Infantry: Learning to Accessorize


August 2, 2007: In the last decade, an increasing number of accessories have been developed for military rifles and machine-guns, and most of them would not have appeared were it not for the development of the "Picatinny Rail." This is a standard for a metal rail, with crosswise grooves, that make mounting accessories (scopes, lights, and so on) easy to do. Just snap them on, or tighten a few screws. The Picatinny Rail is a development of the Weaver Rail, which has been around since the 1930s. Items built to attach to a Weaver Rail can be attached to a Picatinny Rail, but not vice versa.

The war in Iraq and Afghanistan has created a demand for weapons accessories, and caused hundreds of new items to be invented for attachment to weapons via the Picatinny Rail. Such rails were originally found just on the top of the rifle (forward of the breach), but are now often found underneath the barrel as well, forward of the magazine. Here, for example, the Grip Pod device is mounted. This 11 ounce, $125 device provides a hand grip for better accuracy when firing from the hip. But the Grip Pod also contains a bi-pod, which is very useful when firing from the prone position. Several hundred thousand of these Grip Pods have been sold in the last few years, as have similar numbers of other useful gadgets that snap on to the rifle via the Picatinny Rail.

Most people have never heard of the Picatinny Rail, but anyone who handles an assault rifle or light machine-gun, knows all about them, and can't imagine going into combat using a rifle without rails.




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