June, 15

AR-15 Rails: A Comprehensive Guide to Different Options Available

Featured in:

Different rails for AR 15 are essential to customizing your weapon. The AR 15 is a versatile and popular firearm, and with the right rails, you can enhance its performance according to your needs. Rails are an integral part of the gun as they provide attachment points for accessories such as scopes, lights, lasers, grips among others.

There are different types of rails available in the market today that cater to various needs. Some individuals prefer Picatinny Rails due to their versatility while others opt for KeyMod or M-LOK systems because they offer lighter weight and more streamlined options. It's crucial to choose a rail system that works best for you since it directly affects how well you can operate your weapon.

In this article about different rails for AR 15s, we will delve into what sets each type apart from one another so that you can make informed decisions on which system suits your preferences best. From installation requirements through benefits downfalls and features of each option; we've got everything covered! Read on!

Different Rails for AR-15: A Complete Guide

The AR-15 platform is one of the most versatile firearms in the world. It's a semi-automatic rifle that can be customized to fit any need, whether it's for hunting, sport shooting, or tactical applications. One of the key features that make this platform so versatile is its ability to accept different rails.

AR-15 rails are used to attach accessories like sights, scopes, flashlights, and lasers to your rifle. There are many types of rails available on the market today, each with its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we'll take a look at some of the different rails available for your AR-15 and help you choose which one is right for you.

Understanding Different Types of Rails

Picatinny Rail

The Picatinny rail (also known as MIL-SPEC 1913 rail) was created by the military as a universal mounting platform for accessories used on small arms weapons systems such as rifles and pistols. The Picatinny rail has become an industry standard because it provides great flexibility when mounting accessories due to its square profile with evenly spaced cross-slots.

Keymod Rail

The Keymod system was developed by VLTOR Weapon Systems in collaboration with Noveske Rifleworks back in 2012 as an alternative attachment system compared to traditional picatinny attachment systems.
It uses trapezoidal slots instead of uniform round holes present in picatinny attachments allowing lighter weight construction while still maintaining strength necessary during high-stress operations.

M-Lok Rail

M-Lok stands Modular Locking System designed by Magpul Industries Corp; it’s similar but not identical conceptually along with functionally when compared against KeyMod technology.
They were designed using feedback from military professionals who wanted a modular locking accessory attachment system which would be less bulky than current options yet equally secure.

Comparing Different Rails for AR-15

Weight and Strength

When it comes to weight, Keymod rails are the lightest with M-Lok being slightly heavier due to its solid construction. On the other hand, Picatinny rails are usually made from heavy-duty aluminum which can make your rifle quite bulky.

In terms of strength, Picatinny is arguably the strongest rail type among these three options. Its cross-slotted design provides a uniform distribution of stress along its length and width. However, both Keymod and M-Lok offer enough strength for most applications while allowing you to shave off some weight.


Picatinny is by far the most popular rail system on rifles today because so many accessories are built specifically with this mounting standard in mind.
KeyMod has had a rocky start since there have been problems measuring up to specific military standards; yet it’s still compatible with various types of accessories.
M-LOK has become increasingly popular in recent years due mainly because more firearms manufacturers like Ruger have started incorporating them into their designs as well as being one or two ounces lighter than keymods.

Benefits of Different Rails

Each type of rail offers different benefits that make them suitable for certain applications.

Picatinny Rail Benefits

The versatility offered by picatinny rails means that they can be used with many kinds of weapons systems beyond just an AR 15; including shotguns handguns etc., making it perfect if you own multiple firearms. It's also ideal if you need a strong mount that won't budge even under heavy recoil or rugged conditions – such as hunting or tactical situations.

Keymod Rail Benefits

KeyMod technology makes use trapezoidal slots instead uniform holes (which was present in picitinany) making attachments easier without spending too much time messing around trying adjust screws especially when mounting flashlights lasers scopes optics etc.. Additionally keymod allows attachment points where previous systems simply weren't an option, carabiners come to mind.

M-Lok Rail Benefits

M-Lok attachment system has been popularized because of its slim and lightweight design; if you’re looking for a system that won’t add too much weight then this is your choice. It also offers more flexibility when it comes to attaching different accessories, including direct attachments such as sling mounts

Tips for Choosing the Right Rail

When choosing a rail system for your AR-15, there are several factors to consider:

  1. What type of accessory do you want to mount? If you need maximum flexibility in mounting options go with Picatinny; but if weight reduction is important go Keymod or M-lock.
  2. Do you need an extremely strong mounting platform that can handle heavy recoil? Then Picatinny rails are best suited
  3. Do aesthetics play a role in your decision making process? Keymod and M-lock offer cleaner lines than picatinny.


