[ I am pleased to present this review of the new Magpul AFG (Angled ForeGrip). The review was written by Isaac. ]
Let me preface this review by first establishing that anything to do with how your body interfaces with a weapon system will not be a review that’s binary in nature. There is no universal ‘this works’ or ‘this does not work’ as empirical facts on these types of products. What feels good to one person feels bad to another.
There’s been a rapid transition from vertical grips being used in the broom-handle sense, i.e hands fully around the column, and thus providing very little stability over the center axis of the rifle. So as the hand moves higher up along the line of the bore (in terms of grip) we’ve found that we need less tall of vertical grips to accomplish that need. A further variation on that is the idea of a hand-stop, which whittles away any unnecessary design to provide only a reference point for the hand to exert rearward pressure on.
The hand-stop concept is fantastic if you run a high tang grip. For me as a shooter I run my reaction side hand (or primary if working transitions) high, to the point where my knuckles are on top of the rail. The one issue that has been raised is the supination to the shooter’s wrist, or the over-extension caused by a hard 90-degree cant on the grip; the AFG works to solve this by using an angled gripping surface for the shooter.
This review was compiled from the experiences of 3 shooters, myself, and two other experienced AR shooters who spent about 100+ rounds on each of my guns (11.5 Costa-style SBR, which is fitting for this test, and my KAC SR-15). Obviously the build quality is fantastic, it’s an affordably made, and well thought out product in terms of execution. The grip comes with two finger groove inserts, one in the A2 style nub, and one that’s smooth. I found for my hands the A2 groove interfered with my smaller hands, and I had to switch out to the flat profile insert (swappable within 1-2 minutes with only removing two screws to separate the AFG in half). The AFG mounts to the rail using a flat head screw and nut, to lock it in to the rail. The AFG takes up approximately the entire length of a standard 7” carbine rail. However you can position it further forward on the rail depending on what feels best for the shooter.
So how does it feel? Well…I’d say it’s a mixed bag. My KAC SBR uses a KAC hand-stop, and the longer SR-15 uses a non-QD Tango Down Stubby vertical grip. Each gun has it’s own unique setup as I run two completely different light/laser rigs on each. So lets start with the SR-15 first. On the Knights SR-15 the combination of Surefire Scout, AN/PEQ-15, and Magpul AFG did not feel good for me at all. The previous setup (and keep in mind this is a combination of interactions on different parts) which used the TD Stubby allowed me to slightly extend my left thumb forward to activate the light, and when using the PEQ (pressure pad is directly under the PEQ-15, placed in between the left and top rail) all I have to do is a slight wrist rotation to hit the pressure switch. When the AFG is in place it’s a much more pronounced move to hit the light. And with the PEQ-15 instead of rotating my hand back a few degrees to allow my thumb access to the pad I now have to extend my whole hand out since it’s already canted. Simply put it’s comfortable when shooting, but it’s uncomfortable when trying to work with the light and laser. The AFG also interferes with rail-mounted accessories like Larue mounts. The AFG cannot slide next to them without the user removing part of the AFG with a Dremel. This isn’t a big issue and is user-solvable quickly, but it’s still an issue worth pointing out. Since the review I’ve switched back to the Stubby, and I’ll get back to that in my conclusions.
On the SBR the results were notably better. Because I run my Surefire at the 1 o’clock position this allowed me to better high grip on the AFG, and the results were comfortable, though not perfect. The 11.5” SBR also provides an interesting test bed. As my rifle is very similar to Chris Costa’s (I run a different light setup however) so it’s a situation where my rifle matches up very closely to those in the marketing material. So taking that in to account the biggest differences become the difference in body mechanics between the two shooters.
To summarize how the AFG feels, and all the shooters independently confirmed this after our demo (we all came to the same results separately) is that the AFG can be equated to a slippage in physical purchase (grip, not money). I equate it to sitting on your back, feet against the wall, as you push out with your feet you have a solid action/re-action to what you’re pushing against. The AFG feels more like pushing against an angled surface, in that the force is somewhat translated but the force also wants to go up and out. So while it accomplishes the job of pulling back it feels less positive in terms grip. The tango down grip provides a solid 90-degree point of reference for my hands and the hands of the shooters who demoed the AFG (and I can keep an extra 123A battery in the stubby). The same can be said of the KAC hand-stop. I will admit I like the AFG just a tiny bit more over the KAC hand-stop, which is why I’ll continue to use the AFG going forward. However I’ve found that the AFG for me at least was not the right choice for my longer SR-15. I understand the mentality behind the AFG, and I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a solution searching for a problem. As I said earlier this is not going to be a binary review, this is however going to be a binary product. You will either love it or hate it. My response to it on it being announced was very mixed bag, my response to it in use is still the same. The human body is absolutely unique among individuals; ergonomics is always about creating a compromise. It’s about making what feels good to the largest percentage of individuals. I’m in the percentage that just barely considers it an improvement.
However at 35 dollars it’s too cheap not to try out for yourself, make these decisions after some range time, and see how it works for yourself. I do want to thank Magpul for allowing me to try one of these out for free, and come to these conclusions myself as impartially as possible.