Magpul Shipping M-Lok Accessories

Magpul

One thing I will never understand is when a company forgoes everything that is becoming the industry standard and strikes out on their own.  Magpul seems to have done just that.  Instead of using what is becoming standard with Keymod, they have made their own key-type system.  What baffles me is that Keymod is opensource, so companies are not even having to pay royalties on the patent.  While I get that Magpul is also releasing M-Lok, it just comes across as a company that is out of touch with the industry. Am I wrong here? What say the readers?

My opinion aside, Magpul is now shipping their new M-Lok accessories.

NEW M-LOK Accessories
M-LOK MVG
QD Sling Mount
M-LOK Offset Light/Optic Mount
M-LOK Bipod Adapter
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  • CA.Ben

    I think you’re super wrong. M-Lok is easier to machine, so the end products are less expensive. In addition, the mounting system is so much more elegant and simpler. There are other benefits that I won’t list, but I think that it will quickly surpass the popularity of keymod.

    • Harrison Jones

      That is also my understanding. I think somewhere(forum post or press release) there is an explanation of why Magpul designed the M-Lok. I believe a lot of it had to do with the fact it was easier to make polymer handguards and accessories.

    • PeterK

      It’s also got potential for lighter products since there can be less metal in your lock area than k-mod. The m-lok cuts look like lightening cuts. Pretty sweet, really.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Machining costs are a magpul derived feature. May be true, but don’t kid yourself that these will be cheaper in hand than keymod parts. There may be exceptions but that’s not how the market works. All it means is there might be $5 better margin on the MLOK part, but you’ll see the same price.

      • CA.Ben

        See my post above. At least with the MI handguards, the price difference is a full 10%.

    • Russ

      Again with products being “less expensive”. Let me know when this actually happens..

    • Roy

      It could be introductory pricing, but the handguards I’ve looked at have been cheaper than their keymod counterparts so far. I do think the finished look is better, as has been pointed out in the past, keymod is as attractive as a shelving unit. But it works, and that is the really important part. m-lok works, and looks good.

  • exoskeleton

    I have no practical experience with Keymod or M-Lock, but
    have studied both. I personally like
    M-Lock because it seems simpler and more robust. A huge advantage of the M-Lock above the
    Keymod is the fact that there is no under-cut (thus cheaper to manufacture) and that the rail can be made
    from plastic, perfect for non-firearm applications such as helmets. Keymod does have a couple years head start,
    so the only way M-Lock can catch up is if it is in fact a better system. Time will tell.

    • exoskeleton

      Oops, M-Lok I mean

  • Ed

    In my opinion, empty M-lok looks much better than empty keymod. Likely easier and cheaper to produce, also. If you’re going to stray from the established standard of picatinny, may as well do it in the simplest way possible.

  • Harrison Jones

    Here is a Magpul Document on M Lok.

    http://magpul.commercev3.com/downloads/M-LOK_Release_FAQs.pdf

    Here is an excerpt that answers most of the article:
    Q: Why the M-LOK system and not another existing open source system such as KeyMod?

    A: In our experience, KeyMod is not a suitable mounting system for polymer products,
    because a conical nut is used to secure the accessory in place. On plastic materials, the
    conical mating surfaces of KeyMod will either promote cracking or loosening due to creep
    and deformation of the material.

    In addition, KeyMod’s undercut also requires the use of specialized cutters for CNC
    operations or complex injection mold designs. As a result of the KeyMod design, the QC
    process becomes significant with high volume manufacturing, resulting in increased time
    and cost when compared to manufacturing the M-LOK system.

  • G.I. Joe

    The biggest benefit I see to M-Lok over Keymod is the versatility of mounting. With Keymod all of the mounting positions are equally spaced meaning that the manufacturer of a light mounting system, or a QD sling mount would have to space the mounting holes in their product to line up with the Keymod mount holes. This means that one, there could be a waste of materials (because of needing more length in an accessory to march up with the holes) and two, because of the way the Keymod holes are spaced, you may never be able to adjust a particular accessory to exactly the position you want. with M-LOK, there is more versatility, there is less actual material in the system which should result in slightly less weight, and there is more versatility for both the manufacturers of products being able to design to basically what ever mounting spacing they want, and for the adjustment of accessories for the end user.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      adjust a particular accessory to exactly the position you want.

