Types of AR Rails: A Beginner’s Guide to Choosing the Best Option

Types of AR Rails

AR rails, also known as accessory rails or handguard rails, are attachments used on AR-15 and similar rifles to provide a mounting platform for accessories such as scopes, sights, lights, lasers, and grips. Here are some common types of AR rails:

1. Picatinny Rail

The Picatinny rail, also known as the MIL-STD-1913 rail, is the most widely used type of rail system for AR rifles. It features a series of evenly spaced slots that allow for secure and versatile attachment of accessories using Picatinny or Weaver mounts. The slots are typically 5.23 mm wide and 0.82 mm deep.

2. M-LOK Rail

M-LOK is a newer modular accessory mounting system that offers a lightweight and low-profile alternative to Picatinny rails. It uses a series of elongated slots that allow for direct attachment of M-LOK compatible accessories. M-LOK rails offer greater flexibility in accessory placement and are popular for their sleek and streamlined design.

3. KeyMod Rail

KeyMod is another modular accessory mounting system that provides a lightweight and slim profile. It uses keyhole-shaped slots that allow for direct attachment of KeyMod compatible accessories. KeyMod rails offer similar benefits to M-LOK, providing a customizable and user-friendly platform for accessory attachment.

4. Quad Rail

A quad rail is a traditional rail system that features four continuous rails running along the top, bottom, and sides of the handguard. Quad rails provide ample space for accessory attachment but can be heavier and bulkier compared to newer modular systems like M-LOK and KeyMod.

5. Free-Float Rail

A free-float rail is a type of handguard that does not make contact with the rifle’s barrel, allowing for improved accuracy and heat dissipation. Free-float rails come in various designs, including Picatinny, M-LOK, and KeyMod, and offer enhanced customization options.

These are some of the common types of AR rails available on the market. The choice of rail depends on personal preferences, intended use, and desired accessory compatibility.