Today I shot a Spike's Tactical midlength AR-15 until it caught fire. The MOE handguard caught fire, that is.
I posted some photos on Facebook, and naturally, it garnered some attention. There were a number of comments about how MOE handguards suck, or plastic sucks, or that normal ARs suck. I am not very concerned about the lamentations of the ignorant, but I would like to address the comments about Magpul products from a quality standpoint.
First, I've tested normal and MOE handguards, as well as KAC aluminum handguards, from a heat dissipation standpoint in the past. In my opinion, of the polymer handguards tested, MOE handguards provide the best balance between protecting the shooters' hands and allowing the handguard and barrel to cool as quickly as possible.
Second, this MOE handguard caught fire the second time my friend Paul and I fired 500 rounds through it in under 5 minutes (semi auto). It cooled fully after the first time, because I put it in some muddy water. It started "breathing."
Then we loaded mags again and fired the second 500 rounds. At approximately 430 rounds, the handguards caught fire. We stopped to take pics, then kept shooting. We caught up to 500, then tossed it in water again.
This "exercise" is far more than any AR-15 would ever see during normal use. The AR, and M16/M4, are rifles, not light machine guns. I do not think it should reflect negatively upon the MOE handguards that they caught fire. The barrel, gas block, and gas tube were incredibly hot. The receivers of the rifle were too hot to touch with bare hands. The barrel would melt or set fire to any normal object it touched - there will be some cool followups on this.
No one should avoid MOE handguards because of this occurrence.