I was recently asked by Mission First Tactical (MFT) to review some of their gear. MFT, or at least their name, is relatively new to the scene and their designs are fairly unique so I jumped at the chance. I was sent several items, but this review will deal specifically with the AR-15 items that I received: the BATTLELINK Utility Low Profile Stock, ENGAGE Pistol Grip, and REACT Short Vertical Grip.
There are features and traits that all 3 items share and I will address those first before addressing each item individually.
One of the first things that I do when I receive a new plastic item to evaluate is a, admittedly subjective, cheapness test. We have all seen the difference between chintzy, cheap plastics and uber durable, confidence-inspiring plastics. The difference is often apparent just with visual inspection and some handling. I am happy to report that the MFT items do not have a cheap feel at all. In fact, they are quite the opposite. The materials feel sturdy and are finished nicely. MFT states that they actually worked closely with DuPont plastics to choose a polymer that would be well suited to this application and that (subjectively) seems apparent.
The quality feel of the plastic used in the construction of these items does contribute to overall excellent fit and finish. The items lack sharp mold lines. The grip panels fit nicely. The stock fits tightly on the receiver extension (buffer tube). Storage caps fit tightly and latches feel secure. The overall fit and finish is quite good.
All three items that are the subjects of this review have on board storage. Typically, storage options on grips and stocks seem like an after-thought or a way to fill space. The storage spacers on these MFT items all have well designed access systems (very solid rubber caps in the case of the 2 grips and a clever hinged butt plate in the case of the stock) that offer secure retention and some actually organization potential. The organization comes in the form of modular foam inserts that can be configured to quiet and secure various contents like batteries. The foam inserts utilize a simple system of para-cord and cord-ends to allow easy removal of the inserts. These are some of the most useful storage spaces that I have ever seen on accessories like this.
Both the REACT Short Vertical Grip and ENGAGE Pistol Grip have the same texturing. It is molded into the grip but it appears very similar to custom heat stippling. Unfortunately, it is not nearly as aggressive as custom stippling. The texture is sufficient but feels soft in a way. I wouldn’t call them slippery but I would definitely prefer more aggressive texture. However, I understand that texture is probably one of the decisions that manufacturers like MFT agonize over since they ultimately have to sell their products to a broad range of people with a broad range of preferences. In MFT’s favor, they did apply the texture all the way around the grips on every surface which few companies do.
BATTLELINK Utility Low Profile Stock
I am just going to say up front that I really, really like this stock. After spending some time with it, I think my appreciation for the stock has grown out of 3 main factors: the overall length of the stock, the shape of the butt plate, and the useful storage. It also manages to offer a lot of functionality without weighing a ton at just 8.75 ounces.
The overall length of the stock is a bit longer than what you may be used to. The result is a stock that I can leave in the first position and have it fit me with or without a plate carrier. This is the only stock that I have tried where this is true. Typically, I have to switch between the first and second positions depending on whether or not I am wearing a plate carrier.
The shape of the butt plate is a small and seemingly insignificant detail, but in this case, it makes a difference. Many stocks on the market are basically just flat which generally works pretty well. However, the BATTLELINK stocks have a small section of the butt plate that angles away from the shooter. This creates a natural hinge point for when you move from low ready to acquiring your target. This small angled section lets you keep good contact between your stock and your chest, even when you are still in the low ready position. It is subtle but effective.
The storage in this stock is actually useful, which is more than you can say for most stock storage compartments. Its usefulness comes from the fact that it is easy to access while still being secure and because the well-designed foam inserts let you keep everything rattle-free and organized. I have carried small bottles of oil, spare batteries, a bore snake, ear plugs, and various combinations of these items. The buttons that you have to push down to open the compartment are large and textured enough to be very easy to use, even with thick gloves. The compartment is made weather/splash resistant with a rubber gasket but I am not sure I would trust it for prolonged submersion.
The BATTLELINK Stocks also have some of the more useful sling attachment points that I have seen. In most cases, I prefer to mount my sling as close to the rear of the receiver as possible. The BATTLELINK Stocks have a QD sling swivel near the front of the stock which is very close to where I prefer it. I don’t use it but it is close enough to serve as a backup in the event that my regular sling mount is somehow rendered inoperable. It also has QD swivels at the rear of the stock for those who prefer to mount their slings further back.
ENGAGE Pistol Grip
The ENGAGE Pistol Grip offers interchangeable front and back strap functionality like some other popular grips on the market. It comes with 6 different inserts (3 for the front strap and 3 for the back strap) that offer various options to the user. The inserts fit the grip very well with no sharp overlaps or gaps. They are secured to the grip with a plastic pin that can easily be installed and removed with a punch. Extra pins are provided.
There are small, medium, and large back strap inserts that allow you to adjust the size of the grip. The back strap inserts are designed to increase the diameter of the grip where it sits in your palm but not affect the trigger finger. This makes the largest back strap panel feel somewhat unnatural to me since I prefer to the grip built up at least a little bit under my trigger finger. The small and medium back strap inserts feel much more natural. If you have large hands or long fingers, this grip may feel a little strange to you but preferences like this are hard to quantify.
The front strap inserts are excellent. There is a basic plain insert, a single finger groove insert, and a fully finger grooved panel. When I have the option, I generally prefer a plain front strap but the single finger groove insert is so well executed that I find myself drawn to it. The finger groove isn’t as pronounced as the groove on an A2 grip. It is more of a gentle swell that just seems to provide an extra measure of control.
The ENGAGE Pistol Grip is a solid grip. I love the front straps but wish that the back straps built up more behind the trigger. As I mentioned before, I also wish the texture was more aggressive. If you have small to medium hands, you will probably love this grip. If you have larger hands, it is hard to guess how you will feel about it.
REACT Short Vertical Grip
If you prefer a thumb break or thumb over method of using a vertical grip, then you will get along just fine with the REACT Short Vertical Grip. It is very well shaped to support these techniques. It should also work fine for those who still hold vertical grips like hammers.
In spite of the name, there is plenty of room for me to fit my entire hand on the REACT Short Vertical Grip. I think it could be quite a bit shorter and still be functional. I could shorten it myself but I would lose some of structures at the bottom of the grip that retain the storage compartment cap. I like this vertical grip so much, that I am hoping that MFT will release a model that is shorter by about an inch.
This vertical grip is secured to the rail via a cross bolt that holds a large clamping section to the rail. The steel cross bolt threads into a steel nut that is molded into the clamping section. That is a nice touch for durability.
As mentioned above, I wish the texture was more aggressive but at least it is applied all the way around the grip. The REACT Short Vertical Grip isn’t all that short but it is an excellent vertical grip. It is comfortable with a variety of different techniques and seems very sturdy.
On the whole, I found the Mission First Tactical accessories to be of very good quality with unique, functional features. The few nits that I could pick with the items are all personal preferences that pose no problem to the overall functionality of the items. I am especially impressed with the BATTLELINK stocks. Check out the BATTLELINK Utility Low Profile Stock, ENGAGE Pistol Grip, and REACT Short Vertical Grip all on MissionFirstTactical.com.
Disclosure: These items were provided to me by Mission First Tactical, free of charge, for review.