Development lab: Mini/Axe fatgrip

This item was the final result of trying to make a "rounded" foregrip for Minis and Axes. The original idea involved a tube-shaped foregrip, but with added milling for finger grooves. After a bit of experimentation I realized that the part would end up being 3d machined on all sides, so there wasn't any reason to limit the design to a round shape. I then developed a new design that flipped the battery 90 to the side, allowing for a very different shape compared to the OEM Mini/Axe foregrips. The new design is more oblong; noticeably thinner from front-to-back, but wider from side-to-side.

CAD design for Mini/Axe fatgrips.

The biggest problem presented with this foregrip was trying to find a way to ensure compatibliity with both the stock LED boards and the upgraded Redline OLED circuit board. Ultimately this is a problem that was never truly solved; there's no way to make it compatible with both boards without using two different designs. We need to have enough demand to justify the redesigned grip and the new board hardware that goes along with it. For the moment, we stuck with the LED-only boards out of simplicity (and lower cost for the Redline upgrade)

Test versions Development picked up on the design once the decision was made to concentrate on the LED boards and save OLED boards for later. I made a 3d printed prototype to test the ergonomics on a marker.

Fatgrip 3d printed prototype installed on marker.

I was surprised to find the 3d printed version did indeed fit on the marker's trigger guard dovetail. Usually items like dovetails and "bridge" shapes will be smaller when 3d printed. Regardless, the design was viable but needed a few small tweaks to fix cosmetics and make it a little thicker around the battery compartment for added reliability. I also added a small lip where the two halves meet, to reduce the amount of liquid and debris that could enter the inside.

I then turned my attention to machining a prototype in order to gather time statistics on the time reqired to produce a finished component (which ultimately influences the price more than any other factor). The final aluminum prototypes turned out pretty good, although they don't match until anodizing...

Fatgrip milled prototypes in raw aluminum.

Production The new fatgrips are now available! Here's some pictures of anodized grips installed on some finished markers:

Fatgrips installed on various Minis and Axes.

Overall the fatgrip design ended up being a great alternative to the basic foregrips. Empire emulated the concept with the AxePro 2015+ foregrips which also flip the battery to the side, but Empire's version is much less ergonomic compared to these 3d-milled grips that have finger grooves and a slim shape. I would love to use this basic design for future grip shapes, only with whatever modifications are required to use the design with a new marker (or new internals).

Written by Andy "Ydna" DuBuc
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