Part of the fun of owning an AR-15 is the plethora of aftermarket parts and upgrades that are available for it. You can pick and choose from what seems like an infinite variety of this, that, and the other thing. Every now and then a good thing comes along at a fair price. I believe Magpul's MOE handguard fits that category. Having had excellent service from Magpul's magazines, I decided to give their MOE handguard a try. As it turned out, I wasn't disappointed.
Edit: As it turned out, I was
disappointed. Once I started using the Grip Pod (bi-pod/vertical grip), it
got really loose really quick and just felt sloppy. There is a reason they
sell them cheap.
Having recently picked up a new M&P 15, I decided to put the new handguard on
it. As I've not seen much success in manipulating the delta ring by hand
to allow removal of the handguard, I spent $18 at the local gun store for a
handguard tool. If you've not used one before, it is very easy and makes
removing (or installing) a handguard so much easier. In the above photo,
you can see that the tool is positioned on either side of the delta ring (the
tapered ring right behind the handguard) while the end of the tool is hooked
into the front of the magazine well. Lightly squeeze the two handles of the
tool together while moving them in the direction of the arrow. The delta
ring will be pushed towards the receiver, freeing the ends of the two halves of
the handguard for removal.
With the two halves of the stock handguard removed, you can see
the gas tube and the gas block where the forward end of the handguard engages it.
OK....so the first step of the swap is completed.
The Magpul Original Equipment (M.O.E) handguard is a two piece guard with a
heat shield in the lower section. Don't worry, the guard not only shields
your hand from heat coming off the bottom of barrel but also extends up along the sides.
As delivered, the handguard has no 1913 Picatinny rails on it. Not to
worry, if you want them on your handguard, Magpul sells them in a variety of
lengths, from 2.5" (5 slots) to 5" (11 slots), all reasonably priced, in my
opinion. The included 10-24 socket head mounting hardware makes mounting
the rails a piece of cake. Grab a 1/8" Allen wrench you are good to go.
The mounting screws even have thread locker on them to prevent loosening under
With a little help from the handguard tool, the Magpul handguard
was positioned on the M&P 15 like it was custom made just for it. I
opted for two 9 slot rails which I mounted on the sides and a 7 slot rail which
was located on the bottom.
I like the fit and feel of the MOE handguard. The jury is still deliberating on the bottom rail. The 7 slot length might be just a bit longer than I want. If it becomes an issue, I'll put a 5 slot rail in its place. The handguard, less the bottom rail, is quite comfortable to use. The bottom rail is taking up a bit more space than I had expected and somewhat ends in the palm of my hand when operating the rifle. I may or may not shorten it.....just depends.
So...there you have it. You may be wondering what the M&P
15 looks like now that it has a new handguard/rail setup on it. Well, here
it is as it currently sits. Magpul grip and handguard, a Millet DMS-1 1x4
scope on a Burris one piece 2" offset mount, and a no-name vertical grip/bipod.
Update: Since the above was written, I've removed the MagPul handguard. After several trips to the range, with a GripPod attached to the bottom rail, it really started to loosen up. My idea of a good handling gun is not have it rotate inside of the handguard as I hold it. You get what you pay for....lesson learned.
What was it replaced with? About two years ago, I installed a Daniel Defense Omega 7.0 free floating handguard. It's been through two AR-15 training courses and I couldn't be more satisfied. It cost quite a bit more than the MagPul....and so it seems you do get what you pay for!
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