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Gunsmithing & How To Pro, Amateur & WECSOG and Tutorials, Guides & OLL Build Instructions

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  #1  
Old 10-03-2011, 10:09 PM
jetspeedz jetspeedz is offline
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Post Review: Midwest Industries SS Handguard install video and Review

When building a rifle choosing the right handguard is just as important as choosing the right optics or any other major component. I had the opportunity to test out and review a few different free float one piece design rifle length handguards from different manufacturers(Troy, Samson, Midwest Industries to name a few). In the end I decided to focus on the handguard I thought was the best of the bunch for reasons I’m going to list below. I'm in no way affiliated with any of these manufacturers and this is simply a review from my point of view and opinion.

There are only a handful of companies which offer handguards in a 15”+ rifle length so choosing the right handguard for a long barrel is somewhat limiting compared to carbine length options. The Midwest Industries Inc (MI) is the longest and the second lightest of the metal handguards to choose from at 15 3/16” and 14oz without optional rails installed just weighting in 0.09714oz more than the competitor. There are carbon fiber options however they do not include a top rail system or rail options as of today. If length and weight is a factor look no farther than MI SS-series handguard.

Fit, finish and design are keys to choosing a proper handguard to suit your requirements. What really separates MI SS-series handguard from other manufactures is the smooth finish on the non perforated outer shell of the handguard making it a pleasure to hold in your hand to support the rifle which is a big plus during 3-Gun competition shooting. Quad rail options and a similar SS-series design from another big name manufacturer with striations cuts along the length of the handguard made for an uncomfortable grip over a long period of time. The finish on all the handgurds were on par with each other, manufactured from aircraft aluminum and finished with some variant of hard coating to last a lifetime. The MI matte black finish matches most upper and lower receivers for that uniform transition along the length of the rifle. There were no rough spots in the perforation on the SS-series but I can’t say the same for another manufacturer. Fit on the MI handguard was excellent with the supplied proprietary barrel nut. The top rail is true U.S. Military Specification M1913 with T-marked even numbering. The key to the SS-series design is to help aid in keeping your barrel cool by allowing the heat to dissipate away from the source. The drilled through round uniform pattern along the length of the handguard does a fantastic job of allowing proper ventilation while aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The design also aids in allowing placement of the supplied 2” and 4” rails anywhere on the handguard to suit your additional accessories. One of the options MI includes which the rest of the rifle length handguard manufacturers did not include is the Forward Trim Ring. The trim ring is the final touch in my opinion to really polishing off a clean look while hiding the gas block and keeping debris out yet allowing for proper ventilation of heat. It is lightweight at just about 1.5oz and comes with 4 screws which hold it in place. MI includes a bottle of threadlocker which other manufacturers do not.

Installation was easy and I have attached a quick video to walk you through the process. The issue I have with the MI SS-Series handguard is not about the product but lack of tool(s). The proprietary barrel nut uses standard armorers wrenches which most already have, and if not, they offer a barrel nut wrench at a reasonable price. However, most people do not have an adjustable C-clamp/spanner wrench which is required for the jam nut tightening near the end of the installation. You could get away with using cannon plug pliers or strap wrench as a substitute so there are options. MI does sell the jam nut wrench on their site as well. In all fairness the product description clearly state these tools are needed if not being installed by a gunsmith. The point is anyone can install this handguard or any other handguard with basic tools and proper guidance so a gunsmith is not required. Other manufacturers offer their own variants of a proprietary barrel nut and most do not include tools except for one manufacturer but at a premium cost.

In terms of best bang for the buck you can’t beat MI SS-series handguard. Using Midwayusa as a baseline for comparison the price of the SS-series rifle length handguard comes out a winner. Now throw in the Trim Ring and jam nut wrench you still come out on top as the lowest price of the bunch. To some a little goes a long way in saving for the next upgrade or addition. What you get with MI is a quality product at a great price to boot. The quality overall is comparable to other big name manufacturers so you are not sacrificing anything by paying less. With that said I feel comfortable recommending this product over other options out there to anyone looking for a rifle length handguard. Lastly MI handguards are made in the U.S.A.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=zWhcTJoQLdw



http://www.midwestindustriesinc.com/...TOKEN=30971159







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Clint Beyer, Clark Carbon Fiber Handguard, Mega Arms Billet GTR-3H Lower & Billet Upper &Mega Grip + trigger, Ace M4 SOCOM Stock, 1911 Cyliner & Slide Ultra II trigger kit ,EGW bushings & flgr conversion, Sightron III 10-50x60 & Bushnell Elite 6500 4.5-30x50 Scope, Demon Tactical Quick Pin & Comp Brake, Young Manufacturing Inc National Match Bolt Carrier Chrome, American Defense Quick Disconnect Mount, Midwest Industries SS, JP Muzzle Brake,CMC Trigger

