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Magpul Industries UBR Stock
4/2/08 - Magpul Industries' new UBR (Utility/Battle Rifle) Stock is the long-awaited replacement for their innovative MSS M93 stock, which introduced concepts not previously seen on collapsing rifle stocks for the AR15 family of weapons. The M93 was more of a proof of concept/test bed for the many new features and as time went on, certain deficiencies surfaced which were ultimately corrected, but it was time to take it to the next level. You could call the UBR the highly evolved child of the M93; taking its parent's features and executing them in a much more refined manner while addressing all the previous issues.
Overall design - Like its predecessor, the M93, the
UBR utilizes a proprietary fixed buffer tube while the main stock body
slides forward and aft on rails at the bottom of the tube. The fixed
tube provides the user with an unchanging cheek weld so the cheek is
always on the polymer cheek piece, regardless of what position the stock
body is in.
Description and installation
Entry Receiver Extension - This replaces the stock buffer tube/receiver extension and threads into the rear of the receiver exactly like the standard rifle fixed-length buffer tube. In fact, it's the same dimensionally as the rifle fixed stock extension except that it's carbine length. With no exposed threads for a castle nut, it's stronger than the standard carbine tube.
UBR Main Tube - The UBR main tube has an Ω cross
section and slides over the Entry Receiver Extension tube, surrounding
it. Like the rifle fixed stock, a single flat head rear screw secures
the UBR main tube to the receiver extension. At the front of the main
tube is the receiver index and ambidextrous accommodations for QD sling
swivels. On the sides of the main tube are threaded holes for the attachment
of the glass-fiber reinforced polymer cheek piece, which slides on from
behind. The holes allow the cheek piece to be positioned all the way
to the front or further back. Moving the cheek piece further back is
for taller individuals who might generally use the UBR extended further
back than most and and might rest their cheek farther back than the
normal individual. Note that with the cheek piece installed at the rearward
positions, the stock body will not collapse in the fully forward position.
UBR Stock Body - The UBR stock body rides on the rails
which form the bottom of the Ω shape of the main tube - it's the
slide to the main tube's 'frame', using a handgun analogy. The rails
on the stock are molded over metal reinforcements and it looks like
there are holes along the rails and at the rear which allow trapped
debris or sand to escape the rails. Inside the top are twin steel lock
pawls which engage the pawl slots at the bottom of the main tube. These
have more mating surface than the standard 5/16" standard latch
pin. When depressed, the black release latch near the front under the
body pull the pawls downwards, disengaging them from the slots. The
pawls and release mechanism reside within an aluminum mounting block
inside the stock body. The locking mechanism and UBR stock was designed
to be strong enough to be used with heavier recoiling calibers like
7.62 and 6.8.
Operation - The UBR operates in a similar manner to the M93; only more easily and smoothly. On the M93, the release latch had to be pulled back to disengage and pushed forward again to fully lock the stock in place. On the UBR, the latch self locks when released. The UBR release latch is also much less obtrusive than the M93 one. To extend and collapse the stock, the release latch is fully depressed and the stock pulled rearward or pushed forward to extend or collapse. From fully closed, the stock will extend until the first preset is reached. When the Preset button is pressed while depressing the release latch, the preset will be bypassed. To jump to the 2nd preset, the Preset button is released immediately after bypassing the first preset while still depressing the release latch. The stock will stop at the second preset when pulled back. To select an intermediate position (between presets), the release latch is partially depressed and the stock ratcheted to the desired position. The ratcheting mode has both audible and tactile feedback - you can hear and feel the clicks.
The stock body is removed by bypassing all presets until it hits the last stop. The Remove button on the right side is then pressed along with the release latch and the stock body can be pulled rearward off the main tube.
With the rubber butt pad, the length of the UBR is 8" in the retracted position and 11.30" in the extended position. If that's STILL not long enough, Magpul has a rubber butt pad with spacer that adds about 5/8" to the LOP.
At 1 lb 8 oz (complete with buffer tube), the UBR is a bit on the heavier side (the standard M4 gen II stock weighs 12 oz and the M16A2 fixed stock weighs 1 lb 2 oz for comparison). However, the extra weight provides a balanced feel for front-heavy rifles like the scoped one with bipod shown above. It might be a bit heavy if you're doing a lightweight carbine build (the CTR is better suited for that), but the counter-balance is perfect for SPR's, .308 ARs, precision rifles or if you're got a lot of accessories mounted on the front of your carbine. There is absolutely no movement in the stock - it's rock solid, and feels more like a fixed stock than a retractable. Extending and retracting it is quick, once you get used to the presets. After trying out the UBR with different rigs and positions, I utilized presets 2 and 5 for use with and without body armour respectively.
At the range, both on the bench and firing offhand, I had no issues or complaints about the UBR. It's comfortable both on the shoulder and the cheek in all positions without the sharp edges and corners that the M93 had. Adjustments are quick and easy once you get familiar with the controls, and sliding the body back and forth requires less effort as the body travels so smoothly on the rails. Those who liked the design and features of the M93 will like the UBR even more, and those who didn't like the aesthetics of the M93 might just change their minds with the UBR.
