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Lightest AR-15 Handguards: Hands-On Roundup

Want the lightest AR-15 Handguard possible? We cover different materials from carbon fiber to magnsium. Plus our pick for the best-bang-for-the-buck rail.

Ounces equal pounds…pounds equal pain.

At least if you’re schlepping your AR-15 around on patrol.

Lightest AR-15 Handguards
Lightest AR-15 Handguards

But what if you’re a competitor looking to shave a couple fractions of a second from your target transition times?

Well, we’ve got both sides covered…from the battle-proven to the truly featherweight AR-15 handguards.  Read on to see how they compare in terms of weight, strength, and price.

But if you can’t weight (lol):

Lancer Lightweight Carbon Fiber$22513"11.0 oz
Faxon Carbon Fiber$30015"7.99 oz
Midwest Industries Lightweight M-LOK$19012.5"8.2 oz
Bravo Company KMR Alpha$19012.625"8.8 oz
Brigand Arms Carbon Fiber Braid$230-35012.4"4.3 oz

Baseline and Comparison Metrics

To get a sense of how light some of these handguards are…let’s take a look at some more known weights of standard polymer and quadrail handguards.

We’ve got some standard things in there like Price, Length, and Weight.  But we’re also going to throw in some new metrics to figure out the best deal per length ($/inch) and the best weight ratio (oz/inch).

I’m also going to looking at rifle-length handguards (~12″) since that is the most standard for competitors.  And M-LOK because that’s what I prefer…although most will have KeyMod versions too.  Here’s our M-LOK vs KeyMod resource.

And a lot of manufacturers leave out the barrel nut that connects the handguard to the rail.  So I’m putting them separately whenever possible.

Magpul Rifle Length Handguard (Polymer)

Magpul Rifle Length Handguard
Magpul Rifle Length Handguard
  • Price: $37
  • Length: 12.6″
  • Handguard Weight: 12.1 oz
  • Barrel Nut Weight: NA
  • Total Weight: 12.1 oz
  • Price/Length: $2.93/inch
  • Weight/Length: .96 oz/inch

Daniel Defense DDM4 (Quad Rail)

DDM4 Rail 12
DDM4 Rail 12″
  • Price: $375
  • Length: 12.4″
  • Handguard Weight: 12.4 oz
  • Barrel Nut Weight: 1.7 oz
  • Total Weight: 14.1 oz
  • Price/Length: $30.24/inch
  • Weight/Length: 1.13 oz/inch

Got a quick sense?  Now get ready for our picks of the lightest AR-15 Handguards!


at Rainier Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Oooh…carbon fiber!  That elicits two things in my mind…lightness and totally unnecessary car parts.

But in this case, I like it on the Lancer Lightweight Handguard ($225)

It gets that light obviously with carbon fiber vs aluminum but also since it doesn’t have any rails except at the end.

I also like how it’s not perfectly cylindrical since a flat surface on the side and bottom makes it easier to prop up against barriers for longer range shots.

  • Price: $225
  • Length: 13″
  • Handguard Weight: 8.6 oz
  • Barrel Nut Weight: 2.4 oz
  • Total Weight: 11.0 oz
  • Price/Length: $17.31/inch
  • Weight/Length: .85 oz/inch


I’ve finally got the Faxon Carbon Fiber in hand…

Faxon Carbon Fiber Handguard
Faxon Carbon Fiber Handguard

And it’s pretty sweet.

It installs easily (but does have the more old school gas tube timed barrel nut).

It’s also very stable with four screws on the circumference and two tension screws at the bottom.

Faxon Upper Receiver and BCG
Faxon Upper Receiver, BCG, and Handguard

It has more rail space and weigh less than the above Lancer.  Plus it has flat sides to make it easier to rest against barriers easier.

Faxon CF Handguard, Installed
Faxon CF Handguard, Installed

There’s also the ability to swap out the standard steel barrel nut for a titanium one that further reduces the weight.

  • Price: $300
  • Length: 15″
  • Handguard Weight: 6.71 oz
  • Barrel Nut Weight: 1.28 oz (.77 oz for titanium)
  • Total Weight: 7.99 oz
  • Price/Length: $20.00/inch
  • Weight/Length: .53 oz/inch

I highly recommend it as a very usable carbon fiber handguard (if you’ve got the dough).

But…we make it a little easier with this:

*10% off Handguards at Faxon* with Pew Pew Tactical’s exclusive coupon code:  FXPPT10HAND

at Faxon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Bravo Company Manufacturing (BCM)

The previous leader in the lightweight race with their magnesium rails (original KMR)…the new generation aluminum KMR Alpha ($190) is still an awesome contender and proven in the field.

You can tell the old-school (now unobtanium) KMR from the Alpha rails by the white logos on the Alphas.  Also only available in KeyMod.

