These days most firearm owners opt for modular handguards on their rifles, which can be used to mount a wide range of accessories. These handguards can have one of many mounting systems, from Dovetail rail, Weaver rail, Warsaw Pact rail, and Picatinny rail to Keymod and M-LOK. However, these days, Key-Mod and M-LOK are the most common systems.
So, is one of them better than the other, if so,which one should I use? Today we will talk about the distinct pros and cons of both these rail systems, so that you can determine which one is better for you.
History of Key-Mod and M-LOK:
M-LOK was first introduced in 2007, and a concept attachment system on the Masada Rifle, which was made in collaboration with Magpul. Better known as the Bushmaster ACR, is quite a popular rifle, which has been featured in many games as well. This rifle features a new attachment system on its handguards, which was compatible with Magpul’s line of MOE products. This system was named as the Modular Lock System, or M-LOK for short.
In 2012, two companies VLTOR and Noveske made the Key-Mod rail system. VLTOR has made a name selling innovative firearm accessories, whereas Noveske made competition barrels and they have also made some barrels for the Military.
Which System is Better?
Well, if you ask the MMA community, you would get a lot of opinions on which system is better. Some people will live and die by the KeyMod system, whereas some may say that the M-LOK system is better. The good thing is that you don’t need to listen to any one of them, or even me for that matter.
The US Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Crane Division tested both the systems for Military use. Among many other responsibilities, the Crane division is responsible for acquisition engineering of special weapon systems, electronic warfare systems, and certain electronics for the Navy. They rigorously tested 9 Key-Mod and 9 M-LOK handguards acquired from companies like Aero Precision and Midwest Industries.
M-Lok rails shows better performance in both drop tests, and repeatability testing. The drop tests showed the M-LOK slots were more durable, and did not get damaged even when heavy accessories were mounted on them, whereas some Key-Mod rails cracked. On the other hand, the accessories mounted on the M-LOK slots retained zero more effectively. M-LOK rails only had a Point of Aim shift of 1.3 MOA, whereas the point of Aim shifted by 4.9 MOA for the KeyMod Rails.
This test shows without any doubt that M-LOK is the superior system, especially for tactical use by the Military. However, when it comes to the average civilian user, both systems can work, in fact, KeyMod rails are easier to use, and you can mount accessories on them more quickly. Moreover, KeyMod rails are also lighter, therefore, many competition shooters prefer KeyMod rails on their rifles.
Though both systems have their Distinct advantages and uses, we agree with the Navy’s testing, and believe that M-LOK is the better system for mounting accessories on your rifle. However, for an average citizen, either rail system can work without any issues.