Magpul Industries CTR Stock
7/1/08 - The CTR (Compact/Type Restricted) stock from Magpul Industries is a very lightweight and sturdy replacement for the standard M4 carbine collapsible stock with a unique friction lock feature that eliminates any wiggle or play. It's available in two versions; one for mil-spec receiver extensions (buffer tubes) and one for commercial receiver extensions.
Description and installation
The CTR is a triangular-shaped skeleton stock that is a direct replacement
for the standard carbine stock, and will install onto any carbine-length
buffer tube (provided the correct version is used of course). It does
not have any storage compartments. The cross section of the main body
is flared slightly to provide a sloping cheek weld for comfort.
There is an adjustment lever inside the 'triangle'. When the adjustment lever is depressed, it disengages the stock latch pin and allows the stock to slide along the buffer tube. When it is released, the pin engages a stock position hole in the buffer tube and locks the stock in place. Forward of the triangle is the friction lock. When the stock is in position, the friction lock is depressed. Depressing the friction lock causes two tabs to press against the flat sides of the buffer tube, eliminating and play in the stock. It is not necessary to engage the friction lock; the stock will function normally like any other collapsible stock. Depressing the adjustment lever disengages the friction lock.
The CTR is installed by pulling down on the pin above the rear of the friction lock as far down as it goes, which will pull the stock latch pin down enough to clear the rear of the buffer tube. The CTR is then slid onto the buffer tube and the pin released.
The CTR weighs 0.56 lbs (9 oz) with the included rubber butt pad, making it probably the lightest carbine stock currently available. Collapsed length is 7.5" with the butt pad and extended it's 10.8" with the butt pad.
At the range - I used the CTR in prone, and offhand. Adjustments were easy and the friction lock keeps the stock rattle-free. It's not a completely immovable lockup on my buffer tube; I can still slide it back and forth, but it won't do it on its own. Eliminating any play that the stock has on a buffer tube is more of a 'nice to have' feature than an absolute necessity, in my opinion. I've never had any problems with carbine stock being slightly loose (not very loose) - the play goes away the moment you shoulder the stock and pull it back against the shoulder. But, I have to admit that it's nice to have one that feels solid at all other times.
Another thing I liked was the rubber butt pad - it's fixed firmly to the stock and doesn't add width, which I find worked well with a plate carrier and 'operator cut' plates, which usually pose a problem getting a proper stock weld (the butt ends up too far to the outside of the shoulder, or on the plate).
10/22/09 - Magpul Industries has released their Enhanced Butt-Pad for their CTR, UBR, MOE and ACS stocks. The Enhanced Butt-Pad is and optional replacement butt-pad designed for enhancing shoulder purchase and offering improved recoil reduction with its thicker, vented construction.
Description and installation
The 0.30" rubber butt-pad that comes standard on the CTR and MOE mil-spec stocks, as well as the UBR and ACS provides good shoulder purchase, but no cushioning, as it's essentially rubber overmolded plastic. This buttpad can be removed if desired, and an end plug installed instead, or replaced with a different butt-pad. The Enhanced butt-pad is 0.70" thick, and has venting on the sides that cushion recoil by absorbing shock when the vent walls collapse or compress. The toe of the pad also has a slight angle which makes it more comfortable when the weapon is in the shoulder pocket and held at the low ready position.
Installation is simple - the original ubttpad is removed and the Enhanced one replaces it. The molded plastic plate has two tabs that locate the pad on the end of the stock, then two screws (supplied) secure it. The AR15 has light enough recoil where cushioning really isn't necessary, but the Enhanced Butt-Pad will be a welcome addition to Magpul stocks installed on larger-caliber weapons like .308s or shotguns.
Vltor EMOD Stock
5/28/07 - Shown here is the pre-production sample of Vltor's new Enhanced-Modular (E-MOD) carbine stock. As the name implies, it's an evolution of the original Modstock, not a completely different model. It retains the overall design of the Modstock while adding some features. (Note that this pre-production sample doesn't have the non-glare texture of the production version, so it appears smoother in the photos. The production versions will have exactly the same texture as the current Modstock.)
The E-MOD was designed more for SPR/DMR type rifles than short carbines (although I think it'll work just as well), where an increased length of pull is sometimes needed when using optics from a supported position. The EMOD is about 1" longer than the Modstock (both without rubber butt pads). This was done so that the user would get more length of pull without having to extend the carbine stock as far, and have his cheek on the stock instead of on the transition between the stock and buffer tube. Without the buttpad, the E-MOD is approx 7.29" long (at the centerline of the buffer tube). By comparison, the Crane stock is 7.42". The rubber buttpad adds about 0.3" for a total of 7.6" at the buffer tube centerline. The heel of the E-MOD is angled, just like the Modstock, for more ergonomic seating against the shoulder (one of the main complaints with the Crane is the lack of angle) and also provides more surface area than the Modstock. The rubber buttpad is molded over an aluminum strike plate, and is removable, but I suspect that most users will leave it on. The raised ridge at the front of the main body (where it transitions to the buffer tube) has been eliminated.