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • Price: $190
  • Length: 13″
  • Handguard Weight: 7.8 oz
  • Barrel Nut Weight: 2.4 oz
  • Total Weight: 10.2 oz (original one was 2 oz lighter)
  • Price/Length: $14.62/inch
  • Weight/Length: .78 oz/inch

Bravo Company KMR

Bravo Company KMR, Magnesium

Midwest Industries

Midwest Industries Lightweight Handguards, Top
Midwest Industries Lightweight Handguards, Top

The lightweight versions of my go-to handguard that I covered in my How to Build an AR-15 Upper and Best AR-15 Upgrades articles.

Midwest Industries managed to shave off a few oz by taking off some of the Picatinny rails on top of the handguard.  I’m totally cool with this since most people don’t mount anything in the middle anyways.

There are also two versions…the G3 ML ($190) which is the slightly heavier version but has 8 sides of usable rails.  Or the LWMG3 ($190) which only has 4 sides but is lighter.

Midwest Industries Lightweight Handguards, Side
Midwest Industries Lightweight Handguards, G3 ML (Left) & LWMG3 (Right)

I’ve tried both out and the G3 ML (8 sides of rails) feels slightly better in hand.  Plus you have more angles for lights and other accessories.  But if you’re going for straight weight…you can’t beat the LWMG3.

So how do the two stack up?

LWMG3 (4 Sides)

Editor's Choice (Lightweight Rail)
at Optics Planet

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • Price: $190
  • Length: 12.5″
  • Handguard Weight: NA
  • Barrel Nut Weight: NA
  • Total Weight: 8.2 oz
  • Price/Length: $15.2/inch
  • Weight/Length: .66 oz/inch

G3 ML (8 Sides)

Best Value
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons
  • Price: $190
  • Length: 12.625″
  • Handguard Weight: NA
  • Barrel Nut Weight: NA
  • Total Weight: 8.8 oz
  • Price/Length: $15.05/inch
  • Weight/Length: .70 oz/inch

Now I know what you’re thinking…when am I going to show the really cool looking braided carbon fiber handguard?

Brigand Arms

Brigand Arms Carbon Fiber Handguard
Brigand Arms Carbon Fiber Handguard

The Brigand Arms Carbon Fiber Handguard ($296) is LIGHT.  Like 4.3 oz TOTAL light.

I was so amazed at SHOT 2017 that I knew I had to have one in a lightweight build (coming soon).

But it’s also EXPENSIVE.  Not totally out of the realm of what these lightweight AR-15 handguards normally run…but you probably gotta save up a little or really value your split times.

Now I know what you’re thinking…that thing is totally going to break.  Maybe if you’re a certified doorkicker.  But for range and competition folks, I think you’ll be just fine with the specs.

Brigand Arms with 40lb Weight
Brigand Arms with 40lb Weight

I wouldn’t step on it or throw it into the back of my truck, but I think it can handle the worst case situation I would put it in (jamming into the side of a stage wall).

Brigand Arms 12 Carbon Fiber Handguard
Brigand Arms 12 Carbon Fiber Handguard

It’s going into my latest lightweight build so I’ll report back soon.  One possible negative is that it is a complete cylinder all the way around…so it might be a little hard to get a good resting spot against barriers.

Lightest Handguard
at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

  • Price: $296
  • Length: 12.4″
  • Handguard Weight: 2.9 oz
  • Barrel Nut Weight: 1.4 oz
  • Total Weight: 4.3 oz
  • Price/Length: $23.87/inch
  • Weight/Length: .35 oz/inch (Damn son!)

What’s your take on the Brigand Arms if money were no object?

Readers' Ratings

4.99/5 (1201)

Your Rating?


Lightest AR-15 Rails
Lightest AR-15 Rails

In the test of the lightest rail possible, the winner is the Brigand Arms (.35 oz/inch, $23.87/inch) carbon fiber braided handguard.  It probably isn’t the most utilitarian one unless you’re purely competing with it.  Plus it’s the most expensive on the list.

The KMR Alpha (.78 oz/inch, $14.62/inch) lowers the price compared to its big magnesium alloy brother but increases the weight.  It’s a little longer at 13″ and only comes in KeyMod.

And the Faxon Carbon Fiber (.53 oz/inch, $20/inch) and Lancer Carbon Fiber (.85 oz/inch, $17.31/inch) fill the gap in between aluminum and Brigand arms.

However, for the best bang for the buck…I’d go with either the Midwest G3 ML (.70 oz/inch, $15.05/inch) or LWMG3 (.66 oz/inch, $15.20/inch).  You can hang a lot of accessories and brace against barriers.  Also KeyMod and other colors available.  It’s what I’m going to be using for my non-competition builds from now on.

