I look at how much of my income I spend on guns and I think I should switch to a cheaper hobby. Maybe gambling, or drugs.
Fortunately I didn’t spend too much on this. I saw one used for sale, ordered it, and told Shawn that I would probably mount it for a few minutes, snap a few photos, then take it off and throw it in the parts bin. I was right.
Someone looked at the M203 Grenade Launcher and thought, “It needs more rails.” Troy Industries made this, now discontinued, tri-rail that clamps on to a M203 barrel. It would have originally come with a Troy Ind modular vertical forward grip. This used one did not include the VFG.
At first glance, this isn’t a terrible idea. When a M203 is mounted on a rifle, it becomes the main part of the rifle you hold on too with your support hand. The M203 barrel is much lower than any rail system on the rifle, making the use of lights and lasers awkward. And mounting the M203 causes you to lose the ability to mount a vertical grip or bipod.
There was one of the companies that manufactured M203 launchers made a version with a rail on the bottom of the barrel. I can’t find a picture of it at the moment. I don’t know if anyone actually ordered any. It might have just been a prototype.
The Troy EM203 would let you mount a vertical grip on your M203 barrel, and mount accessories in easy reach of that grip. If you wanted to, you could run a bipod or grippod on a rifle with a M203.
Troy designed the EM203 to hinge open for installation. Loosen two screws, and the entire thing unfolds to easily mount onto the M203 barrel.
I did not expect this and I think is a pretty nifty design. But ultimately unnecessary. They could have just as easily made it two parts that clamped together and omitted a few cuts and bolts in the design.
The best feature that the EM203 rocks are the two remote levers for unlocking the M203 barrel. When you reload the M203, you have to hit the latch on the left side of the launcher. This tri-rail has a cam and a pair of levers allowing you to open the action by hitting levers on either side of the gun.
The left side lever is easy to hit with your left hand thumb and sits in a nice location. Note that in the picture above the side sling swivel mounted on the barrel would prevent proper use of the M203 because the swivel blocks the lever to open the breach.
On the right side the lever is at the bottom and is pushed forwards. I found this a fair bit harder to hit and use. But to be fair, I wouldn’t want that lever any bigger as it might be easy to accidentally hit if it were.
When I first saw that these levers were held on by roll pins, I was concerned about the roll pins breaking. But after thinking about it, it would be better to have a roll pin break than to damage the weapon.
So why wasn’t this product a stunning success?
The M203 is a little wide. Clamping a rail system to it makes it even wider. This makes the gun a little too wide to hold well. It doesn’t show up well in photos, but when you pick it up for one moment it is an ergonomic nightmare. Moving the vertical grip so far away from the axis of the bore doesn’t help.
The biggest issue has to do with the design of the M203. A M203 barrel is aluminum, and interfaces with a dovetail like joint in the aluminum M203 receiver. It was never made to support additional weight or take additional abuse.
There are already stories of the M203 grip (pictured above), putting additional stress on M203 launchers and causing them to become unservicable. Who knows how much additional wear mountings accessories to the M203 barrel would cause? It might not be an issue. But would you want to risk it on a personally owned gun?
A M203 isn’t a precision weapon. There is a good bit of play between the barrel and the receiver. Not an issue if you are mounting a VFG or light, but it was be unsuitable for mounting an aiming device like a laser. The rainbow like trajectory of the 40mm rounds also precludes the use of a fixed laser. So, what would you really need 3 rail sections for?
I think this EM203 part is well made, but would have been better if they could have tucked the rail sections closer to the barrel. Make it a little smaller, and sleeker. Ultimately it is a niche item for a small market. I took mine off the same day I put it on, and threw it in the parts bin.