The E-MOD side storage compartments have also been lengthened, and they can accomodate more batteries than the Modstock. The E-MOD will only come in a clubfoot version, with the Vltor clubfoot latch/paddle. The clubfoot design allows the support hand to hold the stock securely against the shoulder when firing from a bipod. The E-MOD makes use of that clubfoot area to house another storage compartment. This is sized to hold two AA batteries. A small V-latch secures the trapdoor. When this is pushed down on the right side, the trapdoor swings down to expose the compartment, which is accessed from the left side of the stock. You can also store Aimpoint or N-size batteries, or small parts in there.
The E-MOD will be available in black, FDE (Flat Dark Earth/SOCOM tan) and Foliage green, and in two versions to fit both Milspec and commercial carbine buffer tubes. While the E-MOD was designed more for SPRs and rifles, I found that mounted on a carbine, I could run it all the way closed. I found the angled shape of the toe and rubber buttpad is more comfortable on the upper pectoral muscle or collarbone than either the Crane or rubber pad on the Modstock, when going back and forth from a ready or low ready to 'on-target' position. The E-MOD is pictured below on Vltor's M4K, a midlength VIS with 16" barrel, and a MUR/DD upper with 18" barrel.
6/12/07 - Finally! Here is the production version in Flat Dark Earth (FDE) with the colour-matched rubber buttpad. The side battery compartments will fit four CR123 or three AA batteries. The overmolded rubber seal on the clubfoot compartment trapdoor is easily visible here. In the far left photo of the components, you can see the new reinforcement around the latch pin. There is a small metal plate that distributes the load over a wider area in case of butt strikes.
Shown below is the FDE E-MOD on various rifles.
All colours of the E-MOD are now in production - black, flat dark earth, and foliage green.
Vltor Carbine Modstock
|3/20/03 - The Vltor Modstock is a direct
replacement AR15/M16 stock that provides optional accessory compartments
on the side like the Crane NSW stock, but at about a third of the price.
It's designer is Eric Kincel, who used to work for Knight's Armament Corp.
It's made in two main configurations to fit the carbine and full size
rifles (although the non-collapsible one will also fit on a carbine buffer
tube). Visit the Vltor
website for more information on the variants. I ordered the standard carbine
version (a clubfoot version is also available - see below) and it came
packaged very nicely - sturdy cardboard box and each piece was individually
sealed in plastic.
Overall quality and material looks better than the standard Colt 4-position stock and is very well molded. It also fits more snugly on a mil-spec buffer tube so there is the minimum of rattle. It's also a good looking design.
It came with two accessory tubes and two 'cheek weld' tubes. I chose
to mount the accessory tubes on it. Each carbine tube will hold 1 DL123
and 1 AA battery (for a total of 2 DL123's and 2 AA's).
The bottom of the butt plate (as you can see above) is angled inwards, which I feel is an improvement over the standard stock. It feels better on the shoulder, and is also taller than the standard butt plate. I installed the optional butterfly latch in place of the standard one. It's just as easy to operate and less prone to accidental disengagement.
The uncle mike's QD 1-1/4" big button sling swivel attaches in the silver hole on the stock. It's mounted a bit low (could make rifle prone to flipping over depending on sling type used and if it's CQB or patrol carry), but there's really no where else to put it. Mounting the accessory tubes on the side partially covers the lower sling slot, so if you want to use it for a 1.25" sling, you're out of luck - you need a 1" wide one.
In summary, it's a definite improvement (IMHO) over the standard carbine stock - it's well made, good looking, more comfy for the cheek and better angle on the butt, plus the accessory tubes add some storage space. With the butterfly latch installed, it's less prone to disengaging from snagging etc. There's room for improvement (as in any product), but it's reasonable for the price, unlike the Crane one.
Vltor now makes their own mil-spec dimensioned 5-position carbine buffer tubes. These are beautifully machined, rather than forged like Colt, and are just as strong (if not stronger). A really nice touch is the Vltor logo machined into the back of the tube. Beside it is the clubfoot version of the carbine modstock - it makes a difference when sighting it in from the bench at the range, if you like to support it with a sandbag, or use your offhand to hold the butt against your shoulder. Vltor also offers a rubber buttpad (made by SOG armory) that fits onto all of their stocks, for those who would like a bit of padding or a completely non-slip surface.
Vltor also offers as an accessory full-length compartment tubes for the carbine stock (as seen above). There's approximately 1" longer than the standard tubes and are a direct replacement. They each hold 2 AA's or 3 DL123's. Instead of caps on each end, the rear hole of the compartment is sealed.
Now for the Rifle Modstock (thank you, Eric). The rifle modstock comes in two lengths (A1 and A2) and will fit on BOTH carbine and standard (full length) buffer tubes, which is great news to the post-ban crowd who are stuck with fixed stocks, or to people with fixed stocks that just want to upgrade to something different. The difference in length between the A1 and A2 stocks is 0.68". Now you've got another option to the standard stock, or pinned carbine stocks. The stock illustrated here is the 'clubfoot' version, named for the club-like shape of the butt, which aids in supporting the stock in the shoulder when the hand is placed there in the prone position or shooting off a bench, and the stock is held firmly against the shoulder. The rifle stock comes packaged like the carbine stock, and includes everything necessary for installation. It came with a 1.25" QD sling swivel.