Looking for other ways to upgrade your AR-15? Optics and Scopes are a must have!

Did I miss any lightweight handguards?  What’s your go-to?

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26 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Jeremy Furtney

    This is a great article I keep coming back to... But it needs a refresh! would love to see how smoke composites CF handguards stack, not to mention some of the light weight options like the S-One from Aero. Lots more choices today!

    May 27, 2021 3:52 pm
    • Commenter Avatar

      I'd love to throw my company's handguard into the mix. We currently make the lightest weight one. JAG Composites

      July 18, 2021 5:21 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I always feel that it's unfair to compare the Brigand to other handguards, because the Brigand doesn't have any easy to use any accessories or attachments. They do make a railed version, but it's hard to find info about the weight.

    November 16, 2020 6:23 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Vseven or its lil bro Darkhour defense

    September 29, 2019 12:59 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Chuck T.

    V Seven MAGNESIUM HYPER-LIGHT M-LOK HANDGUARD at 15" is 8.8oz. 6.8oz for handguard and 2oz for titanium barrel nut. This will be my next handguard for sure!!

    August 1, 2019 6:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jordan C

    Smoke composite and V Seven both make light handguard options as well.

    April 18, 2019 2:06 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Alex Dawson-Stanley

    I would love to see your take on the Coda Evolution Lightning Carbon Fiber Handguard, it is coming in at 7.8 oz for the 15" inch version.

    May 23, 2018 7:23 am
    • Commenter Avatar

      I've heard good things about it but I haven't gotten to play with one yet, it is on the list though!

      May 24, 2018 10:27 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Brigand Arms is not only the lightest but the strongest I've found. It has a tensile strength of 200 pounds according to the manufacturer, and they love showing their handguards hold heavy weights. If you can trust a KMR or standard polymer handguards for SHTF, then this should blow you away.

    May 3, 2018 7:59 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    Precision Reflex PRI Delta series. Original AR handguard profile. Pricey,but worth every penny

    January 27, 2018 10:41 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    Jason Brown

    Almost 1500 rails in the PWD now!

    December 9, 2017 7:34 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I see someone else has already mentioned the ALG EMR rail but I second that. I have the V3 13"... I forget exact specs but it's around 13oz and has a full top rail... It was around $100 during holiday sales (and I saw even better prices this year). By far the best bank/buck quality FF tube imo.

    November 29, 2017 6:11 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    jason brown

    Good comparison, but if you want a wider comp with many more options, check out the ar15 Parts Weights Database (PWD). Google it, it's a Google Sheet that has almost 1200 rail systems alone...and lots of other weight data on AR parts. Great resource.

    May 30, 2017 8:50 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Seekins NOXS rails should have made this list.
    15" weighs 9.2oz and the barrel but comes in at 2.6oz.
    And it is made in the USA.

    May 6, 2017 10:01 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    you should have included the matrix rails. i dunno how light they are, but they're cheap, and claim made in usa status.

    April 18, 2017 1:38 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    No Odin Works O2?

    April 4, 2017 6:50 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    I'm surprised not to see vseven weapon systems on this list. They make some pretty lightweight titanium rails. I think their 15" handguard weighs in at 10.4 oz. Not sure if it requires a barrel nut or uses the standard.

    March 19, 2017 12:02 am
  • Commenter Avatar

    What's your opinion on the SLR rifleworks? Namely, their helix series?

    February 23, 2017 9:58 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      This keeps coming up...I'll dig into it.

      February 25, 2017 6:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    When will you build some for the AK ?

    February 23, 2017 9:35 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Hey Jul, not sure sure if there's any lightweight handguards for the AK, but I'm working on more AK articles. But first...AR-10's coming soon.

      February 25, 2017 6:08 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Awesome info Eric! I have two spare lower's I had planned to start my 1st real builds with, instead of the pre fab AR's I usually purchase, but man is it overwhelming just figuring out where to go next! I know I want a tactical version like the one I carried in OEF and OIF, and maybe one for any match I may venture into eventually. I do know that I don't just want another off the shelf model, but one that is unique for me, since for some odd reason the Army refuses to give me my issued one because of some, "me being a civilian" and "It being government property", technicality! :)

    February 23, 2017 8:57 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      Awesome Ray, let me know how they turn out!

      February 25, 2017 6:07 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Not impressed.
    Kind of reminds me of some of the 4x4s at SEMA.

    They're sexy but they just aren't quite there...

    February 23, 2017 8:51 pm
  • Commenter Avatar

    Great write up. Have you tried any of the ALG EMR Rails?

    February 23, 2017 7:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Eric Hung

      I haven't but they make good triggers!

      February 23, 2017 8:20 pm
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