Clark Customs Carbon Fiber AR-15 Forend
Major Pandemic 01.27.14
I love my Black Rain Ordnance Fallout-15 not only because it makes heads turn every single time I pull it from the bag, but also because it performs extremely well. It remains one of my most accurate, dependable, and smoothest running AR-15s, and because of these things, it inspires confidence. All the good things about the gun aside, it was significantly heavier than I’d like, and the most apparent weight reduction was to swap out one of the best quadrails on the market for something lighter.
The challenge was that the competing smooth handguard could only deliver a one-ounce reduction at best. After searching for some 10/22 rifle accessories, I ended up on Clark Customs Guns site and stumbled into their carbon fiber forend product line. At 6oz, the Clark Customs Carbon Fiber AR-15 Forend is without a doubt the lightest and coolest looking AR-15 forend in existence. I had to have one.
You may know the name Clark as that Louisiana based company literally started the custom 10/22 revolution offering conversions of some of the first extreme match grade accuracy 10/22 rifles ever. It was a groundbreaking epiphany about what could be done with 10/22 rifles, but Clark didn’t stop there. The company now offers drop-in upgrade parts and accessories for a huge variety of firearms, including the AR platform, and it still offers some of the most sought after gunsmith services in the country.
Fit, Finish, Feel, and Features
The Clark Carbon Fiber Forend could not be simpler: a custom-made carbon fiber tube with a Clark Custom AR-15 barrel nut. We all know that sometimes simple is incredibly cool, and this forend screams cool. Although Clark likes to offer good looking products, they are certainly first and foremost about the performance. Many people will say that carbon fiber shields the heat better. In reality, carbon fiber’s properties transmit heat twice as fast as aluminum, which means it gets the heat off the handguard twice as fast.
The handguard feels cooler than an equivalent aluminum model, and it will also be half as hot after an unusually long and spirited shooting string. A shooting glove may become optional.
The other benefit to the shooter is a huge weight reduction. In this case I saved 0.7lbs, which is huge considering that the entire gun is around 7lbs. Now I have a 6.3lb gun after the upgrade. For Clark Custom, the looks were a secondary but really nice benefit.
Install was similar to most any other handguard with a barrel nut, but you may want to do some planning ahead of time. Otherwise it will be a one way trip.
As with any installation, the barrel nut is tightened to the closest gas tube indexing point, the gas block and tube are installed, and the handguard is attached. The challenge with the Clark version is that the handguard is epoxied to the barrel nut with two-part Devcon 2-Ton epoxy, so if you cannot get to your gas block to remove it, you will have to cut off the beautiful handguard to ever do anything with the barrel or gas block in the future. The Devcon 2-Ton epoxy is actually stronger than either the handguard or the barrel nut, and in this case I epoxied one of the side picatinny rails from my Burris AR332 onto the front of the handguard in order to provide a front sight mount point. It just so happens that this goofy rail on the AR332 is the perfect height.
For my installation, I carefully marked access holes for the gas block adjustment screw and the two retention screws, then drilled the access holes in the handguard and hit the rough areas with the Dremel to make it look a little nicer. Note that when you are Dremeling carbon fiber, you need to be outside and wearing a respirator mask, as the dust is not good for you at all. Once the handguard was Devcon’ed in place, I could adjust the gas pressure and remove the gas block, which allows me to unscrew the entire handguard and barrel nut unit if I do need to swap a barrel for any reason. Works beautifully.
To test the forend, I wanted to warm things up, so I decided that a spirited 50 round tactical V-drill would do that. I loaded up two mags with 25-rounds each, which finished off a 50 count box of Hornady 55gr brass Match ammo. The general idea of one of these drills is to quickly shoot a set of silhouettes set up in a “V”. In this case, I would complete the drill twice to finish double tapping the alternating targets. Usually by the second mag the hanguard starts getting too toasty to hold without a glove, but with the Clark Custom carbon fiber forend, heat was not an issue.
As I think about how to close this review, the only thought that keeps coming to mind is, “I love this insane handguard.” What is not to love? It’s crazy light, mitigates heat incredibly well, is stronger than steel, and looks stunningly cool. Plus, it does all this for a measly $100. It’s even paintable if you don’t enjoy the carbon fiber look. All these features make it a must-have in my book.
Although my Black Rain Ordnance quad forend is a beautiful product, the below weights should speak for themselves.
- Black Rain Ordnance Rifle Length Quadrail 1.1lbs
- Clark Custom Carbon Fiber 12.758″ Rifle Length forend 0.4lbs
- Total weight savings 0.7lbs
- Clark Customer Carbon Fiber AR-15 Forend
- $100 MSRP
- 12 5/8” length