      Three keymod handguards, 9-12 accessories, hasn’t been an issue once. Maybe if I was trying to put a light on an 8″ rail and make it work for my 6′ frame, but I kinda think that’s more of an issue with trying to run an 8″ rail.

  • An Interested Person

    Since when is Magpul charging royalties for Mlok? While they do require licensing, all the Magpul literature I read clearly states that there is no fee. They just want to make sure everyone uses the right specs.

  • gggplaya

    Magpul is primarily a polymer manufacturer. As stated by magpul directly on arfcom, keymod doesn’t have the pullout strength needed for polymer. Mlok has a 300lb pullout strength. Which is why they had to go this direction. Mlok works on all materials, aluminum, polymer, and carbon fiber.

    • JumpIf NotZero

      This. Magpul makes plastic parts and they didn’t like keymod for plastic. That’s really all there is to this. Interested to see how it’s adopted but I don’t have high hopes for it. At least now for years.

  • MetalCord

    The keymod standard does not work with polymer as already stated. If Magpul is going to stay competitive and have a product that is as versatile as keymod (or more so), they had to strike out on their own.

    Also, it IS open source. The only requirement for using it is that the standard they have created is strictly adhered do in order to use the M-Lok name. This ensure compatibility with any accessory that bears the M-Lok logo.

  • JumpIf NotZero

    MLOK might be better, doesn’t really matter though. The “better” product doesn’t always “win” See all sorts of examples in consumer market.

    Keymod has a hell of a lead in terms of product out there. I have two keymod rails and see zero reason why I would reconfigure to MLOK. One of the best rails out is the BCM, and it’s made by a company who has the inventor of keymod on its payroll. So some seriously amazing rail would have to come out in order to get me and others to switch.

    Magpul has a chance if they do two things simultaneously.
    1. Get factory mfgs on board. Big names like Colt, FN, SIG, and niche makers like AI, KAC, Sako, etc
    2. They need to play the long game! MLOK has a LONG way to catch up even to being brand recognized. Luckily Magpul seems to have the time and money to do this.

    It also wouldn’t hurt to relax margins initially to gain market share, maybe just value added options (kits or bundles) not to be confused with dropping price in a race to the bottom scenario.

    • nova3930

      According to Magpul, M-lok is reverse compatible with the original MOE slots and accessories with an adapter plate, so you have to count that as potential installed base as well….

      • JumpIf NotZero

        I would not count needing an adapter as part of the installed base. Nor would I count MOE owners.

        No offense to anyone, but the average MOE handguard owner is not at all the average Keymod handguard owner. Most of the people who own MOE parts have no idea what those slots are for, let alone will get adapters in order to run sling studs they don’t have need for.

        • Roy

          I’m not quite willing to go out on a limb saying average MOE owners don’t know what those slots are intended for, but I agree with you on need based attachments. I have an upper that wears MOE, and have never attached anything to it. I do like that the option exists, though.

          • JumpIf NotZero

            I’m not quite willing to go out on a limb saying average MOE owners don’t know what those slots are intended for…

            I am 😀 I’ve been around the block man, there are a LOT of STUPID PEOPLE that guns appeal to. Like Caleb over at GunNuts wrote recently

            “I have little in common with the typical gun owner”. Sad thing is, if you know a lot about firearms and their use, that almost has to be true.

  • nova3930

    Need a mid-length MOE SL yesterday…

    • JumpIf NotZero

      Haven’t been watching, did the drop the weight of the polymer stuff? Those MOE handguards were far heavier than even some low end aluminum quad rails.

  • TreizFaction

    I looked into both and chose M-Lok. It is better no question. Key-mod is not the industry standard nor is it even close, that would be Picatinny and that won’t change for a while yet. Magpul has a lot going for it and we’ll see how things look this time next year. I have my M-Lok Geissele Mk8 and I love it. Just got the Magpul M-lok vertical grip and it is light and rock solid. Magpul has a winner.

  • Nick

    Keymod looks like a bunch of little dingdongs on your rifle…just sayin…

    • Atticus

      Paging Dr. Freud.

