The handguard on an AR-15 can get hot during long strings of continuous fire. Within 100 rounds, a conventional aluminum handguard can top 140 degrees Fahrenheit. At 200 rounds the handguard will experience temperatures near 195 degrees Fahrenheit, and after 300 rounds the handguard will be around 220 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be detrimental to the end user in regard to weapon retention and accuracy.
During the 2018 SHOT Show Range Day, I had the pleasure of getting to shoot a rifle that was equipped with Ascendance International’s nTHERM Handguard.
The nTHERM Handguard is composed of a high-tech composite polymer that has the tensile strength of aircraft grade aluminum but lacks the thermal transfer properties and is 20 percent lighter. From the literature provided by Ascendance, an operator can fire 300 rounds through a nTHERM equipped AR-15 rifle and the temperature of the handguard will only rise to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Hot. But not melt-my-hands-off hot.
During Range Day, I shot a fully automatic AR that had a nTHERM handguard. After my 30 round burst, the barrel was hot! When I hovered my hand over the barrel, I carelessly let my pinky get to close and received a minor burn. The barrel was hot enough to fry bacon, but the nTHERM handguard was cool to the touch.
Typically products that protect and end-user from heat also tend to trap heat in the barrel and gas tube, which can have devastating consequences. The nTHERM handguards are well vented and provide plenty of air for the barrel to naturally cool.
The nTHERM handguards attach to an AR-15/M4 patterned rifle and do not require special tools for installation. They are compatible with all standard direct gas impingement rifles and also have a model for the Heckler and Koch HK416 rifle. Ascendence is currently offering four models of the nTHERM handguard.
M4A1 Standard Carbine.
This is a two-piece model that replaces the M4 Handguard. It does not require tools for installation and weighs a paltry 5.6 ounces. The M4A1 Standard Carbine has Picatinny/MIL-STD-1913 rails at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock positions.
M4A1 Carbine Free Floating.
This handguard is 13 inches and comes in two configurations. The first configuration is a continuous handguard that will accommodate a low profile gas block. The second features a cut for an A2 fixed front sight. The M4A1 Carbine Free Floating has Picatinny/MIL-STD-1913 rails at the 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock positions.
The M4A1 configurable is available is 7, 9, 11 and 13 inches. This two piece, free float handguard has a Picatinny/MIL-STD-1913 rail at the 12 o’clock position and allows an end user to add Picatinny rails wherever they want on the handguard.
HK416 – Configurable.
Like the M4A1 configurable, the HK416 Configurable features a Picatinny/MIL-STD-1913 rail at the 12 o’clock position, and allows an end user the option to add rails where they see fit. The handguard is 9 inches, and like its namesake was designed for the HK416 series of rifles.
The nTHERM handguard is a neat product. If you shoot a lot of full-auto, I would look at these handguards. Visit the Ascendance International website to learn more. Hopefully they have the prices listed by the time you read this because they weren’t up when we checked.