Mega Arms Wedge Lock Review:
Serious Railed Handguard System or Boutique Bombshell?
One of the most recent AR15 handguard systems I’ve had the pleasure of using is the Mega Arms Wedge Lock forend. The Wedge-Lock is a free float, aluminum handguard designed by Jim Hodge (of Hodge Defense Systems) in partnership with Mega Arms of Washington State. It offers a very unique, single point, single bolt attachment system. Not many of these are seen “in the wild”.
From a practical shooter standpoint, is the Mega Arms Wedge Lock AR-15 handguard a “boutique item” or solid and practical enough for a defensive role?
As with most people, I am a “creature of comfort”. This means I rarely step out of that all too familiar “comfort zone”. BCM, Geissele, SLR and JP typically fill the needs and desires of my shooting habits (as they do with most shooters). However, Mega Arms is known for their high quality receivers, parts and equipment. I have had the pleasure of shooting numerous rifles built on their billet receivers (both large frame and small). So, when the opportunity arose to use their Wedge Lock AR-15 handguard, I was all for it.
Typically, higher end manufacturers of AR parts sell to a certain crowd. Mega Arms is no different. They offer high end equipment, precision cut receivers (within 0.001″ as advertised), great finishes and outstanding quality. But, this being one of their first ventures (outside of the MKM and Monolithic receiver sets) into the rail market for Mega is it really worthy of their name?
The Wedge-Lock is a very light, ultra slim, minimalistic profile handguard with a full length top rail. It is constructed from a 7075-T6 aluminum extrusion, then CNC Machined to the profile you see. It features the more desirable Type III, Class II Hard Coat Anodizing and weighs in at 13.5 ounces (12″ model). While this sounds substantially heavier than most, this includes the barrel nut (titanium), and all mounting hardware. Overall, the Wedge Lock handguard is 1.5 ounces less than the Geissele MK 8 handguard, and 2.5 ounces heavier than the BCM KMR handguard. This rail features, by far, one of the thinnest internal and external diameters on the market. Coming in at on 1.225 inches (internal), this allows for a more natural, and universal fit among many shooters. To make a comparison for those curious, it gives an almost KMR feel in the hand, with slightly better ergonomics.
Fit, finish and feel:
The Mega Arms Wedge-Lock is well machined and finished, giving a smooth overall appearance. I noticed no machining marks, rough spots, or metal burrs. The rail overall was well “dehorned” and featured no sharp corners or areas that would get caught on gear, barriers or other obstacles.
Where to get Mega Arms AR15 parts
Brownells have a variety of parts from Mega Arms.
- Mega Arms uses a unique and patented “single screw fastening system” that allows for not only easy removal, but also a very solid installation. The fastener and locking system applies even pressure to the barrel nut and has a solid interface.
- The Wedge Lock handguard features a simplistic and unique “anti rotation” system that it consists of two small set screws, commonly seen among most handguards (especially those featuring round, proprietary barrel nuts). This one, however, features a small, stainless steel pin, that literally pins (firmly might I add) into Mega Arms billet upper receivers and into the end of the handguard itself. This design isn’t typically seen on other AR15 handguards and I believe was a “fail safe” addition. It’s not necessary to use, and to utilize this design would require gunsmithing work on all non Mega Arms (or Hodge Defense Systems) AR type rifles. When in use, for the rail to be knocked “out of alignment” would require sheering the alignment pin.
- The minimalistic design of the Wedge Lock handguard reduces weight.
- With the exposure of so much surface area of the barrel, would the shooters hands get uncomfortable under a more “sustained fire”, or “High round count” situation
- Like most handguards these days, the Wedge Lock utilizes a “locking system” for rail attachments for a cleaner profile and weight savings. This particular test model featured the “Key Mod” attachment points. However, the “M-Lok” system is available as well. Weight is further reduced by the use of a titanium alloy barrel nut assembly. This saves substantial weight over its steel counterpart, and is more rigid than 7,000 series aerospace aluminum.
On the range:
Numerous range trips dispelled a lot of theories and doubts on the abilities and usability. I worried that the relatively small diameter and amount of material removed from the extrusion during manufacturing may result in a negative outcome in terms of rigidity and heat dissipation. However, I am pleased to report that the Mega Arms Wedge Lock handguard remained solid, and the minimalistic design and large surface area actually aided to the heat dissipation overall. In this range session I also tested the Airborne Arms LLC’s Geronimo AR-15 trigger in the same rifle. Numerous mag dumps were completed in rapid succession. The handguard became mildly lukewarm, but was far from uncomfortable.
This is a very well thought out, designed and executed system.
- Natural feel in the hand when shooting
- KeyMod or M-Lok variants available
- Wide range of lengths available (7, 9, 12, 14 & 16 inches)
- Unique anti rotation system to maintain top rail alignment
- With its low internal diameter (1.225 inches), it will not fit an “under the handguard sound suppressor“. To those seeking a more integrally suppressed rifle look, this handguard is definitely not usable.
- Price vs other products. Most shooters will not spend $300 for a handguard system (even those seeking high end equipment) unless it offers some type of advantage. While the Mega Arms Wedge Lock handguard finish is supreme, excellent design, workmanship, and great overall fit and finish. I suspect that most people will choose a BCM KMR Alpha (which has a similar feel) or Geissele’s Mk. series for $80-$100 cheaper.
- Unique anti rotation system to maintain top rail alignment (yep… both a pro and a con)
The Mega Arms Wedge Lock AR-15 handguard was an instant hit with me. I love the sleek design, beautiful lines, and typical Mega Arms quality.
I see it’s design qualities after burning through a case of ammunition during testing. It’s not simply a “round aluminum tube”, but rather, appears to have been designed around the human hand and user needs. I continue to find favorable traits outside of its “natural” feel.
It is hard not to have mixed feelings about the proprietary anti-rotation system which only mates to Mega Arms receivers without gunsmithing work. Most practical shooters and firearms owners want the use of all supplied equipment features. Which likely means either buying a Mega Arms upper receiver or having their upper receiver milled to accommodate the anto-rotation pin. To be fair, the “pin, anti rotation” is simply a secondary alignment safeguard. The primary anti rotation system is universal.
“Botique item”, or a useful tool, tough enough for a hard use or a defensive role?
The Mega Arms Wedge Lock AR-15 handguard offers everything I would demand for a weapon ready for battle. Considering that Hodge Defense Systems designed the Wedge Lock AR-15 handguard with this particular purpose in mind and the results of my demanding testing regime, I see no reason to believe it would fail. It has proven itself as tough and quality as BCM, Geissele, or any other similar handguard I have tested.
The ultimate test of any product is whether you trust it enough to stake your life on it. I definitely trust and highly recommend this product for a defensive/hard use role, as well as for 3-Gun competition.