July, 15

AR-15 Rail Types: A Comprehensive Guide to Choosing the Best Rails for Your Rifle

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AR-15 rail types. These words may not mean much to those unfamiliar with firearms, but to enthusiasts and professionals alike, they hold great significance. The AR-15 is one of the most popular rifles in the United States, and for good reason: it is highly customizable. One of the key components that allow for this customization is its rail system.

The world of AR-15 rails can be complex and overwhelming with a wide array of options available on the market today. From Picatinny to M-Lok, KeyMod to Weaver – each type has its own set of advantages and disadvantages that one must consider before making a purchase decision. In this article we will unravel these complexities by examining each type in detail so you can make an informed choice when selecting an AR-15 rail system that suits your needs.

Without further ado – let's dive into everything there is know about AR-15 rail types! Read on to learn more about how you can optimize your rifle's performance through careful consideration of which type works best for you.

AR-15 Rail Types: A Comprehensive Guide

If you own an AR-15 rifle or are thinking of buying one, then you must know about the importance of a rail system. The rail is an essential component that helps you attach various accessories to your rifle, such as scopes, lights, and lasers.

There are several types of rails available for your AR-15. In this article, we will discuss the different types of rails and their benefits to help you choose the most suitable one.

What is a Rail System?

A rail system is a series of grooves that run along the top surface or sides of your rifle's receiver. It allows you to mount multiple accessories securely and with ease.

Rails come in two main varieties – Picatinny Rails (MIL-STD 1913) and Weaver Rails. Picatinny Rails are more commonly used because they provide more versatility due to their wider spacing between grooves than Weaver rails.

When choosing a rail for your AR-15 make sure it matches up correctly with either MIL-STD 1913 (Picatinny) or Weaver specifications so that any accessory can be attached without any issues.

Different Types Of AR 15 Rail Systems

#1 KeyMod

KeyMod was introduced in 2012 by VLTOR Weapons Systems as an open-source alternative to Picatinny rails systems.

Keymod consists mainly of slots instead of elongated holes like M-Lok provides which makes it easier during installation but also less secure compared to other mounting solutions.

The Keymod has been popular among gun enthusiasts due its weight reduction properties where lots have been machined out reducing overall material but still providing enough rigidity required for stable shooting.

#2 M-Lok

Magpul Industries developed M-Lok after seeing some design flaws when using KeyMod systems on applications under heavy use situations like military engagements.

The design of M-Lok is less likely to become damaged like KeyMod, which has elongated holes that can be compromised when used on heavy recoil firearms.

M-Lok uses a T-slot system making it more rigid and secure. It also provides a smaller footprint on your rifle, allowing for more accessories to be added.

#3 Picatinny

The Picatinny rail (MIL-STD 1913) is the most common rail system in use today. It was developed by the military as an improvement over previous Weaver rails systems.

The Picatinny system features evenly spaced slots that provide ample room for accessories mounting with flexibility.

One advantage of using this type of rail is its durability – it can handle heavier weight and survive harsh environments without any issues.

#4 Weaver

Weaver rails are similar to Picatinny rails but have different spacing between grooves.

They were initially designed for hunting riflescopes, so they aren't as versatile compared with other systems available today like Keymod or M-lok that have gained popularity among gun enthusiasts due its weight reduction properties while still providing enough rigidity required for stable shooting.

Benefits Of AR 15 Rail Systems

Now you know about the different types of AR-15 Rails let's move onto discussing their benefits:

  • Versatility – The biggest benefit of having a rail system installed on your rifle is versatility. You can attach numerous accessories such as scopes, lights or lasers depending upon what suits you.

  • Customisation – With various types of rails available in the market you now have increased options regarding how best to customise your rifle according to personal preferences.

  • Ease Of Use – This may seem obvious but an integrated accessory mount will help make everything easier than buying separate parts/pieces and trying them all together yourself!

