definitely need a low profile gas block. The whole combination of screws, barrel nut, and handguard came in weighing 10 ounces on my scale. So pretty lightweight.

 As mentioned earlier, I like how this handguard feels. It does however get warm after 3 or 4 mag dumps. That’s pretty normal given the diameter and how close it is to the gas block. As with a lot of long handguards, there is some flex out at the end by the barrel. Not as much as I have seen on others, but a little. This leads into the location of the QD mount. Because they are located by the barrel nut, any force put on them doesn’t appear to flex the handguard any. Guntec also sent some rubber M-lok plugs with the handguard. These plugs just kind of push into any unused slots and give a rubbery grip to the handguard.

 If you’re interested in some quality, value priced AR parts, go check out Guntec USA. This particular handguard is pretty decent. It feels good in the hand, looks decent, and won’t break the bank. Plus, if it’s not your style, they probably have something that is.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

15" Compression handguard for modern sporting rifles

Target Market:

Users wanting to upgrade to a 15" handguard

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • T6 Aluminum Body
  • Proprietary Lightweight Aluminum Barrel Nut Included
  • Total Weight Including Barrel Nut Is 10 oz.
  • Triangle / Diamond Cuts Throughout Handguard to Reduce Weight
  • Rail System Slides Over Barrel Nut , And Is clamped on with 4 clamp screws
  • Monolithic Top Rail
  • 15" Length
  • Internal Diameter: 1.34"
  • Outside Diameter: 1.50"
  • Made in USA

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

10" and 12"

What others are saying?:

Nothing found

Link to other reviews:

Rusty Reviews on Facebook

Price point:

MSRP = $150 approximately (Not on website at writing)

I need it now! Availability:

Guntec USA

Our Rating:


  • Lightweight

  • M-Lok

  • QD points

  • QD swivel included

  • Easy Installation

  • Made in USA

  • Rubber M-Lok covers included

  • Small Diameter


  • Rail doesn't line up with receiver

  • Dull anodizing

  • Lack of instructions

Score: 6.5 Okay



Favorite Link:   AR15 Podcast

2A Armament Aethon Rail

  Since everyone has an AR15, or at least should, aftermarket accessories for them have become the norm. That brings us to 2A Armament. They produce a variety of products, including complete rifles, for the AR15. 2A sent me one of their 7" Aethon rail handguards with M-Lok slots.

  The Aethon rail has some interesting design features. The first one I noticed was the scalloped picatinny rail sections. Of course this helps to reduce weight, but also looks very nice. The Aethon features a full top rail, that lines up with the receiver nicely. Under the top picatinny rail there are lightening holes, which also help vent heat away from the barrel. At 90°, 180°, and 270° are the flats with the M-Lok slots. Since this is a 7" handguard, there are only 2 slots per side. In front and behind the M-Lok slots are holes for QD mounts! Between the flats on the handguard, 2A has reduced more weight by milling out an angled half circle style design. Also the top picatinny rail has "T" markings on it.

  Installation of the Aethon rail is pretty straight forward. I'll run you through the simple method. After taking off the old parts. Just install the 2A Armament titanium barrel nut per specified torque, line up one of the cut-outs for the gas tube and the barrel is tightened back on. I used my armorers wrench and it worked just fine. Now here is one of the niceties of the Aethon. To install the handguard, you just slide it over the barrel nut and align the top rail with your receiver. Then you just tighten down the four angled set screws, 2 per side, and your done. The way the barrel nut is designed, along with the angled set screws, is what makes this so easy. A warning, do not over tighten the set screws as they are going into aluminum and could possibly strip out fairly easy. I just put blue threadlocker on them and called it a day.

  The Aethon rail saw plenty of use. Partly because the rifle I installed it on, wasn't working properly. This had zero to do with the Aethon. I will say that because of the small internal diameter of the Aethon, it does get very warm when shooting quickly, so much that I wouldn't recommend it for a registered full auto, unless you always wear gloves. Other than that, the Aethon performed great. I liked the smaller diameter of the Aethon, it allowed me to get a good grip around it to help reduce muzzle jump. If you have really large hands, you could probably wrap them all the way around this handguard. Because this is a 7" handguard, it is very sturdy with no flex whatsoever. There are also no sharp edges anywhere, even where the set screws lock the handguard on. My only complaint is that it only measures 6.7" long instead of 7", leaving a little gap between the end of the handguard and the fixed front sight post. 

