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.
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.