Parallax Tactical’s Long Slim Forends

Parallax Tactical

Parallax Tactical is gaining momentum with the black rifle crowd. I found them the old fashioned way, by discovering I needed something, and then searching out the solution. Regular readers may have heard me bitch about my simian build.  I’m tall. Not freakishly so, but 6’4″. Those of you who can sympathize will know what a pain in the ass it can be. I don’t fit in foreign cars. Flying is a grotesque comedy, and carbine length AR-15s too often feel like toys. I have long monkey arms, and need a long length of pull. While Parallax hasn’t solved the LOP issue, they do make a great forend that is changing the way I think about the AR.

I'm 6'4", and have issues with short rifles. The Parallax rail allows me the extra protection for a solid thumb-over-bore hold.

I’m 6’4″, and have issues with short rifles. The Parallax rail allows me the extra protection for a solid thumb-over-bore hold.

I shoot thumb-over-bore because it lets me pull the gun into my shoulder. The hold is the best I've found for minimizing barrel movement.

I shoot thumb-over-bore because it lets me pull the gun into my shoulder. The hold is the best I’ve found for minimizing barrel movement.

The 15″ Parallax Tactical Gen 2Free Float Super Slim Rail (FFSSR)

  • 6061-T6 Aluminum Extrusion
  • Four limited rotation QD Mounts front and rear. (2) Rear single picatinny rail mounts for sling hook type mounts (MagPul RSA)
  • Sleeve-style barrel nut with 1-1/8″ flats
  • Mounts using 4 standard, 2 low-head hex screws Mounting holes every 22.5°
  • Includes shims for proper alignment
  • Cutout sections compatible with all MagPul accessories, including rail sections
  • Patent Pending
  • Weight: 17.8oz
  • MSRP $199.95

What the spec sheet doesn’t say is this. The FFSSR is longer than most rails. For folks like me, that is all I need to hear. I’ll take it. But there’s more. This much aluminum can get heavy. The FFSSR is just over a pound, and that’s due to the milling inside, and the slim profile. By cutting out all (or most) of the redundant rail sections, the forend is able to shed weight and mass. It is thin, light enough to stay balanced, and an adept and efficient use of space.

Having a long handguard doesn't prevent you from using a traditional blade stance, if that's what you are in to.

Having a long handguard doesn’t prevent you from using a traditional blade stance, if that’s what you are in to.

The look of a long thin forend will make a gun like this, which has a 16.5 in ch barrel, look stretched out.

The look of a long thin forend will make a gun like this, which has a 16.5 in ch barrel, look stretched out.

Those with normal arm lengths can still use it. In fact, the FFSSR comes in three shorter lengths. And the swell on the back of the forend makes a great handhold. I find myself carrying the rifle with my hand here, but others may prefer a compact stance–and this will keep your hand off of the mag well.

If there is any place where space is wasted, I’d point at the long section of top rail. There’s room for iron sights, back-up irons, a scout scope, a scope, and night vision–all in a line. You’ll find endless possibilities up top.

Removing the sight-post isn't difficult. Punch the pins and it slides off.

Removing the sight-post isn’t difficult. Punch the pins and it slides off.

Sometimes removing the existing hardware isn't as easy as it should be.

Sometimes removing the existing hardware isn’t as easy as it should be.

The installation was easy–once I got the old nut off. I had all of the appropriate tools, too. My wrench worked incredibly well, only the nut was on so tightly that I was chewing through the aluminum instead of turning the nut. In the end, getting the old hardware off required a drill, a chisel, vise-grips and a lot of expletives.

Getting the new nut onto the barrel, and installing the low-profile gas block was incredibly easy. The forend comes with detailed instruction about how to shim the nut to ensure proper alignment, and the torque needed for the mounting screws. It took very little effort, and I’d characterize it as “easy” on the skills-spectrum of DIY projects.

You may want to clean up the barrel before putting everything back together. A bit of high temp engine paint, at a minimum, can help with rust prevention.

You may want to clean up the barrel before putting everything back together. A bit of high temp engine paint, at a minimum, can help with rust prevention.

The low profile gas block allows for more clearance beneath the forend.

The low profile gas block allows for more clearance beneath the forend.

All told, it took me about half an hour to prepare the barrel, and about 5 minutes to get the forend back on.

Then it was off to the proving grounds. As you can see in the photos, I’ve not yet tricked this gun out to its full potential. When I review something like a forend, I’m not concerned with what all I can add to it. I want to know how it works, on its own. I take for granted that the picatinny rail sections will hold as they are designed to hold. If they don’t, I’ll let you know.

