AR-platform handguards have come a long way, and they certainly contribute to the AR’s continuing dominance in the firearms industry. While M16s originally shipped with polymer, triangular handguards that simply protected a soldier’s hands from barrel heat — literally guarding them — handguards later evolved to include Picatinny rails for attaching accessories. Quad-rail systems quickly became popular, but while they offer a lot of real estate for accessories, they also add a lot of bulk and can be a tad uncomfortable to grasp.

Rail covers help, but the KeyMod system has truly revolutionized handguards. In essence, with a KeyMod handguard, you can hang an accessory using key-shaped cutouts in the position you desire — without all that extra unused Picatinny rail. This leaves the rest of the handguard streamlined for less weight and bulk. It also helps that all the little key-shaped cutouts add up, making each handguard weigh less than solid aluminum versions.

Ready to trick your AR out with a KeyMod handguard? Check out the setups we’ve compiled.

Setup No. 1

Setup No. 2

Setup No. 3 

Setup No. 4

  • Fortis SHIFT Vertical Grip KeyMod; MSRP: $79.95; URL:
  • Impact Weapons Components THORNTAIL KeyMod M3M61913 Offset Adaptive Light Mount; MSRP: $50; URL:
  • BCM KMR13 KeyMod Free Float Handguard; MSRP: $300; URL:
  • Vltor Quick-Detachable Sling Swivel Mount; Anti-Rotational; MSRP: $239.95; URL:

Setup No. 5

Setup No. 6

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