Looking for an upgrade to your AR that won’t break the bank? There are too many hand-guards out there to review them all. I think its safe to say that the AR15 market is SATURATED with components and equipment that I just can’t cover in one spot.
That said, if you are here I am going to break down a few products that are a known quality and under a $200.00 price point. All the rails in this guide will have their own unique attachment methods, and each one is a component that is trusted by a wide spectrum of shooters.
There are plenty of other rails out there that are much cheaper than some of the rails on this guide, but buyer beware… many are imported from China. Having hands on experience with Chineaseum rails… It’s not worth it. Ever seen a rail cause corrosion into the upper receiver? I have. Just no. Save your pennies and run the standard hand-guards until you can buy a better non-Chinese rail.
Also, guess what? Not a single link you click in this article will make earn me any commission. This is a AMAZON FREE ZONE because I hate websites that aren’t trying to help you… rather they want to steer your purchase to earn a commission. No blue / manufacturer links will take you anywhere other than the manufacturer’s website and any purchases from there will earn me not one cent whatsoever. If you want to support the blog, click a banner. Or Don’t. I don’t run this page for profit, I run it to saturate the reader with the info they need to obtain quality equipment and to promote a Nation of Riflemen. Without Further Ado:
All the data presented for each rail is based of the manufacturers specifications for total system weight, and all specs featured will be for rails based on (where applicable) a 15 inch model, anodized black, and in MLOK if applicable.
MLOK has been proven to be a stronger platform than Key-Mod and the majority of the industry is moving towards Magpul’s standard. Key-Mod is still out and about, but I would recommend sticking with M-Lok for more options. Let’s get started.
This company has been a go-to for high quality budget rails. I have hands on with this product and for the price point it is a simple and robust tube without any major concerns.
The ALG defense series of rails requires timing of the barrel nut and shims are included to assist in timing if things don’t line up.
A minor concern is the inability to know what value your barrel nut is torqued too. I like at least 65 Ft Lbs on my barrel nut, but I have no way of knowing what I am torqued to with the ALG gear, but this is a minor gripe. When ordering, don’t forget to add the ALG defense barrel nut wrench for $5 dollars more with your order.
ALG EMR 2 15 inch: 13.2 oz @ $165 plus barrel wrench.
This company is a direct to consumer vendor meaning the only place to grab their rail is on their website. I don’t have hands on with the product, and the company has not responded to my emails. This system does not require timing of the barrel nut and the included wrench allows you to torque the nut to whatever value you want.
The rail utilizes a popular method of attachment in that it wraps around the barrel nut and clamps on to the barrel nut when two bolts are tightened at the 6 o’clock of the rail. It appears that this model also has a locking plate to prevent forward shift of the rail.
STNGR VYPR 15 Inch: 11.5 oz @ 104.99
Aero Precision ATLAS S-One:
This is a new rail recently introduced in fall of 2017 and I have hands on with this rail. This model is a slim diameter rail with a extended picatinny rail and forward slots for a BUIS. The unique mounting system is a departure from the bolt-on and clamp-on systems common at these price points.
The Atlas S-One uses two steel wedges that are drifted in place with a turnbuckle screw. These two wedges lock the rail and barrel nut together. The barrel nut requires timing and shims are included to assist. The included wrench allows shooters to torque to their preferred value. You can see my extended overview by clicking here.
Aero Precision Atlas S-One: 12.6 oz @ $159.99
Aero Precision Quantum:
The Quantum series of hand-guards is Aero Precision’s budget rail offering. It is a large diameter hand-guard which makes it a good choice for shooters who want to recess a suppressor into the hand-guard. It has M-Lok attachment points every 45 degrees and it includes the picatinny mounting rail for a BUIS. I have hands on with this one as it is compatible with the M4E1 series upper receiver which I own.
It features 8 torx screws which attach the rail to the beefy aluminum barrel nut. This rail requires timing and two shims are included to assist with the process.
Aero Precision Quantum: 13.6 oz at $109.00
Clark Custom Guns:
Coming right in at $200 is the Clark Custom carbon fiber handguard. This model is made to order so I spec’d it out in a 16 inch model. The 16 inch model runs $165 and weighs 7 Oz. The hand-guard requires timing and it appears most users install with a strap wrench. It comes standard with a sling swivel but has no M-Lok or Key Mod provisions. The price above is for the GLUE ON version, with the clamping collar version a bit over our set budget, but available.
If you need a spartan handguard and weight is your primary consideration, this is a good contender. Check it out here at Clark Custom
Midwest Industries G3 SSM:
This is a very popular rail that utilizes a clamping assembly to secure the rail to the barrel nut along with an anti rotation plate. This rail does not require timing of the barrel nut and can be torqued to the value you desire. Not much more to say on this one as I don’t have hands on with it. It is very popular and has a large following online.
Midwest Industries G3 SSM: 10.8 oz @ $189
The BCM MCMR is a new product from Bravo Company that finally brings the KMR series into the new age of M-Lok. Bravo Co held on grudgingly for years to Key-Mod before the M-Lok madness must have finally hit their bottom line. This model clamps around the barrel nut, but does so from a unique position to prevent stretching of the aluminum around the barrel nut. Clamp on style rails can stretch if overtorqued… but BCM claims their product solves this problem. The barrel nut does not require timing and can be torqued to your desired value.
Squeezing in just under the $200 dollar ceiling, the BCM is on the high end of our budget point.
BCM MCMR: 11.5 oz @ 199.99
This is a brief snapshot of *some* of the sub $200 dollar rails. My current favorite is the Aero Precision Atlas S One, but as always read the reviews here and a few other places to narrow down the best option for you! I realize that there is plenty of competition in this market and I may have missed possibly 1, 2, or 200 other rail options… So if you have a suggestion and want to share your experience with readers, please comment down below and tell us about your favorite rail!