Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Magpul XTM Hand Stop Kit

The Magpul XTM Hand Stop Kit is a low profile alternative to the AFG or a vert grip. In my opinion, it is the perfect addition to the Fortis rail, which has a very slim profile, so I decided to pick one up.

The kit is very similar to the well known XTM panels and snaps on in the exact same way, except for the large backstop, which requires a hex wrench for installation. The kit comes with 1 standard fullsize XTM panel, a halfsize XTM panel, a modded fullsize XTM panel with low profile stop (the frontstop panel), and the large backstop (which requires the screw). 


I started the process by installing the low frontstop with the idea that everything else would fall into place behind it. This panel simply snaps into place. As pictured below, the pieces are combine, but not fully locked into place, prior to attaching them onto the rail. This makes it a lot easier to snap them into place once you have the XTM panel in position on the rail. 

Finding The Right Spot

With the frontstop panel in position, a fullsized XTM panel was dropped in behind it. I then started toying with the placement of the large backstop. The options I was personally addressing for fit were: option 1, my 4 fingers fall in between the large backstop (which is not screwed in yet, notice open hole on nut) and the frontstop or, option 2, three fingers falling in between the large backstop and the frontstop, with my index finger falling in front of the frontstop. 

A 3rd option is to only use the large backstop, which I had no intention of doing, thus, no pictures. A potential 4th option would be to just have the frontstop on the rail.

Be sure to test out your options with gloves on if you do run gloves while shooting. Following are pics of option 1 with all four fingers falling in between the two handstops.

Next are pics of the 2nd option I was looking at with my index finger falling in front of the frontstop.

Once you finalize the fit, tighten down the screw with a hex wrench. Do not overtighten, it is not necessary, especially because most Magpul screws come with a factory loctite application. If you want to apply some additional loctite, feel free to do so.

One additional feature to note on the panels is that they come with small clips that allow you to snap a wire into place, in this case, the wire for a Surefire Scout light. If you intend to utilize the clips, be sure you lock the panels into place with the clips on the correct side for your light.  The wire on the M300B installed on this firearm is only 5" long, so I did not use the clips on the XTM panels, but a very thoughtful and useful feature to note.

Final notes. I went with option 2. Magpul, a badass American company that makes great stuff.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Bradley Cheek Rest for the M1A

As anyone who owns an M1A/M14 knows, as soon as you scope it you will probably have to adjust your stock in order to get a higher, consistent cheek weld for correct sight alignment. This usually involves adding some type of stock component. There are many options available on the market, with the most inexpensive being non-permanent nylon, fabric cheek rests, ranging from $10 from Amazon to $75 from outfits like TNVC. You then move up from there to adjustment options that are made from solid materials and can be permanently (requiring modification) or non-permanently affixed to the stock. I tried a couple of the less expensive nylon, fabric rises, but they all exhibited movement when tightened down to the stock and I was not sold on their longevity. I finally decided I needed to try the Bradley Cheek Rest and ordered up the coyote brown M1A/SOCOM Cheek Rest. This is the non-adjustable model, simple and robust, made from tried & tested kydex.

[Click on images to enlarge]

Straight out of the box it was obvious this is the way to go, a rigid platform, an extension of the stock. As pictured above, the cheek rest comes with the kydex main body, velcro straps, and a non-slip pad.


Installation is very straight forward: loosen up the velcro straps, set the non-slip pad within the body of the kydex rest, then fit it into place and tighten up the straps. 

With the traditional M1A metal buttplate, flip up the plate, slip the cheek rest on, and tighten the velco above the storage compartment.

Push the rest forward to snug it into place. Then flip the buttplate back down into position.

Loop the velcro straps through and cinch them down. Check that the rest is snugged down.

There is no right way or wrong way to install the Bradley cheek rest as far as I can tell. Alternatively, you could start the install with the bottom velcro straps and then finish rear strap.

Closeup view of the nonslip pad contacting the stock. It does it's job very well.

Finished view.

As stated previously, the Bradley cheek rest is very rigid and creates a solid platform. I highly recommend it if you decide to scope your M1A.

Final notes: The M1A pictured is the Springfield Standard model with a USGI FCG. The mount is an aluminum Sadlak scope mount. Scope is a Vortex PST 4-16x50 FFP EBR-1 with match 30mm 0.97" (24.64 mm) Vortex rings. The ring height and Sadlak mount allow me to use irons with the removal of Bradley.