The AR platform is quickly becoming trusted as being a precision gas gun. The ability to customize your AR with an 18-20 inch barrel, straight pistol grip, and lightweight triggers has made the AR-15 a very competitive gun in many precision gas gun matches. As many know though, the handguard can often be an issue when it comes to attaching a bipod that is able to be quickly removed or adjusted on the rail. The ARCA handguard from Israel Weapon Industries fixes that issue.

The Problem

During precision gas gun matches there will often be many different barricades that you will need to shoot off of, sometimes two different barricades in one stage. This means that the bipod may need to be taken off of the gun quickly or even moved back and forth dependent on the width of the prop. M-LOK and Picatinny handguards, handguard that most AR platforms have, do not allow bipod adapters to be moved back and forth without removing the entire bipod. These adapters also usually need another piece installed onto the rail to clamp onto, furthering the worry for pieces to come loose. To sum it up, these rails can be slow in removing the bipod, not enable the bipod to be moved back and forth, and have the need for extra parts.

shooting off stone prop with gas gun
My bipod is currently all the way forward on the rail because I wanted to leave it on for weight but wanted it out of the way for the stone barricade. This was at a Quantified Performance match at Quantico.

The Solution

The IWI Arca rail is one of the very few ARCA rails on the market for the AR-15 platform. Most will buy rails and install the ARCA piece on it however the rail from IWI comes with the ARCA already machined into it. With a simple installation procedure you can now have a strong ARCA rail that with the right adapter on the bipod, allows the bipod to quickly detach and slide back and forth on the rail without removal.

The IWI ARCA Handguard

“In close collaboration with Jeff Cross, owner of Cross Machine and Tool, IWI US has witnessed a growing demand, in the M4 community, to both utilize and fully integrate the popular ARCA Swiss rail system into the actual rail.”-IWI

MSRP: $249.99
Length: 15.5″ and 17″

iwi arca handguard on tripod
The ARCA handguard from IWI allows for easy clipping on on tripods like this one. Just ensure that you have an ARCA adapter on your tripod head already. Photo: IWI

Using During a Precision Gas Gun Match

“The endless modularity that comes along with putting any ARCA rail on your rifle goes without saying.. The 15+ inches of flat surface was a very welcomed bonus, and sits very flat on almost anything you set the handguard on.” Matt Kitzmiller IWI Proteam Shooter

“The ARCA style rail incorporated in my Zion hand guard is crucial for fast deployment and positional changes when using a bipod or shooting bags in 3 Gun. It allows me to move my bipod close to the magwell for shooting off of small short spaces and allows me to run a bag for barricades or different shooting props. This hand guard modification is a must have for competition shooters, military or law enforcement.” George Dorbert IWI Proteam Shooter

The IWI ARCA handguard shines in precision matches for a few reasons. These matches being gas gun matches such as the IWI Gas Gun Challenge in Pennsylvania and Quantified Performance Gas Gun matches. Both of these matches have the shooter engaging targets from 200-1000 yds and off of different sizes props all on the clock. If anything comes loose on your handguard you will often miss targets, thus losing points and time fixing it. If you cannot quickly release your bipod or shift it between props you will also lose time and points. All reasons that the ARCA rail already machined into the handguard is a great choice for matches.

shooting off of a tree
There are a lot of different props in precision gas gun matches. This tree had two different shooting positions on it.

Below are a few things that need a strong ARCA handguard to be successful.

Tripod: Sometimes in a match there will be a set up stage that makes the shooter shoot off of a tripod. Sometimes this can mean throwing a bag over the tripod and shooting off of it like that or it can mean “clipping in” meaning clipping the tripod onto your gun. Many tripods will often have ARCA adapters for their binoculars thus allowing an ARCA handguard to clip in. A much more stable way to shoot if you have the time to do it.

Different Sized Props: Sometimes there will be two props on one stage such as a barrel and a tire. Using bipod on either of these props involves sliding the bipod back and forth on the rail between props or even before the stage begins. If you have a small piece of Picatinny where your bipod is mounted, that is just simply not possible. However a full rail of ARCA that the bipod can be moved on is conducive to these bipod adjustments.

shooter shooting off of a tire
While this isn’t an IWI handguard, note that there is an ARCA rail on the bottom of this shooters handguard. Also notice that the bipod is pushed back a bit on his rail to match the tire width. The IWI Handguard does not need an extra part for the ARCA rail because it is already machined in.

Rail Mounted Bags: There are shooting bags that are connected to the rail such as The RailChanger from Area419 and Armageddon Gear. These products allow the shooting bag to not have to be held but instead already on your gun which can save time throughout the stage. The adapter on this product is ARCA meaning it needs an ARCA rail/handguard to connect to.

area 419 rail mounted bag
Notice the ARCA adapter on the front of the bag. This mounts to your railing to keep the bag on the gun and not have to have to shooter hold it. Photo: AREA419

Bipod/Bipod Adapter: Maybe the largest positive thing about having the IWI ARCA handguard is that there are many bipod adapters out there that now allow the bipod to be connected to ARCA. Thus enabling it to be quickly detached off the gun with the turn of a knob or be slid back and forth on the entire rail without having to remove it.

For more info on the rail and how to properly install it see below.

Anna Martinez
Anna is a Federal Weapons Gunsmith with 8 years of previous experience within the US Army Ordnance Corps (91F). She has taken multiple armorer and weapons proficiency classes to include FN, Knights Armament, and Small Arms Weapons Expert course. She also writes for American Gunsmith, AR Build Junkie, and is active in Precision Rifle sports around the nation.