Game changing AR handguard from Manticore

This past weekend was Bullpup 2015 in northern Illinois, and I’m sure the various products and designs on display there will be trickling all over the internet in the next few weeks, to include a number of updates from myself attending it, not just from Manticore, but from a number of other interesting vendors there as well. Because of the potential effects this handguard might have on the market however, I’m going to start off with this one!

Sven showed me the Rapid Prototype version of this handguard back when I interviewed him in the summer, but made me swear on the life of my first born to not tell a soul. Well, he unveiled it at Bullpup 2015 so now the cat is out of the bag and we’ll see just how effective it really is, and how the consumer responds to it. But basically there are two features on it that it really brings to the table. The interchangeable Keymod/ M Lok/ simple covers, and the barrel nut that secures the actual free floating handguard to the upper receiver. The whole set up comes with the handguard, barrel nut, wrench, and three mixed handguard sections of your choice. MSRP will be upwards of 200 dollars after shipping and handling.

The concept behind the interchangeable covers is quite simple. Basically Manticore has 2 large slots per side of the handguard minus the top (which if I’m not mistaken has either the M Lok or the Manticore mounting system), in total having 4 altogether, in addition to some picatinny for a front sight, and a little bit to continue off of the upper receiver rail. These slots are separated by QD mounts both fore, aft, and dividing the slots themselves. Within these slots, Manticore has removable sections of either Keymod, M Lok, and a simple cover with their own design. But what it boils down to is you can have all three types and more of each on a single handguard, placed where ever you want them to be. The slots are machined into the actual handguard, with the sections flush to the handguard, so nothing is sticking out. They are secured using Manticores screw nut system that has worked so well with their Tavor products. In addition, I’m not a mechanical engineer, so I can’t explain this part very well from what Sven told me, but the way the stress levels are designed into the piece, whatever stress is put on the sections is taken up laterally, through the sides, instead of going out from it. I probably screwed that up, but that’s the gist of it.


Not pictured is the M Lok section, but the lower one is what they are calling “Frag” and the upper one is “Snake Skin”. I’m sure they’ll come out with more patterns as well.

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It is pretty slick and thin, that’s for sure.

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The second concept is a barrel nut with what seems like many a dozen individual holes machined into it, in a conical pattern. The purpose behind this is that, through their design process, they’ve made it so no matter how you screw the barrel nut on, a set of holes will always line up with the holes on the actual handguard, to torque the handguard in place, with equal amounts of pressure on both sides so you’re not dealing with seperates amounts of pressure on one side than the other. In addition, the piece comes with a wrench fitted to it, that allows for proper indexing as well. It goes without saying but the nut only works with Manticore handguards.

This is a video I briefly took of him demonstrating it, but I didn’t get the full explanation.



In this picture I’ve inserted the barrel nut into the handguard, and you can see the various holes through it. If it were actually on the rifle, they would line up appropriately.


Unfinished one is just to show the definition of the barrel nut.

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Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at


  • nougabol

    It’s a game changer !! Never been done before !! All kidding aside, looks cool

  • kregano

    Pretty slick hand guard, but I hope this is just the beginning of the Bullpup Shoot coverage. I heard there was some exciting stuff for the Tavor there, and I’d like to hear about that.

    • It is just the beginning! I already have a couple posts in the chute and tons of pictures to show for it, in addition to stuff from other companies like Rat Worx, Gearhead, also some companies I hadn’t even heard of before the shoot.

  • Plumbiphilious

    It’s a great idea that I’m surprised hasn’t appeared sooner. I’m curious as to if leaving NO side/rail panels installed would also be a way to cut down ounces and increase heat radiation from the barrel.

    I hope they do 15″ or longer versions for my 18″ barrel.

    • Bill

      …and something for us guys who still have real rifles, too.

    • Manticore Arms

      FYI you can run it without any panels at all, but the polymer panels are less than 0.1 ounces each, so with all 6 polymer panels intsalled you only add under 1/2 an ounce

  • Man, the game changes more often than my wife!

  • PeterK

    Wow! That barrel nut is slick thinking. Nicely engineered.

    I really like the addition of the drop in rail bedded sections. Wonder why no one has thought of that before.

    Wonder how it looks and feels with some of those just left out for weight savings.

    Color me a fan (though I’ve no gun to put it on or money to buy it, haha)

  • anomad101

    What will they think of next? Good thing I went to charm school and learned to say “marvelous” instead of bulls**t.

  • 6.5x55Swedish

    Game changer sure has lost its meaning in the last couple of years.

  • nova3930

    Forget the rail, just give me some m-lok slot covers that look like the snakeskin.
    Also, the concept of their barrel nut seems really close to the BAR nut….

    • Manticore Arms

      You are actually not the first person to ask if we will make rail covers for M-LOK (and Keymod) in the Snakeskin pattern, and we are already looking into that.

      Manticore Arms

      • nova3930

        Woot. Price em reasonably and I’ll buy a pile. Have a half dozen rifles on mlok standard with more in the works

  • BrandonAKsALot

    I’m in agreement that the “game changer” and it’s variations should be dropped from acceptable terms of use.

