Choosing the Right Rail System

Aug 27th 2019

Choosing the Right Rail System

When it comes to your rifle build, the ability to add accessories is just one way to perfect your gun. The means of attaching those accessories will also affect how your gun performs and how easily you can switch between different parts. While the Picatinny rail has been the standard for accessory attachment for over 20 years, new systems like Keymod and M-LOK have emerged in the last few years that offer incredible flexibility for building firearms. Determining which of these systems to use will have a huge impact on your build. No matter what you choose, we carry a wide range of Picatinny, M-Lok, and Keymod accessories here at White Knight Supply.

Picatinny rails are a tried and true system, meaning you can find a huge range of accessories to fit these rails. The design of these rails allows for solid accessory attachment and they can be added many places on a firearm. The biggest downside of this system is weight, as it requires large pieces of metal to be attached to various locations on the gun. This also affects ergonomics, as these rails are not comfortable to grip and are an obvious snag point.

The first modern contender to the Picatinny system was Keymod. The Keymod system was developed in 2012 to address the clunkiness of Picatinny rails. Despite this short time on the market, this rail system has rapidly gained a following among firearm enthusiasts. The Keymod rail system, with its open-source design, has allowed manufacturers free reign to produce a huge range of Keymod accessories. Here at White Knight Supply, we offer a wide range of these accessories to help our customers perfect their Keymod compatible builds.

The secret to Keymod is the fact that it doesn’t require your rifle to be coated in rail bars like a Picatinny system. Instead, Keymod accessories attach to slots that are cut into the handguard of your rifle, allowing you to attach components directly into the Keymod slots using specialized nuts. Keymod uses negative space in your guard in the form of slots that have a circular hole with a narrow slot attached. You insert the nut into the hole, slide it down to the slot, and then tighten from the outside to secure the component. This allows for quick and easy attachment while being much lighter than a Picatinny system.

The final, and newest, choice is the M-LOK rail system. Created by Magpul Industries, this system was released in 2014. Unlike Keymod, M-LOK is not an open-source system. Manufacturers have to apply for a free license with Magpul, allowing Magpul to have the final say in who gets to produce accessories for their system.

There are some major advantages to the M-LOK rail system. Like Keymod, this system uses cutouts in the handguard instead of adding an accessory rail. The design of M-LOK differs from Keymod because the slots on an M-LOK handguard are completely uniform, they do not feature a larger section for inserting the nut. Instead, the nuts on your M-Lok accessories are designed with a rectangular cross-section. These nuts fit into the slots and then can only turn 90 degrees, locking the component securely in place. This style of attachment makes it much harder for components to detach as a result of dropping or rough handling.

So, while there are obvious advantages to these newer systems, what about your Picatinny rail accessories? Many of your favorite parts that you have accumulated over the years are likely to use the Picatinny rail system, so it might seem like you are out of luck when you convert to Keymod or M-LOK. Due to the flexibility of these new systems, it is actually incredibly easy to install Picatinny rail sections directly over your Keymod or M-LOK slots.

Unlike traditional Picatinny rails, you can install a short rail instead of completely covering a section of your handguard. This will help cut down total weight, while still allowing you to use your old parts and accessories. It only takes a minute or two to easily update your existing components to serve as M-LOK or Keymod accessories.

The choice of which rail accessory system to use ultimately comes down to personal preference. It is hard to argue that Keymod and M-LOK systems do not offer several advantages over Picatinny rails. Despite this, Picatinny rail accessories still make up the lion’s share of the market, though the newer systems are catching up.

Whatever rail system you decide to use on your build, we have a huge selection of handguard options and accessories here at White Knight Supply. If you have any questions regarding our Picatinny, M-LOK, and Keymod accessories, feel free to reach out to our team.