While the world marched toward World War I, major armies were in desperate need of a rapid-fire rifle for light infantrymen. Rifle technology had remained unchanged for the most part over the past 50 or 60 years. But in those days of the Great War, a number of innovations were to come, and mostly in the field of automatic weapons. That, in turn, would lead to the develop of foregrips to help in the handling of these guns.
We’ll talk more about the history of the development of automatics and of foregrips at the end of this article. Now, let’s get right into the discussion of what the grips are good for and what you should look for if you want to add one to your AR-15.
Comparison Chart: Best Angled and Vertical AR-15 Foregrips
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Stark Express SE-5 Express
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GG&G AR-15 Vertical Grip
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Strike Industries Cobra Tactical Fore Grip (CTFG)
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Daniel Defense Vertical Foregrip
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What is a Foregrip?
The foregrip - aka forward grip - may be the most popular tactical gun accessory out there today. One reason for this is probably because the mounting is simple and straightforward - unlike early versions like that on the Tommy gun.
Vertical foregrips can be attached to any AR-15 or other military-style rifles with a fore-end quad rail. They’re also compatible with other attachment interfaces such as the KeyMod attachment system or a T-bolt from Rebel Arms.
The vertical foregrips are designed for use with assault rifles for the forward hand (or "off hand"). A vertically-oriented foregrip helps control barrel rise. It should allow the firearm's muzzle to be more efficiently pulled downward during sustained fire. At the same time it keeps the operator`s hand away from the hot barrel.
Why Use a Foregrip?
As humans, we tend to imitate what we see - even if it’s not really a great idea. And we often see in movies that our action heroes keep their left hand on the magazine well of an assault rifle during shooting. But there are many reasons not to do so.
Holding onto the magazine well while firing can first affect the feed reliability. The magazine won’t move correctly in the well, which can warp the lips. This can affect the bullet’s ability to safely and efficiently pass through. Squeezing the AR-15 magazine well can even make prevent the dust cover from fully opening, resulting in a stovepipe and stoppages.
Besides the negative effect on reliability, this grip also shortens the area between the firing and support hands. This decreases control over the muzzle of the rifle.
Staying on the Right Side of the Law
Since the 1920’s, the Tommy Gun with a foregrip (Model 1921) was identified as the weapon of gangsters. Following that tradition, modern owners of semiautomatic rifles with a vertical foregrip are easily perceived as offenders.
Several states have adopted laws affecting the grips and other factors that can be used on guns. California adopted a firearms law, Penal Code Section 30515, that took effect January 1st, 2017. According to this law, almost every semi-automatic, centerfire rifle is classified as a restricted or banned weapon. As such they must be registered as "assault weapons."
A forward pistol grip is among six features that identify an assault weapon under this law. This is described as a grip that allows for a pistol-style grasp forward of the trigger. In order to be free of the "features" that would qualify your AR-15 as an "assault weapon," you have to apply a method of gripping the weapon that does not meet the definition of a pistol grip.
Angled Forward Grip (AFG) vs Vertical Forward Grip (VFG)
So far we’ve only referred to vertical grips. But at this point, we should also mention Angled Forward Grips (AFG). They provide similar functionality to vertical foregrips, but most are compliant with California Penal Code section 30515.
Most users agree that personal preference plays the main role in choosing foregrips. However, the use of the gun sometimes provides a slight favorability of one over the other.
The prevailing opinion is that vertical foregrips are best-suited to firing large quantities of rounds quickly. They’re also good for long-range fights where operators might need maximum vertical stability.
On the other hand, the angled foregrip is better for CQB where the shooter will probably use his weapon in full auto. Since close-quarters work calls for lateral swing control, the angled grips have an advantage. It’s the target shooters who require vertical stability and find more use for a vertical foregrip.
There are many different types of vertical foregrips. The most basic is just a shortened stubby grip. On the other end of the spectrum you find multifunctional grips with built-in lasers and weapon lights or integrated bipods. The bipod integrated into the vertical grip transforms the rifle into a much more versatile weapon. It becomes capable of being stabilized on the ground, a table, or any other surface.
Another benefit of vertical grips is that they occupy only one spot on the handguard whereas some angled grips take up more space. There is also a shortened version frequently called a "Stubby grip" whose primary intention is to keep the operator's hand from moving forward of the muzzle.