  2A Armament has done an excellent job with the Aethon handguard. It is a deep black anodizing, so much that it is much darker and shinier than my receiver. It is fairly lightweight and installs easily. If your in the market for some nice AR parts, go take a look at 2A Armament.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:

Lightweight AR15 handguard

Target Market:

Users wanting a lighter weight, or M-Lok handguard

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Made in U.S.A
  • U.S.A. sourced 6AL-4V Titanium barrel nut
  • M-LOK mounting solution
  • Free floating design
  • QD mounts on both ends
  • 1.3” Internal Diameter
  • 6.7" length
  • "T" markings
  • Weighs 6.2 oz's complete

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?

10", 12", and 15" lengths

What others are saying?:

None Found

Link to other reviews:

None Found

Price point:

MSRP = $179.00

Retail = $170.00 at Optics Planet

I need it now! Availability:

2A Armament or Optics Planet

Our Rating:


  • M-Lok

  • Easy Installation

  • Dark Anodizing

  • Small overall diameter

  • Full top rail

  • QD mounts


  • Not a full 7" in length

  • Gets hot

Score: 8.0 Great



Favorite Link:   Poly Gun Mods



Smoke Composites Carbon Fiber Handguard

   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 

Target Market:

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:

None found

Price point:

MSRP = $289.00 as tested

Retail = $249-299

I need it now! Availability:

Smoke Composites

Our Rating:


  • 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


Chad’s Favorite Link: Axelson Tactical


Magpul AK Zhukov Handguard

Magpul Zhukov Handguard

Another key part of the AK rifle that begs for improvement is the handguard. Formerly just a wood shell to protect the hand of a soldier from the heat generated by the barrel and gasblock/gastube, the modern AK has been outfitted with aluminum and polymer forearms that serve the same purpose but add the modularity of mounted accessories. Aluminum still contracts heat though as well as adding weight, leaving polymer a popular option for upgrading a stock rifle.

Magpul Zhukov Handguard

Just like the Zhukov-S stock, the Zhukov handguard sets the bar for quality, durability and overall badasssery in its category. The extended length it adds to the support hand is a much needed, and wasn't available unless you paid a very costly and custom aluminum rail. It's pretty well known that a longer support hand grip improves freehanded rifle accuracy and the ability to transition between targets, and the extended length of the Zhukov really transforms the AK into a completely different rifle with improved functionality. Now the forearm can be braced against or ontop of a barrier or shooter's rest which was lacking support before, and its M-LOK slots let you customize where accessories are mounted without additional weight and clutter of unused rail space. Also just like the other Magpul AK products, the Zhukov handguard is available be in all the colors of the tactical rainbow to match your other gear.

Magpul Zhukov Handguard

Installing the Zhukov is more involved than the standard MOE AK handguard because of the provided clamps that support the structure entirely. MAKE SURE your barrel is wide enough FIRST as it would be a huge bummer to make this permanent modification and your barrel profile was too narrow for the Zhukov's clamps (between 16.75-18.25 millimeters) and your barrel should be at least 13" long for obvious reasons. If you own an AKM or other AK variant that has a factory handguard retaining cap / forward sling mount, you're going to have to permanently remove it prior to beginning the installation. This calls for some commitment on the users part, as you're hosed for most handguards after cutting the cap off. Also, there may be some minor additional fitting required due to the wide range of tolerances of typical AK's. Yugo users need not apply - the Zhukov is not compatible.

Magpul Zhukov Handguard

After removing the factory or existing hanguard and the gastube, its a smart idea to wrap some duct tape around the barrel underneath and surrounding the handguard retaining cap (assuming you have one that needs to be removed) The tape will help keep that retaining cap from spinning or sliding up and down the barrel, and also help add a small protective layer if you are using a Dremel or other cutting wheel. If you aren't comfortable with the power tool, take it to a gunsmith and they should be able to cut it off easily without much expense to you. If you are removing it yourself, I would highly recommend taking it slow, and not trying to cut completely through the metal of the cap. Stop just shy of a thirty second of an inch and use a flathead screwdriver in the cut channel to pry/twist the halves apart. This will keep you from cutting too deep and marring your barrel. Once its gone, unplug the Dremel and put it away, and enjoy a a cold beverage because that was the worst part.

