Everyone recognizes the Picatinny rail, also known as the MIL-STD-1913 Rail that was developed in the 1990s and named after Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey. It’s been a popular mounting system interface for many years and compatible with a huge range of shooting accessories.
Enter the M-LOK system, which was developed by Magpul Industries as a lighter, more flexible alternative to the Picatinny rail system. In contrast to the Picatinny rails slots, M-LOK systems are “fenestrated” with “windows” that allow for flexible mounting where and as needed, lightening the handguards and allowing for better ventilation of the barrel.
Picatinny Rail Advantages
● Flexibility in adjusting eye relief for optics: Pic rails offer excellent back-to-front flexibility when mounting optics like scopes, so you can optimize eye relief and minimize parallax distortion.
● Greater surface area contact with mounted shooting accessories: While not recoil-”proof,” when properly adjusted and torqued, Pic rail mounts are very secure and help diminish the impact of recoil on mounted accessories.
● General durability: Picatinny rail systems are rock solid.
Picatinny Rail Drawbacks
● Weight: Picatinny rails are significantly heavier than M-LOK systems (and KeyMod systems, for that matter).
● Comfort: It’s just plain uncomfortable to grip a Picatinny rail and fire a rifle without gloves (although, if you are wearing gloves, the Pic rail will afford a great grip). You can cover the handguard with rail covers, but that just adds weight.
● Ergonomics could be better: Pic rails have a lot of surface area and tend to catch on clothing and MOLLE webbing.
● Barrel ventilation: Since Pic rail handguards are more or less solid, they don’t release as much heat as fenestrated handguard systems like M-LOK systems.
M-LOKs: The Positive Scoop
● Lower weight: M-LOK systems are much lighter than Pic rail handguards, improving maneuverability.
● Better barrel ventilation: The open sections along an M-LOK system disperse heat more readily than Pic rail systems do.
● More comfortable to grip the handguard: M-LOK handguards are much smoother and far more comfortable to use as a grip when firing the weapon.
● Potentially lower cost: Since M-LOK was developed as an open-source project, the cost of handguards and accessories may potentially be lower.
Does the M-LOK System Have Any Downsides?
● Gas block interference: The slim nature of the M-LOK system may make it different to mount accessories over the gas block as there is not a lot of clearance between it and the handguard.
● Can be difficult to mount accessories: Some users find it more difficult to mount accessories to M-LOK handguards, especially while they are attached to the firearm. Conversely, it is easy to mount accessories to a Pic rail even while it is attached to the rifle.
M-LOK or Picatinny Light Mounts: No Matter with Cloud Defensive
Now, how does a weapon light with a Picatinny rail mount factor into all this? Is it a problem?
Not when you choose the right supplier.
The REIN and REIN Micro, available at Cloud Defensive, come with Picatinny light mounts but can also be purchased in complete kits that come with mounts compatible not only with Picatinny handguards and M-LOK systems but with KeyMod Systems as well.
Whatever you shoot, the REIN is your weapon light, with mounts designed for the most popular handguard systems.
Visit Cloud Defensive online at CloudDefensive.com to learn more. You can also visit their REIN FAQ page or contact them directly at Support@CloudDefensive.com.