  • Harold

    Just happy there is more cool new gun stuff to buy! Got an old fashioned picatinny Centurion Arms rail on a BCM, got a Noveske NSR keymod rail on a Colt, now I have to buy a new upper for an M-Lok rail. Yaaaaaaaaaaay!!!

  • michaeljball

    I think you should do some research before posting an opinion piece. Magpul themselves have released statements about why they didnt/couldnt use keymod.

  • MclarenF1Forever

    Waiting for someone like BCM to make complete uppers with M-Lok rails, Geissele Mk8 maybe? I’m past building up my own uppers (I’ve done 4 so far fwiw), except for range toys.

    • Atticus

      I seriously doubt it. BCM is precisely one of the companies I was talking about above with MagPul. They are a rising competitor to them with their stocks, grips, etc. and they have jumped fully onto KeyMod. They now manufacture their own KeyMod handguard, and they are making KeyMod accessories as well. They seem to be totally committed.

  • It’s a very interesting idea. I can see both sides of it. On the one hand breaking ground with a new system can be frustrating and comber sum, (especially for those of us that have k-mod). That being said if the market can bare the change and it makes things more convenient. It may become the new industry standard. Time will tell if it’s a fad or not, but in some applications I think it could be useful.

    Nick-
    Wolfarmory.blogspot.com

  • Atticus

    Let’s look at this from an industry perspective rather than a consumer perspective. The problem I see with M-Lok is not a technical one, but rather a branding issue. Bear with me:

    KeyMod has come a long way from it’s roots in forging it’s own seperate identity. To most, KM has pretty much become an entirely seperate entity from it’s parent companies VLTOR and Noveske. I’ve met some people that didn’t even know of it’s connection to them. This is largely due to it’s open-source nature. There are already so many KM products on the market by so many companies that choosing KM doesn’t feel like brand fanboyism.

    M-Lok on the other hand, is being kept close to MagPul’s vest. Yes, there are no licensing FEES, but there is still licensing, meaning that any M-Lok manufacturer must maintain ties with MagPul. For what purpose? To put a MagPul designed logo on their product? This is going to be great for companies trying to ride MagPul’s coattails, but a problem for companies trying to forge their own identity. This is especially important when you consider that many of these companies are MagPul’s competitors. Who wants to slap a competitor’s logo on your product or in ANY way associate yourself with a competitor? This may not be a real difference between KeyMod and M-Lok, but there will definitely be people who percieve it that way, as I cannot forsee M-Lok leaving the shadow of MagPul any time soon.

    M-Lok may be technically superior in some cases, but that doesn’t change what it is: an attempt by MagPul to consolidate power and directly control a market segment. If an M-Lok only company gets on MagPul’s bad side, they revoke the license and put the kibosh on an entire company’s product line. You don’t have to worry about that with a truly open standard like KeyMod, and that is why companies will support it. Hell, even companies like Geissele that support M-Lok also support KeyMod. M-Lok will see adoption, but I can’t see it ever receiving exclusive adoption (except by MagPul obviously) due to the market risks involved. (Note: I haven’t yet read the M-Lok licensing agreement, so specifics may differ.)

    Combine that hesitance with the fact that KeyMod already has a considerable (and growing) market share, M-Lok looks less appealing from a marketing standpoint, even considering it’s negligible advantages.

    Stronger with polymer: How many people really use polymer handguards? Once again, this advantage really only serves MagPul.

    Cheaper/easier manufacturing: the difference is nearly insignificant. Companies clearly haven’t had trouble with KeyMod considering how they’ve been flooding the market. The slight money savings aren’t worth the previously mentioned drawbacks to me.

    That said, M-Lok is not going anywhere, nor should it. Consumer choice is never a bad thing. None of this means that the M-Lok products are not great—or even possibly superior—products, but it does mean that if you choose to use them, you better be comfortable with the MagPul company, because they will always be the center of the M-Lok universe.

    • Magpul

      Nicely written post with some good points. Let me address them in some quick bursts of info.

      While open source is good for quick development, the entire Keymod system is based on just 3 technical drawings and is no where near what we would consider a complete TDP. In comparison the M-LOK TDP is several times more detailed for greater compatibility between manufactures of accessories and hand guards. The M-LOK TDP also has both “mandatory” and “recommended” practices to allow individual development of the system while maintaining maximum compatibility.

