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What Is An AR-15 Free Float Handguard?

What Is An AR-15 Free Float Handguard

Accuracy and consistency can be increased by reducing unnecessary contact with the barrel. This is affected by the relationship between the barrel and the handguard.  By using a free-floating handguard on an AR platform rifle, less pressure is exerted on the barrel through its point of contact. An additional point of contact negatively affects accuracy by altering the harmonics and oscillation of the barrel each time the weapon is fired, and this negative effect is intensified after repeated shooting and as the thermal expansion of the barrel increases.

AR style rifles that feature a traditional style handguard and fixed front sight can be modified to use a free float handguard to remedy this issue. The first rifle shown below features a handguard that is held in place with a delta ring against the receiver on the aft side and a sight post plate on the front. This configuration has proven effective in the past, but does add more points of contact than necessary on the barrel. This causes additional pressure and tension on the barrel.

Smith & Wesson 10202 M&P15 SPTII 556NATO 16" 30rd Black

The rifle below utilizes a free-floating handguard that interfaces with the receiver and barrel nut instead of contacting the barrel. This configuration minimizes the points of contact on the barrel and in theory will increase accuracy.

Smith & Wesson M&P15 SPTII

Knights Armament SR-15 Semi-Automatic AR-15 Rifle 16" Barrel .223/5.56 30rd – 31900

Floating handguards like the one shown below can be purchased to upgrade your AR to your needs, including length, material, finish, and rail requirements. Everything needed for installation is included: barrel nut, barrel nut wrench, torque plate, and hex keys. Some benefits to an option like the one shown below include increased mounting options. This is great for not only secondary attachments, but also for primary attachments like a front sight. If the new front sight is closer to the end of the barrel than the previous attached front sight, then accuracy should be increased due to the new larger sight radius of the rifle.

Knights Armament SR15

Midwest MI-CRT15 Quad Rail Handguard 15"

Midwest MI-CRT15 Quad Rail Handguard

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