USSOCOM Chooses M-LOK Modular Rail System

USSOCOM will incorporate Magpul’s mounting system in upcoming rifle systems. (Photo: Colt)

After rigorous testing, the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM or SOCOM) has selected the M-LOK modular rail system for future weapon systems. SOCOM made the decision based on the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s recommendation following testing of it and other rail systems.

This is a big win for Magpul in the current battle between M-LOK and KeyMod, the next most popular modular mounting system. It and KeyMod are new, lightweight alternatives to the MIL-STD-1913 or Picatinny rail.

“Overall, test and evaluation demonstrated that the M-LOK modular rail system surpassed the performance results achieved by other modular rail systems,” said the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s testers.

Researchers at the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Crane Division based their recommendation on a handful of criteria. They found that all of the mounting systems performed adequately throughout testing, including endurance and durability testing. But they also found that the Magpul system provided a more repeatable mount, had a higher load tolerance and was ultimately more durable.

With M-LOK, testers found accessories like sights and other optics could be removed and replaced and stay close to zero. M-Lock had the smallest deviation with a point of aim shift of 1.3 MOA on average. A 1.3 MOA point of aim shift is more than acceptable in the field. That kind of repeatability alone makes Magpul’s mount stand out.

The other two areas where Magpul’s mount outperformed other mounting systems were in durability and load tolerance. Whenever possible, the researchers used handguards that were otherwise identical except for the mounts and the Magpul versions were tougher.

See Also: M-LOK Takes the Lead with Colt Canada MRR

Crane’s testing showed that handguards with Magpul’s mount could withstand more abuse than handguards with other mounts. They also found that it took less force to break accessories out of other modular mounts.

“Failure load testing demonstrated that M-LOK systems support the highest load of all modular systems tested,” they said. In fact, the test equipment used to interface with 1913 accessory rails secured with the respective modular rail system across testing repeatedly railed prior to failure of the M-LOK attachment system.”

“M-LOK systems failed at loads as high as over three times the maximum failure load of some other modular rail systems. NSWC Crane recommended to USSOCOM that the M-LOK modular rail system be utilized over the alternative systems tested.”

Based on this recommendation SOCOM will incorporate M-LOK-based components with the Suppressed Upper Receiver Group and Advanced Sniper Rifle systems.

This is unlikely to settle the debate on M-LOK versus KeyMod. If anything, it will only reignite the debate among shooters everywhere.

While we now know that Magpul’s is the tougher system it’s also more complex. KeyMod is also open-source while M-LOK uses a free but restricted licensing system. Even if the entire U.S. military adopted one system tomorrow there will always be fans of both mounting systems keeping up the good fight.

{ 10 comments… add one }
  • Scott April 9, 2017, 2:51 pm

    How is M-LOK more durable and robust than KEYMOD? I would expect them to be virtually identicle in that regard. If MLOK’s repeatability tests showed 1.3MOA while KEYMOD testing resulted in 1.32 (or even 1.4MOA), they would be statistically even. This article sounds more like a sponsored PR article by Magpul. Don’t get me wrong… I like Magpul, but have a hard time. Believing M-LOK has any real benefit over Keymod.

  • Greg April 7, 2017, 5:22 pm

    For civilians, I don’t see either one being better than the other. I have not tried Mlok yet on any of my rifles, but don’t have anything against it. Everything is Keymod now.

    • FALPhil April 8, 2017, 6:57 pm

      Actually, the M-Lok market share is roughly twice the size of the keymod market. It only seems that everything is keymod to people who frequent insular websites like arfcom or buy from vendors who only offer keymod (you know who I am referring to). M-Lok is superior to keymod because it is more vibration resistant. I have tried both, and M-Lok accessories stay put under a wider variety of conditions.

      It’s good you don’t have anything against M-Lok, because USSOCOM has been an historic bellweather adopter of firearms technology. For folks that went to public schools, that means they set trends. Get used to M-Lok. It is here to stay.

  • mauser6863 April 7, 2017, 2:18 pm

    The issue with KeyMod is twofold; first it is harder to make and more expensive to make. Crane did not consider this in their testing though. Secondly, the rails tend to break, crack really, from hard use. A civilian will likely never see this, unless your routinely running over your rifle with a vehicle, dropping it down a canyon wall or letting it fall out of a helicopter. Unlikely in the civilian world, however possible in the military world.

    Nothing wrong with the KeyMod system, its just not the strongest and therefore best for military service. Crane knows what they are doing and understands how their gear gets used and abused. Good to see the military make decisions based upon testing and facts that doesn’t take 20 years to accomplish and cost millions of dollars.

    Saving money by picking an off-the-shelf system saves time and money as well. I remember when they were testing the XM8 rifle and they were ready to dump Pic Rails (after we just fielded it in widespread use) and go with some new wizz-bang H&K created accessory mounting system instead. Luckily that died along with the XM8 and that stupid handheld XM 25/29 CDTE 25mm Grenade Launcher that didn’t work as advertised. Sometimes the military acts stupidly, sometimes they act smart. This decision and process was done smartly by Crane.

    If you have KeyMod on your rifle, keep it, use it and have fun. Your manhood will not fall off or be diminished in anyway. Call of Duty will still have KeyMod weapons in it for some time, so don’t worry. Life is Good.

    • Critical0317 August 1, 2017, 1:40 pm

      I don’t think the tests were very fair. If you take a look at the rails used meaning. They used a VERY high quality rail company who we all know offer very expensive, but worth it durable rails (Geissele) and then they used some off branded Keymod rail. They could’ve went with BCM, Noveske, Daniel Defense, Etc. of course the higher quality rail or in this case MLOK will prevail. We all know this with weapons, optics, gun parts. And STILL the Keymod came close. Now imagine they used a higher quality manufacturer or company to combat the MLOK in all those series of tests. I feel it would have been far superior if not the same. Also judging by all the big names out there in the Industry use Keymod. I have yet to see them running MLOK. Coincidence?? I think not. Even doing training with these guys in Nevada. PFC Training (Check them the fuck out. Simply Awesome). They all run their weapons as hard as the term signifies. All Keymod. The training is legit and rigorous. Have yet to see anyone’s rails bust including mine.

  • Awesome Bill from Dawsonville April 7, 2017, 12:38 pm

    And with the stroke of a pen, key-mod became the latest Beta-Max.

  • RH April 7, 2017, 12:21 pm

    I’m in the keymod camp. All I can say is BCM is gonna be pissed and Magpul is likely dancing on their desks right now. Expect a sudden change in the force as everything M-Lok sells out.

  • richard sharpe April 7, 2017, 9:43 am

    of course i can see the usefulness of these mounting systems, but i would think that for a tactical rifle the holes would catch and hang up on things.

  • Miles Huggins April 7, 2017, 6:28 am

    Mlock blows and u suck

  • J April 2, 2017, 5:40 pm

    Keymod sucks

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