Gear Review: Seekins SP3R V3 Handguard

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Saturated doesn’t begin to describe the world of AR-15 accessories. Within the hand guard market alone, there are hundreds, if not thousands of options available to the consumer. We’ve tried to review as many of them as we can, but at some point, it all starts to look the same. Free float? Check. Full-length Picatinny rail along the top? Check. KeyMod or M-LOK? Check and check. To stand out at all, a hand guard has to really be different. With its home plate-like shape, Seekins SP3R V3 is nothing if not different . . .

I first came across the SP3 while reviewing the Ruger Precision Rifle. I liked the rifle, but longed for a hand guard that more closely mimicked a flat-bottomed forend found on something like a McMillan A5. Shooting from awkward and improvised positions requires a rifle that can remain stable on whatever is available. The rounded forend of the factory-installed Samson rail allowed for too much lateral rocking when manipulating the bolt. Topping the receiver with two-and-a-half pounds of scope and mount certainly didn’t help things.

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I sent my review over to the folks at Seekins and before long, I had one of their rails in my sweaty little hands. They included a note with it let me know that installation on the RPR wasn’t recommended as it created an unsightly gap between the receiver and the rail. But if you’ve read any of my work prior to this, you know I don’t really listen well. So I mounted it up.

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As promised, it looked terrible, but it worked like a charm. Finally, the RPR could be set down on a ledge and it would assume a stable position. I goofed around with it a bit more before the RPR had to go home and I’ll admit I thought it worked very well. Since then, Seekins has come out with a RPR-specific version of this hand guard that better addresses the gap you see above.

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With the original Samson rail back on the RPR, I had a rail to use and the realization that I still didn’t know if it mated well with an AR-15. At roughly the same time, my inbox dinged to let me know that the ATF had found me suitable for short barreled rifle ownership. Brand new stamp in hand, I set out building up a 300 BLK upper.

The issue was that I had a twelve inch hand guard and a ten and a half inch barrel that would need about seven inches of silencer to hang off the end. Luckily, someone at Seekins owns a crystal ball. My inch and a half diameter Thunder Beast Ultra 7 just fits underneath with millimeters of clearance to spare.

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Clearance issues put to bed, I got to installing my barrel using the included oddball barrel nut. Given how this rail is shaped, theres simply no way to use a standard round nut. Seekins has resolved this by creating a nut that threads on to the upper receiver of any standard AR-15 and is timed to line everything up. The actual barrel nut threads into that interface and locks everything down.

This particular type of mount is similar to the one that ODIN Works uses on their K-Mod forend. Like ODIN, Seekins does not include a wrench to help your torque wrench interface. If you want to do this right, you’ll need a 1-1/8″ crowfoot wrench. If you don’t own one, might I suggest a large adjustable wrench and a bit of “oomph?” Torque specs be damned.

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Once the barrel nut is installed, slide the hand guard over the nut, and lock it in place with the eight Torx screws included in the package. In my particular case, I found that I had a gap between the upper and the hand guard as seen above. It seems that every barrel nut of this style has resulted in an unsightly gap for me. Perhaps my inexpensive uppers are to blame.

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Gap issues aside, the SP3 seems to be a very well thought out, albeit slightly heavy piece of machinery. If you were searching for a lightweight rail, this is certainly not going to be the droid you’re looking for. Not to worry though, Seekins does offer something like that in their NOXs line of guards. At 10.7 oz for just the rail, the SP3R is right about the middle of the pack for weight, but you’re really paying up for the shape.

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Out on the range, the SP3R really shines. The flat base is absolutely rock solid and allows for steady shooting from positions off barricades and obstacles. Naturally, a short barreled 300 BLK is not a precision rifle by any stretch of the imagination, but the flat bottomed base certainly hasn’t hurt my ability to ring steel at various distances on the range from odd shooting positions.

Spending some more time with it, it is apparent that Seekins really did put some thought into this rail. As you can see above, the QD slots at the front of the hand guard have been dimpled to help lock the sling loops of your favorite sling in place. It is a subtle touch, but one that is appreciated.

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Looking further, Seekins has done an excellent job with their machining of the M-LOK slots, vents, and Picatinny along the top. All of the surfaces were smooth to the touch, and I never had any issues getting M-LOK compatible accessories to lock into place. Likewise, anything made to the 1913 standard fit along the top of the rail with ease. While the rail along the top isn’t continuous with the receiver, you would still be able to mount a variety of accessories along the top to be in line with your primary optic.

