Who hasn’t heard of the Samson Evolution series of free float rails for the AR-15 platform? Well known for their ease of installation, ergonomic and lightweight design, these AR-15 hand guard rail systems have made quite a name for themselves amidst the competition. We decided to check out the 11” EVO Rail system and get a feel of the hardware. Here’s what we found:
What struck us straight up was its light feel, slim modular design and a relatively simple mounting and installation procedure which does not require any special tools. Primarily constructed of T6 Aluminium, the body is finely machined and there are no sharp edges even along the “S” shaped heat dissipation vents. It has a smooth dark black anodized finish and a Picatinny continuous top rail with dual alignment tabs making it easy to mount same-plane iron sights or optics anywhere along the top. The top rail has also been relieved to incorporate most aftermarket gas piston systems. The dual anti rotation tabs prevent any inadvertent rotation of the rail under duress.
Weighing only at 10.5 oz it keeps the overall weight in check and improves manoeuvrability of the rifle. The two piece stainless steel thermal bushings decreases the transfer of heat from the handguard to the hand and improves operational effectiveness. The rail includes three customizable Picatinny rail sections (2x 2″, 1x 4″) which can be easily used to mount a vertical grip or handstop, though the polygonal profile of the rail is such that it can be seamlessly operated without a handstop as well. Furthermore, the inner diameter of the tube is about 1.56” which should accommodate most suppressors.
The installation procedure was very user friendly and did not involve the application of any specialized tools like receiver blocks, AR-15 multi tool or barrel nut wrench. This was mainly due to the fact that the rail system could be installed without having to remove the barrel from the upper receiver unlike other systems. The delta ring, weld spring and snap ring must be removed prior to installation. The barrel nut mounts the handguard and must be perfectly aligned with the thermal bushing nuts to ensure that the handguard is positioned correctly with the upper receiver. Similarly the gas block must also be aligned correctly with the help of the top and bottom screws. In order to change the rail configuration later on, the handguard can be easily uninstalled by loosening the two hex head clamping screws and sliding it over the gas block.
Although the design and configuration of the rail system has been optimized for easy operation, it still does have a few disadvantages. The locking collar prevents the upper portion from hinging open completely as it interferes with the lower receiver. This significantly increases the operation time and increases stress on other parts of the system. The rail may be installed very tightly to the barrel but it is done so with only two screws. Other than this, it is a fairly reliable system and good value for your money.