‘Cheeze-grater’ forends

I’m hearing it more and more; some version of “I don’t want rails all around my (AR or AK) forend because they’re so rough on the hands”. I’ve had people tell me that over the phone, and when I suggest rail covers they pretend they didn’t hear me and continue on as though I’d said nothing. Key-Mod and other slick-sided forends, or even wrap-around fabric jackets, are the proposed answer. I don’t understand it fully. Those who are now in their 20s were of single-digit age when we first started selling rail covers, and rail covers of several types, materials and sizes were a well-established and readily available item before we started selling them. Apparently no one is doing enough marketing to even make people aware of the existence of the rail cover. I had always figured they were an obviously necessary component to any multi-railed system. Maybe we’ll have to start marketing rail covers as a “New Product!” in order to get people aware of them all over again. Next I suppose someone will come out with a “New!” insert for the Key-Mod forend that will fill the un-used slots, protect them from dings, and provide a nice gripping surface.


24 thoughts on “‘Cheeze-grater’ forends

  1. The draw of key-mod isn’t so much “hand protection” which is more than adequately addressed by rail covers (or for that matter, wear some shooting gloves, gloves have only been around for what about 3000 years?). It’s more to do with cutting weight by eliminating unneeded rails while still allowing for flexibility in component installation.

    For example the BCM 13″ keymod weighs in at 7.7oz installed and allows for component installation at the usual 12, 9, 6 and 3 o’clock positions along with 4 intermediate positions. For comparison, the 2 lightest quad rails I know of are the Daniel Defense Lite II 12″ and the Centurion C4 12″ which weigh in at 13.9 oz and 14.2 oz respectively.

    I thought it was a gimmick till I got to try one. Now I’m converting all my EBRs to keymod.

  2. Bah.
    I don’t like rails. But I don’t feel the need to rationalize that beyond “they’re ugly, and I don’t have a use for them”.

  3. The advantage of the Keymod and other systems is less weight and lower cost. My M4 has a 12″ Daniel Defense rail. So, 48″ of total rail space. I had this discussion a few days ago with a friend: I have a front sight, a light, a PEQ-15, a tape switch for the PEQ and light, and a Magpul AFG on it. All told, I use 13″ of my available 48″, and 3″ of that 13″ I don’t actually need a rail for (my tape switch is zip-tied, not actually “mounted” on the rail). So I have 35″ more rail space on that hand guard than I need, and that’s a lot of extra machining and material that I’m not using. But as far as rail covers go, tell people to quit being weenies. Ladder covers work fine and even then, a bare rail isn’t so bad.

  4. I understand the whole “lower weight, slimmer rail” idea behind keymod and “bolt anywhere” rail section tubes.

    Problem is it doesn’t address another SIGNIFICANT issue with aluminum forearms:

    Heat. Which can be a serious problem even if you aren’t doing multi-mag burns. Just leave the gun in the sun during the summer. . .

    Since I have to put rails on my forearms to add the insulating rail covers anywhere my hands are likely to touch that DON’T have a rail mounted device (for example, my current project only has an AFG on bottom or sides – and the only thing on top of teh forearm is a light), I don;t see the point.

    Now, a carbon fiber keymod forearm would be ideal. Still get barrel ventilation, cool to the touch, light and slim, but you can still mount your preferred gizmos.

  5. I should clarify my fourth paragraph — “I don’t see the point of keymod on an aluminum forearm. I STILL have to mount rails everywhere, so I can put insulating rail covers on to keep me from burning myself on the aluminum tube.”

      • OK, NOW a keymod forend makes sense.

        The next time I’m building an EBR, I’ll likely go keymod, then.

        Of course, the huge advantage of keymod (“universal” mounting system NOT requiring Picatinny rails) still doesn’t apply for me, as the most likely accesories I’d be mounting either don’t yet come in keymod style, or they are most likely to be mounted on top, where the Picatinny rails are. .

