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AR15 Armorer: Review: One piece Handguard with install video (focus Midwest Industries SS-Series SS-15)

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Review: One piece Handguard with install video (focus Midwest Industries SS-Series SS-15)

When building a rifle choosing the right handguard is just as important as choosing the right optics or any other major component. I had the opportunity to test out and review a few different free float one piece design rifle length handguards from different manufacturers(Troy, Samson, Midwest Industries to name a few). In the end I decided to focus on the handguard I thought was the best of the bunch for reasons I'm going to list below. I'm in no way affiliated with any of these manufacturers and this is simply a review from my point of view and opinion.

There are only a handful of companies which offer handguards in a 15"+ rifle length so choosing the right handguard for a long barrel is somewhat limiting compared to carbine length options. The Midwest Industries Inc (MI) is the longest and the second lightest of the metal handguards to choose from at 15 3/16" and 14oz without optional rails installed just weighting in 0.09714oz more than the competitor. There are carbon fiber options however they do not include a top rail system or rail options as of today. If length and weight is a factor look no farther than MI SS-series handguard.

Fit, finish and design are keys to choosing a proper handguard to suit your requirements. What really separates MI SS-series handguard from other manufactures is the smooth finish on the non perforated outer shell of the handguard making it a pleasure to hold in your hand to support the rifle which is a big plus during 3-Gun competition shooting. Quad rail options and a similar SS-series design from another big name manufacturer with striations cuts along the length of the handguard made for an uncomfortable grip over a long period of time. The finish on all the handgurds were on par with each other, manufactured from aircraft aluminum and finished with some variant of hard coating to last a lifetime. The MI matte black finish matches most upper and lower receivers for that uniform transition along the length of the rifle. There were no rough spots in the perforation on the SS-series but I can't say the same for another manufacturer. Fit on the MI handguard was excellent with the supplied proprietary barrel nut. The top rail is true U.S. Military Specification M1913 with T-marked even numbering. The key to the SS-series design is to help aid in keeping your barrel cool by allowing the heat to dissipate away from the source. The drilled through round uniform pattern along the length of the handguard does a fantastic job of allowing proper ventilation while aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The design also aids in allowing placement of the supplied 2" and 4" rails anywhere on the handguard to suit your additional accessories. One of the options MI includes which the rest of the rifle length handguard manufacturers did not include is the Forward Trim Ring. The trim ring is the final touch in my opinion to really polishing off a clean look while hiding the gas block and keeping debris out yet allowing for proper ventilation of heat. It is lightweight at just about 1.5oz and comes with 4 screws which hold it in place. MI includes a bottle of threadlocker which other manufacturers do not.

Installation was easy and I have attached a quick video to walk you through the process. The issue I have with the MI SS-Series handguard is not about the product but lack of tool(s). The proprietary barrel nut uses standard armorers wrenches which most already have, and if not, they offer a barrel nut wrench at a reasonable price. However, most people do not have an adjustable C-clamp/spanner wrench which is required for the jam nut tightening near the end of the installation. You could get away with using cannon plug pliers or strap wrench as a substitute so there are options. MI does sell the jam nut wrench on their site as well. In all fairness the product description clearly state these tools are needed if not being installed by a gunsmith. The point is anyone can install this handguard or any other handguard with basic tools and proper guidance so a gunsmith is not required. Other manufacturers offer their own variants of a proprietary barrel nut and most do not include tools except for one manufacturer but at a premium cost.

In terms of best bang for the buck you can't beat MI SS-series handguard. Using Midwayusa as a baseline for comparison the price of the SS-series rifle length handguard comes out a winner. Now throw in the Trim Ring and jam nut wrench you still come out on top as the lowest price of the bunch. To some a little goes a long way in saving for the next upgrade or addition. What you get with MI is a quality product at a great price to boot. The quality overall is comparable to other big name manufacturers so you are not sacrificing anything by paying less. With that said I feel comfortable recommending this product over other options out there to anyone looking for a rifle length handguard. Lastly MI handguards are made in the U.S.A.

Enjoy the video



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    10/08/2011 08:53 PM


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