      In regards to the M-LOK licensing it just specifies that the manufacture of the M-LOK accessory or slot will only use the logo on products that meet the published M-LOK spec (this includes our own products). In the licensing there is a specific things that will cause a manufacture to lose the rights to use the logo but ALL of them concern non compliance to the specs and Magpul cannot arbitrary cancel the license.

      As for association with a competitor concern, we have have several competitors signed on to M-LOK already and we have made it clear that no manufacture will be turned down or lose the license to use the logo other than non compliance to the published M-LOK specs. This is not that uncommon, after all Glock and other firearms companies make pistols to S&W 40 caliber specs for almost two decades.

      In regards to the size of the Keymod market, more manufactures have signed on to M-LOK in 3 months than signed onto Keymod in three years. This is partially due to complete TDP as specified above but is also due to the size of the MOE slot marketplace (used by us since 2007) which the M-LOK will be replacing completely by the end of 2014. For reference the MOE marketplace is measured in the millions where as the Keymod marketplace is measured in the tens of thousands. For that reason M-LOK would survive as a Magpul only propriety system even if no other manufacture signed on.

      While M-LOK does work on polymer where Keymod does not, the issue is that M-LOK works on ALL the common mounting surfaces (Metal, Carbon Fiber, Polymer) equal well. This allows manufactures to develop a single accessory that will work on all applications, thereby increasing their potential marketplace. As for hand guard manufactures, in our initial testing, the simplified slot profile of the M-LOK saves an average of over 18 minutes of CNC time per rail compared to an identical Keymod application. Dice that how you want but the cost savings in manufacturing are real and tangable.

      It is our view that the entire industry will benefit from a single well documented standard like M-LOK for future accessory development.

      • Atticus

        I never doubted your capabilities, and I admit that from a purely technical standpoint M-Lok appears superior to me. But there are landfills out there chock full of superior technology that still failed in the marketplace. BetaMax was arguably superior to VHS, and we know how that worked out. Marketing is often less about facts and more about public perception.

        You may not arbitrarily cancel licenses, but in all honesty, you have been developing a reputation for having a litigious nature as of late. No offense.

        The point I was making about competitor association was not that you would discriminate against them, but that *they* might be hesitant, and I still support that statement. I cannot recall off the top of my head any companies supporting M-Lok that also make polymer stocks, grips, or magazines (though more than a few support KeyMod). All M-Lok support I have seen is from producers of metal parts that do not directly compete with your offerings. I may reevaluate this opinion once more M-Lok products start showing up in the marketplace, but for the time being, I call it like I see it. Some type of central directory for finding M-Lok products and manufacturers would be nice, by the way.

        As to adoption: the reason more manufacturers have signed on to M-Lok as opposed to KeyMod is that they don’t need to “sign on” to KeyMod at all. They just make stuff. It’s like saying that more people pay for cable than they do broadcast television. Of course they do, because you don’t pay for broadcast television. Comparing M-Lok licenses to non-existent KeyMod licenses is a bit of a misrepresentation. Also, the vast majority of the top-tier names that I trust (VLTOR, Noveske, Daniel Defense, Geissele, BCM, Barrett, KAC, SIG Sauer, PWS, etc.) already support KeyMod, and I don’t really care much about the countless low-tier manufacturers trying to gain traction through a perceived affiliation with MagPul. If any of those big names support M-Lok as well, then I’ll try it, but sheer numbers of random mfrs alone don’t mean that your product will be become ubiquitous among the upper echelons.

        You are probably right about manufacturing ease and cost. I am not an expert on manufacturing processes, so I will take your word for that. I am however a fairly business-minded individual, and while M-Lok may seem cheaper now, that is likely due to it’s current game of catch-up in the marketplace. If M-Lok were to become the prevalent standard, I think it more likely that the cost savings would be used to increase the manufacturers’ profit margins rather than passing the savings on to the customer. Cost savings also supports the idea of many low-tier manufacturers adopting it.

