In the past, we’ve discussed selecting properly sized gas systems and handguards, as well as quad rail systems. While we briefly mentioned the process of removing and installing handguards, we didn’t go into much detail. In this installment in our series on the AR-15, we will detail the process for removing and installing handguards or forearm rail systems on the rifle.
First: If you have the standard plastic handguards, you’ll probably want to remove them with a forearm removal tool. This item is not necessarily required, but unless you have a buddy to help you, it is a nearly indispensable too. It can also help save your fingers if you plan on removing the handguards frequently. Once the delta ring has been pulled down by using the forearm removal too, the plastic handguards will split into an upper and lower half and can both be pulled right off.
Second: After removing the plastic handguards from your rifle or carbine, you can then install replacement handguards or two-piece quadrails. After installing those, you can simply follow the instructions up to this point in reverse for reassembly. If, however, you plan on installing a free-float handguard or quad-rails, keep reading. For an article explaining the difference between two-piece and free-float, click here.
Third: You will need to remove the muzzle brake/flash hider, then loosen and remove the front sight post and/or gas block and gas tube. You will then need to remove the delta ring assembly and barrel nut. One of the best tools to use for this is the AR Multi-Tool. When removing the front sight/gas block, you will probably need a punch set and a hammer.
Fourth: With all of the previously mentioned items removed, you can now install the new barrel nut, free-float tube or quad-rail, front sight/gas block, and flash hider/muzzle brake. Reassembly is the reverse order of disassembly.