Different Airsoft Rails and Mounts
A frequently asked question by airsoft players is: which rails is the most optimal?
We’ve therefore looked into the different types of existing and common rails to be able to provide with some insight on the issue.
To begin with, born in the 1980’s, based on the design of the Weaver rail, the Picatinny rail first appeared on the american M16A2 and M4E1. The picatinny became very popular in weapon manufacturing and became the most used rail system in armament for various reasons:
Firstly, the picatinny rail is the best solution concerning optics and sight systems. It has the best grip and stability to make sure the scope or sight doesn’t move and that the calibration doesn’t change. It also provides an important range of positions as to where you can attach your accessory or yourscope. Lastly most most accessories and and scopes sold in airsoft are meant to be set on picatinny rails so it has a great compatibility with most of the accessories.
However the picatinny rail has a major disadvantage. It’s important surface causes the airsoft replica to weight much more than it should. Therefore, different solutions have appeared. These solutions are the Keymod and the M-Lok.
If we bring our attention to the Keymod handguard that was released in 2012. It is particularly different from the picatinny.
It’s way of attaching the accessory consists in sliding in the accessory from the round opening and then tightening the screws on the tighter side. The Keymod is a true alternative for the hanguards as it is considerably lighter than the unnecessary weight that is brought by the picatinny of which we use only very few parts. It’s flat surface also makes it much more comfortable when holding with bare hands than the picatinny rail that has very sharp edges.
Overall the gun being lighter and smoother allows for better control and precision with the replica. Plus, if you have an accessory that is only compatible with picatinny rails, you have the possibility to attach small picatinny rail sections to your keymod handguard.
Now the M-Lok handguard is very similar to the the Keymod but i has the possibility to be used on plastic handguards which the Keymod does not have. Released in 2014, two years after the keymod, it is claimed by its creator Magpul that the M-Lok rail is better than the Keymod for two reasons.
The first one is that it provides slightly more position choices for the accessories and the other biggest one concerns the weapon manufacturers, the M-Lok is considerably less expensive to produce. Even though many companies have invested in the Keymod system and that is currently the most popular one, it is possible that the M-Lok might take the step over the Keymod if there is a real demand for it.
To conclude, If you’re hesitating on which rail to have on your airsoft replica, it firstly depends on its material, if it’s in polymer, you will either be obliged to have it entirely picatinny or with an M-Lok handguard. If you have a metal replica, we strongly advise to keep the top rail picatinny as it is the best solution when holding scopes and it has the greatest stability. However if your weapon is compatible, we recommend changing the handguard to either M-Lok or Keymod as they are considerably lighter and will allow you to operate much more faster and precisely. Choosing which of these two to choose depends entirely of your opinion of which you think would be the best to use and which design you prefer as they are very similar.
We hope this helped you in deciding which rail system is the best for you and hope you have a great time on the field.
Stay safe and remember, you set the limit!