Deciding on an AR style butt stock when it's time.
Although not the most complex or complicated piece on your personal AR weapon, the AR style butt stock looks and feels rather plain and simple, but nothing is simple about the decision to purchase an AR style butt stock.
Obvious consideration would be the cost of such an item, you want a butt stock worth your hard-earned money, so which one do you go with? Believe it when we say there are literally a ton of different and differing butt stocks to choose from. Price, composite, features, weight, comfort, and adjustable, (or in the case of featureless CA Compliance..non-adjustable) and let's face it- popularity. All factors worth noting when considering the AR butt stock for purchase.
Let's get some AR butt stock types and classifications cleared up first.
There are three main classifications or types of AR style butt stocks; the non-adjustable/collapsible; the adjustable stock; and the slide-collapsible.
The non-adjustable AR butt stock mounts onto the buffer tube, and is fixed to a specific position or length of pull. Length of pull is the distance from the end of the butt stock at your shoulder pocket to the AR's trigger/pistol grip. A non-adjust butt stock will typically be 4"-6" end to tip, will have a solid cheek-weld surface, and a rubberized recoil pad. This type of stock also is the oldest design, in most cases mimicking that of the early 60's M-16 butt stock profile- albeit very solid for long range shooting.
The Adjustable AR butt stock will mount to the buffer tube and also have adjustable surfaces; such as, a rising cheek pad, or extendable recoil pad or resting pad- which will also rise or lower the stock from the surface it is resting on. This type of butt stock is common with modern precision marksman type AR platforms.
The Collapsible AR type butt stock is the more common of the two others; mounted on a buffer tube with adjustment notches, the collapsible butt stock has preset length of pull ranges, where the butt stock usually has a spring-loaded adjusting lever for the user to slide the butt stock backward and forward on the buffer tube to desired position in relation to the rifle's trigger, rear sight/optic, and pistol grip. Shooters usually have up to 6 pre-positioned notches to choose their desired length of pull from.
You know the different types of butt stocks offered, now for the other considerations.
Several aftermarket AR type butt stocks are available to the discerning AR owner; most are polymer in composite to keep it lightweight but very durable. With lightweight feature comes an added bonus; some AR butt stocks will include add-on capabilities such as accessory rails for holding spare ammo mags or enhanced cheek pads. Other stocks allow for spare battery storage for electronic AR optics and weapon lights.
What you see is what you get though, with most modern AR type butt stocks, if it seems sturdy and lightweight, then it will most likely have both benefits without having to sacrifice strength or lack of balance once mounted onto the AR weapon; which brings us to another point- the original M16 was designed to be balanced fore and aft with plastic hand guard and plastic composite fixed-stock- this kept the weapon easy to bring up to target from a different position. Today, AR's are more and more laden with accessories and gadgets attached to every inch of rail space and or velcro tab on the rifle. So, it is with very much importance that the user take into account the weapon's COG or Center-of-Gravity when mating your butt stock of choice to your laser beamed, 500 Lumen tactical light with blue tooth technology.
Some not-so-typical brand and styles of AR type butt stocks
As mentioned previously, popularity among brands of butt stocks out there between vendors and manufacturers plays a real part in our everyday choices of which part to get for our beloved AR or other platform weapons system; brands like Magpul,Bravo Company, LMT, and Knights Armament are just a few reputable vendors out there. All are well-made, reasonably priced, and widely used by both the military/law enforcement and private sectors, most remain in service up until the latest and greatest model comes out, but for some- until the duct tape holding the butt stock together will no longer stay on.
Going with the butt stock that best suits your shooting needs.
Whichever brand you choose to decide to mount on your personal weapon; it is also important to know that every decision made regarding components mounted or attached to your AR ultimately acts or operates in unison with every other part, and fortunately for AR owners, the original M-16 platform is very user-friendly when it comes to the operating system working in unison. Most add-ons from aftermarket companies' products will by most standards work with other companies' products as well. This is the beauty of the AR platform- it is very much compatible with various aftermarket parts- not always, and depending on Mil Spec or Commercial Spec fitment- but for the most part, compatibility with modularity is the AR design's strongest point.
Butt stock interchangeability with the AR platform not only with different brands but with varying designs and purpose specific types of butt stocks; for example, the Personal Defense Weapon class or type of AR is shorter in overall length due to a short barrel and a shortened buffer tube. These PDW's will usually come with an integrated bolt carrier group and buffer all into one assembly; this shortens the overall length of the PDW weapon when mated to a more compact butt stock usually designed specifically for the PDW platform.
These are only some of the myriad of AR type butt stocks on the market today, some are well known, others no so much but are gaining marketability with more users and visibility. When deciding to go with a particular brand, model, and type of application, realize that you may always find a different choice if your initial buy wasn't what you wanted overall, and that being able to change butt stocks is the greatest feature of them all.
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