The rifle modstock comes with the same kind of accessory compartments and cheek weld adapters as the carbine stock, only longer. The accessory compartment will fit 3 AA batteries, or 4 DL123's. Combined with a Tangodown Battlegrip, you could end up having more batteries in your real gun than an airsoft one! And no, you can't fit GI cleaning rods in there - I already tried.
I first installed it on a carbine buffer tube (Colt or mil-spec only, please). It can be installed in two postions - the standard length A, and the extended length B, which is .800" longer than A. This is controlled by the manual lock pin (you can store this pin in the accessory compartment), which is inserted at position A or B (see the first pic) and snaps into the stock, engaging either the last or first detents in the buffer tube respectively. In position A, the rifle stock is almost an inch longer than the carbine modstock in the fully extended position. This might be a bit long for shorter people who are using ultra-short eye-relief scopes like the ACOG TA01NSN that I had mounted on mine :-) Any other scope would probably be fine. The rifle stock felt just like the carbine one, except that the cheek piece extended all the way to the front. I mounted the accessory compartments in their most forward positions on the stock, which placed my cheek smack dab in the middle of them. The cheek weld on the carbine was good, but this was even better. Before I installed it, I wasn't sure how it'd look on a carbine, but I think that it looks pretty good!
I then mounted it on a standard buffer tube, which just requires removal of the stock screw to slide off the old stock, and replace it with the rifle modstock (using the stock spacer in the back). The upper on this old Colt SP1 receiver was scoped, and the rifle stock provided the proper eye relief for it. The stock was the most comfortable fixed stock I'd felt (which is not saying much as there really haven't been that many common varieties), shouldering it and testing it out in the prone position with a bipod, and holding it into my shoulder with the club foot. The accessory compartment provides a wide, smooth area for the cheek to rest against. The only other fixed stock that felt like that was the ACR (Advanced Combat Rifle) stock, which I had a chance to feel years ago.
In all, I think that this is a great alternative to the post-ban carbine models that are currently available (standard stock and pinned collapsibles) and a definite improvement in comfort and looks over the standard A2 stock, IMHO.
Those of you who know me know that I can't leave anything
alone, and if something bothers me about a product, I try to fix or
improve it. As mentioned above, the caps are difficult to remove. You
have to rotate them (not a prob), but then you have to 'walk' them out
by rocking them with the little lever, which provides incorrect leverage
for what you're trying to do. I decided to add a tether to the caps.
First, to provide something to pull the cap out with, and second, to
tether the caps so I don't lose them. Eric, thinking ahead, has molded
provisions into the compartment housing for the attachment of tethers.
I decided not to use them, as the loops needed to be large enough to
accomodate a finger (snag concerns), and I'd need two loops if the caps
were tethered to the stock seperately (double snag concerns). Instead,
I decided to tether the caps together with one loop, since I'd only
be opening one compartment at a time. I drilled a hole through each
cap, put a length of 550 cord sheath through them, and tied knots on
each end, after determining the best length of the tether. The 550 cords
sheath is strong, yet easy on the fingers. I wasn't concerned with affecting
the water-tightness of the compartment as it's 'water-resistant', not
'water-proof'. If I wanted to, I could put a drop of sealant inside
the cap where the knot is. But since I don't go swimming with my rifle
(and if I did, getting batteries wet inside the compartment would be
the least of my concerns), and it's doubtful that even the heaviest
rain would find its way inside, I didn't bother.
Magpul MSS M93 stock (discontinued)
Description - This is the MSS (Modular Stock System), developed by Magpul Industries Corp. It "features a receiver extension tube, which acts as a modular base for a selection of fixed and collapsible stocks." (from the Magpul information sheet). The stock configuration can be changed by the individual soldier without need for an armourer. I don't want to parrot everything from the Magpul site here, so please visit it and read the description of the MSS (pdf. file). My experimental stock (thank you, Richard) came with a very well illustrated installation booklet which made it simple to install in just a few minutes.
Besides being radically different in looks, the MSS differs from all the other collapsible stocks on the market as it offers a consistent and comfortable cheek weld due to the fact that the stock does not fully enclose the buffer tube. The cheek rests on the buffer each time. With most other collapsible stocks, the cheek will sometimes end up half on the stock and half on the buffer, which can be a bit uncomfortable.
Installation - The standard stock and buffer tube are removed. The M9 buffer assembly (aluminum tube with carbon fibre/nylon overmolding) screws onto the back of the receiver just like the standard buffer tube, and a shim is used to ensure that it ends up in the correct orientation (3 shims are supplied). Two 'claw locks' prevent rotation of the buffer tube in the receiver and are very secure once all the bolts are tightened. The installation only took a few minutes and the instructions were very easily to follow. I did not have to make any alterations whatsoever. An ambidextrous single point sling mount was supplied with the stock and I installed it. I'm a lefty, and installed it on the right side of the rifle. It does not interfere with the functioning of the forward assist. The stock buffer and spring assembly is used.
