ITS Tactical – Modular Morale System

A hot minute ago I mentioned a patch display option from Mil-Spec Monkey that leans towards the highly economical end of the scale, but today we’re making a big jump to something from ITS Tactical that is somewhat differing in nature.
 
The good thing about the MSM Halco Luxmed loop is it’s a raw material and if you’ve got some time and the inclination to be a bit crafty you can apply it to any sort of backing material you like to make a display. If you want to skip that effort however the ITS Modular Morale System is probably the highest quality, most luxurious 5* hotel for patches that a person might ever wish to find.
 
The backing is a rigid plastic, on to that is layered a pretty generous sheet of a dense foam and then of course there’s the loop sewn tightly over the top to create a mill-pond smooth surface. I usually try to avoid superlative and subjective observations like the one that is about to follow when I’m talking about any products, but honestly the feel of these panels is just superb. If they made a sofa that felt the same way you’d probably never get off of the thing. It’s the tactile equivalent of that first sip of your number 1 favourite ale. Does that matter for patches? No obviously not, but I can’t express enough how much these things to ooze quality in a way that is at best tricky to convey in a written format.
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On top of being fully capable of mounting both hook-backed patches and pin badges (via the foam), the MMS panels come with adhesive 3M hook tape that will stick to absolutely any bloody surface for attachment of the panels. I’d strongly advise not sticking it to anything that’s painted or might delaminate in any way in fact, unless you don’t plan on every removing the hook because it will take any paint/wallpaper etc with it when peeled away. It’s certainly not going to just slip and fall down on you though.
 
Each panel measure 12×18″ and there’s no edging or border. This proportioning of course means that the long edges of 2 panels can be jointed by the short ends of 3 panels to create different shapes and still have a clean rectangular boundary. As you’ll see from my personal display setup you can also neatly bridge panels with patches on account of the fact the loop wraps right around the edges of the HDPE plastic backings.
 
Lots of upsides, so what’s the downside? Well the cost per square inch ratio is not the most economical, there is no denying it. At $22.99 per panel the unit of currency per surface area you’re getting is at the less economical end of the scale, but as I mentioned at the start if you want something 100% ready to go out of the packaging with the only effort required being slapping some hook tape on a wall, something with an immaculately classy and professional look, then to my mind it’s worth the investment. That’s why I’ve purchased 6 of them myself so far. I fully appreciate that if you have a large patch collection however it may well not be for you.
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Personally, I’d say I’m quite picky about the patches I will actually buy and display on these panels. Some people might not get that impression seeing a big wall of the things, but bear in mind I’ve been acquiring them for about a decade now and only my favourites make it to the MMS wall. Anything that’s just a company logo/branding (i.e. loop mounted advertising) gets attached to the products that are cheaper per surface area. The really good ones I’ve bought or been lucky enough to have gifted to me get added to the MMS.
 
If you’d like to see the ITS store page for the system here’s that link:
https://store.itstactical.com/products/its-modular-morale-system
 
Made in America to very high standards using top class materials and clearly with a lot of design thought behind what on the surface is such a simple item. I fully appreciate some people who aren’t interested in patches may well be left scratching their heads at this product, but then again if you’re reading this I’d bet you’ve either owned or wanted to own Crye or Arc’teryx gear even if there’s a 99% chance you’ve zero need for anything that high end (myself included), so each to their own I always say.

Cross Machine Tool UHPR Mod 1 9.5″ AR Handguard

Unfortunately with discussing AR forends like this I can’t ever provide any serious feedback on how they perform when mounted to a firearm that is then shot extensively, given the laws we have in the UK; not to mention ammo prices for the neutered AR type rifles that can actually be legally obtained. Just something to bear in mind. All I can give is my opinions on the design and construction as they sit before me and see how they handle being bashed around a little bit in the occasional airsoft game.

I opted for the UHPR to go on a 10.5″ KWA Performance Industries, Inc.LM4 build that I’ve been very gradually working on the past couple of years. I wanted a short and light M-LOK compatible rail in the mid-range price bracket so I wouldn’t feel so bad about getting it cerakote’d.

The big plus about this CMT design is the mounting and if you’re looking at any AR forend I can’t advise strongly enough that you highly prioritise a mounting setup that does not require timing of the barrel nut. Much like the Geissele and BCM rails I’ve worked on before the CMT nut requires no timing, shims or anything of the sort, you just tighten the round barrel nut and the clamp system at the base of the rail secures the forend itself. Infinitely preferable to trying to get radial screw holes lined up perfectly and doubly so on airsoft receivers that are mostly made of cheap, nasty, weak ‘alloys’ that will not stand up to the same treatment a real receiver will. Personally I hate the feeling of paranoia when trying to vice mount something or work on a piece in said vice. It’s not something I have to concern myself with in my usual daily work using proper firearms parts and I certainly don’t miss it while I am at work. I’m yet to break an airsoft upper while re-profiling the threads to AR spec or attaching a handguard, but the nagging feeling is always in the back of my mind.

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CMT list the UHPR as “6000 series alloy” on their website, although the Battle Arms Development manufactured ‘Rigidrails’ are listed as 6061-T6 over atRainier Arms and I’d say there is a pretty good chance both products are machined from the same extrusions; but take from that what you will. Either way, the CMT barrel nut is made from 7075 and has a good length to it to ensure proper support of the handguard, an important feature you’ll see extolled by the likes of Geissele for both reasons of resisting applies leverage and consistent zero’ing of lasers. Both the rail and barrel nut are coated in Type 3 hard anodise, just as one would expect to see on a quality product.

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The Mod 1 variant has M-LOK at 3, 6, 9 and some slots at 12. You can also pick up the Mod 2 which features full pic rail around the 12 o/clock. I prefer to minimise the weight and outer diameter by cutting out some of that picatinny so a partial M-LOK configuration is what I’ll go for when it’s available, but of course it all depends which accessories you’ll personally be utilising. There’s rotation limited QD sockets both near to the receiver and near the muzzle on both sides of the rail, so no shortage of options there if you use a QD sling. For me though the best features are the non-timed barrel nut and the anti-rotation tabs that combine to both allow extremely easy, hassle free mounting as well as assurance of the best possible alignment along the 12 o/clock.

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Total weight for this 9.5″ model comes in at a squeak over 8oz which for a sub-$200 aluminium (i.e. not mag or lith alloy) rail is highly competitive within the marketplace. The one and only change I might make is to slightly shorten the forward picatinny on the 12 o/clock to move the M-LOK slots forward, since it is a bit longer than is really needed for a front BUIS, though that said it might well be handy for mounting some PEQ units. Especially if you want to try and squeeze on both an IR laser and fixed front sight.

Again I can’t comment on longevity, dissipation of heat, comfort in the hand under recoil or any of the like, but in terms of design I’m definitely happy with this effort from CMT.