Last edited by jetspeedz; 02-08-2012 at 12:48 PM.. Reason: moved pictures to new server
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  #2  
Old 10-12-2011, 11:25 AM
Flat Broke Flat Broke is offline
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Default No Gap

At around 2 minutes in your video, you have text indicating that when the tube contacts the upper receiver and the rail doesn't line up, back the tube up until the rail is aligned. In every one of these I've installed, or seen installed doing so would leave an anoying and needless gap. When I fit these rails, I file fit the top rail so that it creates a slight interference fit with the upper receiver as it rotates into alignment with the upper. On most of em, I've only needed to file off just past breaking the ano on the end of the rail (which can't be seen once installed). I then use a Larue LT 104 (but you could use any rail mounted device that will span the rail/receiver joint) to hold the aligment of the rail while I install the anti-rotation screw and torque down the jam nut.

I like these rails for the price, but want to get my hands on a DD MFR to see how they feel in terms of lock up/anti-rotation.

Good job on the video.

Chris
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  #3  
Old 10-12-2011, 12:01 PM
jetspeedz jetspeedz is offline
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Default

Thanks Chris for the feedback. Yes there was the option of filling the rail down certainly, not out of the question. The gap i have in mine measured is about 0.145mm(correction) so it was not enough to bother me but certainly if you want that perfect fit "no gap" than what you suggested is certainly the way to go.

Thanks for posting that in here in case someone wants to go that route. I wanted to make the video easy and fast so people are not intimidated when they see the word "Gunsmith" I agree for the price it is hard to beat. Also using the mount is a clever way to keep it aligned. I used a straight edge but didn't show it in the video.

cheers
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Clint Beyer, Clark Carbon Fiber Handguard, Mega Arms Billet GTR-3H Lower & Billet Upper &Mega Grip + trigger, Ace M4 SOCOM Stock, 1911 Cyliner & Slide Ultra II trigger kit ,EGW bushings & flgr conversion, Sightron III 10-50x60 & Bushnell Elite 6500 4.5-30x50 Scope, Demon Tactical Quick Pin & Comp Brake, Young Manufacturing Inc National Match Bolt Carrier Chrome, American Defense Quick Disconnect Mount, Midwest Industries SS, JP Muzzle Brake,CMC Trigger

Last edited by jetspeedz; 10-13-2011 at 10:37 AM.. Reason: correction measurement is .145mm not 1.45mm gap
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  #4  
Old 10-12-2011, 12:14 PM
ott1 ott1 is offline
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Default

I have one. The screw at the bottom of the handguard that is used to prevent the handguard from turning by seating itself in the barrel nut holes is crap. Mine bottoms out and there is a big gap between spacer and handguard. I end up stripping the threads and no longer using the screw. Poor design, and the optional endcap doesn't fit my Vltor low profile gas block either.
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  #5  
Old 10-12-2011, 12:18 PM
jetspeedz jetspeedz is offline
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Can you email me a pic, i didn't have a problem with it bottoming out? The set screw is there really as a third means of holding it together. You have the jam nut to prevent it from moving and you also have the threadlocker which is really the primary method for holding it together. I agree there is always room for improvement but I really didn't rely on the set screw on the bottom to be the primary reason to keep it from backing out. Just my observation.
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Clint Beyer, Clark Carbon Fiber Handguard, Mega Arms Billet GTR-3H Lower & Billet Upper &Mega Grip + trigger, Ace M4 SOCOM Stock, 1911 Cyliner & Slide Ultra II trigger kit ,EGW bushings & flgr conversion, Sightron III 10-50x60 & Bushnell Elite 6500 4.5-30x50 Scope, Demon Tactical Quick Pin & Comp Brake, Young Manufacturing Inc National Match Bolt Carrier Chrome, American Defense Quick Disconnect Mount, Midwest Industries SS, JP Muzzle Brake,CMC Trigger
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  #6  
Old 10-12-2011, 1:31 PM
ott1 ott1 is offline
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Default

