So, I had my AR15 out at the range, and off bags compared to off hand I was seeing a big shift in my Point Of Impact (POI). Forend pressure was transmitting midway down the barrel to affect where bullets were landing and I did not like it at all. Now, I didn’t want to invest in a Troy Alpha rail or quad rail setup since the Norinco T97NSR should be hitting our shores this fall. What seemed to be the most durable and inexpensive free float tube setup was the Hogue Free Float Tube Handguard, the Knurled Aluminum version instead of their slightly more expensive overmolded version.
The knurled aluminum version is a 2 piece install that includes a barrel nut. That means you have to remove your factory barrel nut, factory A2 sight/gas block if yours came with one, and install a low profile gas block if you choose a length that requires it. Installation of the tube handguard requires a strap wrench, since access to the gas tube holes is not fantastic. You tighten the barrel nut bit with a strap wrench, line up your gas tube, install gas tube & low profile gas block, and finally tighten on the longer portion of the tube also with a strap wrench. I have a carbine length gas system and a 14.5″ barrel, but chose a rifle length free float tube for a long, clean look. Looking down the tube I can see that there’s plenty of room overtop the low profile gas tube, so clearance wasn’t an issue. On the tube end of things, it’s just open to the elements; there is no end cap.
This is an inexpensive forend that lets you tap into more accuracy from your AR15, but it is not feature rich. No rails, you have to drill your own holes for sling studs, and importantly: no cooling vents. I just use mine for light range duty, but even after firing 40 rounds downrange, that tube starts getting very warm. An extended stretch of 60 rounds and it gets HOT! A few cooling holes or vents would help, but I suppose there would be no way of lining them up and they might look goofy. The other thing I noticed is that after it cooled off at night, that tube got really cold. Cool enough were I couldn’t recommend this on a coyote rifle unless you had gloves on for those chilly nights. A plastic forend, overmolded aluminum, or plastic ladders on a rail would be heaven compared to that chilly hunk of aluminum. That all said, it’s $50.