There is little doubt that the vertical fore grip has become quite popular for owners of AR-15s. However, why has it become popular and how is it being misused when it comes to shooting this weapon?
The vertical fore grip was first developed at the end of World War One and applied to weapons like the Thompson submachine gun. The two attributes that the grip brought to such weapons was that it helped to hold down the barrel when firing and kept the bare hand away from the hot barrel. So, it was not surprising that vertical fore grips were commonly used on automatic and eventually semi-automatic versions of the AR-15. In modern times, the fore grip was a common accessory to the AR-15 that has often been misused and misunderstood which has led to inappropriate shooting form.
Is the AR-15 Fore Grip Necessary?
The main issue with fore grips for the AR-15 is that the weapon itself is not really designed for one save for conditions where there is no other place to hold the front of the weapon while firing. This generally means having so much equipment on the rail that a fore grip is the only viable alternative.
However, by using a fore grip the weapon itself becomes harder to aim in a natural manner. Without the fore grip, it becomes much easier to roll the gun into position without having to move the hands. However, with the fore grip a different set of muscles are used which makes accurate aiming an awkward proposition.
How to Use the Grip Correctly
Basically, it comes down to readjusting the muscles and hand/eye coordination to take into account what the vertical fore grip can deliver. This basically means gripping further out which puts more of the support arm under the barrel. The result is the ability to point faster and with greater precision. You’ll want to be sure not to lock your support arm straight out, but rather have a slight bend in the elbow for better control.
Also, you will need to grip higher up and closer to the barrel for better spatial awareness and the ability to enforce downward pressure so that the barrel does not leap upward which is what the fore grip is designed to do. Leaning slightly forward into the weapon also brings more stability which in turn makes aiming more accurate.
Advantages of Vertical Fore Grips
Although its original purpose may not be well served on the AR-15, it can be a useful tool for practicing proper shooting techniques, providing a stable spot on the fore end of the weapon, and allow the rifle to be properly seated in the shoulder by pulling back on the grip.
You also have several options to the types of grips you want to use such as the Magpul AFG that offers less wrist strain while gripping high on the fore end of the weapon. You can also use the LaRue Tactical Hand Stops which provide your supporting hand an anchor point that is low profile as well.