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Within any industry, there are those names and companies which stand out. In the world of knives there are Leatherman, Victorinox, and Spyderco knives. With guns there is Glock, Colt, Sig, and Smith & Wesson.
When it comes to firearm accessories and tools, Magpul is one of those names. It is a brand which is synonymous with high quality, functionality, innovation, durability, and usefulness.
Magpul (officially titled “Magpul Industries Corporation’) was founded in 1999 by Richard M. Fitzpatrick, a former Marine. When it started out, the company’s goal was simple: to make life easier for shooters using STANAG magazines. Magpul’s original product, which gave its name to the company, was intended to facilitate easier magazine changes. The magpul is a slip on device, which is attached to the end of a magazine. It helps the shooter pull a magazine out of a pouch with greater ease. This can be very useful, particularly under stress or when the shooter’s hands are wet / gloved. Simple and practical.
The magpul was Magpul’s first product, but it was only the beginning. Over the years, the company grew, and it now has a wide array of accessories and tools in its inventory – magazines and mag enhancements, stocks and stock accessories, sights, guards, rails and rail accessories, slings, mounts, cases, and even clothing.
Magpul, whose headquarters are located in Austin, Texas, has a vision of simplicity. Expensive construction and overly-complex engineering are not necessarily the signs of a good product. Not always. Sometimes, as Mies Van Der Rohe famously said, less is more. Sometimes, fancy designs are there to draw attention away from the mediocrity of the accessory in question. Remember the KISS principle – keep it simple, stupid.
And that is what Magpul does. They keep things simple, yet productive. They manage to provide a wide range of solutions for shooters of all kinds, without compromising on quality or performance. And, they provide it at an affordable price, which is also a very important factor.
The firearm industry is one which is always advancing. There is always a new design, a new material, and even new philosophies of use, which – in turn – generate a host of new accessories. Magpul keeps its ear to the streets, as well as its customers, and it has the foresight to create good designs when they are needed. They recognize a growing need for something, and they facilitate that need with timing and precision.
- PMAG – magazines of all shapes and sizes. For AR-15 / M16, SR25 / M110, AK / AKM, Remington 700, and even Glock handguns.
- MBUS – backup sights. Front, back, offset, adjustable. For AR-15 / M16.
- Buttstocks – stocks for all occasions and purposes. Fixed, adjustable, mil-spec or commercial-spec. For AR-15 / M4 / M16, SR25 / M110, AK / AKM, Remington 870, Remington 700, Mossberg 500 / 590A1, Ruger 10 / 22, FN, and HK.
- Handguards – get a grip on the situation with ergonomic handguards. For AR-15 / M16, SR25 / M110, AK / AKM, Remington 870, and Mossberg 500 / 590A1.
These accessories are not only visually and aesthetically pleasing, they are functional like it’s nobody’s business. If you are looking for a way to turn your AR-15 or M16 into a rifle that is truly yours, consider Magpul as a starting point. Their products come highly-recommended, and in a variety of colors.
These guys are serious when it comes to firearms, and in recent years they have even begun to play a larger role in the industry. Since 2006, they have been designing their own line of rifles, and combining their efforts with Bushmaster and Remington Arms in the process. This new series of rifles is being produced and marketed to both the military and civilians, since 2010. Their newest design is the Adaptive Combat Rifle (ACR), which is the name given for the “generation 2” version of their Masada Adaptive Combat Weapon System.
The U.S. Army is looking for future replacements for the M4 Carbine, and Magpul’s ACR was even scheduled to be part of the (ultimately canceled) Individual Carbine competition, which the Army set up to consider replacements for the M4.
Personal preferences matter a great deal. Accessorizing your AR-15 just for the sake of accessorizing is foolish. The whole point is that it becomes your weapon. What does it take to make an AR-15 your own? This varies from person to person.
In the military, your rifle becomes your close personal friend. Just like the famous United States Marine Corps creed states: “there are many like it, but this one is mine”.You eat and sleep and crap with your rifle by your side. You train with it, run with it, jump with it, crawl with it, and bleed with it. You learn to care for your rifle, maintain it, and clean it. You learn to love that subtle scent of sweat, dirt, and gunpowder which drifts into your nostrils as your lower yourself to a crouch and change a magazine during a live ammo drill.
This is all done so a soldier will develop an intimate relationship with his or her weapon. A soldier must learn to entrust his life to his rifle and his brothers in arms. His brothers and his weapon need to gain that trust. It doesn’t happen overnight. It means working together. Like the creed goes on to say, the rifle is useless without the soldier, and vice versa.
