Most fans of AR-style firearms tend to share some things in common. One key is that we typically like to customize our ARs. A major benefit to the platform has long been its modularity. Particularly as the military began using different versions of the CAR-15, Colt Commando, and later the widely varied M4 family (along with its various offshoots and cousins), modifications became virtually ubiquitous. The commercial parts and accessories market has responded in kind, having spent many years now focused on developing vast quantities of all kinds of products. If you took a random sampling of a handful of the many millions of AR-15s in Americans’ hands today, there’s a strong chance that no two of them would be exactly alike. When you consider how popular add-ons have become, and debates over aspects like barrel length, handguard systems, optics types, etc., it’s not hard to see why there’s so much variation. Tons of AR buyers bring home their new firearms and may delay very little before they start thinking, “What can I add to or change on this rifle to make it work better for me?” To this end, enter Emissary Development.
Emissary Development is a new name in the firearms accessory game. However, by no means does that indicate they don’t know what they’re doing. Although the company only officially launched about six months ago (at the time of this writing) and began behind-the-scenes establishment roughly six months prior to that, Emissary is actually a subsidiary brand of Milspec Retail. Milspec Retail was founded in 2014 first as a military surplus distributor/reseller and has since grown into a major retailer for many of the top brands in gun parts, accessories, and related gear. As you peruse their website today, you won’t find brands or products that most people would consider “entry-level”; it’s pretty much all top-quality stuff. Combine this with customer-centric policies like fast and free shipping or 30-day free returns, and it’s clear why they’ve enjoyed the growth and success that they have. These elements of Milspec Retail also provide insights into Emissary, since it’s an in-house brand directly under the domain of Milspec’s product team. The ideas of commitment to top-tier equipment and excellent service appear to carry through.
When Emissary launched in 2020, their initial product offering was the Cable Clip. These small M-LOK panels are made from nylon polymer and each measures about one and a half inches long by a half-inch wide, or approximately the size of one common slot on a typical M-LOK handguard. They weigh only 4 grams apiece and the top of the clip itself sits just a quarter-inch above your handguard, so these panels add very little in the way of bulk or burden. Cable management has begun to see a good deal of focus recently. More shooters than ever have come to realize the massive benefits that can be realized by attaching a light to your rail, and lately, weapon light make/model options have exploded in number. With these lights often come separate switches, and it’s usually not wise to have loose cordage hanging off of your gun, for the sake of issues like snag/safety hazards and possible equipment damage, so for years, people have sought what solutions they could. Cobbled-together methods like zip ties, tape, and Velcro have commonly been used. Fortunately, purpose-built products are becoming increasingly available, and Emissary’s v1 Cable Clips have been well received.
You may have noted my use of “v1” above, and surmised that this suggests a v2. You would be correct. Emissary has been working on a second, more minimalist take, appropriately dubbed the Micro Cable Clip. “Micro” is right; this new product is comparatively minuscule even by the original Cable Clip’s diminutive standards. They take up only slightly more surface area than the heads of the Torx screws that fasten them, as Emissary first revealed via Instagram in March of 2021. When they saw I had written some news articles about a couple of other manufacturers’ cable management product options, they got in touch with TFB to ask if I would test out their own new version, as well as their handstop. I agreed, so they sent me a Handbrake and a prototype set of the then-unreleased Micro Cable Clips for testing and evaluation. Next, I’ll detail my findings and experience with each product.
Emissary Development Handbrake
Let’s start with the Handbrake, which carries a $35 or $40 MSRP depending on color. This ultralight M-LOK handstop attachment is advertised as weighing less than an ounce, at only 26 grams. The dimensions are 1.1 inches wide, 2.1 inches tall, and 1.9 inches long. It takes up one and a half standard M-LOK slots, and I would say its overall form is roughly similar to a BCM GUNFIGHTER Mod 3 vertical grip – though it does provide different ergonomics – and it’s about half the BCM’s weight. Think of it as sitting essentially in between the size and form of Magpul’s AFG and VFG. It attached to my M-LOK rail easily and securely, and it seems rock-solid. The Handbrake’s lightness doesn’t seem to sacrifice any compromise in the material’s strength or rigidity. I wasn’t able to produce any notable flex or movement from squeezing it or pressing it against barriers from a variety of sides and angles. Though my purpose wasn’t torture testing by any means, I’m confident that this thing could easily stand up to a good amount of hard use without breaking or failing.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Handbrake’s feel and ergonomics. Emissary’s proprietary texture pattern provides excellent grip without feeling unduly abrasive. In testing different angles of grip interface and hand positioning, I found the Handbrake provided superb comfort and positive control. Ultimately, I genuinely found it difficult to find anything to complain about with this handstop. Unless you’re just diametrically opposed to having anything protruding from the bottom of your rail – which some people are, fair enough – the Handbrake has a lot going for it. For my uses, and that of many other AR shooters out there, it’s a definite thumbs up from me and almost certainly warrants a strong place in buyers’ consideration sets.