Magpul Zhukov Handguard

Now for the easy steps, just remove the heatshield from the polymer outershell, align it below the barrel and insert each of the pair of screws up through the metal and bottom clamp half (the unthreaded half) and loosely tighten into the top half. Next you slide the polymer part back onto the heatshield in the correct orientation, while keeping the clamps loosely tightened.  This will help you align the complete hanguard to its most rearward position where the rear screw holes align, and ensuring theres a even gap between the upper lips of the handguard and the gasblock. Alternate tightening each screw to ensure a consistent and level tightening force on each clamp, and then you're set! Just twist off the old gasblock cover and twist on the new polymer part, reinstall and check for function. Поздравляю товарищ (Congrats comrade!)

If you're wondering how the heck you are supposed to add your flashlight, laser, bipod, sling mount, foregrip, bottle opener, and other completely necessary doodads, welcome to the M-LOK side of the fence. We have cake, and even let MOE rail users hang out. So if you've invested in MOE rail sections for previous AR-15 handguards, they are still compatible. You are more likely to find M-LOK rail sections and mounting accessories now on store shelves in the same cardboard and plastic bag packaging that you're used to seeing. Unlike keymod, M-LOK is arguably more secure in mounting, and less expensive and soon to be more prevalent in my opinion.

Magpul Zhukov Handguard

In case you are partial to modifying your rifle or still want to utilize your AKM's sling loop, or keep that under-mounted cleaning rod, the MOE AK hanguard is for you. It still has M-LOK slots, comes in colors and has an integral heatshield, but is more of a direct replacement for the existing hanguard. I was personally bummed their wasn't any accommodation for the cleaning rod built into the design of the bottom clamps, but its not a tragic loss. Besides, AK's don't need to be cleaned!

Firearms Insider Reviews – 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: The Magpul Zhukov Handguard casts aside traditional AK forearm shortcomings and offers an extended option for modern shooting techniques.

Target Market:  AK variant owners with standard length barrels

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product):

  • Extended length provides large gripping surface / more real estate for mounting accessories
  • Mounts to most AK-47/AKM/AK-74 rifles with barrels between 16.75 - 18.25mm diameter (minimum 13" length)
  • Full length hard anodized aluminum chassis provides for flex-free mounting and heat shielding
  • M-LOK slots at the three, six, and nine o'clock position
  • Includes replacement polymer top cover
  • Compatible with UltiMAK Optics Mount top cover

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?: Black, Stealth Gray, FDE, Ranger Green, and Plum

What others are saying?: "I love this hand guard. It was very easy to install. The heat shield does a great job of keeping your hands from getting too warm. It works well with all the M-Lok accessories. It fitted perfect with my Ultimak gas tube as well. I couldn't be happier with the purchase." Brownells User Review

"You better really want the Magpul ZHUKOV because you are going to be stuck with it. I don't see this as a problem with its features, however you should be aware that the gas block sling mount loop and factory handguard retainer cover must be ground off your AK. Yep, this means you are not going backward from an upgrade perspective at any point in the future. The Magpul ZHUKOV hand guard covers the sling mount point, so even if you do a fairly ugly job, no one will see it. This also means that the ZHUKOV is not a "drop in upgrade", but something easy if you know how to run a hacksaw and file or Dremel well. The main advantage of this barrel clamped configuration is that the handguard is never shifting or moving. One of the reasons some will opt for the ZHUKOV hand guard over the MOE version is that this version is designed to be "more" compatible with various milled receivers since the hand guard is not reliant on a slot in the receiver and handguard retain for stability and is instead just clamped to the barrel. I love what Magpul has done to overhaul the AK47/AK74 rifles from top to bottom to keep the AK current even after all these years." Major Pandemic Review

Price point:

I need it now! Availability: Brownells or local gun shops

Our Rating:


  • Fairly easy to install (handguard retainer needs to be removed)
  • Longer forearm= more room for accessory rails, better forward positioning of lights
  • Compatible with railed gastubes, ie: UltiMAK
  • Design ties well with Zhukov or MOE stock and MOE AK grip


  • No allowance for cleaning rod
  • No interface with receiver for level mounting (you have to eyeball it when tightening)

Score: 8.0 Great

Featured FFL:

For FFL services I choose Promised Land Firearms in Toulon, IL.

Ryan's Links:

Gun & Gear Review Podcast

Hunter of Design

Parallax Tactical FFSSR Rail



In building a new range/competitive AR15 from extra parts I was ready to upgrade to an extended length forend, to give the 18" platform an SPR type look.  The Parallax Tactical FFSSR rail caught my eye for its slim profile and rails only where they are needed.  I was lucky enough to catch the 15" handguards as soon as they were instock again (they sold out within 48 hrs)  Shipping was quick from Parallax in San Diego and their customer service is pretty decent.

