by Jay Grazio - Thursday, September 20, 2012
With the ever-rising popularity of the AR-15 pattern rifle, a natural market for aftermarket parts has arisen. Different stocks, pistol grips and handguards have long been a mainstay of the AR-15 aftermarket. With the increasing availability of railed handguards, vertical foregrips have become a popular accessory for the nation's most popular long gun.
Foregrips are certainly nothing new—the legendary Thompson submachine gun was so equipped back in the 1920s. A foregrip allows the gun to more quickly be brought to a "ready" position, sacrificing a degree of accuracy for faster target acquisition. Since the point of connection with the support hand is no longer directly in line with the rifle, but rotated 90 degrees, precision shooters prefer more traditional handguards. With the rise of pistol-caliber AR-15 pattern rifles and the increasing use of the .223 Rem. as a defensive round, though, the utility of a vertical foregrip has seen increased interest.
Several different polymer foregrips were acquired for testing from Tapco, The Mako Group and Magpul industries. Additionally, a UTG model I have had for a while was added as a fourth option. In the interest of comparing similar functions, only the standard-size, straight foregrips are reviewed. All units were installed on the same Bushmaster XM15-E2S carbine in the same position on the fore-end.
The least expensive option of the four (MSRP: $12.95), the UTG grip is manufactured in China and was the easiest to install on the rifle. The grip has individual finger grooves to assist when holding the unit, and there is a section on either side of the grip for attaching a pressure switch for a light or laser mounted to the rifle.
The unit installs by twisting on the mounting hardware—a polymer insert with a hollow portion for battery storage. A detent engages one of the rail slots to lock it into place, and with sufficient application of force was found to be a stable and solid platform. After several sessions at the range, slight loosening was discovered, but the grip can quickly be tightened without tools whenever it works loose.
The Tapco grip (MSRP: $21.99) is made in the U.S. and is utilitarian in appearance. It utilizes a series of grooves to provide solid purchase, and despite appearances to the contrary, does not pinch upon firing the rifle with the grip installed. Test-firing did not cause any noticeable change in the security of the attachment point.
Installation is simple and requires only a flathead screwdriver, resulting in very solid attachment to the rifle. The screw-attachment point mates with one of the slots in the rail and keeps the unit firmly in position. The Tapco unit also has storage inside the grip for small items like batteries, and the storage area is accessed via a rubber pressure-fit plug.
The TAL-4 originates in Israel through FAB Defense and is sold in the U.S. through The Mako Group, at an MSRP of $42.99. Like the two previous units, the TAL-4 has a small area inside the grip for storage of small items, which is accessed by twisting the fore-end cap off the grip (it even has a slot to make it easier). There are removable panels on either side of the ribbed grip for pressure switches to be installed if needed.
Installation was most difficult with this unit, with both a flathead screwdriver needed to loosen the attachment point and a locking portion that needed to be depressed in order to affix the grip to the gun. This provides engagement at two separate rail slots; making this one of the most secure units installed. Even after repeated range trips with the TAL-4 installed, it was still quite firmly attached.
Magpul Industries MOE RVG (Rail Vertical Grip)Magpul has one of the hottest foregrips with its Angled Fore Grip (AFG), but the company also has a standard vertical grip available (MSRP: $24.95). It's American made, and the grip itself is textured to ensure tight purchase when in use. This grip is hollow inside, with no provisions for storage, although that makes it the lightest of the grips tested. It's also slightly shorter than the others, but still allows for a full four-fingered grip.
The RVG has the most robust installation method of the grips tested. Two flathead screws are spaced one slot apart to allow for an extremely secure pairing of grip to rail. The grip is quite comfortable despite its smaller size (which comes in handy when fitting the rifle into smaller cases), and did not appear to loosen after numerous range sessions.
All four of the vertical foregrips tested offered different value as an accessory for the AR-15 platform. Some were inexpensive, making them ideal for those who aren't sure if a vertical foregrip is right for their needs. Others are no-nonsense—built to last through the hardest use without moving. All four grips are available for significantly less than $50, provide solid attachment to a Picatinny rail and change the ergonomics of AR handling. There are many options available, so finding one that's right for you should not be difficult.
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