Recently, I received a new product for review. Called the Gripwell, the polymer shell assembles to form a dedicated holding location on the magazine well of the AR-15 rifle. It also incorporates a mag funnel to help speed reloads.
So, how did it work? Was it easy to install? Let’s take a look.
Developed by a company called Tactical Magwell, the Gripwell is a two-piece system that claims to be easy to install. Considered a simple bolt-on accessory for the AR-15/M-16/M-4 platform, it possibly stress reloads improves the use of the magazine well as a grip, and acts as a funnel for magazines during stress-reloads.
During my testing, I found the Gripwell did what it claimed, and I could not find any faults with its performance. Nevertheless, it is not an accessory that I kept on my rifle. More on all that in a moment.
The Gripwell is manufactured in the USA and is made of a lightweight polymer. Its total weight is less than ¼ pound. For anyone humping a rifle over long distances, a few extra ounces might be a concern.
A feature of the Gripwell is that it is not a permanent alteration to your rifle; it can be removed and reinstalled at any time.
Gripwell claims to work with double mags, but I was not able to test this feature. Frnakly, I’ve never found any use for coupled magazines as it is easier for me to just reload using a magazine from a mounted pouch.
The Gripswell does not need to be removed to clean the weapon.
Tactical Magwell offers a lifetime warranty on the Gripwell:
LIFETIME WARRANTY from manufacturing defects and normal use. If it gets run over by an M1A2 Abrams give us a call and we will see what we can do.
I don’t hang around Abrams tanks, but I know some of you do. I would expect that if you let your rifle be run over by a tank, that you might have other more pressing concerns than a replacement for your Gripwell.
The Gripwell is available in black, tan, foliage green, and camo (woodland-style). MSRP is $29.99 for black, $34.99 for tan or foliage, and $37.99 for camo.
Tactical Magwell also offers a variation of the Gripwell called the Lightwell. The Lightwell adds a small Picatinny rail on the side of the Gripwell so a flashlight can be added and operated by the shooter without the need for the purchase and installation of a full rail system.
Extreme Shock also sells the Gripwell and Lightwell products. So, if you see a Gripwell with the Extreme Shock name on it, it is the exact same product.
How to Install the Magazine GripWell
Installation of the Gripwell is exceptionally easy. If you can turn a screwdriver, you can install the Gripwell onto your AR in less than five minutes.
The Gripwell is made of two halves that fit together over the bottom lip of the AR magazine well. Align the halves and press them together. Then all you have to do is screw in the provided screws, hand tightening the Gripwell halves together.
That’s it. It really is simple and takes only a couple of minutes. Disassembly is equally easy: just unscrew the three screws and the Gripwell comes right off.
Feel, Fit, and Finish
Once installed, the Gripwell is very securely attached to the AR. There is not any play in the Gripwell between the halves or between it and the rifle. The Gripwell does not move around at all. It feels like a solid part of the rifle.
Grasping the front of the magazine well is definitely a different, and good, feel. I’ve rarely used the front of the mag well as a grip, rather than a normal hold on the handguard or a mounted vertical foregrip. So, shooting the gun with this on was a novel experience.
The Gripwell effectively increases the outer size of the magwell, giving my hand a larger area to hold on to than a naked magazine well would. Obviously, not everyone has the same hand size, so your mileage may vary.
As delivered, the Gripwell was completely free of any blemishes, burrs, or other surface defects. A seam between the two halves on the front face of the Gripwell is smooth and is not noticeable when grasping it. The company’s website is discretely placed on raised letters on both sides of the Gripwell and is hardly noticeable.
There were two components to the evaluation I did on the Gripwell: magazine compatibility and shooting. In both, the Gripwell performed to expectations.
The only magazine that did not work was the Tango Down. The Tango Down magazine is an unusual mag that uses two halves welded together halfway down the length of the mag. For a standard magazine well, this isn’t a problem. However, this weld point prevents the mag from being seated when a Gripwell is attached to the AR. So, if you are a big Tango Down fan, the Gripwell won’t work for you; otherwise you should be good to go.
Shooting with the Gripwell was flawless. I did not experience any reliability problems while using the Gripwell.
Magazine changes were easy, and did seem slightly faster. According to Tactical Magwell, the Gripwell was tested and showed a reload time reduction of “…up to 21% in time per magazine change in newer personnel and 12% in trained operators.
Letting several other people shoot my AR at the range, I got similar feedback from other shooters. One shooter did not feel like the Gripwell offered any speed improvements, but two others did think their mag changes were faster. None of them felt the Gripwell slowed them down.
I thought the Gripwell enhanced my ability to control the rifle while shooting as compared to using a naked magazine well. I liked how it filled my hand, which seemed to give me greater stability with the weapon.
However, I still felt that a traditional hold on the handguard was a superior shooting method. Likewise an angled foregrip and a vertical foregrip both offered a superior shooting method for me.
The Gripwell is a reasonably priced accessory for the AR-15 that actually accomplishes what it sets out to do.
Unlike many of the ‘doo-dads’ that people can hang off their rifle, the Gripwell offers a real advantage for people who use the front of the magwell instead of a vertical foregrip.
I don’t think that using the magwell for your support hand is best for all people or in all circumstances, but if it works for you, the Gripwell bears consideration.
Additionally, the Gripwell funnels magazines into the magwell, potentially speeding your reloads. Combined with the relatively modest price, and the high-quality construction, the Gripwell deserves consideration for your AR gun.
Editor’s Note: It appears that since I wrote this evaluation, both Tactical Magwells and Extreme Shock are out of business. However, there may be new, old stock parts on the shelves of some dealers. Therefore, I am leaving this review up in case it might help someone.
Last Update: June 19, 2022