        That is precisely why I think you both need the competition. Competition is good for the consumer, as is choice. I feel like we are dealing with a potential firearms industry version of the iPhone vs. Android situation here. There is no real right or wrong. Like you said, M-Lok will be sticking around no matter what, and I feel as though KeyMod will as well. This world IS big enough for the two of you.

        • Magpul

          To answer your questions. The Betamax vs VHS comparison comes up often. VHS won over the superior system Betamax because they had a greater market share. With M-LOK replacing ALL MOE slot systems sold by Magpul next year, M-LOK will have a installed base several times the size of the Keymod market place and the system can be used across all material platforms (Polymer, Metal and Carbon Fiber) starting in 2015.

          When I referred to signing up I was referring to the amount of companies publicly announcing their intention of building M-LOK parts and accessories vs Keymod. Many are building for both systems as many extrusions built for Keymod handguards are easily used for M-LOK versions. That said your statement, “they don’t need to “sign on” to KeyMod at all. They just make stuff.” reinforces my point regarding the incomplete TDP of Keymod resulting in versions like the HK rifle that has visually similar key hole slots only cut backwards and with incompatible with any other accessories out there.

          As for competitors signing up the M-LOK list of over 100 manufactures contains major competitors in all aspects of our business including Stocks, Grips, Magazines and Back Up Sights. Yes there probably will be some established companies that with hold off for tactical reasons but most companies that have been around over the last decade with us understand that a strong industry is better for everyone. M-LOK makes the industry stronger as it removes duplication of engineering resources much in the way the standard Picatinny rail interface spurred a grow in the industry last decade.

          This brings me nicly to your statement, “you have been developing a reputation for having a litigious nature as of late”.

          For those who have lived and worked developing products in our industry for the last two decades, patents and the concept of IP (Intellectual Property) is long standing. When the original “Assault Weapon Ban” sunsetted in 2004 several established companies developed polymer magazine with new technologies. Magpul like the other companies developed specific geometry and features that revolutionized the polymer magazine marketplace during the high of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Magpul was careful not to infringe on existing patented technology and the other companies did the same as they developed their own polymer magazine technology and patents.

          Fast forward to the 2011-2012 panic buying phase where the threat of a new magazine ban was imminent. Magpul has a manufacturing capacity in excess of the three government ALU magazine contract suppliers, combined. Even with this capacity we immediately went into a 6 month backorder along with all the other established magazine manufactures. Sensing quick money to be made several new companies popped up and set about building a polymer magazine to capitalize on this new opportunity. Obviously these new companies were under a very short development cycle and some set out to make a functional duplicate of the most fielded polymer M4 magazine in US military history, the PMag.

          This year we had to take action in an unprecedented six cases for patent violations. All but one of these companies were not in the marketplace two years ago and one already ceased business before we had to take action. So our increase in patent cases is directly related to the amount of patent violations and not a change in company policy on our part.

          • Atticus

            First, I should make clear something I forgot to mention previously. I have no dog in this fight whatsoever. I own neither KeyMod, nor M-LOK products, and have no real interest in rushing out and buying any before the dust has settled. Despite the hoopla, Picatinny is still the industry standard and will likely remain so, at least until an alternative gains widespread military adoptions. I’m perfectly content with quad-rails and PRI tubes for the time being.

            Well, HK is notorious for proprietary designs for shits and giggles, so I can hardly fault KeyMod for their actions.

            I’m sure you have plenty of great partnerships, even with competitors. My problem here (and the problem with the perception of many) is that I can find no central area to compare the list of KeyMod companies to the list of M-LOK companies, nor do I have the time or inclination to scour the entire internet compiling my own lists of such companies for the hell of it.

            (Edit: After writing this post, but prior to posting it, I finally stumbled across a list of M-LOK supporters. I doubt it’s totally up to date, but frankly I am not too impressed. Every company on the list falls into one of these categories for me.

            1. Companies I have never heard of.
            2. Companies that I detest and refuse to support for various ethical reasons.
            3. Companies I love that also support KeyMod.)