Operation - The M93 stock slides along the buffer tube and can be locked at 7 positions (5 in between fully collapsed and extended). The main lever is unlocked by engaging the small latch (see first pic above) with your finger and pulling backward. The main lever swings down and unlocks the stock. At the desired postition, the lever is pushed forward and up, which locks the stock in postition with an audible 'click'. Two 'preset clips' are supplied with the stock, and allow the user to preset two positions (like the middle 2 positions on a Colt 4-pos stock). With the preset clips installed, the stock will slide back from the fully collapsed postition until it engages a clip. The stock can then be locked there. To 'override' the preset, the preset release button on the side must be depressed when pulling to the stock to the rear. It doesn't take too long to become familiar with the operation of the stock, once you understand how it works.
Initial impressions - Note that my initial impressions are based on the experimental stock, and Richard has refined the design since, for the production model. I found some of the edges a bit sharp, especially around the butt plate. The production stocks will be tumbled and deburred, which will take the edge of the...edges :-P I smoothed out the sharp edges with some 320 grit sandpaper, which took care of that. After the easy installation, I familiarized myself with the operation of the stock. It feels very solid, with no lateral play or looseness at all, even if unlocked. When the lever is locked, it feels as solid as a full-length, one-piece stock. When shouldered, it seats into the shoulder very positively, and feels more comfortable than it looks as it's slightly wider than the standard stock. It does require more dexterity to extend and collapse than the standard/Vltor stocks, however, and isn't as 'straightforward'. But training/muscle memory can address that issue, and I'll see how I do with practice (the small buttons on the experimental will be made larger and easier to work on the production model). The cheek weld on the overmolded buffer tube and part of the stock feels good, and doesn't have the annoying 'step' from stock to buffer tube inherent in the other designs.
Like anything else, some people will like the looks of it, some won't. It looks more complicated than some other designs, but the features are there for a reason. Modular accessories and rails can be mounted to the stock in the future, and the same buffer tube will be used. The lower part of the stock is removable and different 'modules' can be substituted for the standard buttplate.
For more opinions, check out Jeff Carpenter's reviews of this stock system and other good info here.
7/17/04 - This is the much-anticipated (by some) LMT Crane stock. Originally designed and made by NSWC, Crane division, and seen on the weapons of Navy SEALs and DEVGRU members in pics coming back from 'Stan and Iraq for the past couple of years. The Crane is longer than the standard CAR Stock, and has a triangular main section, which houses an accessory compartment on each side. In each compartment is a tube with an O-ring sealed cap. The tubes slide into the commpartments and the caps are rotated to lock the tubes in place. Installation and removal of the tubes require removal of the stock from the buffer tube. The butt plate is vertical and has a removable rubber buttpad. The LMT Crane took care of some of the reported problems which the original Crane stocks had, without changing the overall design.
Installation and removal procedure of the Crane stock is that of the standard stock. Pull down on the latch so that the latch pin clears the buffer tube and slide it off. It's wobble-free on mil-spec buffer tubes. LMT chose to checker the stock latch, which further increases potential for snagging and accidental release. I replaced it with a Vltor butterfly latch (shown below) which improves functioning of the stock IMHO, and looks just as good as the standard latch. It's easy to operate and is less likely to get snagged or inadvertantly relesed - I highly recommend that any stock that will accept the Vltor butterfly latch be upgraded with it.
Cheek weld is very nice with the Crane - probably the best of the conventional collapsible stocks. I'm torn on the rubber buttplate - I like the comfort and feel of it, but it might get in the way during transitions. I'd also like to see and angle put on the buttplate, like the Vltor's. See the comparison below for additional impressions of the LMT Crane...
Comparison of the Standard, MSS, Crane and Vltor stocks
Here's a visual comparison of the standard Colt carbine stock, Magpul MSS and Vltor Carbine stock. I'll post a review when after I spend more time using the MSS and Vltor stocks, and take them out to the range/wherever to put them through their paces. And I'll also have to add the Vltor Rifle Modstock to that list.
June '03 - Been to the range, the desert (see above pics) and took a tactical carbine class and shot both the M93 and Vltor stocks. The disk with all my pics taken during the carbine class had an error on it , so I think I've lost them. Anyways - range shooting off the bench: No big difference - both stocks felt comfortable and were perfectly stable. Shooting in the desert: I shot the M93 and the wide butt felt very comfortable in the shoulder pocket when shooting at a longer range. Switching to an under-the-chin hold for closer shooting/movement, and the sharp edge on the bottom was a bit uncomfortable when snapping the rifle up from the high ready position. Actually, that's exactly the same thing I experienced with the Vltor in the carbine class. For CQB use, I'd prefer a slightly shorter buttplate, with a rounded off toe for better rolling into position. Most people like the look of both stocks, but commented that the M93 was a bit complex for them and they were worried about small parts jamming or the details being mud traps. But when it came to shooting, I'd like to say I noticed a huge difference, but I really didn't. BOTH stocks were improvements in comfort, rigidity and feel over the standard carbine stock, IMHO. You can't go wrong with either - like many things, it'll end up being personal preference.
7/17/04 - LMT Crane stock added to the line-up. As you can see, closed length of the Crane is longer than standard and close to that of the MSS. Cheek weld on the Crane is probably the most comfortable, as its greater length allows it to be used in a more-closed position, which decreases the likelyhood that your cheek will be half on the stock and half on the buffer tube.