One of the more exciting occurrences as of late is a vertical grip and tactical knife in one! The dual role polymer vertical foregrip can be converted to a combat knife located within the interior chamber of the grip body in a blink of an eye.
Reviews of the Best Angled Foregrips for the AR-15
The needs of every shooter are different as are shooting techniques. The purpose of placing the vertical foregrip is to provide more control over your weapon with your off-trigger hand. A popular derivative of this hardware is known as the angled foregrip, which gives a shooter firm control of grip. Many find it to be a more comfortable, natural position.
1. Magpul AFG1
A Magpul AFG (Angled Fore-Grip) is probably the most comfortable solid-polymer option offered in Gen1 and Gen2 versions. The Magpul angled foregrip is well suited for the AR15/M4 weapons platform. It provides a hand stop at the end of the grip to help keep your hand from wrapping around the muzzle brake of your gun accidentally.
The AFG can be installed on a standard MIL-STD-1913 Picatinny or on Magpul direct-attach M-LOK mounting system. Both of them allow the more modern method of support with thumb-forward "C-clamp" grip.
Slightly bigger than the AFG2 version, the older AFG1 is very comfortable to hold with the wider sides of the AFG coming up and over the rails a bit. However, because of these "wings", the AFG1 has a nasty tendency to interfere with items on the AR side rail.
Another drawback in the AFG1 is that it takes up more rail space both on the rail it sits on and the two on either side.
Another concept of a reduced grip angle grip comes from Stark Equipment. This model differs a lot from the more mainstream Magpul AFG.
The SE-5 Express Grip is designed for AR-platform shooters who grip the handguard in the popular "thumb over bore" shooting style. The SE-5 is angled back towards the shooter to offer the best of both worlds. It allows the shooter to pull the rifle into the shoulder, while also resisting recoil with an over-the-top grasp at the same time.
The Stark SE-5 is hybrid of an angled foregrip and a vertical foregrip. It is coated with an Armorsoft coating to provide a solid, non-slip texture. This rubberized foregrip has a storage compartment that is accessed by a rubber plug in the bottom.
Some may have doubts because of its very light construction and fragility. The only real negatives of this foregrip we see could be its compactness and short handle for the shooters with big hands.
The SE-5 Express Grip can be quickly and securely installed to the standard 20mm Picatinny rails of AR-15 style AR rifles.
This is a gem of an accessory. Though smaller and slimmer, the Strike Industries Cobra Grip resembles in shape the ever-so-popular Magpul AFG (Angled Fore Grip). The shallower angle of SI Cobra grips offers several holding and stabilizing positions. This allows the shooter to use different grip techniques with secure and comfortable grip.
The SI Cobra grip features a wing-like section called the "cobra hood." This acts as a heat shield and protects your support hand by providing less contact with sharp rail sections. The rear portion of this lightweight hybrid foregrip may be used as a hand-stop and can be used to rest on a hard surface for improved accuracy.
This aggressive-looking foregrip is crafted from two halves built from an advanced matte polymer material. With a slim design, CTFG occupies little rail space on any 20mm Picatinny rail or KeyMod or M-LOK-Rail Accessory System (RAS).
A few critics can be found because sometimes there is an uneven mold is protruding from the grip's underside. But in our opinion, the bigger concern would be the SE-5’s structural weakness since it is made originally as an airsoft accessories.
Reviews of the Best Vertical Foregrips for the AR-15
As we mentioned earlier, holding a magazine well with your weak hand is a bad idea. The vertical foregrip is designed to overcome that improper handling and prevent AR malfunctions. Choosing a vertical or angled foregrip is mostly a matter of personal preference. A deciding factor may be the multifunctionality of the vertical grips, though.
Let’s have a look at some of your best options in vertical grips.
FAB Defense is a part of the Israeli company Mako Group, and they manufactured a whole family of foregrips for all assault-rifle types. Their assortment consists of foregrips with integrated adjustable bipod, folding grips and foregrips with 1" flashlight adapter. Along with improved weapon pointability, FAB foregrip gives you the ability to mount a handheld flashlight with a 1" diameter body for use as an economic weapon light.
