Everything you need to know about M-LOK Handguard

by Glenn Maxwell

Handguard sets the appearance and functionality of the firearm allowing you to add more accessories. Handguards are made up of polymer and aluminum and come in different shapes and sizes such as drop-in and free-float handguards. Handgurads make a huge difference especially when it comes to using AR 15.

In recent years, there has been a great demand for assembly kits. Many individuals are looking for a DIY approach to firearms, especially the AR 15. If you are looking to get your hands on the best ar 15 build kits, make sure to choose the best brands and platforms that are credible and come with a solid build quality.

But the accessory mounting system adds an added advantage. There are three main types of the mounting systems: Picatinny, key-mod and M-LOK.

Out of these three, M-LOK offers an innovative way to mount accessories. Though Picatinny rails were durable and had universal compatibility but as the rails were made of aerospace aluminums they were quite heavy and the shooters complained about the cheese grate feeling on their hand.

Then came the slot system, KeyMod (an open source system developed in collaboration with VLTOR and Noveske) and M-LOK with smooth surface and better mounting options.

In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know about the M-LOK handguard. Read ahead to learn more! 


In the past, Velcro, hose clamps and tape were used to attach the accessories lights, lasers and infrared illuminators. But thanks to M-LOK, these accessories can be attached to the rifle easily.

Introduced in the year 2014, Modular lock or M-LOK is an attachment system that permits you to attach accessories like flashlight, optic or laser sight to a rifle or any firearm. Without removing the rail (also called as handguard), M-LOK offers you to mount anything to your rail system. This rail is lightweight and extremely versatile. When using M-LOK, attaching an accessory to the weapon offers an improvised version of your weapon.

Magpul, an innovator in the firearms industry created M-LOK that could be lighter to use and less expensive to manufacture compared to previous rail systems. The company follows a rigid standard for end users to stay rest assured about M-LOK’s compatibility across any brand and maintain its affordability.

M-LOK is an advanced version of the MOE (Magpul Original Equipment). All M-lok accessories can be used on older MOE slot handguards but due to lack of adapter plate old MOE accessories cannot be used on the newer M-LOK handguard. A good example of an M-LOK handguard would be the 15 M-LOK handguard, with the option of upto 15 slots. 

Not to fret, Magpul created an adapter plate allowing MOE accessories to fit in M-LOK and vice-versa. This creation opens the doors for the M-LOK system to fit in millions of accessories.


M-LOK is a free licensed firearm rail system but is not open source. As it was developed and patented by Magpul, companies need to procure a free license from Magpul to fabricate the products using M-LOK standard. This means any M-LOK mounting or accessory attachment will be very well made and uniform.


M-LOK allows direct accessory attachment on the hollow slot (negative space) mounting points. If the accessory mounting is perfect; more accurate the shooting would be.

M-LOK rail uses T-shaped nuts and has narrow slits. Screw the M-LOK accessory with a T-nut to fix it with the rail. Once the accessory is mounted to the M-LOK rail, the connection remains secured.

M-LOK rail slots are large and elongated with squared sides making it sturdy and easy to use. Instead of long tracks of rails, Magpul created M-LOK forend with precise slots.


In 2016, the United States Special Operations Command conducted a series of tests to check if the handguard survived rough handling, drop tests, endurance and failure loads.

M-LOK performed very well under the endurance and rough handling tests. But during the repeatability test, M-LOK surpassed the other handguards as it took the least amount of MOA shift when removing and re-attaching the accessory rail with laser sight.

Secondly, during the drop test, M-LOK accessories remained 100% intact.

After this testing, M-LOK was used on Advanced Sniper Rifle Programs and the Suppressed Upper Receiver Group. Even a US Military contract has an M-LOK system consolidated in it.


M-LOK has precise slots cut into the handguard. You can attach the accessory with the mounting hardware that locks into the slots. Match the space between the T-nut and the accessory that complements the breadth of the mounting surface.

M-LOK rail uses the rectangular T-Nut and a rectangular slot.

Squad the T-nuts and insert them into the slots.

With the help of a hex wrench, tighten the screw to 90˚ for each T-nut until secure. 


Torque Specs of M-LOK

o   Metal accessories to metal handguards- 35in/lbs

o   Polymer accessories to metal handguards- 15in/lbs

o   Metal/Polymer accessories to polymer handguard- 15in/lbs

M-LOK System Measurement

o   Its slot length is 1.260 in

o   The width of the slot is 7mm (0.276 in)

o   Radius of the corners is 2.38mm (approx. 0.094 in)

o   Space between slits is 8mm (0.315 in)


With the help of M-LOK rail, you can directly mount a small rail or accessory to your rifle’s handguard.

ü  As M-LOK has a smooth surface it becomes quite easy to carry.

ü  M-LOK system saves on unnecessary weight and further reduces the outer diameter of the platform.

ü  M-LOK system enables you to easily add or remove accessories either forward or rear-facing.

ü  M-LOK system endures heavy and repetitive recoil, further maintaining the stability of the mounted accessories and shooting accuracy.

ü  Assembling and disassembling accessories is quite easy while using M-LOK rail.

ü  When using rifles like AR-15s, they heat up making it difficult to carry around. But the M-LOK handguard serves as a safeguard in this situation.


Lot of companies are using M-LOK rails on their handguards as well as a lot of common accessories are available with M-LOK mounts. Lighter, smoother, slimmer and multi-faceted – this is what we can call an M-LOK handguard.

Hopefully, the information mentioned above gives you a better insight on the M-LOK handguard. Happy shooting!

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