If you recall, the Army is researching the utility of a third arm system to augment future soldiers and to help them manage the weight of heavier weapon systems like belt fed light machine guns. I did an independent study using a hobbyist steadicam rig. After I experimented with my DIY steadicam rig I realized that while a shoulder fired weapon works the system can help with other types of firearms. I looked for a spade grip style setup like the CSW kit from Franklin Armory.
Not All Spade Grips Are Equal
KNS Precision makes an AR15 spade grip and while it is easy to install, it is exposed and requires the use of a railed handguard to attach it to a tripod. The Franklin Armory CSW kit has a built in picatinny rail along the bottom and balances better on a tripod setup. Another benefit is the CSW kit mounting point frees up the railed handguard for use with other accessories.
Both the KNS and Franklin Armory spade grip setups were designed to be mounted to either a pintle style mount or tripod. Both relatively fixed positions that makes moving and shooting a spade gripped firearm difficult. This would be perfect for the steadicam gun setup.
Next up was to test fire this setup and it worked perfectly. I didn’t install the muzzle brake properly so it started to walk near the end of the second magazine. The CSW Kit makes the AR California Compliant but I am new to this idea so I figured I would open the upper and remove the magazine to see how those type of magazine changes work. One issue I found with removing the magazine from this type of setup is simply it is more complicated. I think an ambidextrous magazine release would be better so you can use your left hand to press the mag release and pull the magazine out.
This steadicam gun would benefit from a full auto lower and a higher capacity magazine. Perhaps even a belt fed like the Fightlite Ares or just a Beta drum magazine. When I originally developed my steadicam cam rig, I regretted not having a third axis of rotation. I could pan and tilt the gun but I could not roll the gun. Here I used a tripod ball mount which gives me more range of motion but since the whole gun sits on top, it is not stable by itself. Once I let go, the gun will fall and tilt to one direction. If you look at how the Army’s design is setup, they suspend the gun and when the mount is placed near the center of gravity the gun just hangs in the air. This could be done with a spade gripped firearm but it would necessitate a new mount design and would interfere with the optics. An optic with larger field of view would definitely be better for this setup. While the Aimpoint CompM4 works for my needs, the field of view is small since it is so far forward and easy to lose the dot. I need one of those LMG optics like the ones by DI Optical.