Midwest Industries has been at the front of the pack with their free-float forearms for AR-15’s over the past few years, and they continue to push forward with their designs. Midwest Industries continues to excel in the lightweight free-float handguard department. Their Gen. 2 SS 12″ rail comes in at almost the same exact weight as standard AR-15/M4 plastic handguards, with all the benefits of a free-float forearm. With a little sale watching, they can be one of the most affordable free-float rail on the market.
The latest incarnation of the SS-series rail (smooth round handguard with a continuous top rail) once again raises the bar for lightweight, functional forearms. I put a 15″ SS Gen. 1 rail on a 6.8×43 build last year, and I was very impressed with everything about it. When I saw the redesigned rail I liked the look but I was a little hesitant to go with the new design. Having handled it in person, they have exceeded my expectations by far, with a number of improvements that make it a breeze to install, customize and use.
The most obvious change is the diameter and the vent holes being changed to slots. The slots allow it to be lighter without compromising strength, and the thinner profile feels great in the hand. The barrel nut has been modified, making it easier to install the handguard, while attaching the rail very solidly and rigidly. The short rail sections now attach to tapped holes in the handguard, instead of a backing plate, which makes installing rail pieces with the forearm installed a breeze. One of the three rail sections has a QD sling socket, and a standard sling swivel stud is included that can be installed in a number of positions for use with a sling swivel or a bipod.
All in all this is a very well designed forearm at a fair price. The features and functionality are superb, and with the lighter weight it makes the additional price the only downside versus standard handguards. Coupled with a LW-15 polymer lower receiver from New Frontier Armory and A.R.M.S. #71L polymer flip-up sights, my current .223/5.56 build weighs in at 6.1 lbs, hard to beat for a free-float railed AR-15!
By: Joel Gilbert
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