Handguards. Quad rail, smooth tube, free floated or not, Keymod, M-lock, slotted – it can be harder to choose one than being at an All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet after 3 Scorpion Bowls. Due to a couple recent builds, we had the opportunity to test out a bunch of different Keymod handguards. One that has ended up on my primary rifle, the one we generally use for testing gear, is the Odin Works 15.5″ Kmod handguard. It’s a trunnion based handguard, designed to be thin in the hand, have a lot of mounting points, and includes built in sling mount points. Pretty nice idea, but let’s see how well it holds up.
The rail installation is actually pretty damn easy – I usually hate trunnion extension based handguards because they are usually a pain in the butt to get aligned properly but Odin Works made it real simple in this case.
First, assuming your old handguard and barrel nut are off already, you take the barrel extension trunnion and spin it on over the barrel till the gas port on the upper lines up with the gas port hole on the trunnion – they even include an alignment pin to make it easy. The trunnion probably won’t tighten all the way for alignment, but that’s perfectly ok – it won’t go anywhere once you’re done.
Remove the alignment pin and then use the included thread locker goop on the barrel nut- I usually get annoyed when thread locker is required but the Vibratite that is included doesn’t harden and can actually be reused. Pretty cool stuff. Once applied, spin the barrel nut on and torque it down to 40-50lb.
Install your gas block like normal, sliding the gas tube through the port on the trunnion, which is aligned already.
Slide your handguard over the barrel nut and trunnion – you won’t have to worry about aligning screw holes since the trunnion is in position. And instead of little anti-rotation tabs like many handguards have, each side of the handguard slides against your upper to prevent any rotation in the handguard and trunnion. Insert and tighten 6 screws that mount the handguard to the trunnion and that’s it.
Pretty easy handguard to install and you don’t need to worry about aligning any holes while torquing it down. Wish all handguards were this easy!
As a side note, the finish on the handguard matched my Head Down Products billet upper, which was a definite plus.
Feel and Function:
First, I want to point out that unlike a lot of handguards, the Odin Works KMod handguards come in half sizes. That is awesome. On my 16″ barrel, the 15.5″ comes right up to the base of the muzzle threading. That extra half inch sight radius for a front sight is a bonus, as is the extended space for my C grip, weapon light or whatever else. It’s nice not having barrel material stick out, even if just for looks.
I’m a big fan of round handguards, and I like the feel of this one. It is rounded, but with KMod mount points on narrow flats at the 3, 6 and 9 O’Clock positions. Since the handguard is still like 98%+ rounded, it fits very well in your hand when using a C hold, while still providing flat points for rails and other accessories. The cutouts are comfortable as well, aggressive enough to prevent your hand from sliding when sweaty or in the rain, but not enough to be abrasive to your skin. The cuts also keep the weight down big time, combined with the lack of built in rails – the 15.5″ handguard weighs only 11.5oz naked (my PV-13, was shorter and weighed like 8oz more!).
There are 2 dedicated QD sling points at the rear of the handguard at both the 3 and 9 o’clock positions, and the Keymod holes double as sling mount points too. I had a couple issues with a couple of my QD Sling adapters staying in, but I’ve run into that with other QD mount point adapters too, so I won’t fault the handguard. The main ones I use on my sling are rock solid, so just make sure you test yours before heading off into the field.
There is a Continuous/uninterrupted Picatinny Rail across the top that my sights and accessories haven’t had any issues with, and it comes with a single Keymod rail piece you can mount if desired. Most handguards I’ve been dealing with include 2 instead, which made the single rail odd, but I don’t think I’d ding them a full point for it.
The handguard doesn’t get too hot, even with doing a few mag dumps. There is a lot of air flow through it, and I think the trunnion system helps sink some of the heat buildup.
- Made to VLTOR WEAPONS SYSTEMS KeyMod specifications.
- Free float.
- Made from 6005-T651 Aluminum.
- Inside diameter: 1.6″
- Outside diameter: W-1.8″ H-2.1″
- Engineered with advanced ergonomics for comfort and improved performance.
- Continuous/uninterrupted Picatinny Rail across the top.
- Accessory rails can be placed at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions and can be joined to create continuous Pic Spec Rail.
- QD sling mount positions at 3 and 9 o’clock.
- Key slots double as QD sling mount positions.
- Engineered to allow for low profile gas block to fit inside.
Length: Weight: 9.5″ 8.35oz 12.5″ 10.15oz 15.5″ 11.55oz
I really like this handguard. It’s become one of my favorites due to the quality of build, comfort, functionality and looks. Is it the perfect handguard? I don’t think there is such a thing. Different handguards have different features, pros and cons. I don’t like that it doesn’t use a standard barrel nut, making it more complicated for new builders, but it’s easily one of the best trunnion based systems I’ve dealt with yet and doesn’t require any special tools to install. If you prefer more of a flat sided handguard as opposed to round (like Ryan does), this may not be the handguard for you. But otherwise you won’t go wrong with an Odin Works KMod Handguard. The biggest issue is the $245 MSRP – it is not a cheap handguard. That said, the extra half inch Odin Works adds to the handguards is really, really nice and I wish more companies would do the same.
Fit and Finish: