The following are product features and my thoughts on several styles of (vertical, or some of them are) forward grips. Vertical fore grips do look cool, but they do serve a functional purpose as well – some better than others, though it is all personal preference in the end.
Thanks to Julian, a.k.a. Optix, for letting me borrow his DSLR camera! I swear, it makes me look like a better photographer than I am.
Anywho, read on and look at the pretty pictures after the break.
First up is the KAC-style vertical grip. Characterized by plastic construction, a contoured profile, and single integral fastener, this is still a favourite amoung many Airsoft players, real steel shooters, and real-world operators. This vertical forward grip design is generally seen from Knights Armament Company. These are often seen in real-world applications on SOPMOD Block 1 and (what some unofficially call) Block 1.5 guns.
In this particular example, I believe this is a G&G Armament grip that “Jester” graciously allowed me to photograph, as I seemed to have totally neglected to pack mine to this photoshoot. I like the smaller size of this vertical grip on certain set-ups as this works really well for my thumbs-forward/thumb-break style of shooting.
Jester slips a small elastic keeper onto all of his KAC-style vert grips – he put pressure switches and the like in there when I first met him, though lately he hasn’t been using the elastic keeper for anything.
Next, we have the newer vertical grip that is included with the SOPMOD Block 2 Accessory Kit – the TangoDown vertical grip. A pair of spring loaded latches that secure the grip to your gun’s rail. A removable cover allows for an optional pressure switch pocket that securely mounts pressure switches for lights/lasers/etc. within the grip. An O-ring sealed storage compartment, accessible from the bottom of the grip, allows for storage of various small items.
This particular grip is what I’m currently using on my King Arms M4A1 (pictured above). This tan example is produced by Element. Though the grip itself is larger in circumference compared to the KAC-style, though I find that the latch design is much less likely to loosen itself up over time. The addition of a storage compartment allows me easy access to spare CR123A’s on the field (or other small items) – though I hope to never need its contents, this is a definite plus to me.
The Grip-Pod: I’ve done a write up on this particular clone before (click here for the article). Spring-loaded, quickly-deployable bipod housed in a vertical grip – ingenious. Super useful piece to have on heavier guns or in situations that require a more precise shot. Wing nut keeps the Grip-Pod secured to your rail, simple and easy to snug up in a hurry.
This one pictured is an Ares replica Grip Pod (similar to the GPS-LE in that it has no metal-reinforced legs). I like the functionality of it, though I find the longer length of the vertical grip as well as blocky design makes for a less comfortable grip for my support hand doing a thumb-break grip during longer days of running my gun. The aesthetics aren’t for everyone, though I do like the look, myself.
The following is not so much a vertical grip as it is a reference point – this is a hand stop. This particular one is a replica of the KAC hand stop – metal construction, QD swivel compatible, bolts onto your rail. As with most hand stop designs, it is designed to be held in a hand-stop fashion – there is no material for your palm or fingers to grasp onto (hence it is lighter than most vertical grip designs). It provides you something to index and drive the gun’s muzzle.
I recently picked up this Iron Airsoft hand stop clone as I figured it would go great on my Dboys HK416 – thus far it’s been working perfect for me. As you can see, I’m running my pressure switch for my clone Scoutlight on the 4 – 5 O’clock cooling holes on the rail. With the hand stop, I can get a full grip with the palm and fingers of my support hand, while still being able to control the pressure switch. With a SBR, I find that it’s very important to me to be able to point my thumb at whatever I’m about to shoot – hence this is set up for me to go all-out thumbs-forward.
Lastly, we have a Magpul AFG. The Magpul Angled Fore Grip (hence the acronym “AFG”) currently exists in two difference versions. This one is the AFG1 – the AFG2 has a smaller profile to work a little better with different set-ups (i.e. greater compatibility with various tactical weapon accessories). It is a plastic foregrip that is produced in two halves – both halves lock together and allow for a interchangeable finger shelf (or a separate, flat piece) to be fitted to the user, similar in concept to AR-pattern A1 and A2 grips. The AFG is secured to the rail via a single bolt and nut.
Pictured here is the Magpul PTS AFG1 in FDE. Personally, I am not a fan of AFG 1 or 2, and hence why you will rarely see me running a AFG (well, this one is Dizzy’s as he doesn’t actually need both a black and FDE AFG1). The AFG1 has the wider “wings” that flare out at the front end of the AFG – I find this more comfortable on some set ups. The AFG2’s grip angle and thinner profile around the actual angled grip part works a little better for me, ergonomically. However, I still like my vertical grips more, as I find them to be more versatile in usage and allow for a more feature-packed package. For example, I often find that when I kneel and am not on my gun, I will rest my weapon’s hand guard across my thigh – with a vertical fore grip, the grip will actually keep the gun from sliding off my leg in the direct of gravity.
Currently, I am employing a TangoDown-style Element vertical grip on my King Arms M4A1 (SOPMOD Block 1.5), a KAC-style Dboys vertical grip on my WE M4A1 (SOPMOD Block 2), and a KAC-style Iron Airsoft hand stop on my Dboys HK416. Each of these was chosen through a continually evolving process of testing various grips out and figuring out what works best for me. There are tons of options out there – though I may have actually tested everything on the market, I’m starting to have a pretty good idea of what works for me.
So, what does this mean for you, the reader? At my previous job with Airsoft, people used to ask me for a “cool” vertical grip on a daily basis. My honest answer was that they need to find something that works for them on that specific gun – the best way to figure it out is to go and test stuff out… whatever works for you: test the products in a store, or purchase a variety of grips online, or borrow a buddy’s.
In my experience, I still switch things around every few weeks (or months) until I get the feel of my support hand grip just right. But for me, by that time, I’ve usually sold the gun anyway. Great, just great.