Friday, January 6, 2012

PRI GENIII Forearm Handguard Forend Review

PRI Gen III Free Float Carbon Fiber Forearm Handguard Review
Precision Reflex’s 15” AR15 Hanguard in Dark Earth

If you are like me, you simply cannot leave your AR15 alone and it seems my overworked DPMS Oracle kit is going to get another upgrade. Currently hosted by a complete Tactical Machining lower receiver (which is a great lower by the way), my Oracle has become my test bed for new accessories. Although my Troy drop in rail worked fine, I had two problems.  First I wanted to wring a bit more accuracy from my rig which is a benefit of the free float tube. The other is shooting mid-length systems so much, I kept occasionally grabbing the nice hot gas block on my carbine where the rest of my stock would be on my mid-length ARs.  I needed a long free float handguard so I went big all while not adding much weight with the PRI Carbon Fiber Gen III Free Float Forearm Handguard.

FIT & FEEL
When we say extended we mean extended on the 15” GenIII AR15/M16 Free Float Carbon Fiber Extended Forearm.  Once mounted, only about an 1” of barrel sticks out before adding a flash hider like the Phase 5 Tactical break I added.  You end up with that Dissipator forend look which is different from everyone else.  

PRI also offers this forearm/handguard in lengths from short carbine up to this 15" length all with a choice of either dark earth, black, or natural carbon fiber finishes.  Once mounted the fit is outstanding and completely wiggle-free which is big accomplishment for a 15” handguard. Messing around with the handguard after mounting it seemed that any movement was actually the lightweight pencil profile barrel barely flexing and not the handguard.  Overall excellent fit and feel and very comfortable to handle.

FEATURES
Carbon fiber has many benefits in addition to the cool look in its natural state.  PRI is using wrapped carbon fiber not necessary because it looks cool for it forend handguards, but because it is one of the lightest and strongest materials available all while providing a far more comfortable grip once the barrel starts getting hot.  The massive 15” PRI Forearm is only 16.6oz including the aluminum barrel nut and locking collar which is about the same weight or lighter than a very light rail-less aluminum rifle length handguard.  Additionally the PRI forearm delivers 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock picatinny rails and all while delivering less heat to the shooter even during sustained fire all while still being lighter than almost any picatinny forend.  



I would like to note that originally when I took the opening picture after the initial assembly and had simply clocked the entire handguard 180 degrees instead of moving the rails which incorrectly placed the heat vents at the bottom of the forearm. The remaining pictures show the correct installation of the forearm and the rail sections which can then be moved wherever you want them.  

The PRI 15” GenIII AR15/M16 Free Float Carbon Fiber Extended Forearm includes four billet aluminum attached rails, one 8.5" rail on top and three 3" rails at 3,6 and 9 O'clock positions which can be moved or swapped as needed. Not being a fan of quad rails in general, these shorter rail sections seem a much more sensible setup all while maintaining both handling comfort and mounting flexibility and having them way forward get them out of the way of the hands.


The internal diameter of the tube is 1.56” with clearance from the barrel center-line to the inside of the forearm a huge .78”.  This allows you to mount those big fat barrels and still have plenty of room for your gas block or plenty of room for one of those fancy target barrels like a heat sinked JP Enterprises which need a little extra internal forearm/handguard space.

FUNCTION
PRI also makes some of the best high quality armorers tools around and frankly was the reason I ended up with the handguard. I used my PRI barrel nut wrench and the very handy billet aluminum AR15/AR10 upper receiver vise mounting in my shop vise; two handy tools that any lifelong AR tuner should invest in. An upper vise block and a quality barrel wrench will make barrel and handguard, scope and sight mounting an order of magnitude easier. I use the PRI upper vise all the time.

Mounting the PRI 15” GenIII AR15/M16 Free Float Carbon Fiber Extended Forearm an atypical procedure which requires removal of the flash hider, gas block and tube assembly, handguard retainers, and the stock barrel nut and delta ring assembly. This can all be accomplished with an Allen wrench, flash hider wrench, punch and barrel wrench depending on you AR accessories.

Leaving your barrel attached, the new supplied PRI handguard locking collar is slipped on the receiver and then the aluminum barrel nut is installed and aligned to the gas port with torque somewhere around 55-65 ft/lbs.  Generally I work the barrel nut back and forth until I can get it as tight as possible while maintaining base port alignment and sometime this means actually backing it off just a bit. Remember 65 ft/lbs is not really that much and does not require you to hang like a monkey from the barrel wrench.  Instead of buying a low profile gas block for my project rifle, I converted the stock DPMS Oracle gas block to low profile.  Technically grinding will work, but I cut off as much as possible with the band saw and then dropped the gas block in my $300 Proxxon Mini-Mill and cleaned it all up. Looked good, fits under the handguard, cost me zero, and performs the same.  Once the gas block is mounted, the handguard is attached by screwing it into the handguard locking collar and assuring the positive keyed indexing pin on the handguard are matching up in the orientation you want the handguard. I like to use a tiny amount of blue/removable LockTite between aluminum to aluminum contacts just to assure things don’t loosen up on me. Tighten the locking collar with a PRI handguard wrench or a strap wrench and all that is left was reattaching the flash hider and testing.


This is an outstanding quality handguard which provides a huge amount of room to shoot off barricades and supports and provides plenty of room for your hands to move around.  I generally abuse the crap out of my guns and that means occasionally really heating up the gun, but have you ever had a red hot barrel touch your leg after letting the AR hang from a sling? This barrel length stock greatly reduces that pain from happening.  I have dropped about ten magazines through the gun since mounting the PRI 15” GenIII AR15/M16 Free Float Carbon Fiber Extended Forearm and it has not shifted or loosened at all and my Troy BattelSight fixed front sight mounted to the PRI forend has held zero perfectly.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Although a little cliche sounding the statement of “not only does it look cool, but it runs and feels cool” is accurate.  Nope, no more catching the freaking webbing of my hand on that hot gas block.  This update has made this an easier shoot for extended periods and also a little more accurate by moving the front sight about 8” further out front.  Many think carbon fiber is fragile and actually carbon fiber can take more abuse than aluminum and steel can in almost any situation, it just happens to be a bit more expensive. The only, and I do mean only downside is the price.  I believe this is one of the most expensive forearm/forend stocks out there for the AR, however this is one seriously solid piece of engineering which delivers on looks, ergonomics, strength, durability and the cooler feel that only carbon fiber can provide.

SPECS
MSRP $365

Weight 16.6oz
Length 15”
Includes Barrel Nut and four attached picatinny rails
Barrel Nut Inner diameter is 1.020”



BELOW IS THE NORMAL ORIENTATION
I reverted back to this orientation as





SOURCES
PRI  - Precision Reflex, Inc.
http://www.precisionreflex.com

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