T-Grip has a comfortable palm swell, finger grooves, and a stippled texturing enabling you to get a solid and comfortable grasp. This ergonomic pistol-style vertical foregrip is made from reinforced polymer composite. It features a roomy storage compartment at the bottom for batteries or cleaning kits. It can be installed on handguards equipped with a Weaver or Picatinny rail system.
The vertical grip features a trigger switch that negates the need for pressure switches, wires, and Velcro. The foregrip can be permanently mounted or set in a quick-release manner. This is great when you want to safely use the light to illuminate things you don't want to aim your weapon at. The only drawback is that the toggle switch for the activating the light tends to be difficult to operate.
In addition to the default function of diminishing muzzle climb during burst-fire sequences, the GG&G Vertical Foregrip also provides a stable vertical gripping platform for the support hand. This helps minimize hand fatigue when holding the weapon in the ready position for long periods of time.
Unlike other foregrips in the marketplace which are molded or injected plastic, the vertical hand grips (or "battle grips") from GG&G are CNC machined from solid black Acetal cold polymer. This material makes for improved durability and low heat absorption.
The shape is narrow at the top for secure purchase by the thumb and forefinger. But the underside has broad, deep, concentric ribs that improve one’s hold.
The GG&G AR-15 Vertical Grip features a conventional design. It also has the useful addition of a newly-redesigned waterproof compartment to accommodate an AR15/M16 spare bolt assembly. However, for storing batteries and other small items, you’ll need to pack additional material like paper to eliminate rattling.
This vertical grip clamps securely to the Picatinny forend rail with the help of an alignment window to aid in the installation process.
As a final note, there might be a minor objection on the item’s finish color. More importantly, pay particular attention to the manufacturer’s notice that this vertical foregrip should not be installed on the “slide arm” of any shotgun because of the excessive recoil.
Our next suggestion actually presents an almost-complete furniture set for an AR-15 configuration rifles. The Daniel Defense AR-15 stock set consists of an adjustable buttstock, an improved pistol grip and a vertical foregrip. All parts of this set are built from glass-filled polymer and finished off with soft touch rubber overmolding in strategic points. They provide you with an adjustable buttstock featuring interchangeable rubber end pads and a pistol grip that incorporates an oversized trigger guard.
The third part of this set is a new Daniel Defense pistol vertical grip. It is incredibly lightweight and includes soft-touch rubber over-molding for enhanced grip with non-conductive properties. Its hollow design includes a watertight plastic storage tube that slides into the grip with enough space for storing small parts or batteries.
Daniel Defense only offers in their stock set a vertical foregrip utilizing a simple Picatinny mounting system. However, they do also make versions for both the KeyMod and M-Lok rail systems.
Because of tight tolerances, there are some difficulties in mounting foregrip on specific Picatinny rails. After grip installing, it is critical to firmly tighten the screw in the storage cap since this is what holds the pressure and keeps the grip from moving.
A “2 in 1” concept for vertical foregrips provides multifunctionality, a valued tactical feature in the military, law enforcement and civilian arenas. It’s a given that foregrips can decrease accuracy in precision rifle shooting. With an integrated bipod inside the vertical grip, the weapon becomes more stable and steady for handling long range-targets.
Unlike regular vertical grips, the unique design of the Grip Pod lets you to deploy the spring-loaded bipod by pressing a single button. Within seconds it converts the assault rifle into a much more versatile weapon.
The Grip Pod automatic bipod system was adopted by US Military and numerous federal agencies, as well as Special Forces groups worldwide. It can be easily installed on the weapon by clipping it onto a Picatinny rail.
Since the Grip Pod brings together the best of two worlds, it does also have to compromise a little. The diameter of the grip is slightly wider than on regular vertical foregrips. Be aware of imitation models on the market that look similar, but they are built with weaker materials prone to breaking.
The basic premise behind the design of the foregrips is to let you exert pressure on the front of the gun in order to counteract muzzle climb. As with most other AR-15 accessories, choosing one or another type of foregrip is mostly a matter of personal preference.
In some states, of course, you have to be sure to comply with legal requirements in your choice as well. Of course, your pick also depends on your style of shooting and intended use of your Black Rifle.