Yep, I love my AR-15 rifles. It’s easy for me to find reasons to build more. One of my recent projects is a .300 AAC Blackout rifle that I plan to use for hunting. With this intent in mind, I looked into Primary Weapons Systems for a handguard solution for the newest to my AR collection. After I reviewed the PWS FSC556 muzzle device, PWS sent me their 15 inch Keymod rail, among other items (reviews to come!), to try.
Upon receiving the PWS, the first thing that struck me was its light weight. It seemed too light to even be metal. The 15 inch model weighs 11.6oz, but if that’s more handguard than you bargained for, PWS offers keymod handguards in 12.1 inch and 9.75 inch lengths, as well. The hard anodized aluminum is durable as ever; it even survived my impromptu drop test, i.e., a case of “butterfingers,” without issue. The PWS Keymod is 1.8 in wide, 2.1 inches tall, with an internal diameter of 1.35 inches. It also ships with two short rail sections for you to mount where you please. More 2 in sections can be found on the PWS site for $30 (aluminum) or $13 (polymer).
MSRP for these handguards is about what you’d expect from a quality aluminum keymod handguard. All three lengths are listed at the same price: $260.
Installation was atypical from the expectations I’ve developed from installing other handguard types. I am used to just torquing down the barrel nut, lining up the gas tube slot and sliding on the handguard, and—tada, installed. The PWS Keymod handguard uses a jam nut, along with a barrel nut. To attach the handguard, you’ll need to screw on the barrel nut (after using the supplied red Loctite), index the gas tube slot to the gas tube hole on the upper receiver, and use a magnet to hold it in place till the Loctite sets. This barrel nut doesn’t actually hold the barrel onto the receiver; that is where the jam nut comes into play. The barrel nut has threads all the way through the inside, so once the Loctite sets, you’ll need to install the jam nut over the barrel and thread it into the barrel nut. Next, use the supplied wrench and a torque wrench (although I used a breaker bar because I’m familiar with 35 ft/lbs by feel—result of being a mechanic—but I wouldn’t recommend that method), and tighten the jam nut to about 35 foot pounds. After you have the jam nut tightened, install the gas system as usual. After that, all that’s left is to slide on the handguard, which fits snugly. After the PWS Keymod handguard is seated, screw in the six set screws and you are done.
Keymod handguards, like the PWS Keymod, is makes swapping rail sections quick and convenient. The PWS Keymod handguard has enough space for whatever rails and accessories I want to use, such as the PWS Keymod bipod adapter, perfect for all my hunting AR accessory needs. If you’re looking for a quality handguard with keymod convenience, you may want to give the PWS Keymod a look. My new .300 Blackout is definitely better off for it.
Featured image courtesy of primaryweapons.com