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As everyone knows there are a huge number of add ons for the AR15 family of rifles. Some of these aftermarket parts are very good while others are best ignored. I recently found a new extended carbine rail system from Apex that’s well worth considering as a replacement for your current GI grip or traditional four rail.
At $175.00 the price is very reasonable for the advantages it affords. At a weight of only 8.1 ounces with three extra rail attachments the weight is considerably less than the usual free float rail system. Most standard configurations have four full length rails which are seldom used in full and just add weight. They can also be pretty rough on your hands unless you add rail covers, which increase the bulk and size of the rails.
As Steve noted when he covered another “slick rail” from SHOT they are becoming very popular. Many of the companies that manufacture rails are selling them in some form or are in the design phase. I know some shooters use them for competition and they certainly are excellent for three gun matches and other shooting events.
Earlier today I was reading the US Special Operations Command Fact Book for 2012. Well, lo and behold there were two pictures showing Operators with configured slick rail systems on their M4’s. I guess you don’t get a better endorsement than that!
The Apex extended carbine system allows the AR15 owner to add assorted short rails to a greater number of locations than a standard system. Extra short rails of one inch to four inches can be placed in eight locations around the entire tube utilizing the milled slots. Most of us only need a flashlight mount and possibly a vertical grip. If you want to add additional items just add an appropriate size short rail in the location best served for that add on. The Apex rail system has the capacity to add four QD sling attachments; two on each side. If you use a single point sling no problem just leave them open for later use if needed.
The top rail is 7.5 inches long and mates perfectly with the receiver rail. The external diameter of the tube is 1.970 inches, which is much less than standard rail systems.
Apex has also solved the rough surface problem most rails have by milling a grip surface they call a Gator Grip. This gives the shooter a firm grip without being abrasive to the shooters hands.
I bought mine about a month and half ago and really like it. I can almost touch thumb to forefinger around the circumference of the tube. You wouldn’t think the weight saved would make much difference in handling but it does. I’ve found it easier and faster to maneuver. This is partly weight as well as the increased grip area. I’ve yet to find any reason to add a vertical grip or any other device to make handling easier. The model I chose is the extended carbine version. This adds about an inch and a half to the length on either side of the front sight as compared to a standard carbine size.
Handguard Installation to Rifle:
MAKE SURE WEAPON IS UNLOADED BEFORE INSTALLING HANDGUARD ON RIFLE.
A factory barrel nut will be required to be installed and properly torqued according to rifle manufacturer’s specifications (generally between 30-80 foot pounds), if assembling a rifle from the ground up.
If retrofitting an existing upper assembly, remove existing handguard and delta ring leaving the factory style barrel nut in place.
If using a low profile gas block, whether covered by the tube or exposed, the gas block can be installed at this point.
If using a front sight gas block, it must be secured in place after the handguard is installed.
Place the two halves of the Apex Handguard System clamp around the barrel nut and thread the four included socket head cap screws partly in, leaving loose enough to allow some movement in the clamp.
Slide the end of the handguard tube with the four holes over the clamp and loosely install the four included button head screws. (If permanently installed muzzle device prevents the tube sliding on from the muzzle end of the barrel, it can be placed from the rear before the clamp is installed.) The holes will only align in one position, assuring proper positioning.
Once the tube is over the clamp, position the assembly so that the clamp screws are facing the bottom of the rifle and snug all screws evenly, maintaining an equal gap between clamp halves. Lastly, tighten all screws evenly to prevent movement of clamp.
If a front sight gas block is used, it can now be secured in place. Extended Apex Handguard System models require removal of the original sling swivel. Additionally, the ears of the swivel will require trimming. An access for pinning the front sight gas block to the barrel is provided by a hole in the side of the handguard tube.
After final safety and function checks, it is recommended that one screw at a time be removed and secured with Blue Loctite or equivalent, and torqued to approximately 50 inch pounds. As with any piece of equipment, the screws should be checked periodically for tightness.
The rail system is available in standard carbine, extended carbine, mid-length, extended mid-length and rifle length. Extra small, small and medium attachment rails are available on the Apex website.
After having used this Apex rail for some time now It’s staying on my rifle. I donated my original rail to a friend. I actually have been looking for a new rail system for my AR for a couple of months now until I found this one. This one is sturdy and fits my needs very well.