            Once again, I meant no offense by the ‘reputation’ comment. I never said the reputation was *deserved*, but there are people out there who develop animosity toward companies for weird reasons. People who—for whatever reason—do not like your brand will not buy ANY M-LOK products for that reason, regardless of manufacterer. That is the crux of my argument that was made in the first post: M-LOK buyers could easily be viewed as MagPul fanboys. Not fair, but that is what happens with technologies like this when they are so closely tied to a single company. Even if an M-LOK equipped rifle contains no MagPul parts, the first thing in people’s minds will be MagPul. That was probably your marketing strategy though, so I can’t fault you for that and would like to give kudos for your business savvy.

            Since I have stated numerous times that I think your product is great and will be successful, I don’t really get the continuing conversation. It makes it seem like you care not only for the success of your own product, but also the failure of others. As though you disagree with my statement that the world is big enough for the two of you. As though consumer choice is bad and people should only support M-LOK.

            My final conclusion is this, and then I’m done here: M-LOK truly is the superior system, but that is not why it will be successful. It will be successful based purely on your brand name recognition fan loyalty. Not your fault, but that’s the way the internet works. As long as people have the best products possible at the end of the day, I frankly don’t care. Just continue making great stuff, guys.

          • Magpul

            You have good questions and education is part of our our published foundations which can be found here…

            http://www.magpul.com/foundations

            That is our primary reason for responding. Thanks for posting.

          • Atticus

            Actually, I do have one more question. Who is the manufacturer of the tan colored handguard pictured in the article above? I’ve looked at the sites of most of the M-LOK manufacturers I am aware of, but I haven’t seen anything quite like it. Has it not been announced yet? It looks quite good.

          • Atticus

            Nevermind, it appears to be a Geissele model. I had not yet seen one with those square cuts on the lower portion, and have only seen the type pictured in black above, with the irregularly shaped cuts.

  • jay

    I got this from m4 carbine forum and it makes sense:

    Here is the some of the ways the M-LOK system was designed to be a better all round system than Keymod…

    M-LOK works over a wider material thickness range than Keymod.
    M-LOK uses a flat nut that is suitable for polymer, metal and carbon fiber mounting surfaces.
    M-LOK is a true direct attach system so a line of accessories mounted next to each other do not need to be slid off to remove just one piece.
    M-LOK has better recoil/impact support than Keymod.
    M-LOK uses a larger bolt and has greater direct surface contact than Keymod resulting is greater pull out strength (a single MLOK mount exceeds 300 lbs in all materials)
    M-LOK accessories are multi directional (can be mounted forward or backwards).
    M-LOK has a uniform internal edge that can be generously chamfered allowing a better feel on the hand than Keymods 45 degree under cuts.
    M-LOK can use any of the millions of MOE accessories already fielded via an adapter plate.
    M-LOK slots are much lower cost to manufacture than Keymod resulting in lower cost to consumers.
    M-LOK nuts are much lower cost to manufacture than Keymod resulting in lower cost to consumers.
    M-LOK bolts are commonly available (user replaceable) and allow more torque to be applied than Keymod.
    M-LOK slots requires no special CNC cutters or complex injection molds to manufacture an undercut like Keymod resulting in lower cost to consumers.
    M-LOK has greater documentation surrounding manufacturing than Keymod allowing for greater compatibility between different manufactures and different M-LOK products.

  • tazman66gt

    I just can’t see attaching plastic to plastic then putting a $1000 laser/illuminator on and expecting everything to hold together with hard use, or even just a light.

    • Harold

      C’mon TazManian 1966 Grand Tourismo. It’s 2014 and we’re still arguing plastics?

      • Atticus

        Plastics or “polymers” as is trendy to call them are simply not as robust as metals. That is an undisputed fact. The question is really: is plastic strong ENOUGH for [application]? For most applications the answer is probably yes, but there will always be people who err on the side of caution and prefer metal to secure their small fortune’s worth of accessories as long as weight is not a critical factor.

  • toxie

    Keymod is lighter and can be smaller in OD, and/or have more clearance on the ID. Also widely accepted/tested and many high quality accessories are out there.
    Mlok is cheaper, “more attractive”, and usable on plastic. Accessories available, but limited and less expensive (also mostly plastic).

    The trend I see developing in the future: Keymod will serve the upper end of the spectrum, and mlok will be more popular on mid-level offerings.
    Both serve a valid market, and both will probably survive.