Recently, I was offered a chance to T&E a Deliberate Dynamics Universal Speed Tab by a friend of the company. I say "recently" - I've had it a few months, and I've been using it quite a bit.
Before I go into the review, I want to cover my personal history of "support hand doohickey use".
Here I am in Iraq with my M4. I'm using a full size vertical grip mounted towards the rear of the rail. Not only was this the popular setup at the time, it was pretty much my only option with a 7" rail and a flashlight mounted on said rail. I used the "broomstick" grip - that is, my entire hand on the vertical grip, with my thumb wrapped around behind it. I basically used this grip to support the front end of the weapon. I didn't really haul on the vertical grip in an attempt to pull the weapon into my shoulder. In other words, I didn't really need that long of a vertical grip. Now, the MGL - the other weapon I'm holding - really did benefit from a vertical grip, because it gave the user more leverage to open and close the weapon.
I used long vertical grips in that position for a while after I came back, but started moving away from them after a few months. Why? Well, I found "stubby" vertical grips such as the LaRue FUG. Instead of holding on to the weapon with my entire hand, I centered my hand at the point where the grip met the rail, leaving just a few fingers on the front of the vertical grip, and putting my thumb forward. Also, instead of using this hand mostly for supporting the front of the rifle, I started putting rearward pressure on it - and noticed a definite improvement in my ability to make follow up shots.
After a while, I stopped using vertical grips entirely. I simply used "grippy" rail panels or standard handguards. My support hand thumb started moving up over the top of the handguard - first to activate a light, then to keep the muzzle down. In doing so, I cut a few ounces off the weapon while still improving my ability to put rounds on target.
Enter the UST. My initial impressions were that it was a very nicely machined part. I'm no expert on machining processes, but the layman in me can still recognize quality work.
However, it was almost too nicely machined, I thought, after I installed it on a rifle. The surfaces I was expecting to grip did not lend themselves to that as well as I had hoped. I thought the face of the tab needed a little more work than the vertical lines engraved there, and the curve immediately below the rail, at the very front of the tab, kept causing my hand to slip down, while the taper at the "bottom" of the tab prevented me from putting a lot of force on the front - my hand would start to slip off entirely.
I tried moving my entire hand against the tab (really, only a 3/8" or so shift), as is demonstrated on the Deliberate Dynamics webpage, but this prevented me from activating my weaponlight with consistency. Slightly frustrated, I decided to turn my attention elsewhere for a few weeks.
Having misplaced the allen wrench used for installation, and not feeling like digging through my massive box of allen wrenches, I simply left the UST on my rifle for a while. This turned out to be its saving grace - well, that and the skateboard tape Deliberate Dynamics sent me.
It seems that the company was already aware of the issue I encountered - and being the clever folks that they are, their immediate solution was to send a piece of pre-cut skateboard tape meant to fit on the face of the tab. It might seem inconsequential, but it made a noticeable difference. My hand didn't slip off nearly as easily as before. I could put a lot more rearward force on that point, meaning that my shooting became more and more effective.
I still wasn't in love with it, though - I wanted the curve to start immediately from the rail surface, not a short distance away. This, however, was necessitated by the mounting design, just as the lack of checkering on the face of the tab was necessitated by the radius of the face itself - to do so would be quite expensive, and the part was already "not cheap" to manufacture.
For the few weeks I had the tab on the weapon but wasn't consciously using it, what impressed me most was that I didn't even notice it was there. It only adds an ounce to the weapon, and doesn't protrude much. When I shot the AR at 600 yards from the prone position, it did not interfere with my shooting at all.
That's when I remembered that there were these things called "rail covers" that pushed the shooter's hand away from the rail. I hadn't used them in a while, having switched to ladder panels after using them on a POF T&E upper. Using a few cut up pieces from a Magpul XT panel, I found that I had finally achieved what I desired out of the UST - a comfortable and stable method of putting rearward and downward force on the front of the weapon, while still being able to easily activate my weaponlight. With gloves, the setup "clicked" for me like few other products have.
So, is the UST worth the $40 asking price? Well, if you're a serious shooter, yes. What do I mean by that? Well, you're not going to get the most out of it unless you really commit to "driving" the weapon, preferably while wearing gloves. If you shoot your AR (or other semi auto weapon) mostly for fun, especially off a bench, you probably won't get a whole lot out of your purchase. If you do like to shoot and move, or your job requires you to, I would definitely recommend taking a look at the UST.
About Deliberate Dynamics
Deliberate Dynamics, Inc. (DDI) supplies professional gunfighters with the best possible equipment.
We actively work to provide the most detailed product descriptions, pictures, and demonstrational videos to help you make decisions on what will work for you. Our products are constantly being tested and evaluated by SOF operators that are currently working in high threat environments around the world. When we say something works, it works in the field, on the road, and when it is supposed to, not just at the local range with your blue jeans on.