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Specifications: Seekins Precision SP3R V3 Rail

  • Platform: AR-15 (Ruger Precision Rifle Specific Model Available)
  • Length: 12″ and 15″
  • Accessory Attachment: Full length Picatinny Rail along the top with M-LOK or KeyMod interface
  • Weight: 10.7 oz for 12″ M-LOK model (does not include barrel nut)
  • Price: $169 for 12″ $179 for 15″

Ratings (out of five stars):

Fit, Finish, Build Quality * * * * *
All of the machining work on the SP3R was uniform, to spec, and free of obvious defects. The anodizing was even and free of any rough spots or patches. Overall, this hand guard was built to a high standard of quality and arrived in great condition.

Installation * * *
I really don’t like this method of barrel nut attachment for no other reason than the unsightly gap it creates between the upper and the hand guard. In Seekins’ case, I’m not sure how they could switch barrel nut styles as they are dealing with a very irregular shape. Still, reasons. Furthermore, installation requires a special tool to do properly, and that tool is not included with the rail. If you’re considering purchasing one of these rails, be sure to find a 1-1/8″ crowfoot wrench.

Function * * * * *
By no means is this a svelte, barrel hugging rail, and you should expect that getting a super sweet, over the top, C-clamp grip is going to be a slightly less ergonomic affair. That said, the triangular shape fills the hand pretty well, and is quite comfortable for long shooting sessions. Off a barrier, the SP3R really shines thanks to the flat bottomed design.

Overall * * * *
My only real knock against the SP3R is the barrel nut attachment method. Otherwise, this is a very functional rail that doesn’t break the bank. It is a little odd looking, something bound to happen when function comes first, but out on the range, it works really, really well. The available lengths are just about right for those looking to build up a SPR style AR for long(ish) range shooting, and the weight puts it right in the middle of the pack for the market at large.

comments

  1. avatar WRH says:

    I’d much rather have my Diamodhead VRS-T rail. Comfortable triangular shape and it fits without an unsightly gap. It doesn’t have Keymod or MLok but I don’t want or need them.

  2. avatar mudshark says:

    Good lord, more stuff for the AR playform then a 1911. Im still saying short barrels on a rifle caliber defeats the purpose of a rifle caliber. UZI for you to keep adding stuff when a MAC 11
    would do. LOL. Keep the faith, peace out

    1. avatar Curtis in IL says:

      Imagine a silenced, subsonic 300 Blackout 220 grain bullet out of a 10 inch barrel for home defense. It’s similar energy to a .45 ACP, out of a platform that’s small enough for CQB yet with a much higher ballistic coefficient for retained velocity downrange and able to score headshots at 100 yards.

      … If only it didn’t require $400 worth of permission slips from Uncle Sam.

      1. avatar CarlosT says:

        It’s like the Thompson, upgraded for the 21st century.

      2. avatar Roger says:

        If you weld the suppressor to the barrel, and the total length is 16 inches, you only need one stamp. I went that route with a Liberty Leonidas and couldnt be happier.

        1. avatar daveR says:

          Just did the math and a Liberty Leonidas is $1850+$200=$2000

          My SBR upper plus Silencerco Omega suppressor is $600+$800+$200+$200=$1800.

          Plus the Omega can be swapped out to other platforms…

        2. avatar BillC says:

          Yeah, I’m with DaveR on that one. The Leonidas has to be the least savvy purchase. about $2k for the upper/suppressor and it’s just over 17″ for “their build version”. I went the Omega route with a 9.5″ barrel and it’s shorter than theirs, and I get a suppressor I can put on every centerfire rifle I own and tailor its endcaps and attachment methods.

    2. avatar int19h says:

      The whole point of .300 BLK was to create a rifle caliber that works well out of shorter barrels while retaining the benefits such as BC and energy of a rifle round.

      And it works really well.

      1. avatar BillC says:

        It’s getting really old how many times I read in the comments of sites of people saying “I don’t get the 300 blackout”. It’s clearly not a do-all. No, it’s not long-range system or does it replace a .308 or even a standard M4 5.56mm. People don’t seem to understand that it is indeed a PDW style cartridge that can be suppressed well and actually reachs out to a longer range than standard pistol-cal PDWs. For the subsonics, yes it’s the energy of a .45, but it will actually take that energy FURTHER. Supersonics, it can reach just as far, and carry more energy than 5.56mm, albeit at a different trajectory/drop-rate. The parts commonality of a standard AR15 is a huge bonus.

