Striking a balance between usable and affordable isn’t always easy… When considering tactical accessories, there’s often a choice to be made between the usually very expensive real deal or the cheaper and often inferior clone.
Such clones are usually made without regard to licensing or intellectual property rights, but they look close enough to the real deal for most airsofters, to pass the test of “will it look cool?”.
For quite some time now, I’ve attempted to buy genuine parts whenever I can, the reason being that clone parts often just don’t perform to a standard that I’m happy with. Sometimes I simply don’t buy the part at all (I’d love an Aimpoint M2, but the clones are garbage and the real ones cost a fair amount) or I’ve settled for a clone due to lack of availability or compatibility (such as the OMG LAW Folder).
But there is a company that uses licensing as part of it’s core business model, turning real steel items into licensed airsoft copies… That company is PTS.
PTS (Professional Training & Simulation) are probably best known for their officially licensed Magpul PTS range. From magazines to stocks, pistol grips to sling plates… PTS brought a good and affordable option to those looking for a realistic looking accessory but at a price and compatibility to suit Airsoft.
Despite being a big hit with airsofters, Magpul decided to part ways with PTS. Primarily because a number of airsoft parts apparently found their way into the US military’s supply chain. Obviously this didn’t look good for a company that was already having to fight to keep some of it’s products within the government supply chain.
More recently, PTS have diversified their business. One aspect being the formulation of various self branded but obviously Magpul inspired accessories such as the EPM Magazine (the spiritual successor to the PMAG), EPG Grip (A BCM/Magpul halfbreed that works rather well) and EPS Stock (ugly as sin), the other end of the business continuing to work with big firearm brands to produce licensed items for the airsoft market.
One of these key partners is Unity Tactical, having previously released a licenced copy of it’s Fusion Hub a few years ago, they were already in a good position to make licenced copies of their rather popular FAST Micro Mount range.
PTS offers a licensed airsoft replica of both the FAST Micro Mount, and the FAST Optic Riser. Absent from the current line up is the FTC Magnifier Mount, and the more recent FAST LPVO Scope Mount. The Scope Mount might indeed happen later down the line, but I’d hazard a guess that the FTC was either held back from the licensing deal, or it simply proved too expensive/difficult to produce to the desired standard and was simply dropped from the proposed lineup.
So what is the FAST Optic Riser and why do you need one?
The FAST Optic Riser is quite simply a cantilever riser block that provides additional height to an optic, making a lower third co-witness sight appear at a 2.26” height over bore, as used by other Unity Tactical FAST mounts.
A pair of bolts clamp down on the riser block, allowing you to attach this to almost any weapon with a rail on it’s top face. The upper surface is machined into a standard Picatinny rail section to enable your optic to be directly mounted to the riser, and that ladies and gentleman… Is pretty much it.
Job Done, that’s my review finished.
But wait, there’s more…
Surely the key questions that people want answered are: “What are the key differences between this and the Unity tactical riser?” and “Should I buy this, or a real Unity Tactical riser?”
I was honestly gobsmacked when Unity Tactical let PTS build this range, I wondered why they’d allow a business to potentially poach customers and risk becoming “attached by reputation” to a poorly made product. Once you hand across the license, it’s tough to keep tabs on that manufacturers QC.
I’m still genuinely surprised by their decision, but I’m in a good position now to tell you how the ranges differ, and what the key differences are between them.
- The PTS FAST Riser and Micro Mount lack anti-recoil lugs on their lower face.
- The PTS versions use cheaper hardware and materials, they’re more likely to fail and won’t stand up to the same amount of abuse as the real mount.
- PTS do not make a FAST FTC Magnifier Mount, so the range isn’t as complete.
That’s basically it, if you’re mounting this onto a real firearm or take the prospect of material failure seriously, it’s worth investing in the real deal.
Unity obviously made certain design aspects of the PTS clone a central part of their agreement. No recoil lugs are incorporated into the mount and cheaper hex bolts are used instead of the star drive bolts of the Unity model. There’s also a lack of lightening cut outs and the clamping block is aluminium, not steel as used on the original Unity riser.
But does it work well enough for airsoft? Well… [sigh]… yes… It does.
As much as I try, I simply can’t justify putting my Evolution Gear EOTech onto a real mount that cost more than the sight itself. However, I’d have certainly bought a real mount if I’d been looking to buy a real holographic sight (I do own a genuine UT FAST Micro Mount and Mag Mount.
The FDE colour Isn’t actually that bad, it’s close enough to the real thing to pass inspection. FDE/DDC and all the other cool kid colours have a wide variation from batch to batch anyway, so getting anal about colours is always going to end badly. It’s also well enough made, the materials and design might differ a little from the real one, but it’s good enough for most people’s needs. I’ve not got any complaints about the actual workmanship, indeed it’s rather well made.
So would I recommend one to a friend? Well, it’s well enough made to justify it’s modest price point. But Unity Tactical have been clever enough to make it different enough from their original model to make it an actual decision worthy of debate.
I shoot GBBRs and .22lr more than anything else, so I’d rather have the security that comes with anti-recoil lugs and top end hardware. But for the casual AEG user, this will be more than suitable for general Airsoft use. But if I bought an EOTech, I’d be heading straight back to Tactical Kit to add a genuine one to my cart.
This item was bought from JK Army as I was ordering parts that I couldn’t source domestically, but you should find them available at most PTS retailers.