Quad-rail fore-ends can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, such Picatinny plentitude offers nearly unlimited options for mounting accessories. On the other, it's all too easy to go overboard with add-ons and turn your gun into more of a spectacle than high-speed specialist.
Crimson Trace has a cure for the Christmas tree syndrome that plagues those operators who can't resist hanging a bunch of stuff on their carbines. The company's new MVF-515 combines three widely used accessories—vertical fore-grip, weapon light and laser—into a single unit that takes up less than 3 inches of rail space and weighs just 10 ounces.
Polymer grip panels surround a full-length frame of 6061-T6 aluminum alloy to form the body of the MVF-515. A polymer housing at the top of the fore-grip's left side contains the laser, while the thumb-sized LED module is located on the right.
Two overmolded pressure pads on each side of the fore-grip independently control the light and laser. Depressing the horizontal pad near the top of the grip area activates the light; the larger, vertical pad facilitates laser operation.
Small, circular buttons nestled beneath the laser and light housings serve as master power and function switches. You can choose constant on/off, momentary on/off, momentary strobe or any combination thereof, since the master switches are also independent. Rotating the light's bezel changes the LED output from 150 to 200 lumens. The laser is adjustable for windage and elevation using a hex key.
Two CR123 lithium batteries power the MVF-515, providing four hours of LED illumination and 48 hours of laser operation. The batteries fit inside the aluminum frame, and either of the grip panels must be removed to access them. While the design virtually eliminates the chance of the batteries getting jostled out of alignment with the contact points, it also complicates the process of replacing them. Thankfully, you need not remove the unit from your carbine's fore-end to slip in a fresh set.
The MVF-515 utilizes two steel recoil lugs and clamping assemblies with slotted hex nuts to attach to Picatinny rail fore-ends. The hex nuts are large enough to turn by hand, but a driver is required to tighten them.Crimson Trace put a lot of thought into designing the MVF-515's ergonomics. The fore-grip's rounded contours should fit naturally into hands of just about any size. Its symmetry, along with activation pads on both sides, makes it equally suited for right- and left-handed shooters. Unlike the company's discontinued VF-302 fore-grip, the MVF-515 is oriented 90 degrees to the bore when the unit is attached. Areas of molded, sandpaper-like texture keep your hand in place.
Most of my testing was with the MVF-515 mounted on the Ruger SR-556, and the laser held its zero during the almost 200 rounds I ran through the gun. I shot more than half of those rounds in low-light conditions, and the LED was as unfailing as the laser. Activation of the light and laser separately and at the same time quickly became second nature. Just as important, I was able to hold the fore-grip without inadvertently activating either.
Most AR owners will find all the accessories they need in the Crimson Trace MVF-515. If you don't, well, there will still be a lot of room left on your fore-end for more.