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame: Single-piece aluminum foregrip delivers one of the slimmest profiles in the industry.

Target Market:  AR-15 owners / builders with any barrel length.

FNBs:  (Features and Benefits of this product)

  • 6061-T6 Aluminum Extrusion
  • Four limited rotation QD Mounts front and rear.
  • (2) Rear single picatinny rail mounts for sling hook type mounts (MagPul RSA)
  • Sleeve-style barrel nut with 1-1/8" flats
  • Mounts using 4 standard, 2 low-head hex screws Mounting holes every 22.5°
  • Includes shims for proper alignment
  • Cutout sections compatible with all MagPul accessories, including rail sections

 What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?  Anodized black, Cerakoted options available from Parallax when inventory is high enough.

What others are saying? "Unlike many of the slick sided tubular hand guards on the market, the Parallax Tactical Rail is very overbuilt. It is still slim and fairly lightweight (varies by length) but it is built to be more durable than most of the slim tubular hand guards on the market. " - jerkingthetrigger.com review

Price point:

I need it now! Availability: Good luck. Check with PT on facebook or sales to follow when back instock.

Our Rating:

+ Robust and well constructed for a slim handguard.  Definately durable + Sling swivel points built into front and rear on both sides + Install was pretty easy, fit and finish is very good (black anodized version) - Top 1913 rail is not T-marked. - Barrel Nut is proprietary and version I received had odd flats, had to bribe smith to modify a wrench to index it correctly. - Demand is extremely high, need to increase production size.

Score: 7.5 Good






Looks pretty darn tactical even with less rails; will help me keep it simple and light.

Fortis REV Free Float Rail System review

Part of the beauty of the AR-15 platform, aka the modern sporting rifle, is just how many aftermarket products are available on the market. In the past few years literally hundreds of manufacturers offering thousands of parts have popped up all over the country; one of which is Fortis Manufacturing. In this article I'll show you my Fortis REV review of the 14’’ free float rail system. At first look, the Fortis REV is one of the sexiest free float rail systems I have ever seen. It’s minimal yet aggressive in appearance and has certainly been eye-catcher from the get go. The twelve and six o’clock positions are standard picatinny rails while three and nine o’clock use the keymod system. This makes the Fortis REV extremely versatile. Additionally, by using the keymod system at three and nine o’clock, the horizontal diameter has been trimmed down tremendously compared to standard quad rails. The supports connecting the rails are machined to look sharp, literally. The design concept is basically this: no unnecessary material, no unnecessary weight. That concept definitely holds true - I am reviewing the 14’’ rail system which weighs in at a mere 11 ounces.

Fortis REV with Noveske NSR covers review
Out of all of the rails I researched, one thing really stands out to me when it comes to the Fortis REV, besides the weight and free float design, and that is the grip capabilities. With the REV’s diameter being slimmer horizontally than it is vertically (similar to some Daniel Defense rails), the six o’clock position of the rail fits right into the palm of my hand. This allows me to have the most commanding grip I’ve ever been able to achieve with any other rail system, free float or not. The rail locks into my hand as if it has been duct taped together.

From a durability perspective, I’ve been extremely impressed with the Fortis REV. The fit and finish are top notch and the rail locks up tight on a standard barrel nut with a little bit of Loctite per manufacturer instructions. I used this rail in a couple of tactical AR training classes over the summer and did not experience any issues.

Fortis REV review lockupFortis REV review
Other features of the rail are (4) built-in anti-rotation quick detach slots. Additionally, even though the three and nine o’clock positions of the rail are keymod system, the end of each keymod sports a small picatinny rail section for mounting a flashlight or other picatinny accessory at the end of the rail. Below is a side by side photo of the Fortis REV 14'' with a Spike's BAR 12''.

Fortis REV with Spikes BAR review
Now that I’ve talked this rail up to be the best thing since sliced bread, let’s move onto some concerns. Like others amongst the AR community who have researched this rail, heat seems to be one of the largely discussed topics. If you take a look at this rail when installed, it appears that there would be little protection between the barrel and the hand that is gripping the rail. Personally, I’ve not had any issues, and I do consider myself to be heavy on the trigger, but I did want to mention it as I have heard this concern from other owners. Most of which purchased either a set of shooting gloves, or picked up the Noveske NSR keymod rail covers. I actually have the Noveske NSR keymod rail covers installed on my Fortis REV, but not because of heat issues. My reasoning is much less exciting: I just like the way they look.

