KeyMod VS M Lok – Which Is Superior?

Both KeyMod and M-LOK are popular modular mounting systems for modern firearms. They enable rock solid accessories attachment to the handguard rail systems, they alter the rifle handling ergonomics, and they save a ton of weight without full length M1913 picatinny rail. But how do they differ?

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KeyMod System: The Pioneer

keymod mounting system

KeyMod is designed by Eric Kincel at VLTOR Weapon System, was groundbreaking. It was the first significant innovation after the M1913 rail, offering a more streamlined and weight-efficient solution for modern firearms.

While it's modular and reduces the handguard's weight, it has its challenges. Some accessories, especially those without a recoil lug, might not remain stable for extended periods. This means that for high-recoil firearms or mounted laser aim applications, KeyMod might not always be the best choice. 

M LOK System

magpul m lok system

M-LOK, created by Magpul Industries, is a bit like KeyMod. But it uses two squared T nuts to hold things in place. It's called Modular Lock because it lets you attach accessories directly to the handguard's hollow slots.

It's flexible, modular, and has many available accessories. But, sometimes, installing can be tricky, especially if the cam locking nut spins freely. 

Installation can sometimes be tricky, especially if the cam locking nut doesn't engage correctly. But once set, it offers a robust attachment that stands up to rigorous use.

The new M4A1 RIS III M LOK upper is 1 pound lighter than the full M1913 pic rail model. Browse more upper like this here


With the increasing demand for rugged and reliable firearms in both professional and recreational settings, durability is paramount. Both systems, whether crafted from aluminum or polymer, promise durability.

keymod vs mlok test

However, real-world tests by institutions like NSWC Crane have shown some differences. For instance, M-LOK outshines KeyMod in drop tests and repeatability, crucial for modern shooters who demand precision, especially when using laser devices.

Read official NAVSEA CRANE test here


Today's firearm users have a plethora of accessories to choose from, be it foregrips, bipods, or advanced optic systems. Both KeyMod and M-LOK cater to this demand, offering a range of compatible accessories.

However, the modern shooter should be aware of potential challenges. For instance, with M-LOK, there's a possibility of a bolt being overly long, causing interference with other parts of the firearm. Solutions like trying different mounts or adjusting screws can help.

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