    On a positive note, I love Manticore. They are one of the best up and coming companies in my opinion and Sven is a super nice guy. He’s exceptionally talented at designing parts that are both functionally sound and aesthetically pleasing. You can tell he really takes a lot of pride in his work.

    Their AK hand guards are the only aftermarket US made ones I’ve ever seen that actually take into account the lines and design of the AK. They actually look nice and like they belong. I definitely want to grab one of these when they come out. I can’t help but feel like the barrel nut, while a cool engineering design, is an unnecessary complication and would add to the cost more than it would end up helping the user.

  • Ben

    Hey look, a bunch of removable parts that are easily lost! Secured by screws that are also easily lost! Game changer!

    This is the opposite of KISS.

    • Bill

      There’s this stuff called Loctite…..and a lot of guns have a lot of screws.

      • Ben

        Putting Loctite on the screws kinda defeats the purpose of having removable rail panels though, doesn’t it?

        • Kristoffer Morris

          Loctite Blue is completely removable with hand tools – it’s just an extra measure of resistance to screws backing out from vibration. The panels aren’t meant to be exchanged on a daily basis – although you could – they are meant to allow you to set up the forend the way you want it, for instance if you use a slick combo front BUIS and light mount like Unity Tactical, you may want no MLok or Keymod panels, just grip.

  • Bill

    I generally leave my guns alone except for really minor changes: if I needed to change a bunch of parts to get it the way I wanted it I bought the wrong gun. But this is sort of intriguing. I may get a lot more, or a lot less intrigued after some early adopters wring it out, and I find out how many organs I have to sell to afford it.

    Oh, and classy display stand for that AR 😉

  • USMC03Vet

    This is as much of a gamer changer for proper hand guards with functioning heat shields as smokey eye makeup is for fats chicks trying to look skinny.

  • ManticoreFan

    Looks overcomplicated and over-engineered. Less is more, Sven. Less is more.

    And without those rail slots in there, the actual core frame of the rail looks scary thin to me.

    Barrel nut looks like it weighs more than the rail.

    Every Bubba and Mall Ninja will want one, though. So great execution if that’s the target market.

    There are just so many tried, tested and truly bombproof rails for the AR, coming out of machine shops with million dollar CNCs and guys who know how to run them, I don’t see why anyone would waste time trying to get into that market right now.

    I think Manticore is better served staying with all the boutique weirdo stuff for obscure rifles that no one else will make. That’s their market. But what do I know.

    • Manticore Arms

      Our goal has always been to make innovative products for all rifles (or “oddball parts for all rifles if you prefer, LOL )

      Barrel nut is 3 ounces (OEM barrel nut is 2 ounces), rail is 7.5 ounces. Pictures do not tell you the weight. The product was engineered for strength and rigidity so no worries there!

      We think the ability to configure the rail where you want M-LOK or Keymod in any way you want, and put grip panels where you don’t need it is innovative.

      Ultimately time and the marketplace will tell if we were right. 🙂

      Manticore Arms

      P.S. The Transformer Rail is machined on million dollar CNCs by people like me who know how to run them, just like all our other products. 😉

  • InfiniteGrim

    Man this whole “Universal” mounting system thing is getting ridiculous in a funny way. The rail itself is nice, but in an attempt to make the 100% universal 1913 rails lighter and more “universal” we now have rails that have screwed on sections to change between several “universal” mounting styles… lol

    We have adapters for your adapters for your universal mounts!

    • Phil Hsueh

      When you think about it, this system makes sense, it allows you to change mounting systems without having to change the hand guard. Of course, I’m not sure that there are any accessories made for one system that don’t have an equivalent for other systems, but still, neat idea.

      • Cymond

        It might be nice if a person has already (unwisely) purchased accessories for both mounting systems.

  • dshield55

    Love the barrel nut. The handguard is neat, but im not convinced its a game changer. Sounds like its for people that cant make up their mind. Its even less useful than a right handed shooter who insists on ambi-everything.

    • Dan

      But what if my right hand is blown off and i need to shoot lefty?

  • noob

    well i guess if there ever was some kind of apocalypse you could scavenge accessories from all kinds of rifles and stick them on your rifle regardless of mounting system.

    kinda like collecting light sabers from fallen jedi or something

  • I’m in. I like the design and concept. Just sorry they’re not available yet.

  • stephen

    After reading this couple of times I like this product. Will have to put this on my list of things to get.

    However with that said the video is about the worst I have seen – does the camera guy know most camcorders have the ability to record, stop and record again?


  • sliversimpson

    Wow. Nice looking and a $200 msrp could see it in our hands for $150-175 after the rush wears off. Gonna keep an eye on this one.

  • antiliberalcryptonite

    Just the sight of this will make libtards pee their pants.

  • stephen

    Now Manticore just needs to come up with a tape switch cover (HINT, HINT).


  • FightFireJay

    “Game changer” – definition, uses multiple proprietary adapters so that you can use non proprietary open source adapter-less direct attach accessories.

    Joking aside, I do like the idea of being able to add textured pads like those show. Especially if there is a rubber overmolded option!

  • Kristoffer Morris

    The Aero COP is a monolothic upper where you can exchange lengths of rail and nothing – not seeing any similarity whatsoever.