        “Oh, but it’s so expensive, boohoo hoo.” Kinda, supersonic range ammo is getting pretty cheap, not surp 5.56 cheap, but close. Subs can be had for under a buck now. It’s the nature of a heavy OTM .308 round.

  3. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    How do you get that barrel nut timed and torqued correctly? Does it come with a set of shims?

    1. From the pics, it looks like shims would only increase the gap. One obvious way to close the gap would be to take down the outside shoulder on the barrel extension which doesn’t seem too interesting to me – it is spec’d at .250 so there is a little bit of meat there to work with. With the nut being 18 pitch, the most you’d have to take off would be 55 thousandths for a full turn (taking it down from .250 to .195) which might entail having to relieve the back side of the nut if it touches the upper receiver. on tightening.

      Personally, I don’t think there is any excuse for a manufacturer to come up with a proprietary mounting system that doesn’t permit getting your rail right up the upper receiver. Anything else is a compromise that looks like hell IMO.

      I’m down on two aspects of a number of hand guards I’ve seen and being able to close the gap with the upper receiver is one of them.

      Needless full length upper rails is another thing I can do without – no one really needs them but just about every manufacturer insists on putting them one – at least quad rails seem to falling out of style. Having the ability to install a section of rail where you need it makes for a much cleaner and lighter installation – IMO at least.

      I think the review stars are getting inflated a bit lately – 5 stars (the highest rating) for something you can’t get a C-clamp style grip on seems a little generous. I realize the flat bottom is a plus but still…

      1. avatar int19h says:

        >> for something you can’t get a C-clamp style grip on

        Not all people like that clamp. It being a subjective matter, it makes sense that this is not a factor in the score.

        Basically, if you want C-clamp, this is simply not a product for you, and its description makes it abundantly clear, as does the review. So its score shouldn’t matter to you.

    2. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      It consists of a two part barrel nut, an outer para that threads on to the upper receiver until timed properly and then is secured by a jam nut that threads into the outer nut

  4. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I think I found my first mod for my RPR.
    Darn you Tyler!

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      Do it! I got to shoot the RPR while it was still wearing this rail and it makes a night and day difference.

      1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

        Got home and whipped out the debit card…. Back ordered. Dang it!

  5. avatar Mr. Woodcock says:

    This is the only thing I dislike about the Seekins 308 AR. The square bottom on the handguard is just ugly.

  6. avatar MichaelinPA says:

    I think your barrel nut is out of spec.

    I have a Seekins BAR QUAD and a Several ALG EMRs and I do not have those gaps and they use the same style barrel nuts.

  7. avatar James69 says:

    I want one that has a twist to it like a drill to match my hammer drill barrel.

  8. avatar Cole says:

    When I fit a JP hand guard it actually says that gap is good because a tight fit between the handguard and receiver can decrease accuracy.

    1. avatar James H says:

      We will soon see. I just put one together and didn’t like the gap. Put the receiver in a lathe and trued the barrel seat and the front of the receiver. Fitted the whole thing to fit tightly. Don’t know how it will shoot yet, but this set up is solid as a rock. If this doesn’t work, I will back it off and live with the gap. Was a lot of work and sure looks good though.

  9. avatar tresk21 says:

    Looks like somebody is a Seekins fan. Giving out 4 stars to a gimmicky rail with that much of a gap? Doesn’t track well with me. Seekins should have made sure that gap wouldn’t exist (in all scenarios) before releasing that product.

    1. avatar Chad A says:

      It doesn’t have that gap if ordered with a Seekins upper. Note Seekins doesn’t recommend installing it this way…

      1. avatar tresk21 says:

        Yeah, I saw where he said they don’t recommend installing it on the Ruger Precision… But later in the article he says he tried it on his standard AR and still had a gap. Did I read that right? Did I miss something? I’ll insert my foot squarely in my mouth if I did.

        1. avatar Rambeast says:

          If you look at seekins billet uppers and lowers, they are built with more material left on after machining. I wonder if this is why the gap looks so big.

    2. avatar Zane K says:

      I mounted my SP3R V3 rail last December to a Rainier Arms Forged M4 upper receiver and there is absolutely no gap to be seen or felt.

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