Samson Evo 12.37″ Handguard

When searching for a handguard for my Shashka carbine, I considered many different options and finally settled on the Samson Evolution Series 12.37″ free-float handguard. I’ve gone through several modular free-float handguards in the last few years. The Vltor CASV-M, Daniel Defense MFR, and Anderson Mfg to name a few.  They increase accuracy, add points for attaching accessories, and can aid in heat dissipation. I tend to stick to modular systems, as I’ve gradually moved away from quad rails.

The Samson has several advantages over other handguards I’ve used. While the Vltor is incredibly easy to install (it doesn’t even require you to remove the Delta ring assembly), it’s not long enough for a proper rope grip. The same goes for the Anderson Mfg handguard, though I should point out that the Vltor I used is now on my Best Man’s carbine and the Anderson is on my training carbine, as both are lightweight and very sturdy.

The Samson Evo series has several distinct advantages. First is the ability to use the standard AR-15 barrel nut. It’s a bit of a pain to remove, re-attach and time a barrel nut just right. Samson sidesteps that by introducing thermal bushings that attach to your existing barrel nut. The handguard then slides on over-top of these bushings and all that’s left is for you to tighten the two screws at the base.

Here you can see the QD socket, the screws and one of the anti-rotation tabs.

The two anti-rotation tabs lock onto the sides of your upper receiver. While not as massive as the anti-rotation tabs on the SOT rail, it’s more than enough to keep your handguard sturdy and fixed even under stress. Incredibly, this free-float handguard weighs less than the corresponding rifle-length Magpul MOE handguard. Even with its bushings, the Evo comes in at 11.5 ounces. I never would have believe that such a solid-feeling rail could be so light, but it is.

Its outside diameter is 1.8 inches, perfect for wrapping your hand around in a rope-style (thumb-over-bore) grip. The inside diameter is 1.5 inches, which is not only large enough to accommodate most suppressors, but also allows airflow and rapid heat dissipation (aided by the vents in the handguard). Furthermore, the bushings that go around the barrel nut aren’t called “thermal” bushings for no reason. They help prevent heat transfer to the handguard.

I’ve done a good deal of rapid fire (as seen in my evaluation of the Surefire muzzle brake), and though the barrel has definitely heated up, the handguard has stayed comfortable to hold. In fact, I tend to place my support hand directly over the gas block on a mid-length, which is the hottest part of the barrel. When using other handguards, I’ve burned my support hand on the gas block. With the Samson, this isn’t a problem.

The Evo handguard comes with three rail sections: two 2-inch ones and a longer 4-inch rail. At the rear of the rail, I mounted an Evo QD socket. I find myself more and more drawn to a 2-point sling, and with this setup, I can quickly detach it from the front and the from QD socket on my B5 SOPMOD stock in the rear. I rarely feel the need to mount multiple accessories to the end of my carbine, so I rarely use the provided rails. The one I do have on is a short rail attachment on the underside of my handguard, near the muzzle. This is for when I use a bipod to evaluate the Ballistic Advantage 14.5 inch barrel‘s accuracy.

The Samson hand stop.

Another accessory Samson included was their hand stop. I like to shoot with a thumb-over-bore grip (made famous by Chris Costa).  The Samson Evolution Hand Stop is a well-machined piece of equipment that secures solidly to their handguard. It allows for the shooter to put rearward pressure on the carbine, keeping it in the pocket of the shoulder and control the weapon while driving it from target to target.

Alternately, the hand stop can be reversed  and the gnarled face (flat side) can be braced against a barricade or other object for increased firing support. In this configuration, it is extremely useful when engaging targets from unorthodox shooting positions.


The Samson Evolution rail is a lightweight, modular, incredibly well-made handguard for the AR-15 weapon system. It requires minimal modification to the weapon and provides a rigid, free-floating platform on which to mount a variety of accessories. It dissipates heat remarkably well when firing rapidly and is extremely simple to install. With a Samson handguard, you place the add-ons wherever you want them. The hand stop and QD mount they make are well machined and do not exhibit any loosening or deformation under stress or moderate impact. I flat-out love this rail.

Whether you’re interested in a free-float rail for your 20-inch designated marksman’s rifle or want a lightweight handguard for a 14.5 inch carbine build, I highly recommend the Samson Evolution 12.37″ handguard.

-By Allen Cosby

Special thanks to Andrew of Samson Manufacturing.

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53GR is an avid shooter, hiker and tinkerer. Introduced to guns at an early age, the hobby became a passion in his early twenties. After two years in Iraq as a contractor for a defense company, he developed an unhealthy addiction to military surplus gear. Though he's currently in treatment, the prognosis is that the condition is chronic.

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