TFB Review: Magpul MP5 SL Handguards

    The Magpul MP5 SL Handguards and other furniture were announced back at SHOT Show 2019. You may have seen Will’s post here on TFB, they are now available. As soon as they were announced I ordered them for my HK SP5 and Omega MP5K-PDW clone. Let’s take a closer look at the Magpul MP5 SL handguards.

    MP5 SL Handguard

    The Magpul MP5 SL handguard takes aesthetic cues from Magpul’s other SL handguards. It reminds me a bit of Magpul’s SL shotgun handguards. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Magpul MP5 SL Handguard beauty is in the eye of the beholder. MP5 fans are rather polarized. Some dislike it, others like it for its modularity and low cost.

    The cost of the MP5 SL handguard is just $49.95. It is one of the most cost effective aftermarket handguards that allows you to mount accessories to the MP5.

    Adding a light to an MP5 is a must and options are limited. Check my article on illuminating a suppressed MP5. Many people like the SureFire 628 handguard but it does not allow the use of a suppressor. Getting an M-LOK or Picatinny handguard costs double or triple the cost of the Magpul MP5 SL handguard and that is before you have purchased a light.

    Below is my first attempt to mount a SureFire M300 Scoutlight to the handguard using an offset Arisaka M-LOK mount.

    I wanted to run a SureFire tape switch and used the Magpul M-LOK tape switch mounting plate. The only problem is wire management. As you can see below, I ran the wire up and over the cocking tube.

    Below you can see Magpul’s MP5, which is a Dakota Tactical build for Duane Liptak. He routed the tape switch wire under the handguard.

    Photo by Magpul

    But There Is A Better Way!

    You can actually run the tape switch wire through the M-LOK slots and under the barrel.

    The Magpul M-LOK tape switch mounting plate is a hair shorter in length than the MLOK slots on the MP5 SL handguard. See the photo below, you can see a small gap that I was able to get the wire through.

    To get this to work, you need to start with the handguard removed from the MP5. Start with the tape switch, not connected to anything. Feed the tape portion through the rear M-LOK slots. Go right to left. So the SureFire plug is sticking out the right side. Install the mounting plate to keep the tape switch in place. There should be enough slack in the wire that you can push it down to the bottom of the handguard. This will clear the MP5 barrel. Then plug the switch into the back of the Scoutlight.

    MP5 SL Handguard Feels Great!

    While the aesthetics are controversial, the ergonomics of the SL handguard are some of the best. The only other handguard that feels great to hold, for me, is the H&K wide handguard that came with my H&K SP5. The Magpul handguard is not bulky but rather svelte.

     

    MP5K SL Handguard

     

    I was actually more excited about the MP5K SL handguard. It solves a problem I have with every other K style handguard, it protects the shooter’s hand from the trunion. See the photo below. This area gets rather warm when shooting a lot. Since the K has such a short barrel, the handguard is not very long. So my thenar (fat part of my palm below the thumb) often touches this area. The Magpul handguard covers this entire area.

    Since the Magpul MP5K SL handguard covers the trunion of the K receiver, it is a bit harder to install. See the photo below. The two ears that the takedown pin goes through are rather close together. You need to rock the handguard up and push those ears past the front sight block which is much wider than the ears. I often need to resort to a rubber mallet to install or remove this handguard. Bare hands alone are not enough.

    With just a single M-LOK slot at 3 and 9 o’clock, your options are a bit limited to adding lights and lasers. The single slot under the charging handle is kind of useless. It is not long enough to mount a tape switch and you can’t mount a light on there otherwise you will have a tough time manipulating the charging handle. You could mount a QD socket but then your sling might get in the way of the charging handle.

    At the bottom of the Magpul MP5K SL handguard, are one and a half M-LOK slots. In fact, when you add the Magpul MVG (M-LOK Vertical Grip), the K handguard integrated handstop gives the MP5K that iconic MP5K VFG look.

    Final Thoughts On Magpul’s MP5 SL Handguards

    For the MP5K, I also bought the Magpul ESK (enhanced selector kit). It is ambidextrous but I found the selector switch detents to be too mushy for the trigger housing I am using. I did not use them for my SP5 because I prefer to use my Franklin Armory BFSIII HK-C1. I also did not order the SL Grip because I prefer the classic pictograph look of the lowers I am using.  With regards to the handguards themselves, I like the feel of the Magpul handguard but it is not my favorite. I still prefer to use my Steiner lighted forend since it functions like the SureFire but I can suppress my SP5. For my MP5K-PDW clone, I prefer the Magpul over my Midwest Industries MLOK handguard because it covers the trunion. Of course, with an SBR none of this matters since you would just run a VFG and your hand would not be near the trunion. At just $49.95 each, it is hard to beat Magpul’s SL handguards for price and functionality. Check out their website for more information.



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    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]


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