November 15, 2023
The modern rifle’s basic use has not significantly improved from its early predecessors. It’s a linear shoulder-fired metal projectile weapon for use at extended ranges. Accessories are somewhat different. The design rigidness of the early rifles as late as the 1980s has given way to extremely modular designs. One of the most personal accessories for the modern rifle is the forward grip or hand stop. The ability to customize how and where your support hand rests is a matter of great opinion only made more scrupulous by its intended application on purpose-built weapons. There are thousands of customizable features on the modern rifle, but it’s the Forward Operator Grip, or Forward Operations Grip aka FOG, that has our focus.
Modern shooting has become a mixed bag of different ingredients. The hard-learned lessons of combat-tried and true marksmanship fundamentals and the progressive techniques adapted over thousands of hours at the hands of competition shooters have become blurred in modern combat marksmanship. While the first two categories of shooting skills go hand in hand, there has been active resistance to acquiescing to the processes used by competition shooters…that is, until American Special Operations units started competing in their off time and gleaning tactics, techniques, and procedures that had viable use in modern combat. The hybrid formula of competition and combat marksmanship gave way to the modern shooting techniques seen and emulated today.
One such technique used in modern pistol shooting is specific to hand placement. The traditional one-handed or paddle support seen throughout the history of shooting and echoed on the cinematic screen has all but perished leaving behind an aggressive forward-angled grip that maximizes both surface area retention and interface of the weapon and the interlocking support from both hands. This tried-and-true method of shooting today’s modern pistols is well-founded and universally accepted. So, if a method works, how does the individual maintain “muscle memory” between platforms? Well, the Forward Operations Grip (FOG) provides just such continuity between platforms, since it provides for maximum control with the support hand, providing both a forward grip AND hand stop.
The FOG is the invention of Contour Tactics. This angled grip and hand stop was born from years of shooting and combat experiences of a well-seasoned veteran, Josh Burgess. The concept was simple, emulate the same hand positioning used on a side arm to coincide with the rifle. The result is more than a hand stop or angled grip. What evolved is a system for the support hand.
The FOG provides customizable fit, recoil control, greatly improved target acquisition, reduced muscular fatigue, and accessory integration. Currently, there are only two systems that have, in my professional opinion, truly accomplished this feat, but both render their results specifically and uniquely that separates their application from the other.
Again, in application, FOG is based on support hand placement mimicking the same muscle memory of professional pistol shooting. This concept is genius because it allows the mind and body to switch more fluidly between platforms. While I’ve resisted some change in my shooting techniques, there is little room for conjecture when a product increases accuracy and efficiency. I use the Concept and Application Review or CAR when evaluating weapons, equipment, or techniques. When applying the CAR technique to the FOG, my observations and interactions concur with the claims made by Mr Burgess.
The concept of the FOG as per the website is as follows:
– Allows for pressure plate positioning with wire retention in-line with the shooter’s support hand for less movement to control devices such as lights, lasers, and infrared light easily and effectively.
– Solves the problem of heat transmission to the aluminum rail, which prevents burn injury to the shooter’s hand.
– Mounts on a five-space Picatinny rail on the handguard.
– Sits off-axis and parallel to the bore axis, allowing for a mirrored image of the pistol that supports hand grip, thumb forward, promoting muscle memory and repetition.
– Provides a forward hand stop assist, allowing recoil management to displace kinetic energy in support of the buttstock, allowing for more control and accurate follow-up shots.
Now that we have viewed the concepts presented by Contour Tactics, what do these mean? Allow me to delineate these claims and break down their actual practical advantages. The FOG allows for:
– A natural hand placement. Specifically, the center and base of the palm allows for the natural positioning of the hand and wrist, providing a more ergonomic interaction between tactical accessories and the movement of the fingers, thus reducing fatigue on muscles and tendons in the hand and wrist.