I ground the screw till it fit without bottoming out but I've already stripped the threads in the handguard. I was going to loctite it but decided I'm not going to use it any more.
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Old 10-12-2011, 1:51 PM
jetspeedz jetspeedz is offline
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Default

You should be fine without that set screw, just use enough loctite and it will be fine in conjunction with the jam nut to hold everything tight. One possible option for that set screw would be once the position is known and everything is tight use a drill to create a small dimple and using a set screw similar to gas block on barrels that would ensure it stays in place but there is potential for damaging the threads if not done properly so i don't recommend anyone to just go out there and try it unless you have the proper skills.

Cheers
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Clint Beyer, Clark Carbon Fiber Handguard, Mega Arms Billet GTR-3H Lower & Billet Upper &Mega Grip + trigger, Ace M4 SOCOM Stock, 1911 Cyliner & Slide Ultra II trigger kit ,EGW bushings & flgr conversion, Sightron III 10-50x60 & Bushnell Elite 6500 4.5-30x50 Scope, Demon Tactical Quick Pin & Comp Brake, Young Manufacturing Inc National Match Bolt Carrier Chrome, American Defense Quick Disconnect Mount, Midwest Industries SS, JP Muzzle Brake,CMC Trigger
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Old 10-13-2011, 7:26 AM
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Penzanse Penzanse is offline
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They charge extra for the wrench you need to put the thing on?, A no-gap gap that gaps? No thanks. I'll take the one with a wrench(Troy, et al). It only seems less expensive until you figure in the "extras". Based on your review, you seem pleased with the product. OK with me, it's your bucks.

My opinion is worth less than $00.02.
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  #9  
Old 10-13-2011, 7:44 AM
jetspeedz jetspeedz is offline
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It is your money and you are free to spend it on what ever you like even if you like to pay more for the same thing

Troy costs more than M.I. even with the wrench thrown in. The Troy design in my opinion with the ribbed outer shell makes it very unfriendly to hold for prolonged period of time. In terms of the gap I think your exaggerating quite a bit even with the troy you can easily get a 1-2mm gap so it's nothing that will affect function or form of your rifle. In fact most upper receivers which are not billet are not 100% to spec and are off by a mm or two due to the forging process.

cheers
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Clint Beyer, Clark Carbon Fiber Handguard, Mega Arms Billet GTR-3H Lower & Billet Upper &Mega Grip + trigger, Ace M4 SOCOM Stock, 1911 Cyliner & Slide Ultra II trigger kit ,EGW bushings & flgr conversion, Sightron III 10-50x60 & Bushnell Elite 6500 4.5-30x50 Scope, Demon Tactical Quick Pin & Comp Brake, Young Manufacturing Inc National Match Bolt Carrier Chrome, American Defense Quick Disconnect Mount, Midwest Industries SS, JP Muzzle Brake,CMC Trigger
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Old 10-13-2011, 10:43 AM
jetspeedz jetspeedz is offline
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FYI: The gap is 0.145mm the only way i was able to measure it is with a feeler gauge using .1mm + .4mm & .5mm which is why i estimated .145 since .1 & .05 did not fit. Like I said the gap is not noticeable unless you are looking for that tiny gap.

cheers
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Clint Beyer, Clark Carbon Fiber Handguard, Mega Arms Billet GTR-3H Lower & Billet Upper &Mega Grip + trigger, Ace M4 SOCOM Stock, 1911 Cyliner & Slide Ultra II trigger kit ,EGW bushings & flgr conversion, Sightron III 10-50x60 & Bushnell Elite 6500 4.5-30x50 Scope, Demon Tactical Quick Pin & Comp Brake, Young Manufacturing Inc National Match Bolt Carrier Chrome, American Defense Quick Disconnect Mount, Midwest Industries SS, JP Muzzle Brake,CMC Trigger
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