Tips For Choosing The Right Rail System

Here are some tips before choosing which AR 15 rail type to invest in:

  • Functionality – The best choice depends on the intended usage and the accessories you plan to mount. For example, if you want a lighter weight but are not concerned about rigidity then go for Keymod or M-lok systems.

  • Durability – If you require high durability under harsh environments, then opt for Picatinny rails because they can handle heavier weights without any problem.

  • Personal Preference – Lastly, choose whichever system seems most comfortable and compatible with your shooting style.


Choosing the right AR 15 Rail type is essential! Hopefully, this article has provided some useful insight into what makes each one unique. When deciding which rail system is best suited for your needs make sure that it ticks all of your boxes regarding functionality and personal preference.


What are the different types of AR-15 rails available in the market?

There are primarily three types of AR-15 rails that you can choose from based on your requirements, budget, and personal preferences. These include Picatinny Rails, KeyMod Rails, and M-Lok Rails.

Here's a brief overview of each type:

  1. Picatinny Rail: This is perhaps the most popular type among gun enthusiasts because it provides maximum flexibility when it comes to mounting accessories such as optics, lasers, lights or grips. It features a series of evenly spaced slots that run along its entire length which allows you to attach any accessory at any point along its surface.

  2. KeyMod Rail: This rail system uses rows or holes instead of slots and requires special attachments with matching keyholes for installation. The advantage is that it eliminates excess weight by eliminating unused sections while still allowing for tool-less installation.

3.M-Lok Rail: Similar to Keymod but uses standardized locking lugs insteadof proprietary screws

In summary, if you prefer maximum flexibility go with picatinny rails; if your primary goal is reducing weight then opt for keymod or m-lok

Can I mix-and-match different types of attachments on my AR-15 rail?

Yes! You can definitely mix-and-match different types of attachments as long as they fit securely onto your chosen type ogf rail (Picatinny/KeyMod/M-Lok). Keep in mind though that not all accessories may be compatible with every kind of attachment system so make sure to double-check before making any purchases.

For instance,a picatinny mount will not work properly on an M-lok slot.

How do I know which size/type/dimensions my AR-15 rail should have?

The size/type/dimension depends upon what kind accessory you want to mount onto them.
Most commonly used dimensions are:
Length – rifle-length(12 inches), mid-length(9 inches) and carbine length(7 inches)
Height – Most AR-15 rails have height dimensions that fall between .35” and 1.5”. which will depend on the diameter of the barrel.

To know which rail is suitable in your case, you should first determine what accessories you want to mount onto them. Once you have an idea about your requirements, select a compatible rail system with the correct size and type.

Can I install my AR-15 Rail myself?

Yes! The installation process is relatively simple, although it may require some basic gunsmithing tools such as torque wrenches or Allen keys. If you are comfortable handling these tools then installing an AR-15 rail should not be too difficult for most people.

The steps involved in installing a typical handguard are:
1.Remove existing handguard
2.Install barrel nut(if required)
3.Slide new handguard into place over barrel nut (or receiver for free-floating designs)
4.Tighten bolts/screws/lock-nuts securely

It's always recommended to follow specific instructions provided by manufacturers since each installation may vary slightly.

What kind of material options do I have when selecting an AR-15 Rail?

AR-15 rails come in various materials including aluminum alloy,stainless steel etc.
Aluminum Alloy: This is perhaps one of the most commonly used materials because it provides durability without adding too much weight to your rifle. Aluminum alloys can withstand heavy use without getting damaged or corroded easily while still being lightweight enough so that carrying around all day won't become tiresome.

Stainless Steel: While heavier than aluminum alloy rails, stainless steel offers better corrosion resistance than its counterpart making it ideal for humid areas where rusting might be a concern.

Polymer/Metal Composite: These are newer options available on market.Polymer composite combines light weight with good strength whereas metal polymers offer added strenght.

Ultimately, the type of material you choose will depend on your personal preferences and intended use case. If weight is important to you then aluminum alloy may be the best option, but if durability in harsh conditions is paramount then consider opting for a stainless steel rail instead.

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