By Christopher R. Bartocci
The AR/M16 market is flooded by a multibillion dollar industry of manufacturers of rifles, components and accessories. With the onset of the Mil-Std 1913 rail and the development of rail handguards, it was obvious that the unused rails needed protection for further use as well as the shooter’s hand needed protection from the heat of the aluminum or steel rail systems. The first accepted and general purpose rail protectors were manufactured by Knights for the U.S. Government issued M4 and M5 RAS (Rail Adapter System).
Like every accessory in the never-ending line up, technology as well as clever ingenuity leads to some much better options. Perhaps the finest of the breed was developed by Advanced Innovation & Manufacturing out of North Royalton, Ohio with their Manta rail guards.
Manta rails are truly in a class of their own as several things separate these guards from the norm. First is the fact that stainless steel clips are molded into the advanced “Polyunobtanium” material used to manufacture the Manta rail. Unlike traditional rubber rail guards, which will eventually stretch and become loose, the Manta rail guard has flexible molded rail sections that can be pinched to the desired tension or cut to the desired length. Another incredible feature is the Micro Pocket inside the top of the panel, which allows a pressure pad of any size to be slipped into the pocket protecting your switch from heat and external hazards. The Micro Pocket panel also allows for simple removal and installation of your switch. Manta has the answer whether a switch is to be mounted on a hand guard or on a vertical grip. They offer two different diameter sleeves that slide over a vertical pistol grip or the larger vertical grips such as the Grip Pod. The larger vertical grip sleeve can also be mounted over your rear pistol grip to give you an enhanced tactile feel. Molded channels in the very low profile cross clip model enable cords to be placed under and through the rail guard to protect the cord from damage or getting hooked on anything. The 2.75 inch pocket panel also allows an operator to use it as rail guard even if they are not utilizing the micro pocket for a switch. Also offered is a .25 inch Wire Clip to hold a wire in place and .5 inch Cross Clip that allows you to route wire in a multitude of directions or take up any extra length of cord making zip ties a thing of the past.
Manta has a diverse line of rail guards and wire management panels. Depending on your pressure pad and whether you would like it on your rail or your vertical grip, there is a micro pocket push button panel or a standard 2.75 inch micro pocket panel. The micro pocket panels also interface nicely with optional end caps to finish off the look of the switch helping to affix the switch system tighter to the rails and will also prevent dirt from entering the pocket. Vertical Grip Sleeves in 1-inch diameter for standard pegs and the 1.25-inch diameter for larger grips such as the Grip Pod or even your rear pistol grip. Standard Very Low Profile rail guard panels and Very Low Profile Cross Clip panels are offered in 6-inch sections and can be cut to length for a custom fit. Rounding out their wire management products are the Manta Wire Clip and Manta Cross Clip to create a clean rail free from exposed wire that can easily get snagged.
The tactile material is easy to grip even under the harshest condition. It has been tested in extreme cold and more importantly in intense heat. This stuff does not melt. A blowtorch and cigarette lighter were taken to the panel for nearly a minute. Some discoloring and some ash were noticed. The ash was brushed off. Noticeable discoloration and a minute loss of material but no hole and the panel was still 100% functional. In fact, due to the heat resistance of this material, Manta increased the heat resisting properties of their materials and offer what they call the MSS or Manta Suppressor Sleeve. Many operators when they fire their suppressed weapons end up dropping the weapon and transitioning to the hand gun. The rifle hangs just at the point where the suppressor contacts the expensive tactical pants and burns a hole in them. So these covers insulate the suppressor from burning holes in pants (or the shooter). This MSS is so effective that a non-vented area is indexed at the 12 o’clock position to severely diminish the haze and mirage caused by the heat. Even more fascinating as it hides the thermal heat signature of the muzzle. Thermal imaging proves this and it certainly offers an advantage. There is no burning smell from the material.
The Manta rails durability was noticed by the U.S. Marine Corps and is standard issue on their M27 IAR or Infantry Automatic Rifle. This means Manta has a CAGE Code, which is 65M28, as well as National Stock Numbers in Black and Tan for the 1 inch vertical grip sleeves, 6 inch Very Low Profile Cross Clip Panels, 2.75 inch Micro Panel Pocket Panels and the Cross Clips. You will also find Manta products being utilized by military units around the world and even standard issue is some locations. For more information contact: Advanced Innovation and Manufacturing, Inc., 9940 York Alpha Drive, North Royalton, OH 44133. Phone: (440) 237-2460. Fax: (440) 237-2561. Website: www.mantarails.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V17N4 (December 2013)|