Bravo Company and MI offer two of the best offerings in KeyMod™ fore-ends out there. Both offer the advantage of slim profile and light weight with the KeyMod™ offering a Magnesium alloy version for even lighter weight, although at some expense in the robustness of finish possible with this alloy. Looking at the Gen3 MI KeyMod™ handguard there is a definite price advantage over the BCM Gunfighter Alpha. In black hard anodised finish prices at Brownells as of 11.18.2016 compare as follows.
|MI K series||BCM|
|7″ $174.95||7″ $171.95|
|9″ $179.95||9″ $176.95|
|12.0″ $209.95||13″ 189.95|
|15.0″ $219.95||15″ 199.95|
Now both the MI and Bravo Company KMR Alpha free-floating KeyMod™ handguards have advantages. The MI free float KeyMod™ handguard comes with no less than five quick detach sling swivel mounting points which are theoretically more secure than ones added via the Keymod system or the Picatinny top rail. The down side of this is the bottom one at the front can interfere with bipod placement. The BCM KMR Alpha comes with one Keymod QD swivel attachment point to place wherever you wish. It also and makes use of the rifle/carbine’s existing barrel nut, making for a slightly simpler installation. Both the Bravo company and MI handguards have an internal diameter of 1.3” and an external diameter of 1.5” from flat surface to flat surface.
The Bravo Company BCM Gunfighter Alpha comes with a special mounting arrangement, which is similar to SLR’s and Geisselle’s, and is a superior design whereby two crossbolt are used clamping separate fixtures either side of the “U” shaped opening for the gas tube pull the handguard together. Cleverly, scalloped heads on these bolts enable them to lock each other in place preventing rotation. On the Midwest Industries this point is placed under tension and pulled apart by the tension of the bottom crossbolts. This effect is more noticeable due to heating of the barrel nut due to firing causing differential expansion and a loosening effect which the BCM arrangement overcomes. Bravo company also include a U-shaped fixture that joins the handguard to the receiver, wrapping around the Picatinny rail preventing rotation out of the 12 O’Clock position. This function is performed very satisfactorily by the torque plate in later, G3 series, MI handguards.
Another neat feature of the BCM fore-ends is that the KeyMod™ attachment points are machined out of vertical alignment, meaning there can be more material between them for greater strength and rigidity. Better still, the wrench provided by Bravo Company also doubles as a castlenut wrench for your buffer tube as the slots have been made to be identical to the standard buffer tube. Aesthetically, the BCM Gunfighter lacks the protruding ridge at the rear/bottom of the handguard which is not to everyone’s liking, either aesthetically or from a comfort perspective and interferes with fitting of rail covers there. They BCM KMR Alpha KeyMod™ fore-end also comes with a Keymod polymer picatinny rail section, to place where you wish for the mounting of existing Picatinny accessories. Aluminum sections are available as a more robust alternative. Both manufacturers stick to the traditional 1913 Picatinny top rail configuration and are very narrow internally.