MO’E Gear, Less Problems

Yeah that’s right, I went there.

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There was a long period during the noughties where Magpul were absolute kings of the AR-15 plastic accessory word (yes folks, ‘polymer’ is still just plastic), but they went in to something of a hiatus for a little while after the notorious and sudden departures of the Costa/Haley partnership.  The MOE line up, the MIAD grips and CTR stocks etc remained very good options, but once the likes of the B5 SOPMOD Bravo, the Mission First Tactical Minimalist stocks and the Umbrella/BCM decreased-rake pistol grips started gaining traction, it seemed like Magpul were starting to lose relevance somewhat.  Especially with the rather unoriginal ACS-L and STR releases, the STR inparticular being a rather poor stock to my mind given how incredibly bulky and heavy it is.

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Fast forward a little however and we see the emergence of the M-LOK system, a raft of great new slings, many products born from Magpul CORE and the MOE Slim Line options.

I have to say, when I first saw the SL stock, grip and handguard online they did not float my boat in the slightest.  Nothing about them looked at all innovative or interesting, they seemed entirely bland and my enthusiasm for the company fell even further.  However, my mission to continue to try out and test as many releases and different options to be found on the tactical gear and equipment market continues as always, and since I was starting to have a few too many B5 and MFT stocks on my AR-type airsoft guns, I decided that some variety wouldn’t hurt.

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I have to say that once I actually took a closer look at this stock upon receiving it, my expectations were greatly exceeded.  What you don’t see from side-on pictures of this product is the slightly enlarged profile, this isn’t the same thickness as the old MOE or standard Colt ‘LE’ AR stocks, it’s very much reminiscent of the B5 SOPMOD Bravo which strikes a balance between a the aforementioned older designs and the popular Crane/SOPMOD stocks that feature battery storage tubes on either side.  This middle ground has been quite popular recently and for good reason, the cheek weld is improved over the older minimal designs without being excessively wide.

The old MOE stock did not feature a QD sling point, whereas the more expensive CTR did.  Now, not only do you get a QD point on your MOE-SL, but a rotation-limited one at that.  The buttpad isn’t exactly a pad, it’s near enough completely solid, however it’s presented at a good angle for interface with your body or armour carrier with a reasonable texture for grip.  I don’t think it’ll as have as good traction as a soft, more rubbery end plate, but it’ll certainly be durable.  The adjustment lever does what it’s supposed to do, it’s not quite as quick to move as the old design since it’s split in half by the body of the stock and you’re left with 2 quite small levers instead of a single large one, but how often do you need to adjust your length of pull anyway?

The feature that impressed me the most on this stock however comes in the form of the method used to take out wobble and play around the buffer tube.  The previous MOE was simply a close fit to the mil spec receiver extension, however in the SL they’ve incorporated a couple of clever little leaf springs internally that exert positive pressure against the rifle, keeping it pretty firm on just about any brand of buffer tube (and the tolerances in the inside of the stock are quite good to begin with).

The tried and true Magpul plastic is always a solid, dependable option and given the price I think this buttstock is an excellent option for pretty much any rifle that can mount it.

Gunfighter Cool – BCM KAGs

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A little back the Haley Strategic Partners store had a big sale on and they were offering these Bravo Company Manufacturing angled grips for $10 a piece, which is about £6.50 ish.  For a US made product from BCM it seemed rude to not at least give them a try at that price.

The above pictured doesn’t give the best representation of scale, but sufficed to say if you’re expecting something the size of a Magpul AFG2 you need to shrink your expectations somewhat.  The Kinesthetic Angled Foregrip is somewhere between an actual foregrip and a handstop; perhaps leaning slightly more towards the latter.  It’s only as wide as the plane upon which the KeyMod slots are cut, where the AFG is wider than a picatinny rail, so there’s not a lot of meat on the KAG.  Personally I’m somewhere between a small and medium in gloves and only about half of my palm actually sits on the angled surface, which personally I have to say I’m not a fan of ergonomically, for me it just doesn’t feel all that great.

What this device does do with the hooked section in the plastic is provide a solid, non-slip traction point for the shooter to secure the weapon firmly back in to the torso without any fear of their hand slipping back, no matter how much rearwards pressure they exert.  Again, due to the thin profile it’s not exactly super comfortable when doing so, but it does what is required from a hand-stop with minimal cost and barely any weight.  The serrated back surfaces give you a good point to apply forwards pressure should you be using the front hook against a wall or barricade.