        Of course, when Magpul introduces keymod variants of all their rail mounted stuff, they’ll end up getting ALL THE MONEY. . .

        • What do you use that’s there’s not a keymod variant? Impact Weapons has quite a few keymod components, including bipod and light mounts. Plenty of others producing gear too.

          Also, keymod allows you to put in a short picatinny section where needed in order to be compatible with existing gear. It’s not ideal but a short rail section that’s actually used is better than huge amounts of rail space that isn’t. I know BCM even makes nylon rail sections for components that don’t see a lot of stress.

          • AFG2 — I find them to be REALLY comfortable, perfectly angled, etc.

            I prefer Streamlight TLR lights, which have a Picatinney base built right nto the body.

            But, using the “universal” keymod style just so I can mount a Picatinny “universal” rail so I can mount the stuff I actually use seems a bit silly — at that point, it’s no different than any non-keymod forend that allows you to mount Picatinny rails anywehere you like them.

            Now, if keymod actually does become the standard mounting interface for accessories, great. I suspect it will not become the standard for optics (looking at it, AND realizing that NATO is sticking with and improving the Picatinny definition, makes that unlikely — Picatinny is already established; rock solid; from what I can tell, more repeatable if your mount is built properly, etc.) — which means that Picatinny based componants will still be around, damaging keymod’s chance to play VHS to Picatinny’s Betamax.

  6. Plus with those fabric ends you lose the ability to attach stuff.

    I own nothing with rails with the exception of one pistol that sadly won’t fit a bayonet!

    Still I’d love to throw a magpul AFG and a red dot on a rifle.

    I just need to BUY one first.

  7. Personally, I like rails for their functionality and modularity. I don’t see why the “cheese-grater” effect is such a big deal; it’s easily remedied.

    That said, I don’t care for the extra weight, cost (in materials and machining time, which the manufacturer passes on to the buyer), and bulk of a bunch of rail I won’t use. I much prefer the option to bolt on rail segments where I need them and leave the rest of the fore-end smooth. However, that’s all it is: my personal preference. YMMV; what you do with your rifle is none of my business (unless I’m downrange 😉 ).

      • No, shit, what am I thinking;

        “New, Elite, Tactical, Force Recon, Elite Team, Spec Ops, SEAL/SWAT, Black Ops Sniper, Delta Force, Tactical Forward Operator, High-Tech, EOD, Aero-Space-Grade, rail covers”

        Did I leave anything out? These are some really fuckin’ scary serious rail covers, Man, and you probably shouldn’t buy any because you’re just not up to that level where you could appreciate them. Not that many people are, which is why we require an interview before we’ll consider selling you any. There is one Weird Trick you may be able to use to buy some (like getting on our web site and clicking “buy”) but only for a very short time before the government breaks our code and forces us to shut it down.

        • Crap; I left out

          “Modular, Mission-Specific, Situational Awareness, Tactical Environmental Threat Assessment Enhancing, Soldier-Centric Kinetic Force Structure Operation Ready”

          • Seriously, all you had to say was:


            And the mall-ninjas of the world would beat a path to your door.

  8. I’ve dumped over a thousand rounds of 7.62 x 39 in a day in summer, just for a torture test for the company mind you. Heat schmeet. I was worried about the barrel steel, and maybe a cook-off during pauses (which never happened), but nothing else, and my support hand never got uncomfortably warm. If you have a belt-fed SAW or something I could see being concerned about the heat, but that’s why they invented the switch barrel machine gun. An assault rifle is not a machine gun, and a semi auto is not an assault rifle.

    Anyway, I’d never actually carry enough 7.62 x 39 ammo to over-heat an Ak, so what we’re really talking bout is firing out of an ammo supply truck with several other people loading magazines for you as fast as they can, while thousands of communists are charging up the hill at you. Not a likely scenario, but If I ever find myself in that one situation where heat would become a problem, I certainly won’t be terribly concerned about over-heating my carbine. I’ll grit my teeth and keep firing until the thing stops due to a blown barrel.

