There are hundreds, if not thousands, of handguard makes and models out there, and often the first thing a new AR owner wants to do once they unbox their new black rifle is put a rail on it.
And this lust for rails makes sense — they’re the foundation of every accessory and tactical bit you’ll mount to the rifle, so they have to perform. However, determining what’s best for you or your build takes some research.
The “best” AR-15 handguard is the one that does what you want and fits your budget. Some upgrades are cheap; others are not. Some are nice and lightweight, others… aren’t. Some are dripping with rail systems, others… you get the point. What’s popular or highly rated may not be the right choice for your build, so do your research. This article is part of our ongoing Guide to Everything AR.