Another concern I came across was in regards to locking system failures. The locking system of the rail is made up of (2) pieces that clamp together over a standard AR-15 barrel nut. Once lined up, there are (4) hex bolts to tighten down that will lock the rail down tight to the barrel nut. Fortis also recommends using blue Loctite on these hex bolts. The issues I heard in this regard are that the hex bolts would strip out. After a root cause analysis, it sounded like the issue came from the user using an extreme amount of torque which caused this issue. Bottom line: if the bolts are squeaking, aka screaming, it’s probably tight enough. Fortunately for the user that was impacted, Fortis’ superb customer service took care of him and sent him a new rail without fuss.

In summary, the Fortis REV is everything I had hoped for in a new rail. The size of the rail allows me to take a commanding grip down the muzzle which is great for rapid succession of shots. I don’t know of any other rail on the market that offers the versatility, durability, and ridiculously light weight solution of the Fortis REV. It’s great to see an American company build top notch products like the Fortis REV.

Fortis REV review install
Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame Slim profile free-float rail that is extremely durable light weight and locks up tight. Includes picatinny rails at 12 and 6 o’clock and keymod system at 3 and 9 o’clock – this allows the user to gain a strong grip on the rail for complete control of your rifle and compatibility with even more accessories than a standard quad rail.

Target Market This rail will be very attractive to many competition and 3 gun shooters due to its slim profile and extreme light weight but will also attract casual shooters due to its price, flexibility, and visual appeal.

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product)

  • Extremely light weight
  • Versatile accessory options by using keymod and standard picatinny rail systems
  • Locks up tight on a standard AR-15 barrel nut
  • Backed by an American company who stands behind their products

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?   Available in 7’’, 9’’, 12’’, and 14’’ lengths in a variety of colors including black, flat dark earth, olive drab green, and coyote tan.

What others are saying?   Check out the Fortis REV discussion on AR15.com

Price point

I need it now!  Availability:

Our Rating

Picatinny and keymod rails making the REV compatible with a wide variety of accessories Very light weight. 14’’ model weighs in at a mere 11 ounces Compatible with a standard AR15 barrel nut Slim horizontal profile allows for a complete grip on the rail for outstanding muzzle control Anti-rotation tabs ensure the rail will not rotate during hard use 4 built in anti-rotation quick detach sockets Great customer service and warranty from Fortis

- Hex screws can be over-tightened causing them to strip during installation if not careful - Machining design exposes gas tube and barrel leaving fingers close to them

Score: 9.0

Parabellum Armament AK-Adaptive Rail System - AKARS


Parabellum Armament AK-Adaptive Rail System - AKARS 1

By Ryan Cross

One of the biggest differences I’ve found from an owner’s standpoint, between the AK variant rifle and its American rival the AR-15, is the availability of mounting options for scopes, red dot sights, or reflex optics. A simple Google Image search for optic mounted AK platforms would result in dozens of aftermarket railed forend (in front of the rear sight), or alternatively with an offset rail that mounts to the side of the receiver (if your rifle has the appropriate hardware already installed) that hovers the mount just above the dust cover. I was not very interested in pursuing either of these options for this particular Romanian WASR-10 with traditional wood furniture. In fact, after sanding and refinishing the wood of both the stock and the handguard, I was keen on keeping them. On my first outing with the firearm, I gave my jaw quite the jarring when using the iron sights, for which I am blaming my stylish but non-ergonomic corrective lenses. Must be why the ruskies always hip fired their AK’s in the 007 movies, no?

I was at a crossroads. I have quite a few cheap red dot sights laying around with no home. I wanted to shoot the WASR-10 accurately and more efficiently (sans the black eye). So, invest in an aluminum picatinny railed handguard and remove the rustic wood I was so fond of? Or use a side mount that would never truly be concentric with the bore, and also add bulk to the rifle. I’m not the strictest purist out there, but wanted a happy medium between a functional and effective mount for an optic and keeping the rifle as traditional as possible.Parabellum Armament AK-Adaptive Rail System - AKARS 2

My search quickly lead me to the AKARS system by Parabellum Armament. My initial positive impressions were that I could mount a red dot sight right on the dust cover with a good 6-8 inches of eye relief, with no permanent modifications to the gun. The last thing I need is another project gun and another dedicated drawer to extra parts. The install was moderately easy, and I sure am happy with the results. Good groups, repeatable zero, doesn’t interfere with cleaning, and more importantly I can use a better cheek weld. Just because your rifle has been battle-proven, doesn’t mean your face has to look like its been in a battle as well!