    Light weight is nice for sure, but in our drop-tests we wanted a forend rail system that would not only survive the drop without damage, but would hold zero for a possible auxiliary sight or laser sight attached to it. We’ve also sold a number of these rails for use with grenade launchers, which do exhibit some recoil of their own. Some people will not be concerned about such things because they just want a light, a sling mount and maybe a lower grip on the rails, so maybe we should have a lightweight design for them.

    Everything is a compromise, including the medium power carbine concept itself. I keep two different ARs for example. One is rather heavy (full length HBAR with a telescope) and the other very light, then there’s my heavy barrel boltie with its deep-space telescope. Can’t very well carry all three. Ask me how I know.

    Maybe I should sell them all and just put a light optic on my M1A, but then you don’t sell guns, you buy them. I actually tried selling one once and it just didn’t work, so I gave up on the concept.

    There’s your streamofconscienceness for the day.

    • Lyle, I’ve had an AR15 THAT HADN’T BEEN FIRED ALL DAY, painfully hot, just from sitting on a table in the sun.

      Ditto for metal parts on military weapons sitting in the sun.

      Metal gets hot in sunlight.

  9. I would like to imagine that we could just go back to rifles being rifles and coming with just sights. But men’s preoccupation with gadgets and dodads is far too overwhelming. I long for the days when being a rifleman meant actually knowing how to operate a rifle. Others will come over to this school of thought when the shit hits the fan and all the whizbangs batteries are dead. It would seem a little late in the game to need to learn to shoot. Do yourselves a favor buy a real rifle hold the bullshit and learn to shoot it !

    • Someone should sell a clear sticker with a little red dot on it so that in the post-apocalypse world if your red-dot batteries die you can put the sticker on the lens and use it as a reticle. Heck, you can put the sticker on a clear lens cap right now, so you know your sighted in, and then use the optic with the cap open until the battery dies. You could even offer different reticle patterns.

      • If, in the post-apolcaliypse world where batteries with a 10 year shelf life are still unavailable, and I’ve run through my stock of batteries (and I buy and replace my batteries every three years, even if not dead), I’ll unbolt my red dot sight on my home defense carbine and use the iron sights ALREADY INSTALLED in lieu of the red dot.

        But since, in such a scenario, I suspect I may well be all out of 5.56mm ammo (since it’s been 100% Mad Max out there for AT LEAST seven years by that point) and using whatever rifle I DO have ammo for, if I am even still alive and haven’t been murdered, died from a simple scratch or tooth cavity, been eaten by a bear, etc.

        Since I do not live in the world of chest-beating TEOTWAWKI, like the Deathlands novels, nor do I see that as a plausible scenario, I don;t really worry about battery life for componants that:

        A. Have long storage life batteries that are actually CHEAPER than dimestore AA batteries (when you factor in replacing them due to losing charge while not even on).

        B. A device that can keep going for up to 50,000 hours use on a SINGLE such battery.

        C. A device that doesn’t even interfere with the use of the iron sights installed on the gun (primarily in case of damage due to shock knocking out the electronics). The amazing thing about a non-magnified red dot sight is that if the red dot goes out, you still have a 100% see-through tube that doesn’t block the sights. (Nor is it difficult to remove when you decide you will never be able to turn it on again.)

        Heck, in the case of my magnified scopes with illumination, you know what happens if my battery dies? The crosshairs are black, just as if I went for a “non battery” version. Which means the scope STILL WORKS JUST FINE, only without one advantageous feature that isn’t absolutely critical to function. . .

  10. I guess I am the anomaly. As soon as I started getting firearms with rails, I started collecting various rail covers. The good news is that newer rails seem to be a little more radiused on the edges, leading to less hand-gouging, but, still, this seems pretty straightforward.

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