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  /  Firearms   /  A different breed in handguards. F.A.B. Defense, Vanguard AR.

A different breed in handguards. F.A.B. Defense, Vanguard AR.

There are far more options than I can count when it comes to AR accessories. Let alone the direction and choices you can make during a build. Bringing a product into this already crowded market, it needs to stand out and provide something not currently available or make dramatic improvements on older designs and concept. F.A.B. Defense did just that with the introduction of their Vanguard AR – AR M-LOK Rail System.

Company Information:

ZFI-inc is a Israel and American based company, founded by an Israeli Army Officer, dedicated in marketing and the distribution of quality Israel manufacturers. ZFI-inc specializes in tactical equipment, holsters, and weapon accessories manufactured by some of the finest Israeli manufactures.


Vanguard AR installed
Photo by: Matt Umstead

The Numbers:

Manufacture: F.A.B. Defense

F.A.B. Defense is a company based out of Israel. They have been leading the way in the development and manufacturing high quality and cutting-edge tactical equipment. F.A.B. Defense focuses on superior ergonomics, functionality, and durability within their designs.

Model: Vangurad AR – AR M-LOK Rail System


Width: 2 in.

Height: 2.1 in.

Length: 8.1 in.

Weight: 7.4 oz.


M-LOK compatible

Two integrated QD sling swivel sockets

Available in Matt Black, OD Green, and Flat Dark Earth

MSRP: $44.00

First Impressions:

When I received the Vanguard AR handguard, I like the concept and what it brings to the market. The handguard is built exceptionally well with high-quality polymer and an innovative heatshield providing proper insulation while still allowing your barrel’s ventilation and cooling. With their handguard, they included a package of their M-LOK polymer 1913 Picatinny rails. With the numerous M-LOK slots at the 2, 3, 6, 9, and 10 O’clock positions and different length Picatinny rails to include an offset Picatinny rail, your mounting options are almost limitless. This combination allows the mounting of M-LOK accessories along with other accessory options available in 1913 Picatinny.

One of two QD sling swivels
Photo by: Matt Umstead


The installation/ replacement process was not complicated by any means. It took me a few minutes and a couple of attempts, and then just like that, it fell into place. Once I figured out the touch, the handguard was easily removed and reinstalled within seconds. This is not inductive to the design or manufacturing of the Vanguard. I had the same experience many years ago with M16A2 handguards while serving in the U.S. Marine Corps. Again, when I worked as a firearms instructor for the military. Once I figured out the finesses with removing and installing M16/M4 style handguards, it became a simple process.

Once installed, the Vanguard AR handguards fit exceptionally well and hold securely into the delta ring and handguard cap without further modifications (fitment may vary). The extra length of the handguard extends to the end of the front sight assembly. This additional length allows for vertical grips, or other hand stops to be placed farther down the handguard extending your base of support. If you have long arms, it makes for a more comfortable position that keeps your fingers off the gas block, which can get quite uncomfortable to be touching even with gloves. The F.A.B. Defense Vanguard AR – AR M-LOK Rail System eliminates this problem.

The addition of 15 M-LOK slots strategically placed thought out the handguard allows for the individualization and customization of where you mount your accessories. You are not limited to M-LOK accessories with the addition of F.A.B. Defense’s M-LOK Picatinny rail sections. These sections expand the selection of functional accessories and mounting locations with the offset rail. The option of multiple mounting platforms not only broadens the selection of accessories but allows you to continue the use of some options you may already have within your inventory.

M-LOK on the underside
Photo by: Matt Umstead

Key Takeaways:

The style and design are impeccable and reflects the company’s dedication to producing a high-quality product. Not only does the Vanguard AR handguards look good on the AR platform, but they function and perform beyond traditional M4 handguards. While handling the handguards, I liked the feel they provided without the bulk other handguards with Picatinny rails have. I felt the rifle was more maneuverable due to the grip being ergonomic and light. It is not a negative but can be a drawback depending on what your needs are with your AR. I would not recommend mounting aiming devices on this handguard, and the reasoning is that there is no set screw and clamping device to lock the handguard into place. Even though the handguard fits very tight within the delta ring and cap, there is still the slightest wiggle, which would move you zero on any aiming device.

Right side with Picatinny rail mounted
Photo by: Matt Umstead

Final Thoughts:

The F.A.B. Defense Vanguard AR – AR M-LOK Rail System is a viable option for your next AR build or if you currently have a traditional AR with a delta ring setup. If you work for a department and have an issued AR and they do not allow for preeminent modification or require you to maintain your fixed front sight assembly. The installation of this handguard does not require you to make any modification to your AR. It is installed without the need for a gunsmith to replace your delta ring with a barrel nut, remove the front sight assembly, replace it with a gas block, and finally installing a free-float handguard. That whole process could be problematic if it’s a department-issued rifle. The styling, ergonomics, and adaptability of the Vanguard AR – AR M-LOK Rail System will prove itself to be a viable option now available to the AR family lineup.

About the Author /

Matt Umstead is a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran with 4 years active service as Military Police where he spent most of his time on a Special Reaction Team becoming proficient in special tactics and response. After his time with the Marine Corps, in 2007 he transitioned into law enforcement where he spent 8 years as a federal police officer. He now spends his days in Alaska as a lead firearms instructor teaching federal police officers, contractors, and military personnel on basic marksmanship and weapons tactics for various firearms ranging from 9mm pistol up to the .50 caliber machine gun. When not at work, he enjoys hunting, fishing, camping, and hiking with his family

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