To iKey, or not to iKey, that is the question... (H-Plate vs I-Key)
With the recent release of the "H Plate" from Hadron Airsoft Designs, a lot of people naturally have questions on the differences between the H Plate and the Maple Leaf iKey. Well let's open the box and throw away the key to keep it open!
The material of the H Plate is incredibly light and appears strong enough to take the applied pressure from above if used with a TDC (which is highly recommended as the two pair naturally together by design). The bottom layer of the H Plate is curved to provide a concave contact patch on the hop rubber, this curve is definitely not as wide as the curve provided by the iKey, so its yet to be determined what effect it has on the hop, but what is important is that the curve is present to syngergize with Maple Leaf rubbers we so commonly use.
Please forgive the washed out appearance of the H Plate, my camera couldn't handle the white very easily. I've also been directed to the following installation guide as I appear to have mounted my H Plate backwards in the photo's provided, however you'll be pleased to know that it still worked very well despite my error! Please install it correctly though, with the small dot facing towards the barrel. Hadron Airsoft Designs have put up an installation guide for you to follow precisely, available here.
At the bottom of this post is a short video where the H Plate is used without a TDC cover attached, with the hop dial set to off using 0.30g BB's. BB's still reached out to 60m away.
Please note that this is using my ASG side arm with a Maple Leaf Diamond 60 rubber and ML 183mm barrel.
H Plate comparison images:
In my opinion, having used an iKey constantly for a period of 6 months, if you currently don't have an iKey, just go straight for the H Plate (and pick up a TDC whilst you do if you don't have one already). From my initial impressions, I still think the H Plate is a better option over the iKey if you already own one, and that's simply for the additional stability it provides, it outright eliminates hop-arm wobble and the very common pulling to the left (the hop arm pulling the iKey) because it's a precise fit under the hop arm in the hop assembly and there is little to no play for movement.
The iKey does it's job very well as long as it is positioned precisely, that requires either a bit of luck or a lot of testing, slight movement, and more testing to obtain. For most people, they simply won't do the work needed to get that iKey sweet spot and may not even realize that their shots are off for a very long time (it took me months to figure it out). For the cost of £3.50 versus the upwards of £5 that the iKey is being sold for, it's a no brainer. But... if you already have the iKey and want to save money because by damned you will make the iKey work because you paid for it and "ain't no iKey going to beat you", I highly recommend that you position the iKey as best as you can and then secure it in heatshrink. The heatshrink will keep it mostly in place and also increase the width of the hoparm when seated in the assembly. With hop arm in the best place you can put it, adjust the TDC grub screw whilst you can visibly see hop rubber and verify that it looks correct before you reassemble the gun.
This is about the best chance you have at keeping it in place... but you may just be delaying the inevitable anyway.
iKey placement and heat shrink usage: