Handguards: 3 Types & Why You Need One On Your Rifle

Aug 22, 2022

Why do I need a handguard?

Handguards serve an important role in protecting the shooter’s hands from getting burned by the heat generated by the rifle barrel during firing. They also provide a firm grip for holding the weapon, which is essential for accuracy, and help to protect the rifle from damage if it’s dropped. Additionally, guards with rail systems enable the shooter to attach a variety of accessories like lights and lasers, which can improve the weapon’s utility and effectiveness. A good handguard will improve the look of your rifle and make it more comfortable to shoot.

Finally, they just look cool!

Types of handguards:


There are different types of handguards on the market, but one of the most popular is the slick guard. Slick guards only have two sides and have a smooth, uninterrupted surface that makes them very easy to clean. They also offer a sleek, streamlined look that many shooters prefer.


On the other hand, quad guards attach to the rifle at four points: the front sight base, the rear sight base, and two points on the barrel. This provides a more solid platform for the shooter to hold onto, reducing movement and allowing for more precise shots. Quads also offer better protection because they cover more of the hand.


A top-only guard on a rifle is a type of handguard that, as the name implies, only covers the top part of the rifle. This leaves the sides and bottom exposed, which can be helpful for shooters who want to add accessories or have a better grip on their rifle. Top-only guards can also help keep the weight of a rifle down since they don’t cover as much surface area.

Comparing the 3 types

For starters, a quad handguard offers more protection for the hands, as they cover more of the rifle. They also provide a more stable platform for attaching accessories, as there are more attachment points. However, quad guards can be heavier and more difficult to install than the slick option.

Slick handguards are lighter and easier to install, however, they offer less protection for the hands and fewer attachment points for accessories.

Top only guards protect the top part of the rifle barrel where it is closest to the shooter’s face. They do not extend down the side of the barrel like the quad or slick options. Top-only guards are lighter and easier to install, but they offer the least amount of protection out of the three.

Types of handguard materials: plastic, metal, and composite.

  • Plastic is the most common type of material used. They are typically made from a high-impact polymer that can withstand heat and provide a firm grip. Plastic handguards are usually lighter than metal or composite guards, making them a good choice for shooters who want to minimize the weight of their weapon. However, plastic can be less durable than metal or composite and may not provide as much protection from heat.
  • Metal handguards are typically made from aluminum or steel. They are more durable than plastic and can provide better protection from heat. However, they are also heavier than plastic, which can make the weapon more difficult to handle. In addition, metal can conduct heat, which can make it uncomfortable to hold during extended shooting sessions.
  • Composite is made from a combination of materials, including plastic, metal, and carbon fiber. Composite options offer the benefits of both plastic and metal options while being lighter in weight than either type. However, composite guards can be more expensive than plastic or metal.

Now that you know a bit more about handguards, you can check out our Build Your Own Rifle page and choose the right one for your custom-built rifle! You can also call us at (360) 559-6210 for more information.