The MSS buttpad has the greatest surface area, followed by the Crane, Vltor then standard CAR stocks. I prefer the angled buttplate of the Vltor to the Crane, and the fact that the stock doesn't have to be removed to access the compartments. Also, the compartments of the Crane are non-removable. There are always pros and cons to each stock, and arguments and counter-arguments can be made for all of them. It all boils down to personal preference and which one works best for the user.
Tango Down Battlegrip Battery Storage System
This Battlegrip battery storage system from TangoDown is ergonomically designed and for me, the most comfortable grip I've used. It's styled after the Stoner 63A grip, does away with the annoying finger groove of the standard M4 grip and has an extension in front to smooth out the sharp edge near the trigger guard (like the Duckbill, which I did NOT find comfortable). The grip can contain two AA, N or 123 series Lithium batteries, PLUS two DL-1 Aimpoint-type power cells, in a water and dust-proof compartment. Small foam spacers are provided to prevent rattling. Functional, and a great looking and well-made product!
Tangodown listened to user input, and the only suggestion was to add a bit more texture to the grip. All Battlegrips are now made with a textured surface, which I thought wouldn't make much difference as I liked the Battlegrip already, but after installing the new ones on my rifles, I DO feel a noticeable improvement in 'gription'.
Tango Down BGV-MK46 Vertical Grip
08/13/03 - Thank you to Jeff Cahill of Tangodown for this Military Morons exclusive. The TD vertical grip is made of ultra high-impact Nylon 66 with 33% glass fill. It's beefier than the KAC vertical and feels a lot more comfortable. It uses twin locking bars which are pulled down, then released to lock the grip to the rail which have a slight taper to them so that they wedge into the cross rails, preventing any fwd-aft movement. A 200 ft-depth watertight storage compartment holds 2 CL123 batteries or spare parts (I was able to fit an M4 bolt, firing pin and cam pin with room to spare). A removable panel in the side (which can be stored inside the grip) enables a flashlight pressure switch to be installed in the dovetail. Weight of the grip is 3.6 oz.
5/29/04 - The TD vertical grips and Battlegrips, and rail panels are now available in green and earth brown. The colours match those of the Vltor stocks exactly. Note that OD Green (shown here) has been discontinued in 2007 and replaced by Foliage Green.
7/11/07 - This is the new BGV-MK46K "K" grip. The first versions of the K (also called the "Stubby") were cut down BGV-MK46 grips with the compartment cap glued onto the end, made at the request of certain users who wanted a shorter vertical grip. The new K grip is a new mold, which eliminates the pressure switch panel and has compartment with removable end cap. The compartment will fit small parts, or a single CL123 or AA battery. The proper way to use the K is not to wrap the entire hand and thumb around the grip, but only partially, with the thumb going on the support side instead of ending up on the strong side (see photo below). The K is available in Black, Foliage green and Flat Dark Earth.
1/30/08 - Installation of the TangoDown vertical grip can be a challenge on some tight rails. You have to depress both locking bars while sliding the grip down the rail to the position you desire. Some of us have come up with ways to keep the locking bars depressed during installation, with tie wraps or sticks, for example. TangoDown has now come out with a little armorer tool called the Grip Chip made just for this purpose. Simply insert the prongs above the locking bars, and they'll depress the locking bars so that the vertical grip can be slid on without having to press the bars down with your fingers. Simple and effective to use. A word of caution - they're under spring tension, and I didn't install one all the way in one time, so it shot out and flew across the room. Luckily, TangoDown had the forethought to provide a hole in each one so they could be tethered together with a short length of 550 cord.
6/9/08 - We first saw the prototype of the TangoDown BGV-MK46 vertical grip with ADM (American Defense Manufacturing) quick-release rail mount at the 2008 SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Well, the new TD/ADM vertical grip is finally here and will be available shortly from TangoDown dealers. The new ADM-mount grips are quick-release versions of TangoDown's existing models; the Standard length with SureFire tape switch pocket (BGV-QDSF), the Standard length with ITI (Insight Technology Inc) tape switch pocket (BGV-QDITI), and the Stubby (K) version (BGV-QDK). All are available in Black, Flat Dark Earth and Foliage Green.
The TD/ADM vertical grip no longer has the rail slot with locking bars. Instead, the grip has half the rail slot moulded on one side, and on the other is the ADM mechanism clamp. The ADM mechanism consists of a lock lever with a lock button on it, attached to a square profile cross bar threaded on the end. The cross bar serves as the recoil lug as it fits into the rail's cross slot, preventing any fore or aft movement. A hexagonal head slotted screw fits into a recess in the grip and is threaded onto the cross bar. The clamp is spring loaded by two small springs in the grip. To unlock the lock lever, the lock button is pushed and the lever opened. Opening it loosens the clamp and the grip can then be removed from the rail by rocking it off. It cannot be slid off like the standard TD vertical grip. The clamp tension is adjusted by pressing on the lock lever when it's in the open position, compressing the two small springs and letting the hex screw protrude out of its recess. The screw can then be turned by hand - no tool is necessary. Releasing the tension lets the screw return to its recess where it is prevented from rotating. The lock lever assembly can be removed and reversed so that it opens from the front or rear. It cannot be reversed from one side of the grip to the other (clamp side to screw side). One thing to note - the lever will get in the way if you're using a TangoDown ACB-4 bipod. It prevents one leg from folding flat along the rail. So, if you're using a TD bipod, stick to the original BGV-MK46 or mount the bipod with the legs folding forward.
