By Sean Fisher --
In a discussion recently about the current issued M16 and M4, amidst the usual issues of maintenance and caliber size, a trooper blew my mind by remarking upon an issue that gets little to no spotlight: The grip.
The pistol grip is an integral part of the M16/m4 weapons system. Proper usage and hold can make or break your shot. Not only is accuracy an issue, but you also have to take into account fatigue and plain old fire control.
The standard A2 pistol grip was originally part of the M16A2 design adopted by the Marines in the mid-80's and hasn't changed much since. Thousands of troops have carried the rifle and used this design for years and fought successfully with it.
So why change what works?
Recently the renewed interest in Ar-15s in the civilian market has created an explosion of aftermarket parts for the AR-15/M16/M4 and its variants. A lot of these parts are "Tacticool" and serve no functional purpose other than giving Mall Ninja's something to drool over. But when you separate the chaff from the wheat you find that the 15 odd years has generated new designs and improvements to the weapon system that can only come from good old American ingenuity and the free market.
Back to the matter at hand, pun totally unintentional, the A2 pistol grip may have seen its final days. Today the key word is ergonomics, something rarely heard when the m16 was first introduced.
Take the Magpul MIAD for instance.
From the website -
Interchangeable front and rear straps, as well as a range of storage core options allow the end user to adjust the grip for hand size as well as dynamic mission requirements.
- Removable and replaceable front and rear panels for a custom fit over multiple hand sizes
- Improved ergonomics and positive anti-slip texture on both sides and rear back-strap
- Removable inner core that allows for storage (3-round plug included)
- Custom storage of batteries (waterproof) or spare bolt/firing pin is available with optional cores
Having a single grip that has multiple back strap options could potentially be an improvement over the system currently in use. Or it could be an expensive logistical nightmare.
Other manufacturers (including Magpul) offer other more ergonomic pistol grip options minus the adjustable back straps.
Would the ability to create a more personal grip for each individual soldier increase accuracy, trigger control, and at the same time decrease fatigue?
Would the cost of executing a wide scale change out of troops grips, plus the questionable loss of ability to pick any weapon up and fire the same way every time be worth the Military to look into?