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 Key Points

Claim to Fame:  Provides installation of a rail system without permanent modifications.

Target Market:  Saiga or AK type variant owners wanting a rail for mounting optics.

FNBs Key Features:

  • Installs with no permanent modifications to your rifle.
  • Aligns better with bore than side mounts.
  • Adjusts to different tolerances of AK type firearms, via a sliding rear mounting block on the dust cover that interfaces with the rail via two pins.
  • WILL NOT FIT: Yugo (Zastava) AK variants (M70, M72, M92), AKS-74U, or Romanian PSL Rifles
  • MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail
  • Integral rear sight notch (non-adjustable)
  • Enables lower ⅓ cowitness with micro red dot sights
  • Made in USA

Key Benefits:

  • Repeatable zero when rail is swung up/dust cover is removed for maintenance
  • Reduces or Eliminates ‘Dust Cover Wobble’
  • New Dust cover included is stronger steel than original

What other aesthetic options or finishes are available?  Evil Black Only

What others are saying? Youtube Review - Mrgunsngear Same reviewer, written review on The Firing Line

Price point

I need it now! Availability:  Blackheart International

Our Rating + Excellent fit on test rifle, Romanian Wasr-10 + Included dust cover is thicker, better quality than the original + Picatinny slots are T-marked for repeatable mounting position + Much prefered mounting position as opposed to forward / railed forend position + Did not lose zero after repeated firing/opening & closing of dust cover + More accurate and convenient than side rail / dogleg option

- Installation was pretty difficult, only because of tension on test rifle’s rear sight leaf spring, took approximately 45 minutes for my install without a vise or press. - The newer AKARS’ rear sight is a ‘U’ notch, and is a bitter wide for my liking/precision use of irons. - Price is a bit stiff for two pieces of metal, but such is the hobby we chose! - Slight eyesore of Parabellum Armament / Rail system name printed on the side of rail.

Score 8.585

Featured FFL Ryan prefers Promised Land Firearms for all his FFL needs.

Ryan’s links: My Blog

Midwest Industries Gen 2 SS FF Handguard

MI Gen 2 SS Handguard By Agent 95

As I began to think about building my next precision rifle, I realized I wanted something lightweight and reliable.  A rifle that I can run around with (If ever needed to) without carrying too much weight. With this in mind, I knew it would be nearly impossible to have a lightweight 20” rifle, but I would try to make it as light as possible while keeping the sexy look of the AR-15.  This is when I came across the Midwest Industries Gen 2 SS FF Handguard.

I’m sure most of you readers know or have heard about Midwest Industries and their customer service. With their reputation, I decided to pull the trigger on their handguard. One thing that really attracted me to this product was the price, the design and its weight. At the time of purchase, I knew this rail would fit the bill.

MI offers this rail in various lengths to fit the look you want for your AR-15. The lengths and weight of the rails they offer are 7” (7.1oz), 9” (8.3oz), 10” (8.6oz), 12” (9.3oz) and 15” (10.9oz).

The rail will come in a sealed hard plastic cover that includes the rail itself, three (3) modular rail sections including a bipod stud, MI barrel nut wrench and a MI proprietary barrel nut. The rail has 2 studs, which fits perfectly with the barrel nut to prevent any rotation. The barrel nut also has a checkered cut design that is designed to prevent rotation of the handguard.

Overall, the Midwest industries really hit the spot on this handguard. It’s lightweight, durable and easy to handle. Who wouldn’t want to get their hands on a piece like this?

Firearms Insider Reviews - 8 key points

Claim to Fame:  Lightweight and tough build.

Target Market:  3 gun shooters, run and gun shooters, recreational shooting.

FNBs (Features & Benefits of this product)

Key Features:

  • 6061 Aluminum.
  • Hard Coat Anodizing.
  • 1.5” outside diameter.
  • Free floating.
  • Lightweight.
  • Great length selection for all builds.

What aesthetic options or finishes are available? It comes in Black, Flat Dark Earth and Olive Drab Green. Weights and Lengths are listed in my description above.

What others are saying?

Price point

I need it now! Availability

Brownells, and many other locations.

Our Rating +Very comfortable to hold. +Extremely lightweight. +One piece free float design. +Great value for what you get.

-Since the rail’s diameter is so small, it is more prone to heat after rapid fire.

Score = 9.0 90