D-60 vs. Non-Head Shielded Handguards – FIGHT!

There is always plenty of items in our lives where we just “know” what the results of a given action and reaction might be without having to have seen the formal experiment. For example, I know that if one drops an AR on its buttstock from high up, the buffer tube will snap. But, I don’t know exactly what that height is, so it leaves the door wide open for an enterprising YouTuber to test the theory to my entertainment.

And so entertain MrGunsNGear has, just with a slightly different experiment. In his case, it’s testing when a head shielded polymer handguard will succumb to the heat put off by barrel during rapid fire strings. Having been in the Corps shooting M16’s a fair amount, the standard furniture can typically take quite a beating. The heat shields really do a number keeping the hands from burning and plastic from melting. But, what happens when those shields are down?

The “test” parameters are basically a Smith & Wesson M&P AR with its standard handguards – that omit the shield and a D60. Shooting is to be at a respectable pace in a cool environment. Let sit to have the heat sink through the barrel and open them up to see results.

Even without the heat shields, the handguards perform rather well. For the full details, hit the video below:





Nathan S

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • lol

    Head guard.

  • Quest

    Headshield…?

    • Twilight sparkle

      For people with really small heads

  • Quest

    I quess in general free floating handquards with good air circulation is the best way. Why use an enclosed handquard and try keeping it from heating with a heatshield that will just heat up the barrel further way to much.

  • pun&gun

    0/10 No helmet on rifle. Am disappoint.

  • M C

    “Non-Head Shielded” – for some reason this made me think of an ex-girlfriend.

    • Budogunner

      TFB’s concept of proof-reading and the responsibility of being an editor make me sad.

  • Ron

    Is the author the shooter, if so I guess no one else asked, but what is up with a Marine wearing and Air Force sweat shirt?

    • Pete Sheppard

      He’s a Marine?? Having only seen him in AF junk, I thought he was a zoomie. :p

      • Ron

        “Nathan S.
        One of TFB’s resident Jarheads”

        • Pete Sheppard

          Ah. 🙂 I was thinking of ‘MrGunsNGear’.

        • Where do they keep their heads in the Air Force, then? he asked innocently.

          • noob

            In “buckets”? at least that’s what I’m told that’s what helmets were called a while ago. things keep changing

    • UWOTM8

      He’s prior Air Force

    • ostiariusalpha

      Who upvoted this? It’s pretty obvious just from the context of the article that Nathan S. is talking about another person, namely Mike (aka, Mrgunsngear). Even if you’ve never seen any media material from either one of them, you should have been able to tell them apart. Okay, just so this becomes clear, Nathan is a Marine and Mike was in the Air Force.

      • Ron

        Hence the original question “is the author the shooter.”

    • dave

      He was also army. He was part of the crew that evaluated the acu digicam pattern and told big army “no way” and big army ordered it anyway.

  • Phillip Cooper

    Pretty sure you mean “heat shield”.

    No proofreading?

  • Lou

    S&W is selling AR-15/s without heat shields in the hand-guards??? What kind of idiots are overseeing their engineering and product management divisions? Are they hiring non-gun people from outside the firearms industry like Vista Group and Freedom Group do on a regular basis? My goodness, we were building CAR-15s in the early 1980s – mid-1980s with non-heat shielded hand-guards ONLY because many times they did not come with them and there were VERY FEW sources for parts compared to today (Shotgun News & gun shows were our “internet”) BUT THAT WAS OVER 30 YEARS AGO! Of course the hand-guard is going to melt and I give MrGunsNGear and Nathan S. a big thumbs up for pointing this out to everyone as this can also be a safety issue if a cop uses it for a patrol rifle or a citizen uses it in an extended self-defense situation. S&W builds a nice rifle and skimps out on fifty-cents worth of heat shielding??? Unbelievable!

    • Bronson

      It’s the “sport” version so it’s cheap. Hopefully no one would buy this for any serious use. After seeing this video it might not even be fit for any “hard”

      range use.

      • Lou

        Charles,
        I respectively disagree with you. Besides the issue regarding heat and no hand-guard liners, what “serious use” would cause any other part to fail on this rifle? I got my first AR-15 in 1979, began working in the firearms industry building them in 1982 using parts from five manufacturers and surplus parts back then, own 12 AR-15s currently, and I do not know of any part on the S&W AR-15 which would fail any faster than ones on a $1,500 AR-15. The fire control group, bolt carrier group, barrel, etc. are the same basic construction as the same components on any other brand unless you are talking about overly priced upgrade parts which many times don’t justify their much higher prices. You may be surprised about how many major firearms companies are buying ejection port covers, bolt carriers, bolts, barrels, hammers, triggers, etc. from the same company.

        • ostiariusalpha

          You can disagree till the cows come home, but most people that buy this rifle are well aware that it has no heat shields in the handguard; they either entirely don’t care or intend to throw them away and buy replacement handguards of their choice at a future date. This arrange has worked quite well for both S&W and their customers, and there is absolutely no reason for them to change it just because some guy on an blog comment section thinks it is “unbelievable.”

    • Pete Sheppard

      Some people simply don’t like the bulk of the GI handguards. Nutnfancy for one, prefers the slim ‘no-shield’ handguards and he runs his Sporter fairly hard.
      Iraqivet8888, on the other hand…

      • Gus Butts

        We’re issued the slim handguards and they have heatshields? Or did you mean he likes the slim ones after taking out the heatshields?

        • Pete Sheppard

          Nutnfancy likes the same ones that Mr GunsNGear tested, that come with the Sport II. Sorry if I was unclear.

  • JS

    So you saw some melting on the ends of the handguards where heat shields offer no shielding even when they are present. How about conducting a control experiment where you shoot a handguard that does have heat shields and see if those melt where plastic contacts metal as well?

  • English funposter

    Everyone knows that if you use head shielded handguards instead of NON head shielded handguards you will never get the succ.

  • pieslapper

    Who needs a head shield? Embrace the suck!

  • Quest

    11hours since, and its still a headshield…

    • Cymond

      8 hours since your comment, still head shield

      • Feral Gryphon

        3 days since your comment, still head shield.

  • 22winmag

    I love the smell of burning polymer toy handguards in the morning.