– The FOG is constructed of a polymer blend that reduces felt heat resulting from the transfer of heat from the barrel to the shooter’s hand. And, the heat commonly felt from environmental transference from direct sunlight onto the handguard is also greatly reduced.
– The FOG has a minimal footprint on the Picatinny rail, meaning less space is needed to mount the FOG to a handguard.
– As discussed previously, the same hand placement performed when shooting a pistol is mirrored with the use of the FOG. The FOG is designed for the individual’s support hand to integrate directly into the FOG versus just simply grabbing the grip. This equates to a direct “in-line” hand placement, providing both ergonomic shooting positioning for the support hand, and a reflexive response to shooting that results.
– The FOG’s design allows for the support hand and arm positioning to mitigate felt recoil and allow the shooter to “drive” the muzzle while shooting, thus increasing their ability to stay on target, particularly when engaging multiple targets. This is known as a pull/push technique; pull the weapon into the shoulder when shooting, and push the muzzle to the next target.
The FOG’s application is simple. It’s a systemic approach to allow the modern shooter to integrate into the weapon and have a more seamless approach to shooting, and reducing fatigue. Does it work? The short answer is yes, it works. It works very well. Like anything, the individual will find aspects of the system that will be advantageous or undesirable. No one system is perfect for everyone. The shooting community is one based on two fundamentals; is it reliable/functional, and does it take Glock mags?
In my professional opinion, the FOG does exactly what it claims. It’s an excellent piece of kit for those looking for an angled grip to reduce fatigue in prolonged shooting, reduce felt recoil, and achieve a more ergonomic interface between the shooter, weapon, and accessories. Like with anything, there are drawbacks, and I would be remiss if I didn’tpoint out a few things some individuals will assuredly complain about.
The FOG is very customizable, but I’m sure some will want more options for the modular angled grip accessories. These allow for the individual to customize for what best fits their needs. Someone eventually will complain there isn’t enough awesome in the awesome sauce; I think there are plenty of options. The overall size is large. This is a systemic approach, and when an individual compares the number of accessories that would have to be added to the handguard to equal the same and equal amount of support, heat protection, and interface that is provided with the FOG, I believe the FOG speaks for itself.
That said, it is a large footprint, and some individuals may find this a detractor. The necessity to use a Picatinny Rail may be a point of contention for some. Having to attach an MLOK Picatinny rail to attach the FOG most assuredly will lead to someone complaining about redundancy and crying to Odin about weight. Another issue is the FOG’s inability to mount to every conceivable handguard. I spoke with Mr. Burgess regarding this. Like I mentioned before, there’s always one guy that will complain that his 4” wide super suppressor handguard is too fat for the FOG to interface with. The market research conducted showed that the vast majority would be capable of interfacing with the FOG. For the rare larger handguards, I would say the FOG is worth the tradeoff to move to a compatible handguard.
Finally, the two models I tested don’t have an MLOK slot for direct flashlight attachment or a Picatinny rail section. Wait, didn’t I just dunk on the ambiguous individual for complaining about Picatinny rails? Yes, I did. I’m pointing out that I would prefer the direct interaction of an MLOK Picatinny rail to attach all manner of torches, facilitating both my preference in brand and application. These are test models, and I’ve been told this has been addressed already.
One last take away: Most of us do like the things we spend money on to look good. For many men, our cars, women, and guns all need to be bad to the bone, and look good doing it. The FOG is unique, and I find it attractive. However, others may find the FOG to be too much of a break from the hundreds of forward grips already on the market that are vastly limited in function compared to the FOG. I would tell this individual to try the FOG. I was more than impressed with it, and find its form and function to be near perfect.
The FOG is not perfect for every occasion. There are some applications for which I would not use a FOG, but that’s normal. I tailor my builds based on what I need specifically. Bottom line, the FOG is an excellent system that provides not only excellent performance for the professional or civilian alike, but also a fundamental step forward. It’s a top-tier product.
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