Emissary Development Micro Cable Clips
Emissary’s Micro Cable Clips were also interesting to test. This wire management system is built with the minimalist in mind. Great care was taken in developing these clips to maximize functionality while mitigating size, weight, and footprint. They come in either single- or dual-channel varieties, which will be sold in triple-packs for $21 per set of three clips. The new MCC is not releasing with the intent to replace Emissary’s v1 clips, but to offer an additional option to suit shooters’ individual preferences. In Emissary’s own words:
Ever since we brought the original Emissary Cable Clip to market we have been looking at ways we can make it smaller, more modular, adjustable and versatile.
We always thought that having the ability to adjust the angle of the cable clip would give significantly more functionality to the design. The Micro Cable Clip is 360° rotatable. Due to its tiny size it can also be placed anywhere within the length of the Mlok slot with complete “fore and aft” adjustability. The profile is so small in diameter that it can be placed on the 45° Mlok sections of even the slimmest and most compact Mlok rail systems.
Something that we wanted to retain from the original design is the open top cable channel. We prefer this much more over an enclosed/captured channel design for two reasons:
it is much easier to install as you can place the Cable Clip and then the cable instead of needing to place both at once in an awkward fashion.
If, in a very rare case, your cable somehow does catch on something, the cable will strip free with minimal damage instead of bending to the point of breakage, snapping or damage being done to your accessories/devices.
The Cable Channel entrance/exit has optimized geometry with contours and angles that provide as much flexibility as possible to the cable to allow it the flex at smoother, more relaxed angles upon entrance and exit (preventing harsh stress points that can, over time, break cables). This is a huge benefit that many other competing cable management solutions don’t focus on.
It is a self sealing system that uses a specific style of countersunk screw to act as one of the channel arms that keep the cable seated in place with solid retention. The MCC feature an anti corrosion Torx T20 screw (Torx is superior over the hex/Allen system for a multitude of reasons).
I love the attention to detail that they paid, and I think this care shows. The clips I tried worked well while staying barely noticeable, so initial impressions indicate that Emissary pretty well hit the mark on this product as well. Although I was initially concerned that the cables might pop out too easily, as sometimes my wire didn’t appear to seat flush with the screw head, a decent amount of what I would call light-to-moderate tugging failed to dislodge them. It felt like it would require a reasonably forceful snag to pop my cable free from these clips, and as Emissary indicated, at that point you actually would want them to release. In the case of a major snag, it’s definitely possible that a non-releasing design could be disadvantageous and cause more harm than good, so it’s easy to see why retention is a balancing act.
One point I’ll warn you about is that these clips can take a bit of time and tweaking to set up. If you’re particular about precise and optimal placement, angle, etc. (like I am), be aware this is not necessarily a quick toss-on-and-go system, if you want to get the most out of it. For as near to cable-routing perfection as you can achieve, take time to experiment with and adjust different placement setups. Once you’ve dialed in a configuration that works well with your particular rifle/wiring arrangement, you’ll almost certainly find that it’s worth the time and effort invested. If you don’t want to take that time, there are other attachment options on the market that may be a little less fiddly, but that’s not the point of the MCC. The point is achieving utter minimalism without sacrificing function – and in that, I’d say Emissary has done well.
What do you think, readers? Have you tried any of Emissary’s weapon attachments yet? If so, what did you think of them? If not, would you like to? Do their existing handstop and cable clip options seem like good products, and why or why not? If anything, what would you suggest could be changed or improved on them? What else would you like to see Emissary develop and release? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below! See you at the range.
Photos courtesy of Emissary Development and the author.
Emissary Development Micro Cable Clips and Handbrake -The Firearm Blog is written by Will P for www.thefirearmblog.com