I’m not going to smash one of these against a wall to see how it fares but I can tell the BCM plastic is clearly not cheap, brittle stuff and the attachment hardware is of course to the quality you’d expect from Bravo Company.  The versions I have here are KeyMod but at the time of writing you can pick these up from the BCM store in KeyMod and Picatinny flavours in either FG, FDE, Black or Grey for around $19.

Put Something On The End Of It

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Here in the UK, muzzle devices fall under the components of a firearm which it would be illegal to purchase and fit to an airsoft replica (technically just flash hiders, but it’s not worth the risk given the punishments).  So given that rifle barrel thread specs on real comps and brakes are different to those found on airsoft equivalents, it leaves us with replica muzzle devices being the only real option, even though some firearm accessories are quite legal to own and fit to a replica (buttstocks and other simple parts that do not contribute to the function of the weapon).

Within the field of replica muzzle devices I’ve tried many brands (G&P, King Arms, VFC etc) and to cut right to the chase, PTS accessories are always my go-to in this area now and have been for some time.  Most airsoft manufacturers copy various real firearm devices but do not license them, which isn’t ideal in my books and more crucially they also manufacture these items (in most cases) as cheaply as possible.  Often using chunks of cast pot metal with incredibly weak paint finishes.

PTS hold licenses from AAC and Griffin Aramament (amongst others) and produce a wide range of very high quality flash hiders, compensators, muzzle brakes and everything inbetween.  They’re made using good aluminium with tough anodising on the outsides, meaning they not only look and feel far nicer than most of the competition, they interface with the relevant silencers that PTS also manufacture very nicely indeed; not to mention many of them come supplied with spacer and alignment washers to ensure you don’t have to purchase any other parts to get a correct fit on your gun.

Does this quality come at a price?  Yes somewhat, you’ll certainly pay more for a PTS hider or comp than you would an unbranded chinese copy that’s been made with the sole aim of selling at the lowest possible RRP.  However in my experience your muzzle is something that will definitely take some wear and the brunt of a few knocks when using a gun, regardless how hard you try and keep it off the ground, so it’s not something to skimp on.

Pictured above is a PTS Griffin compensator fitted to a TM recoil M4, as well as another of the same comps which I purchased based on the quality displayed in the original item.

Hexmag Midcaps

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When the announcement broke regarding these midcap magazines, I was surprised in a very positive way.  The airsoft market these days cares little for the RS-faithfulness that prompted me to get in to the sport in the first place back in 2006 and these were a very welcome return to form.  The 30 round 5.56mm Hexmags have received generally very positive reviews across the board.  They look super-fly, perform very well indeed in the ergonomics department and seem to be managing pretty well in terms of providing a competitor to the Magpul gold standard option as far as the shooting market in the US goes.

Given the entirely fictional nature of so many products released to the airsoft world these days, I had a to snap up a 4 set (personally, I’ll generally go in to a skirmish with 1 in the gun and 3 spares on my gear as a base level) and construction quality wise they don’t disappoint.  They’re not quite up there with the old PTS PMAGs or their new EPMs, but these are the closest alternative I’ve come across so far and I own a lot of 30 rounder/standard capacity/military issue 556 style plastic midcaps.

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They’re available in the classic tactical trifecta of course – black, olive drab and tan/FDE.  There’s also a myriad of replacement kits to swap the hexagonal base plate retention detent and the internal followers to pretty much any colour you could want and make certain these are unique to you if you drop one on the field, but the stock orange they provide is already pretty awesome in my book.

So far I’ve only tried fitment in my Avalon (VFC) rifle and sadly they don’t do so well; they wobble a lot and I can pull some of them out fairly easily without actuating the mag release.  However, this is only one AEG and mag wells on 556 rifles vary a lot in the airsoft world, so I’ll report again once I’ve tried the fitment and feeding in more replicas.

To QD or not to QD

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Have a QD point? Want to hook on your MS2/3 or other non-QD sling?Magpul Industries Corp. has a gadget for that.

Can look a little funky (as demonstrated here on the Fortis ManufacturingREV rail) but it’s small and locks in totally solid; no rotation once tightened in to place.

I picked up a pair of these as so many forends incorporate QD points right in to the metal and having these on hand means you can almost instantly switch from needing a QD sling to being able to use any sort of hook you like.