If you are relatively new to firearms, it may be a little difficult to decipher what is a free float handguard and if you should use it.
Imagine you’re out shooting, and you come across the perfect target. You aim but miss slightly, and you later start to wonder about a solution.
So you ask a gun professional: what is a free float handguard? It’s an excellent tool for improving the accuracy and control you have over your firearm.
However, it’s not for everyone, and it may not have helped you. Still, you should know what it is and consider if it might be worth it in the future.
What Is a Free Float Handguard?
A free float handguard is a type of handguard that you can use to hold onto a gun while shooting it. You can use an AR 15 handguard to keep you from having to touch the barrel as it heats up.
If you choose a free float handguard, it will work similarly to other handguards. However, it won’t touch the barrel like other types.
It’s also a good option if your gun doesn’t have a delta ring, which is required for other handguards.
You can customize a free float handguard to your needs. They come in different lengths so that you can cover the entire barrel.
There are also different rail systems that you can choose from. Unfortunately, customizing a free floating handguard can be costly, so make sure you need a feature before you add it.
While a free float handrail is a good option, it’s not the only one available. In some cases, you might need something a little different.
What Is the Alternative?
If you find that a free floating handguard isn’t for you, you can use a drop-in handguard. You can use this type on any handgun with a delta ring.
To install it, you attach the handguard to the delta ring. The ring has a spring system to keep the handguard in place.
If you’re new to installing handguards, the drop-in type is easy to use. All you have to do is attach it to the delta ring, and it will stay in place.
Drop-in handguards are also a nice alternative due to their price point. They’re not as expensive as free floating handguards, so you can save some money.
These handguards touch the barrel, but you don’t need any expertise to use them.
Typically, drop-in handguards use polymer, but some come with a rail system. However, the free floating rail system is more common.
If you want more control over your handguard, you should consider a free float handguard.
How Does a Free Float Handguard Work?
Like other handguards, a free float handguard helps protect your hand from the barrel on your gun. The main difference is in how the handguard sits on the barrel.
A drop-in handguard uses a spring system to put the handguard in place. The system also means that the handguard touches the barrel.
On the other hand, a free float handguard sits over the barrel without touching it. Because of the design, a free floating handguard won’t move as you shoot.
When you use a free float handguard, you can have better accuracy. The handguard is out of the way, and it won’t move as you shoot.
Compare that to the drop-in handguard which has the potential to move. After all, it isn’t as secure as it could be.
Is It Worth It?
The free float rail system of a handguard is a great option for many people. If you want better accuracy or more control as you shoot, you should consider it.
However, it is more expensive than a simpler system, like the drop-in handguard. Unless you know what you want from a handguard, it can be a little over the top.
If you’re new to using a firearm, you may want to start with another option. Then, you can learn how other handguards work before you switch to a free floating one.
On the other hand, if you have experience with firearms, switching to a free float handguard is worth it.
Perhaps you don’t like that the drop-in handguard isn’t secure. If you find yourself having to adjust it all the time, you might be ready for something better.
But if you have a small budget for accessories for your firearm, you need to consider the advantages and disadvantages.
In some cases, you might find that the added expense is worth it for more accuracy. Or you might realize that you don’t need that control.
Sometimes, you have to consider how and why you would use a free float handguard. Then, you can make the right decision for you.
Advantages of a Free Float Handguard
When thinking about if a free floating handguard is worth it for you, you should think about its advantages. The biggest thing is that it offers more accuracy than a drop-in handguard.
A free floating handguard can keep the barrel from warping. Since the handguard doesn’t touch the barrel, it shouldn’t alter the angle of your barrel.
When the angle changes, that can affect how accurate you can be. Depending on how you hold or store your firearm, you could accidentally alter the angle with a traditional handguard.
Unless you’re always extremely careful about how you hold and use your gun, you can benefit from a free float handguard.
Specifically, you can increase your accuracy .5 to .75 Minutes of Angle with a free floating system.
Another advantage of using a free float handguard is that you can use accessories. If you want to customize your firearm, you can add accessories more easily.
The free floating rail system doesn’t take up as much space on the gun. You don’t have to worry about the design or size of the handguard.
Instead, you can get the setup that you want so that you can use the firearm in the best way for you.
Disadvantages of a Free Float Handguard
Before you rush out and buy a free floating handguard, you should consider the disadvantages. Like anything, the system isn’t perfect.
First, these handguards tend to be very expensive. Unless you have money to burn on your firearm setup, you may need to save up.
You may need to wait a while before upgrading, which can be hard if you want that accuracy now.
Also, installing a free float handguard can be difficult. Compared to a drop-in system, there are more parts, and you have to position them correctly.
You don’t have the benefit of a spring to help you put everything in place.
Depending on the ammunition you use, you may not see the best results with a free float handguard. You have to combine the right handguard with the right ammunition to get the best accuracy you can.
Who Should Use a Free Float Handguard?
If you’re still unsure if you should use a free float handguard, that’s okay. The advantages and disadvantages may not be enough.
Consider your situation before you decide to use the system or something else. It can be a great option for certain shooters.
- If you don’t like the feeling or accuracy of the drop-in handguard, switch to a free float.
- After you have experience using firearms and different handguards, an upgrade might be necessary.
- If you want as much accuracy as possible, you should upgrade.
- You should also use a free float if you want more control and customization.
Now, you don’t have to fit in one of those categories to use a free float. If you simply want to use one, you should.
You may need to save up some money and learn how to install it, but you can do it.
Who Shouldn’t Use a Free Float Handguard?
On the other hand, some people might want to avoid the free float. Not only can it be a good system, but it can be complex.
If you don’t fall into a group that should use one, see if there’s any reason not to use it.
- People who have never used a firearm before should stick with a simple set up at first.
- If you hardly ever use firearms, you may not want to invest in a complicated handguard.
- A free float is also unnecessary if you don’t need to be super accurate.
- If you don’t know what you want out of a handguard, go simple until you figure out what works for you.
While free floating handguards can be useful, they aren’t always necessary. If you’re new to firearms or don’t know much about them, you don’t need anything crazy.
For now, stick with something simple, like the drop-in handguard. You can always upgrade later when you feel like you’re ready.
Free Floating On
If you’re new to firearms, you may be wondering, what is a free float handguard? It’s a great tool for people who have experience using guns.
You can use the tool to shoot more accurately, and you can customize your overall setup. However, it’s not worth it for everyone.
So consider your specific situation and how you plan to use the gun. From there, you can decide if the system is right for you or if you need something simpler.