Accessorizing your AR-15 is about building trust, and eventually becoming a better shooter. The more you personalize your rifle; the more you train with it; the more you get to know it –the more confidence you will have in it. This is important not only to soldiers, but to anyone who owns and/or carries a weapon. This stays true regardless of any accessories.
Magpul’s products truly excel in aiding a shooter gain a closer, more familiar feel with his rifle. When you attach a Magpul accessory to your weapon, it won’t necessarily transform you into a better shooter immediately. No piece of equipment can do that. Only through training and experience can you become better. What Magpul’s products does is make your training easier and focused.
Let’s look at a few specific products, and go a bit more in-depth.
Magpul Backup Sights (MBUS)
I will be speaking of the MBUS Gen2. These are made of polymer, and have a spring-lock which can be activated from both sides and from the top. They are resistant, durable, and lightweight. The sights flip up when the spring is activated, and they fold easily.
Magpul chose to name these backup sights for a reason. They are aware that many shooters choose more sophisticated optics to act as their primary source of target acquisition. Flip-up sights are mainly used for backup, but that doesn’t mean that they should be of less quality. There is no telling when an optic will fail or otherwise malfunction, so it is of utmost importance that the rifle’s backup sights be up to the task of hitting the mark. In other words, they should also be of high quality, and a shooter should be just as comfortable using them, and not only rely on the optics.
These sights are specifically designed to attach onto Colt-style rifles, but they will clamp onto any standard 1913 picatinny rails or STANAG hand guards. MBUS resemble M-16A2 iron sights in height, and are adjustable (height and wind).
Side Note: Original MBUS sights are made in the United States. Magpul also makes professional training and simulation (PTS) sights for Airsoft guns. These are of lower quality, and they serve a different purpose. Make sure you purchase the sights which you were looking for. The PTS sights will have ‘PTS’ branded on them, so watch out for that. If you have PTS sights on an AR-15, they may work but are not at all recommended. Do yourself and others a big favor, and get the appropriate sights for your assault rifle.
MBUS sights come in standard or Pro version. The Pro sights are smaller, made of steel as opposed to polymer, they flip up manually (no spring), and they have a twist knob which allows for quicker and easier adjustments.
MBUS Technical Specifications
MBUS – Front
Weight, w/ hardware: 1.2 oz.
- Height above rail, stowed: ~0.51 in.
- Length, stowed: 2.6 in.
- Length, deployed: 1.5 in.
MBUS – Rear
- Weight, w/ hardware: 1.3 oz.
- Height above rail, stowed: ~0.51 in.
- Center of aperture to top of rail: 1.42 in.
- Length, stowed: 2.6 in.
- Length, deployed: 1.5 in.
MBUS Pro – Front
- Weight, w/ hardware: 1.5 oz.
- Height above rail, stowed: ~0.43″ max
- Length, stowed: 1.6″
MBUS Pro – Rear
- Weight, w/ hardware: 1.80 oz.
- Height above rail, stowed, at mid-point: ~0.37″
- Length, stowed: 2.1″
- Aperture height over rail: 1.41″
- Small aperture dia.: 0.07″
- Large aperture dia.: 0.19″
Angled Fore Grip (AFG) 2
AFG-2 is the second generation of Magpul fore grips. It is made in the United States, and it is shorter than its predecessor, in length and width. Because it is smaller, it can be attached to a wider range of guards and rails. AFG-2 is compatible with most 1913 Picatinny rails/hand guards. This grip is made to reduce fatigue and allow for greater accuracy and better control of the weapon.
The unique thing about this grip, is that unlike other fore grips, this one is positioned high on the centerline of the bore. That way, the AFG-2 makes sure that there is considerably less recoil, and that follow-up shots will be on target.
The AFG-2 is made of three pieces of polymer. Simplicity – remember? The finger shelf is interchangeable, and that allows the shooter to choose a flat surface (A1 style), or a nub (A2 style). Different shooters have different size hands and fingers, and it is nice that Magpul had the courtesy to create a product which can suit all kinds of needs.
- Weight: 2.53 oz.
- Length: 4.70 in.
- Height, over rail: 1.94 in.
- Width, maximum: 1.37 in.
The Magpul trigger guard may seem superfluous at first. Why would I want to swap my factory trigger guard for an “enhanced” one? What does it enhance?
The answer is twofold.