Choosing the right rail system can make a significant difference in how well-suited your AR-15 rifle is for specific applications ranging from hunting small game all the way up through tactical situations requiring rapid deployment against multiple assailants at once.
There's no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes down selecting which kind of rail will work best based off individual needs but by understanding benefits and weaknesses each type provides should help make an informed choice regarding which route suits weapon setup goals/preferences/needs most accurately!


What are different rails available for AR-15?

The AR-15 platform is highly versatile, and one of the key features that make it so versatile is the ability to customize with different rails. The most common types of rails for an AR 15 include Picatinny, Keymod, and M-Lok.

A Picatinny rail is a standardized accessory mounting system that has a series of ridges with evenly spaced cross-slots. It’s compatible with all sorts of firearms accessories such as sights, scopes, lasers, flashlights etc. Most standard handguards use this type of rail.

Keymod was introduced as an alternative to the Picatinny system in late 2012 by Vltor Weapon Systems. KeyMod uses slots instead of trimmed rail sections which makes it lighter than its predecessor without sacrificing strength or modularity.

M-Lok (Modular Lock) was also introduced in late 2012 by Magpul Industries as a direct competitor to Vltor's KeyMod system.M-lok locks accessories into place using screws instead of nuts and bolts like on Keymods.

What factors should I consider when choosing between different types Rails?

When considering what type Rail you need for your rifle there are several factors you must consider:

  • Type(s) of accessories needed
  • Budget
  • Purpose
  • Modularity/seating options

If you're going minimalist route then probably would go with M-lock option because they tend be lightweight while still strong.
Picatiny may do everything but can be overkill if plan on utilizing only few attachments.
Mostly it's preference based on needs cause each one offers something unique.

How do I change out my current rail for another one?

The process varies depending upon which specific model and brand rifle you have but most rifles usually require removing screws attaching current handguard before taking off old piece from barrel nut once free slide new guard onto barrel nut, securing with screws.
It's common practice to apply thread lockers once completely installed.
You'll need proper gunsmithing tools such as AR-15 wrench.

If you're uncomfortable doing this yourself, take your rifle to a local gunsmith and have them perform the swap for you.

Can I use different brands of rails on my AR 15?

Yes, it is possible to mix and match different brands of rails on your AR 15. However, it’s essential that they’re compatible with each other in terms of mounting requirements and dimensions.

Many people recommend using same brand throughout entire setup just because they are sure fit will be perfect without any modification or headache.

What are some pros and cons between Picatinny vs Keymod vs M-Lok Rails?

There are pros & cons when it comes down choosing which type rail system want go for depending upon individual preference.
Picatinny: Pros:

  • Standardized mounting system
  • Wide range of accessories available
  • Heavy compared to other options
  • Can be too bulky when not needed

KeyMod: Pros:

  • Lightweight design while still being strong
  • Limited accessory choices

M-lok: Pros:

  • Light weight while still offering flexibility
  • Newer technology so limited selection of options available

In conclusion,it ultimately comes down personal needs; if looking something lightweight probably would benefit from M-lock but if require extensive amount attachments Picatiny may better suit those needs.

Latest articles

Related articles

AR 15 Buffer Springs: Uncovering the Best Options for...

Welcome to this article about the Best AR 15 Buffer Spring. If you are a gun enthusiast,...

Wooden Stock AR-15: The Classic Look for Your Modern...

Wooden stock AR 15. These four words might not mean much to the uninitiated, but for anyone...

US Marine Corps Shirts: Show Your Support with the...

US Marine Corps shirts are a popular item among military enthusiasts and civilians alike. These shirts are...

US Army MSV: The Ultimate Military Support Vehicle

The US Army MSV - a term that might sound unfamiliar to many people outside the military...

AR-15 Detent Spring: A Guide to Installation and Functionality

If you're a seasoned AR-15 owner, you're no stranger to the importance of every component in this...

US Air Force: Aim High and Soar Above the...

US Air Force Aim High. These four words hold a significant meaning for both the men and...