Unity Tactical is a name you see time and time again when researching the top quality mounting and switching solutions for the AR platform. To learn more about the company, we recently reached out to Chip Lasky, Business Development for Unity Tactical. We talk about the companies’ beginnings, and its philosophy behind the exciting, sought-after parts and accessories it currently offers.
Q: Can we start with your background, and then lead into how Unity Tactical came about?
Chip Lasky, Unity Tactical – I came on board with the company about two and a half years ago. Before that, I worked at a night vision company, TNVC. Before that, I was military. The thing that drew me to Unity Tactical was the innovation. It’s exactly where I wanted to be.
As far as Unity Tactical, the idea began when the company owner, Trent Zimmer, got together with a bunch of friends he had met at his local shooting range. They would gather to shoot, and they had a shared passion for tactical products that focused on innovation and quality. These were guys who loved shooting and would take classes to improve themselves. It’s one thing to buy tactical gear because it looks cool, but it’s quite another to go out and use that equipment the way it was designed to be used.
While Trent was not an engineer by trade, he is easily one of the smartest guys I know. He taught himself mechanical design, and the company started with something he developed called the ATOM slide. It came about because he was looking at solicitations that were coming out from the Special Operations community to mount an Aimpoint Micro onto a Glock slide.
As you know, the Micro has mounting screws on it that come from underneath, so to put a Micro on a slide, you’d have to strip the slide and then start drilling holes underneath. That has been done, but it gives you all sorts of mechanical challenges, and it’s not optimal.
Trent had the idea to come up with some sort of mounting plate that could somehow fit into the slide. The mounting plate would allow you to put the hardware in from underneath and get the secure mounting that was required. The result of this is also that if the plate would work for the Aimpoint Micro, it could work for other optics as well. The system ends up being very modular. No longer would you need to machine a slide specifically for the footprint of a particular optic. You could get different plates and swap out the optics as new ones came to market. It was this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that let to Unity Tactical being started.
The ATOM slide was the first modular optic pistol slide out there on the market. The concept has been taken by a lot of manufacturers out there since…But none have the mechanical strength of the ATOM design.
Q: What came after the ATOM slide?
Chip Lasky, Unity Tactical – Unity Tactical started looking at other places where we could provide innovation. That’s a core philosophy of Unity Tactical. We look for where we can innovate and not just produce something with the idea of “me too.” We get asked to make different things, like a rear sight, just as an example. The answer to that is “we’re not.” There’s already plenty of incredible rear sights out there that we would wholeheartedly endorse to be used with the products we do make. It just makes no sense for us, as there’s nothing new for us to bring to that market. We’d literally be making something just to put our name on. That’s something we’re never going to do.
UNITY TACTICAL FUSION
The next big thing that Unity Tactical came up with was something called the FUSION system. I know Trent hates this term, but I do consider it like Legos for your gun. When you have lights and lasers, there is a particular rhyme and reason on how they need to be mounted to your gun. It’s not just a case of putting something wherever you have space on your M-Lok or Picatinny. There’s a reason why things go in certain places.
The FUSION system allows you to customize how you put lights, lasers, sights on your weapon and how to integrate it all in an optimal position…other than just 12, 6, and 3 o’clock positions. This is especially important on shorter rails and smaller weapon systems where are you lack in real estate.
You simply buy the Unity Tactical FUSION components that you need. You bolt them together, and then you add your lights and lasers. You end up working off of a single, central hub we call the Fusion Micro Hub. You end up being able to add it to many different weapon platforms that you wouldn’t necessarily be able to standardize on. Not all weapons allow for direct, traditional AR-15-style, 12-3-6-9 o’clock positions.
UNITY TACTICAL FAST
We launched the Unity Tactical FAST Mount about two years ago. When it launched, there was nothing else like it on the market. There were tall mounts, but what we did was make more of a system than just a mount. The first FAST mount was made for micro optics and was immediately popular as it not only put the optic up high, but it also took into account the iron sights that were already mounted on the weapon.
