I seen on the Kvar website where it is stated that the stainless steel heat shield is optional for that handguard design. I looked at the same handguard I am holding in my hand and can't seem to figure how if I take the heat shield off it will stay locked into position because to me it appears that the heat shield presses against the barrel and keeps the handguard from moving upward when it is locked inside the handguard retainer, but I am comparing this on a non-bulgarian/non-sgl gun. Therefore, it's hard to see how its optional because without it what is keeping the handguard from sliding up? Maybe someone with an sgl rifle or a bulgarian rifle with the same setup can shed some insight on how this might be possible. My only consideration on how it might be theoretically possible is by the use of a retainer with a slot opening for the handguard steel tabs at the front, but I have yet to see a retainer with such slots built on to it.