So many options out there… How does one go about picking out handguards, stocks, sights and/or scope mounts? Which ones should be avoided? Which ones are the best?
Lots of options, most of it comes down to what you want to do with it and what your rifle is set up for.
Hand guards come in three distinct sizes – carbine, midlength, and rifle length. There are also some inbetween sizes such as pistol, Specter and extended Rifle.
If you have the traditional A2 frontsight with the clam shell handguards, you’ll need to get hand guards that can fit that style – there are many manufacturers out there that make this style; Magpul’s MOE, Cav Arm’s has many different tapers, MI has a few railed selections, as well as many others.
If you have a free floated barrel, you have a lot more options, those these tend to be more expensive and require their own barrel nut or mount which means you may need to remove the barrel from the upper and make sure that the front gas block will fit under or inside of the hand guard.
This style can be had in lightweight carbon fiber to heavy, fully railed designs.
IMO – I’m a fan of free floated handguards, that are at least rifle length or longer, that are smooth sided (round) but allow me to add rail sections where I want them. Troy makes a great set of hand guards that are easy to mount up. A lot of people like La Rue and other designs. My most used carbine is not a free float, and uses old Colt take off’s just because I wanted an old school A1 style look for it.
Stocks are either A1/A2 style (fixed) or carbine (collapsable). Just depends on the look and more importantly the weight. You’ll use this to offset whatever you put into the handguards/light/whatever’s up front. I like a fixed, A1 length stock.
Scope mounts are a whole different topic, but the PEPR is a good (and HEAVY) mount for not a lot of money. I like La Rue mounts.
As to ones that should be avoided – I say stay away from anything labeled MAKO/UTG/Cheap airsoft. Why save a few bucks when Magpul’s MOE isn’t that much more…