Installation of the grip is bone-head simple. The lever is unlocked, the grip rocked onto the rail and the lever tightened. The tension is then adjusted once, if it's too loose or tight. Once the lever lock is pushed down, the lock button automatically engages and the lever will not disengage until the button is pushed.
An issue that some people had with the original BGV-MK46 was that it could be loose or tight on rails, depending on the rail. It could be very hard to install, slightly loose or just right. Most of my TD grips were pretty close to being just right, and I never noticed any wobble while actually shooting the rifles, as I always kept the grip under tension. The BGV-MK46 was designed for mil-spec rails, and not all rails are in spec. Of course, there is a tolerance associated with the nominal dimensions, which means that on a mil-spec rail, there could be slight variances too. The new grip with ADM QR mount eliminates any issues with rail variances, and can be adjusted to be be rock solid on just about any rail. While I never had any problems with the original TD grip, I really like the on/off convenience the ADM mechanism provides.
One of the questions I've seen asked is whether the lever is uncomfortable under the hand or thumb. While I can feel it, it's hardly uncomfortable due to its rounded profile . If you're not using the tape switch pocket, just mount the grip with the lever opposite your support hand. Kudos to TangoDown for continually improving their products and giving consumers what they ask for.
Tango Down Rail Panels
4/29/04 - Here are Tango Down rail panels which are now out. They are available in different lengths, but the longer one can also be cut down and shortened. The full length panel is shown on the right side of the handguard below. I cut down two other panels (bottom and left side). I used a saw, then rounded off the corners and smoothed the cut with sandpaper. Came out nice and professional looking. The texture in the finger grooves is the same as that on the TD pistol grip. The panels will interface with all 1913 mil-std dimensioned rail systems and come in black, tan/coyote, and green. The plastic will match the colour of Vltor's stocks exactly. Also available (not shown) is a panel with a tape switch pocket, that will fit standard Surefire tactical light switches, and the PEQ/2 Insight switch. TD rail panels are also offered as OEM panels on LMT rifles - see the panel with the LMT logo on the tab (far right pic).
3/8/06 - Tangodown is now offering Foliage Green furniture that matches the Foliage Green plastic hardware spec'd for the Army ACU/Universal Camo. It's pretty close to the green they offer, but more on the grey side. I've shown both in the photo on the right for comparison.
Tango Down SCAR Rail Panels
11/27/08 - Here are TangoDown's new SCAR panels. Originally developed for FN's SCAR program, they have actually been around for a couple of years but were not available to the public. Since I've been using them since early 2007, some of you sent emails asking what they were and where to get them after noticing them in photos on my site. Well, they will finally be released commercially in a few months. While I like TangoDown's original rail panels, I REALLY like the new ones. Thinner, lighter, grippier, faster...well, maybe not faster, but the first three.
The new SCAR panels have the same grippy laser engraved texture that the original panels had. But instead of being restricted to the area between the smooth raised areas, the grippy texture now covers the entire panel. The SCAR panels utilize the same locking tab, which allows the panel to be secured anywhere on the rail, unlike the KAC panels which need the locking recesses, usually located at the ends of the rail. There are 5 different panels - 6", 4" and 2" lengths, and two 4" panels that have pockets for either SureFire or ITI (Insight Technology) pressure switches.
The SCAR panels are available in the same Flat Dark Earth (FDE), foliage green and black that the current ones are made in, and match the other TangoDown and Vltor products. While the original TangoDown rail panel is probably one of the toughest panels available, it's also thicker than some others, and some folks prefer a thinner panel. The SCAR panel is much lower profile than the original one, and actually slightly thinner than the KAC panel (look at the end shot below comparing the three).
When I used KAC panels, I liked their slimness but didn't find the ribs very comfortable. The original TD panels didn't have raised ribs, so I found those more comfortable overall. Since the SCAR panels are textured all over and do not have any raised areas of grooves, they work well regardless of hand or finger placement. The SCAR panels are the most comfortable ones I've used so far, and have just the right amount of texture - grippy but not abrasive. Ladder type rail covers are the slimmest available, but they don't protect the rails completely nor do they insulate the hand from heat like full panels. I've never found heat to be an issue with the TD SCAR panels, in hot weather and shooting long strings or full auto. Available now from TangoDown.
7/12/08 - Ever since a TangoDown vertical grip mated to a LaRue locking lever mount was spied in some of MFingar's (LaRue's photographer extraordinaire) photos, LaRue has been under constant urging to offer something like that. Bowing to the pressure, LaRue Tactical has come out with their FUG (Forward Universal Grip) which is a vertical grip based around their renowned adjustable locking lever mount. It comes with three different end caps to give the user a choice of three different configurations to suit their shooting style.