First, it gives you more room in the front, and less in back. It has a shallow V shape and round edges. That way, the guard acts as a guard, and not as a glorified finger trap. I can’t tell you how many times my middle finger ended up hurting because of standard trigger guards. So no, it’s not an amazingly essential accessory for most civilian carriers, but it does come in handy.
Second, for those who are in law enforcement / military – it helps shooters who are wearing gloves. Without question, this would be THE reason to get this guard. What’s that word that people like to throw around?…. tactical. This is actually tactical. Using a weapon when wearing gloves can be tricky, and sometimes – especially in combat – you only have split-seconds to register what is going on, and make your move. There are times when getting your finger onto that trigger can make all the difference in the world. Your accessories should facilitate your training.
You could argue that there is a third reason, which may trump the former two – it looks cool. This is also a legitimate reason for getting a trigger guard. It is not as if this thing adds a ton of weight to your rifle, and it serves its purpose. So, if you want to get it – simply for that reason alone – do it.
A word about installation: all mounting hardware is included with the trigger guard, but you must exercise caution and care when replacing the factory one with your Magpul one. Small pins and screws are easily mixed-up, so make sure you read those instructions carefully. You can install a trigger guard in no time, but do it right.
The trigger guard fits AR-15 / M4 platforms, and consists of all polymer construction.
Magpul 223 Mag Assist
Last, but not least, let’s talk a little bit about the original product. The one that started it all – the Magpul 223 Mag Assist:
As mentioned earlier, this was the company’s first product, and it is what gave Magpul Industries Corporation its name.
Firing a loaded weapon can be a piece of cake: point, shoot, repeat. However, pulling a fresh magazine out of a pouch or vest, and inserting it efficiently into a weapon can be very tricky. This is especially true when done under stress, or in difficult conditions. Lighting, weather, your position, the enemy’s position. Many factors can affect a shooter’s physical state. Because of this, magazine changes (read: rapid magazine changes) is one of the most practiced maneuvers ever. Trained professionals are able to load a new magazine even before the older one hits the ground.
It doesn’t matter whether you are an armed security guard, a police officer, a military man, or an everyday civilian carrier – you need to know how to change that mag, and fast. You may be carrying a 9mm handgun or a 7.62mm assault rifle; you may have a 12-round mag or a 35-round one; you may be a novice or an expert, but one thing remains constant: When that magazine empties, you become vulnerable.
At that moment, you are at a complete disadvantage. When you are lying flat on your belly, or are taking cover behind some shelter, you need to reload as quickly as humanly possible. The last thing (and I mean the LAST thing) you want to be is out of ammo. It is in these moments where all of your hard work and training pay off.
The 223 Mag Assist is there to help you get that next magazine in, and your bullets out. As mentioned earlier, it installs onto the base of a magazine, and it helps speed along the mag change process. Every single millisecond counts when you are looking for that fresh mag.
Your see/hear that receiver go back, and – ideally – you react automatically and instinctively. You go into crouch (or lie flat, depending on your position) as you push that release lever, letting the spent magazine drop. While this is going on, your other hand is already gripping the next magazine.
In combat, things almost never work out as practiced. Conditions are usually far from perfect. Your hands could be gloved, or shaking from stress. They could be hurt or cut from the terrain. They may be wet with rain or blood, or simply freezing from cold weather.
And there, in the middle of all that, attached to your magazines, is Magpul’s Mag Assist. You pull that next magazine out with one clean movement, thrust it inside the mag well, press on the bolt catch as you move into position, and keep on firing.
This sounds like a lot, and it is, but in reality it is all happening in a matter of seconds, and – in some cases – nanoseconds. During basic training, and even afterwards, we practice changing magazines again and again and again. Slowly but surely, the times begin to shorten considerably. And it matters. A lot.
There is only one disadvantage to the Mag Assist. Basic weapons malfunctions are quickly overcome by taking the mag out, pulling the charging handle, re-inserting the mag, slapping the bottom of the mag, charging, and then firing normally.
The place where there could potentially be trouble is during that mag slap. You want to make sure that your magazine is inserted properly, so no other malfunctions will happen as a result of whatever caused that first one. Smacking the magazine will ensure proper insertion, and the Mag Assist may prevent the slap from hitting the magazine in full force.
The Mag Assist comes in a 3-pack, and is made of a patented design of rubber and plastic.
Magpul continues being a force to be reckoned with in the firearms industry. Over the years, they have gathered a devoted following of amateurs and professionals, law enforcement / military personnel. The future looks bright for this company, who will no doubt keep on delighting shooters worldwide with its creative designs and practical solutions.