They are all at it: UKSF, CAG and DEVGRU. All of them, now using slick – or tube – front ends.

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I was more than a little surprised when I started blogging again and realised that many of the fans of the latter two Tier 1 outfits were rocking slick front ends (SMR and RAHG respectively).

News of the L119A2 broke a while later and as of this moment there isn’t an A2 upper to be had; but as soon as that changes, UKSF impressionistas will be on it like the SAS at an embassy.

Hellavu siege!

So, the slick front end has gone from civilian aftermarket popularity, to in the wild credibility.

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There have been a few changes to it in that transition, however – most notably in the design of the Geissele SMR. There’s a big, unseen difference between the SMR and it’s nearest competitor – the Remington RAHG.

The SMR is a lot stronger.

That’s because it’s composed of 7075-T6 aluminium. The RAHG, on the other hand, is 6061-T6. It’s not as stiff a material, or as strong.

Obviously replica SMRs aren’t made of 7075-T6. However, HAO’s SMR is made of 6061-T6. How about that? A clone SMR that’s as strong as an RS RAHG? The omens are good and aside from the CAG reference, one of the main reasons the SMR is so popular is because of HAO’s awesome clone.

It’s practically indistinguishable from the real thing, as you can read in my comparison, here.

But therein lies the rub. What’s the point of owning an RS SMR (I bought mine in 2014) when HAO goes and brings out a near perfect copy? And given that I’m a bit of a contrarian, do I really want the same rail that everyone else has?

Well, I tried the quad rail for a couple of games and while I do like the look, the SMR is superior. And here’s why:

Obviously I don’t need the strength and stiffness of the RS’ 7075-T6 and I’m not going to pretend otherwise. However, what I did notice and what had a direct impact on my game was handling. With the mass of the SMR closer to the barrel than that of the quad rail, my 416 handles better. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t be fooled into thinking an RS SMR is lighter than an RS quad rail. It isn’t. But the difference is only marginal. It is, however, slicker. And that matters in game, too.

So, for me, the SMR is the practical choice. Plus, I had one in my spares box…

I have it on good authority that HAO is developing the perfect RAHG replica, so for DEVGRU fans that’s going to be the one to own – if it’s anything like HAO’s SMR, which comes in PTW and NGRS versions.

More news when it comes.

The blaster pics which accompany this piece are of Mikezeronine’s NGRS 416 – a contender for best paint job of the year; and from Nismo’s burgeoning collection of awesome 416 builds.