Review // HAO MK16 9.3″ Handguard

Before we get started I’m just going to get the disclaimers out of the way. I am in absolutely no way associated with HAO, and I also didn’t pay for the rail. It has been on loan to me from Rich (the author of The Reptile House) on a totally no strings attached basis, and purely to let me have a totally unbiased opinion of it. On with the review.

First Impressions

Angry gun MCMR
The ill fated AG MCMR

Upon receiving the handguard right at the start of the COIVD 19 lockdown, I was actually PTWless, as it was off receiving an unfucking courtesy of Tackleberry, and along with it my Angry Gun MCMR. This meant that I had nothing to do a side by side comparison with, and gives even more credit to my first impressions of the HAO rail.

Ladies and gentlemen, the hype is real.

We’ll go into more detail in a minute, but as soon as I unwrapped the rail the finish, details and all round sturdiness of the handguard just left me smitten and made the excitement of my PTW returning multiply tenfold. When that day eventually came I had planned to swap the rails over on a regular basis and get a good feel for one vs. the other, but when the two were finally put next to one another, I sold the Angry Gun rail.

HAO vs. Angry Gun

HAO MK16 Handguard engravings

This isn’t a slagging match, but it still has to be said. The comparison between the two handguards is night and day, and if you’re serious about building a nice gun you have to lean more towards the HAO. I still stand by my thoughts that the Angry Gun rail is a good alternative to the real article IF you want the MCMR look but don’t want to pay for it, but if you’re just looking for a free floated MLOK rail then there should only be one choice.

Aesthetics

HAO MK16  Handguard overview

Lets face it, if you’re reading this article then it’s highly unlikely that you’re looking for a handguard based purely on functionality, and in fact are probably more interested in how the rail looks and feels both to you and those you are trying to flex upon.

Well, it looks like a real Geissele MK16 rail, largely because the HAO MK16 rail started life as a 3D scan of the real article, and an in depth study of all the looks, nooks and crannies of the real Geisselle rails. Anyone who is familiar with HAO will be aware of their almost OCD attention to detail, and no time was wasted in applying that mentality to the MK16.

As far as colours go, I don’t have a legit MK16 to hand with which to compare it to but by all accounts the HAO rail is as close to the real colour band as you are going to get, again, because they anodised the rail in the exact same way as the real article. Overall the HAO MK16 just looks the fucking part. I can’t put it any plainer than that.

HAO MK16  Handguard rail markers

My favourite aesthetic feature of the HAO MK16 has to be the engravings. They’re deep, sharp and devoid of the blatantly obvious and frankly disgusting silver giveaway of being an airsoft rail. The engravings on the MK16 are done properly, and before the anodising process, leaving deep recesses in the rail that will more than likely survive a coat or two of paint.

HAO MK16  Handguard trademarks

Functionality

While I was definitely interested in the MK16 from an aesthetic perspective, it is the functionality of the rail that convinced me in seconds to commit to it. It just has a feel of quality, and that is largely down to its very tight tolerances. Upon receiving the rail I obviously had to extract the barrel nut before installation, which meant *visible arousal* loosening the self retaining torx screws. I can’t comment on the inferior MK16 clone rails, but a torx screw that keeps itself retained is enough to get my juices flowing.

HAO MK16  Handguard torx screws

The crossbolts themselves are made of steel, with a large boltface meaning that torquing them down to RS spec (i.e really fucking tight) is no problem at all, and it’s very unlikely you’ll strip the head and be stuck with a MK16 forever. With these screws removed the barrel nut can be removed with some persuasion, but this is just another sign of HAOs impeccable tolerances as the nut fits in there tighter than a nun’s cunt.

HAO MK16  Handguard barrel nut

The barrel nut itself is also somewhat remarkable, as unlike most other airsoft specific clones, it actually fits the weapon. Never before have I been able to simply crank a barrel nut on without any shims and be totally free of any barrel wobble whatsoever.

With the MK16 in place you can then start slapping stuff on it and thanks to the fact that the MLOK is properly to spec, there will be absolutely no issues mounting any high quality MLOK gear. Finally the QD sling slot is situated behind the MLOK as per the real rail, and as opposed to some other clones it actually works, and doesn’t get blocked by the barrel nut.

HAO MK16 Handguard from the front

There’s not much I can say about the rail’s “function”, as it is in fact a metal pipe with some holes in it, but as metal pipes go it’s rock solid and I have absolute faith in it both to hold any ancillaries on the front of my rifle, and the weight of the rifle altogether on the sling mount.

HAO MK16  Handguard sling mount

One thing I will say against the HAO rail is that it has fallen slightly short of my expectations as far as the durability of the finish goes, but this may simply be because they were set pretty damn high. As the rail isn’t in fact mine I haven’t subjected it to the usual carelessness that my kit normally receives, and yet despite always being transported in its own bag and not being used as an entrenching tool at any time scratches have begun to appear. 

HAO MK16  Handguard scratches

Now, metal scratches, I know that, but when you hold the MK16 rail in your hands the feel of the hard anodising does give you the expectation that you could use it as a sledgehammer and leave the surface looking newly crisp. At the end of the day this is really a non-issue as all rails will eventually scratch, but I had to say something negative about the rail to make it sound less like HAO have me on retainer.

Summary and the future

In conclusion, the HAO MK16 is quite simply fucking mint, and at a price point that the likes of Angry Gun should hang their heads in shame over. HAO have made a habit recently of dropping some absolute showstoppers in their budget line in order to entice people into their bigger ticket items and from my experience it’s a tactic that works. There is simply no way I’m going back to any other clone manufacturer, meaning its HAO or RS from here on in.

The Geardo Crow's Night Fighter upper left

Unfortunately though it’s almost time for this rail to say adieu and get it back down to its actual owner, who hasn’t seen it for the better part of a year. I’m afraid though Rich you’re going to have to wait until I get myself a black one to take its place as I’m not going without in the meantime.

Thanks for sitting through my review of the HAO MK16 9.3” handguard, if you’ve got any questions about it or just want to fire some abuse over at me then head over to my Instagram @thegeardocrow and leave it there. Cheers cunts.

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