March 2008

AR-15 Replacement Stocks: We Choose the Magpul CTR

We examined products from Command Arms, Magpul, and Cheaper Than Dirt designed to improve or replace the standard AR-15 collapsible stock. Magpul won, despite its price.

Gun Tests actively monitors reader mail for trends and requests for new test categories. Over the months, an area of particular interest has emerged: the AR-15. We are receiving numerous requests to test the new models and calibers that manufacturers have been bringing to market. There is also a huge number of accessories emerging in the marketplace, allowing customization to the modular design of the gun. As one gun expert aptly stated to us, "The AR platform has become the Swiss Army knife of firearms."

While all of these options are great for consumers, we do wind up peering into computer screens and thumbing through catalogs to sort through the dizzying array of products present in today’s market. The options out there aren’t necessarily cheap; the AR-owner can easily have as much invested in accessories as he does in the rifle.

Because of this economic fact, we explored some options available in multi-position stocks for the AR. The six-position OEM stocks of AR-15 carbines have enjoyed an enduring love/hate relationship with their owners over the years—loved for their adjustability, yet cursed for their wobbly fit and slippery buttstocks.

Another issue has emerged as owners adopt new options in flip-up sights, and mount the latest in tactical optic technology from companies such as Aimpoint and Eotech. The low small rounded profile of the stock causes inconsistent cheek weld, and accordingly creates problems with sight alignment. This is a cause of frustration for the varmint hunter attempting to track a running coyote, but is a much bigger issue for the police officer in a confrontation, or a soldier clearing rooms in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Companies have introduced a variety of options to augment the shortcomings, or replace the stocks altogether, with varying degrees of success. In this article we will look at four such attempts.

For this test we selected four products: two attachable stock saddles for existing stocks, the Command Arms SST1, $26, and Cheaper Than Dirt #1543, $16. Both were plastic attachments that either snapped or screwed into place to provide additional cheek weld.

The two replacement stocks picked for this showdown were the Command Arms CBS, $61, fitted with an adjustable cheekpiece, $30, and Magpul CTR, $97, with its optional Rubber Butt Pad, $20. In this review, we found that $25 might be all you need to invest in order to cure your gunstock woes, but a $110 replacement would be our choice.

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