Well, I finally dug up some rails out of storage for my SA20. I got these off an American from an exercise a few years ago and was going to put them on my C7 during the ex, but my COC (chain of command, in case some were wondering) advised me it was not a good idea to modify my rifle, even if the mod wasn’t permanent. He didn’t personally mind, but if seen by someone else, I’d be sure to hear about it and so would he. So, into my duffle they went, and when I got home, they were put away since I didn’t have a 20” barrel at the time. I almost forgot about them and was thinking about buying a set when I remembered that I had some buried in my mountain of crap downstairs. The Americans we worked with were a great bunch of guys. They were all really easy going, but professional at the same time. They were great hosts and I would love to work with them again.
As you can see, these rails were not manufactured by Knight’s Armament Company (KAC), but they appear to be identical to their KAC M5 RAS. These are not to be confused with a cheap Chinese Airsoft knock off, these are definitely the real deal. I did a little research and according to WpnsMan and coldblue (who I suspect might work for KAC?) from AR15.com, the rails were manufactured by P&S Products/DBA Molding Solutions out of Lexington, KY. P&S received their initial contract in 2007 and were received between April and September of 2009.
The M5 RAS was easy to install, and went in with little effort on my part. There’s a mechanism that locks on to the gas tube and it really tightens everything down. There’s absolutely no wobble whatsoever and the entire hand guard feels solid.
The railed hand guard on its own likely made out of aluminum and weight-wise does not feel much heavier than the original issued plastic hand guard, but once you start throwing on accessories like lights, lasers, NV, the kitchen sink etc, ounces start feeling like pounds.
The markings are very simple, and really designed for the lowest common denominator. The top rails are marked with a T, the bottom rails are marked with a B, left with an L and right with an R. There are also markings inside to indicate direction the rails are to be mounted. It’s really hard to screw it up, but I suppose it’s been done.
Along with the covers and vertical grip that came with the kit, I threw on an Airsoft knock-off of the Diemaco TRIAD rail. I just put it on for the photo, but Colt Canada has stated that they are looking into selling the TRIAD rail again. I’ll probably buy one if the price is right. Not really so much because I like the extra rail, but I do want to somewhat match the issued “look”.
And rack #47, my C7A2 for comparison.
I really want an Elcan to complete the build, but I don’t see myself being able to afford one in my lifetime. For now though, the Bushnell that’s on there now provides crystal clear glass and variable magnification that’s just a hair more than the Elcan. Also, the Bushnell is illuminated so for target shooting that this rifle is more than sufficiently equipped. I could also use more magnification, but we’ll see later on seeing as how the nearest range maxes out at 200m.
Some references for the C7A2:
And a great post from WB from army.ca regarding weapons modding:
Which can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending...
Contrary to what some might claim, sub-unit commanders have been turning a blind eye (even authorizing?) drop-in weapon modifications overseas. These include KAC Rails, ACOGs and Aimpoints, VLTOR buttstocks, ect. Some of these are more of a hassle than others to install, but none will leave any permanent changes to the weapon. The individual soldier could easily draw his weapon, modify it, then change it back and return it to stores exactly how it was issued to him.
Overall, I think the fact that this is becoming commonplace is a step in the right direction. But I've also seen these "unofficial sub-unit policies" manifest themselves in pretty retarded ways too. For the couple guys in my coy who were sporting ACOGs and Aimpoints, there was one who had a civvie pattern hunting scope on his rifle. For the handfull of guys who were wearing high quality chest rigs from reputable companies, there were also those who were wearing locally made rigs that were falling apart by the end of tour. The same went for slings (ref: POS locally made 1-points) and boots (and no-one will convince me that a zipper up the side of your boot is a good idea). As much as I think that letting troops take some initiative with drop-in weapons modifications is a good idea, I have to admit that it's a double edged sword. Some would be better off sticking with the issued gear.
I think the solution is not in standardization, but instead in education. Its great that non-issed gear is becoming more acceptable in Afghanistan, but if the guys can't train with their gear in Canada they won't have the experience to know whats good and what isn't. Really, all a guy can do today to make an informed purchase is read second-hand info from internet forums or have friends in the more open minded branches of the CF. Troops should be encouraged to take the initiative and experiment with gear while in Canada so they arn't wasting their money and risking their lives on POS gear in Afghanistan.