Midwest Industries: Accessorizing Hard-to-Fit Guns

Customers expect AR-level modularity on most of their guns now. Midwest Industries is making it a reality.

Midwest Industries: Accessorizing Hard-to-Fit Guns

For the most part, the AR-15 platform has made it relatively pain-free for customers to select triggers, mounts, grips and handguards and have faith that 90% of the time it will fit on their gun — but not all platforms are that lucky. Adding handguards for accessory flexibility is one of the most requested upgrades on any format, from Euro-based firearms to lever actions. Midwest Industries is one of the few companies that offers an expansive line of handguards and accessories for non-standard platforms like Henry lever actions, FN, Steyr, HK, the IWI Tavors, and the Galil rifles — just to name a few.

We converted a few IWI Galils and a Tavor with MI handguards to walk through what a customer can expect with these enhancements, focusing mainly on the Galils. The Galil rifles and pistols represent the pinnacle of a modern, updated AK long-stroke pistol platform with modern materials and designs. Features include ambi-controls, updated ergonomics, a faster left side charging handle, accurized barrel, improved trigger, integral polymer lower, upgraded sights and a top optics rail that allows return-to-zero optics mounts. Of the four Galil rifles and pistols I own, none have ever had a malfunction of any kind over tens of thousands of rounds. These are, from my perspective, apocalypse-level firearms — however, I have never warmed up to the very short stock plastic handguards. The IWI Tavor has a similar lack of mounting positions if you are accustomed to an AR platform.

The Galil and Tavor have been hot sellers for dealers according to IWI; however, one of the biggest out-of-the-box complaints from American buyers is actually a simple, inexpensive fix. The stock IWI Galil Handguards are well thought out and include removable covers that expose Picatinny rails. They even include insets for remote light triggers. The handguards are solid hard plastic and protect shooters from sustained-fire radiant heat with an integrated heat shield, but I find them uncomfortable, chunky and too short after getting used to the long AR Handguard. Midwest Industries to the rescue.

According to Tyler Storch, sales manager for Midwest Industries, there are a number of popular firearms for which U.S. customers typically want upgraded AR-style rail ergonomics and functionality. “The Galil is one of those firearms that we love, but American shooters like longer handguards and more real estate,” notes Storch. “We actually make handguard accessories that require more unique fitment for around 20 manufacturers, including six different AKs, and various firearms from Keltec, Sig, IWI, CZ, H&K, FN, Benelli and others. We even have MLOCK AR-style handguards for Henry lever actions that have been extremely popular for the big-bore lever-action shooters. Dealers who have done really well with MI accessories are adding in a few of these products to match up with products that sell well for them. We have been making superbly manufactured and designed handguards for a very long time with heavily influenced esthetics, ease of installation, rigidity, and ergonomics customers have asked for.”

Each 5.56, 7.62x39 and 7.62x51 Galil rifle and pistol model requires unique fitment and  different handguard models. Our test 5.56 rifle, 7.62x39 pistol and 7.62x51 rifle were all outfitted with the MI Galil handguards. The transformation was impressive in the overall accessory compatibility, the feel and handling. The plastic IWI Galil handguards are impressively heavy for a plastic part with shielding, so there is an actual marginal weight savings with the MI handguard. It made all the formats feel lighter, and from a shooter perspective, drastically improved handling and balance. One of the complaints about the Galil factory handguards was the huge, round profile with a size that grows exponentially with the addition of any accessories. By contrast, customers will find the MI Galil handguards’ slim style more comfortable, and they offer plenty of MLOK mounting points and several integral QD mounts, all with far less bulk.

“From an installation perspective, we have always had a goal to make the installation as secure and as simple as possible for the end user,” says Storch. “We have provided many installation videos for DIY installation, and for the dealer that offers on-site installation, the complete install for most guns can be completed in under 10 minutes. The Galil is one of the overall easiest installs of all our handguards and can be completed in just under 10 minutes. We try to deliver a lot of value for a $140+ MSRP with good included instructions and online videos, and we even include one Picatinny rail to get a customer set up with attaching a light or bipod out of the box.”

The first rifle install was completed in under 10 minutes and the other Galils less than five minutes. The first install would have taken less time; however, the install is so simple that I tended to overthink the simplicity of the install on the first rifle.

The install required the removal of either the single or dual bolts, depending on the model, from the OEM handguard, then sliding off the plastic handguard. The new MI Galil handguard is slid on, the included threadlock is applied and the supplied front and rear bolts are tightened down with the included Allen keys. A nice add-in is that MI includes a free polymer Magpul MLOK Picatinny rail with each handguard, which was simple and quick to install.  Once completed and after a bit of range testing, the handguard transformed these three Galils from guns I love, to perfection.

“One of the advantages dealers have with these non-AR platforms is that for many of these products, they are at the upper end of the price range, Storch comments. “Typically, customers purchasing this high tier of guns want what they want and are less price sensitive. For these customers, adding a $200 handguard is not a big upgrade and adds instant margin and immediate options to upsell with lights and lasers. Tavors, Galil, H&K and Sig owners, as an example, will spend the money to improve ergonomics to get the gun exactly where they want it. We are seeing the AR format modularity expectations really bleed over into an expectation of all other firearms. Customers want some of these unique non-AR firearms but with the improved feel, modularity, handling and flexibility they get from the AR platform. The tactical lever action has also become an emerging hot trend in the market. Lever action owners want to add a tactical light, laser or other accessories to a 45-70, for example, and our handguards can provide that utility. We have a number of programs dealers can engage with us on to improve margins and help customers build out otherwise un-accessorizable guns.”


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