Sunday, July 29, 2012

The various AR-15 stocks I have tried and my thoughts on them.

In Massachusetts, we have a state level Assault Weapon Ban (AWB) that we inherited from the federal AWB which was passed in 1994 and expired March 2, 2004 after various government and private research agencies finding no evidence indicating that the AWB made any positive impact towards the reduction of gun violence and gun related crime. The MA AWB is the same as the federal one and it governs specific parts of the "Assault Weapon" configuration and for us in the Commonwealth who wish to have a pistol grip on our AR-15 that means we can not have a telescoping stock and if one does, it must be pinned; and we still have the law in place.

The MA AWB has created a niche market for those of us that can not have something as simple as a telescoping stock on our rifles to be able to adjust length of pull which is the measurement between the center of the butt of the stock to the center of the trigger. The length of pull varies depending on the body type and arm reach and residents of the Commonwealth must find odd sized fixed stocks and take financial risks in hopes of it fitting our bodies well. The other option that I mentioned in the beginning of this post is to pin a telescoping stock to immobilize it and as long as the pinning is done so that it can not be removed easily, it becomes a fixed stock in the eyes of Massachusetts legislation.

I am not a tall dude nor do I have lanky long arms so a traditional A2 size stock is far too long for me and when I built my first AR-15 I went on a hunt to find out who made what length stock. My search quickly showed that not only were there a limited amount of information available as to length of stock and length of pull but for what they are, the stocks are simply over priced considering material and manufacturing and felt fleeced just for living under the MA AWB. The first short fixed stock I tried was the Sully, also know as the Stubby stock which as the latter name implies is a shorter version of the commonly seen AR-15 A2 stock. I bought mine from Bushmaster for $69.50 plus shipping as I had no one around that had one that I could try and no store locally stocked it to check it out in person and had to find out the hard way that the stock was too short. I tried various stocks through friends and other courteous shooters at my range and they were not the right length or feel until I tried a telescoping stock on a pre-ban rifle. Faced with the fact that after spending a f$*k ton of money on other stocks that I can't return AND I have to buy a telescoping stock AND pin it to make a stationary POS I can't adjust and defeat the otherwise convenient design, least to say I'm annoyed as all hell.

Seeing that I was going to be drilling a hole through it, I decided to find the cheapest option possible and bought a UTG stock kit on Amazon for around $50 shipped which included the carbine length buffer and tube as well. As for pinning the stock, it isn't a hard process and I encourage everyone to do it themselves as paying for this process is ludicrous. If you feel intimidated by the project and live in MA, contact me and I will help you out. The process is simple, put the stock on the lower receiver per the supplied instructions or the dozens of online tutorials that you can find on the web and than move the stock until you find the length of pull that is right for you. If you want an empirical method to measure your personal length of pull, measure the distance between the second joint of your trigger finger to the anterior center of your elbow which typically comes out to around 14.5" for the average person and is why the average length of pull on a rifle is 14". Once you decide what length is right for you, you want to clamp your stock so that it will not move, this will typically require a vise block for an AR-15 lower receiver which I bought mine on Amazon from the seller Squirrel Daddy for $33.95 shipped. Once you have it securely clamped, drill through the bottom of the stock where it is a square shape using a 1/8" drill bit, drill through the stock and buffer tube. Once the hole is made, I use a 1/8" x 5/8" roll pin which is what is used to secure the AR-15 trigger guard to pin the stock in place and now the telescoping stock is post-ban complaint. I typically drill all the way through the other side in case if I need to remove the pin to re-adjust it, I can use a 1/8" roll pin punch and hammer it out.

Below shows the bottom where it is sqaure and the red X is where I typically drill through.

The vise block kit, left is for the lower which inserts into the mag well and the right is for the upper where the pivot and take down lugs are pinned in.

I haven't had to contemplated a new stock in some time since my first AR is a post-ban lower and had no desire to spend a ton of money on a new stock just to pin it in place where else my SBR is being built on a pre-ban lower which is to say that it was manufactured before September 1994 and this opened up the possibility for a telescoping stock while remaining lawfully compliant without having to pin the stock. I decided on a Vltor A5 buffer tube to aid in dwell time as well as having a high quality component and the Vltor IMOD stock for it's size and weight and so far it has been my favorite stock that I have tried to date. The IMOD stock measures 6.25" long and an additional .376" for the butt pad which is an ideal density rubber with a traction pattern that glues the stock to your shoulder while the light weight stock is an unencumbered design and adds to the comfort of the stock.

The A5 tube, my one gripe is the finishing near the logo, I am going to have to file the corners down as they are not rounded.

Jeez sharp edges

The comfortable and nice gripping stock pad

The top of the stock has a witness hole that will show the stock position if you are using a tube with markings.

The IMOD stock has an integral quick detachment (QD) point in the rear of the stock as well as traditional sling loops. There are two tubes which comprise the cheek weld surface that stores battery sized objects, typically AA or CR123 batteries for illuminated optics. The battery tubes has a rubber gasket sealing it which I think would make it relatively water tight but have not put this to the test yet. The caps to the battery tube has a slit in the stock to lock them in and to remove the caps, the simple yet brilliant design has an integrated graduated surface that pushes the caps out as you turn them making for an effortless removal. The only gripe I have for the stock is that the stock adjustment lever is awkward to manipulate where if I am not gripping the stock to leverage off of it, I can not lift the lever high enough to extract the captive pin and move the stock to a different position.

The kind of awkward adjustment lever and behind it is the reinforced QD coupling

The battery tube with the lid on, next pic with it off and can see where the slit in the stock is as well as graduated ramp.

The gasketed cap and another view of the stock

Adjustment lever demonstration

I have tried various Magpul stocks and do like them for the most part as they are comfortable, light weight, and seemingly durable as any other stock on the market. The PRS stock though pricey does offer the shooter multiple points of adjustment to dial in the perfect cheek weld and length of pull but it's not my favorite for active shooting. If I were to shoot nothing but prone and bench and at long distances, I can see the benefit to the expensive PRS stock but as I shoot 3 gun, I felt that it was not the right fit for me. I tried the UBR but couldn't get a comfortable shooting position out of it and as neat as the design was I felt that I would have paid newfangled price for a newfangled thing. Both the MOE and CTR are awesome stocks and offers the best value from Magpul and if you find your self deciding between the two, go with the CTR for the additional friction lock system. Never got a chance to try the ACS or ACS-L nor do I have the desire to, they just aren't that aesthetically pleasing to me and I know that that is a terrible reason to right something off but aesthetics clearly are an important part of the decision or none of us would care if we drove a fugly car. The newest stock offered by Magpul is the STR which I considered buying before purchasing the IMOD but Magpul seems to have this trend in the last couple years of sucking at delivering products on time or not having them available when they are finally released (The XTM hand stop comes to mind). I have seen companies purposefully short supplies to create a perceived demand to control price (oh hey famed game console maker that is motion controlled whom shall remain nameless to avoid a law suit) and I do hope that that isn't the direction that Magpul is heading in.

There is another stock that I want to bring up and that is the Damage Industry's ECS stock. The stock is a direct derivative of the Crane SOPMOD stock which is typically produced my LMT. Crane, like any organization that has a budget will reach out to various manufacturers for pricing and Damage Industry is one of those companies among many that are contracted for various components to the armed forces. The ECS stock feels like a SOPMOD stock and comes in various colors such as SHTF Brown which reveals a sense of humor in the firearm industry, which is a nice change and the ECS costs a fraction of the SOPMOD stock.

Well, off to put more rounds down range with my new stock on a pre-ban lower while I wait for my SBR parts to come in.

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