So there are very few geegaws on the Parallax as pictured. I haven’t even set up irons, yet. As the rail is only 15″ long, I still get perilously close to the end. Too close to put on a pop-up iron sight. I’ve got some angled irons on the way, and I should still be able to get my thumb on top of that sight’s base. And the swell created by the rail sections on the bottom for a positive hand-stop, too.

Because I hold close to the muzzle, I've put on a shroud that redirects sound and keeps the gasses off my hand.

Because I hold close to the muzzle, I’ve put on a shroud that redirects sound and keeps the gasses off my hand.

The sections of rail on the front and rear offer obvious attachment points for lights and lasers.

The sections of rail on the front and rear offer obvious attachment points for lights and lasers.

I have installed a Kineti-Tech’s brake and sleeve. It is the other piece of this puzzle for me. I wouldn’t want to hold so far out without it. It redirects sound, too, but I use it to keep the heat off of un-gloved hands.

In this set up, my carbine length AR performs much more like some 20″ AR’s I’ve shot. Even though it looks long, I’m still able to maneuver it through tight spaces. And the balance isn’t as barrel heavy as most longer guns. In short, the Parallax FFSSR is perfect. In my never ending quest to put together my AR, this is my choice. I don’t say that lightly. I’m constantly saying something like “if you’re looking for X, then Y is perfect for you.” But most of them are never just right for me. This one is. And I bet the thin profile of the shorter forends would feel just as good to those who aren’t so apelike.

The placement of my thumb on the rail gets in the way of traditional iron sights. For a competition gun, or plinking, that's not such a big deal. A fighting gun's a different story.

The placement of my thumb on the rail gets in the way of traditional iron sights. For a competition gun, or plinking, that’s not such a big deal. A fighting gun’s a different story.

The Aimpoint PRO on top of this rail is easy enough to put on and off. I'm waiting on a set of angled iron sights, though, that would make removing an optic irrelevant.

The Aimpoint PRO on top of this rail is easy enough to put on and off. I’m waiting on a set of angled iron sights, though, that would make removing an optic irrelevant.

The swells in the aluminum make ergonoic grips.

The swells in the aluminum make ergonomic grips.

The fit and finish of the Parallax are great. No complaints at all about the quality.

The fit and finish of the Parallax are great. No complaints at all about the quality.

I keep coming back to the idea of heat dispersion, but is important. Heat hurts hands. Heat hurts accuracy. Covering up the barrel like this doesn't have to trap in heat.

I keep coming back to the idea of heat dispersion, but is important. Heat hurts hands. Heat hurts accuracy. Covering up the barrel like this doesn’t have to trap in heat.

The forend connects to the barrel nut with several hex screws.

The forend connects to the barrel nut with 4 hex screws.

Even with the extra length, I'm still dangerously close to the business end.

Even with the extra length, I’m still dangerously close to the business end. If Parallax would make a 17″ forend, that would be even better.

{ 7 comments… add one }
  • Adam November 29, 2014, 7:20 pm

    They still sell 17.5″ versions of this rail. I got mine from Weapon Outfitters:
    http://www.weaponoutfitters.com/parallax-tactical-ffssr-17-5-black.html

    • KJW December 30, 2014, 9:13 pm

      Availability: Out of stock as of 12/30/2014

    • KJW December 30, 2014, 9:14 pm

      17.5″ FFSSR – Availability: Out of stock as of 12/30/2014

  • Joseph October 14, 2014, 12:22 pm

    Dangerously close to the business end? I am unsure one is required to grip there.

  • Methadras October 13, 2014, 6:19 pm

    I go to Parallax all time for my builds. I know the owner, I know the service guys. Great group and they give each customer as much time as they need. Their store front is a little small, the website could really use some new material and revamp, but overall, the products they do make are top notch quality and they don’t skimp. I also wish they made more of their 17″ rail for my longer builds.

  • Gordon Rubendall October 13, 2014, 11:13 am

    They did a limited run of 17″ FFSSR rails and I was fortunate enough to get one for a 18″ build I am working on. This is a great bunch of guys to deal with as I have bought numerous items from them over the past few years. They are always courteous and fast to ship out your item. And no this is not a copy of the UTG Pro Slim the Parallax quality is much better and it is made in America by good old Americans even though they are in California. Bottom line is they are GTG.

  • Dra October 13, 2014, 6:27 am

    Looks nice, also it looks alot like a copy of the UTG Pro Slim rail. Not that it’s a bad thing, just another alternative.

    http://www.leapers.com/prod_detail.php?mitem=&level1=&level2=&itemno=MTU019SS&status=utg

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