If you have a taller mount, you cannot really co-witness your iron sights for backup. The FAST Micro Mount features built-in standard height back up iron sights. So, iron sights were put into the mount, at the proper height. No one had really done that before. It was something completely innovative. Now, take a super short weapon system like a Sig Rattler or an MP5. What the mount allows you to do is have an actual adjustable BUIS right there without taking up valuable rail space on the gun.
Q: Can you talk a bit about the height of the mount?
Chip Lasky, Unity Tactical – The height was something that many who were uninitiated chuckled at when it first launched. The reason behind the high mount is that it allows for more of a heads-up, neutral spine posture. It’s a much more comfortable position, and it also pushes the optic to you rather than you having to get behind the optic. It’s one of those things where you should not have to be fighting your gear to make it work.
On more of the professional side, it also makes passive night vision shooting so much easier and faster. It makes shooting in kit, while wearing a plate carrier, helmet, and pack a lot easier as well. You can’t shoulder a weapon necessarily the same way when you are wearing a plate carrier loaded with everything a S.W.A.T. officer or warfighter is going to have on there, as you would at the range wearing t-shirt and jeans.
I don’t know if you’ve ever shot with a gas mask on, but this is also something that isn’t fun, fast or easy… depending on how your optic is mounted. The Unity Tactical FAST series can really help with this.
Another thing we looked at was magnifiers. We saw that magnifiers had fallen out of favor with a lot of people, mainly because they had to flip off to the side when you don’t want it there…or you have to completely remove it. We created a flip-to-center optic mount, something that drops the magnifier directly down to the center instead of off to the side. This allows the magnifier to stow 100 percent within the footprint of the weapon’s receiver, and not occlude your sight picture at all. This is something no one had ever done before.
UNITY TACTICAL SWITCHES
Switches are another big thing with Unity Tactical. We have a lot of experience developing switching solutions, and we know that it is something that is very important for professionals who may have a light and a laser on their weapon. When they have to activate them in the dark, they really don’t have the time or the ability to search around to try to find tape switches or clicky caps. They need to make sure their controls are optimally placed for deliberate use.
We developed a partnership with TNVC to develop the TAPS Switch (Tactical Augmented Pressure Switch), which is a completely modular item that allows you to attach it to Picatinny, Keymod or M-Lok rails. It has leads that work with a variety of light and laser combinations.
After that, we released the Unity Tactical Hot Button pressure switch, which fires a single device. We will be producing a dual-lead version that fires two devices simultaneously. The Hot Button can bolt to Picatinny or M-Lok securely.
It’s a far better solution than Velcro or zip-ties. It also improves the tactile feel. We looked at existing switches and asked why they had to be flat. We produced something that has an angle. This allows users to get a better feel in the dark, especially while wearing gloves. The 45-degree angle also works with the more natural movement of the thumb to activate it. It’s been incredibly popular, and while the FAST Mount put us on the radar, the Hot Button has really drawn a lot of attention our way, as it has a very broad appeal.
Q: Before we close, Can you talk briefly about the Modbutton?
Chip Lasky, Unity Tactical – Modlite is an innovative company, and its owner is personal friends with several of us at the company. Unity Tactical wanted to help out, and between Trent and the owner of Modlite, they decided to partner up and do a bit of development together. Trent had the concept of taking one of our FUSION Micro hubs and essentially putting a switch on it that would allow you to direct mount a light that has a standard SureFire-style Scout footprint directly to the Micro hub or using one of the FUSION Light Wings to move it forward or back.
It would have a short pigtail on it to plug into the light, and you’d have something very clean and perfect for the Modlite. It’s a very ergonomic and compact activation solution right where you need it to be. It’s also great because it gives you ambidextrous access. Modlite loved the idea and the Modbutton was born. Since then, it’s really taken off. The Modbutton is just another small example of us looking to find an area where we could bring quality and innovation.
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