The FUG comes with three different base caps, two non-skid EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) bands for tape switches, the new and improved 3/8" adjustment wrench, and instructions.
The FUG starts off with LaRue's locking lever mount, which is a hard-anodized aluminum base that attaches to any picatinny rail. The body of the FUG is secured to the mount by a single bolt. The mount has two recoil lugs that engage the cross slots of the rail and is completely solid when mounted. I prefer to adjust the locking lever a bit looser than on the optic mounts for easier on-off. I adjusted the adjustment nut so the lever starts tightening at 30° instead of 45° and it's nice and snug, but easily removed or switched from one weapon to the other. I'm a lefty, but I left the locking lever on the right side, and didn't really notice it as it doesn't get in the way at all.
The FUG body has a non-glare finish and is machined from polymer which will insulate the user's hands from heat and is also solvent and chemical resistant. On the locking lever side, there is a relief for access to the adjustment nut with the adjustment wrench. LaRue's Texas logo is engraved on the opposite side. The FUG body has a series of circumferential grooves for grip, and two flats on each side for tape/pressure switches up to 2" in length (fits standard SureFire switches). Items can be stored inside the hollow cavity which is 2.35" deep, like batteries or an AR15 bolt and spare parts.
The three different caps that come with the FUG are the short cap, long cap and long-flanged. All of them are O-ring sealed. The short cap creates a 'stubby' grip about 3.2" in length and will suit those who don't wrap their entire hand around the grip. It has a coin slot in the bottom to aid in installation and removal as there isn't any area on the sides to grip it. The long cap is actually a medium, and adds another .7" to the overall length and about .6" to the storage compartment. The long-flanged cap adds 1.1" to the overall length and .75" to the compartment. The flanged cap is flared at the bottom for added control and comfort for those who like to wrap their hand around the grip or have big hands. I actually like the unique look of the flanged cap and it is indeed comfortable when used as designed. There are no sharp edges anywhere - all edges are smoothed and rounded.
I installed a SureFire pressure switch to the FUG with the two rubber straps. They're sized just right so they're not too difficult to install but hold the switch securely. I don't use tape switches anymore for my lights, preferring to mount them on the side rail and use my thumb to activate the tailcap, but for those who like them on the vertical grip, or have a laser in addition to the light, this should work well for them.
Shown below is the FUG installed on a LaRue Stealth Sniper upper with the three different end caps, to illustrate the difference in lengths.
BOBRO Vertical Grip with SACL
7/26/07 - The BOBRO Vertical Fore Grip offered by Ranier Arms doesn't look much different from many of the other AR15 vertical grips on the market at first glance, but it sets itself apart from the others by virtue of its interesting attachment mechanism. It's called the SACL (Self Aligning Compression Lock). Instead of having a dovetail which you slide onto the rail/handguard, the SACL allows the BOBRO grip to be attach anywhere on the rail without sliding it from the front. There are two dovetails at opposite corners of the aluminum base, or rail interface. Between them is a spring loaded pad, that's flat except for raised edges on the side with the same angle as the bottom of a 1913 rail. The removable core of the grip contacts the bottom of the pad, pushing it up when the core is tightened. A single roll pin protruding from the top of the rail interface engages and indexes any slot in the 1913 rail. To attach the grip, the core is backed off until the pad can be pressed down enough so the raised edges are flush with the top surface of the rail interface. A couple of turns does it. The grip is placed at a 45° angle on the rail, then rotated counter-clockwise (when looking from the top) so the dovetails engage the sides of the rail and the index pin is in a slot. The core is then tightened to raise the center pad, which locks the grip to the rail rock solid. There is no movement whatsoever. Removal is performed by reversing the steps. It's very quick and convenient as you don't have to remove rail panels or bipods to install the grip and it can be installed or removed with one hand.
The grip and core are machined from Delrin, while the base/interface is Aircraft grade aluminum. The core holds two DL123 batteries or spare parts. Everything looks of high quality. The grip body is in-between a KAC and TangoDown in diameter, and just a little longer than the TD. I was concerned that the blocky profile of the base might be uncomfortable, as I use a vertical grip by placing my thumb along the weak/support side of the rail, instead of wrapping it all the way around. The fingers of my support hand go right where the grip interfaces with the rail. While not uncomfortable, I didn't find it as comfortable as the KAC or TD with their smoother, more rounded transitions and corners. It was much less noticeable with gloves on. For those who wrap their thumb around the grip, it's not an issue.
I headed out to the range to give try it out. Wearing gloves, I got used to the feel of the grip and didn't notice any discomfort. It's only when I switched back and forth between the BOBRO and TD grips did I notice the edge of the aluminnum base. When I shot it without gloves, I felt the base get a little warm, as it absorbed some heat from the rail, but it never got hot enough to be a bother. Throughout the shooting session, the Bobro never loosened up - the fine threads on the core kept it rock solid on the rail. Based on the way I hold the grip, there were three things I'd have liked - a shorter grip (you can see how much of it I don't use - I've switched to the TD Stubby grip for some of my rifles), more rounded or beveled edges on the base, and softer edges on the knob of the core (they can be a bit sharp when I crank down the knob without gloves). The smoother the transition to the rail, the better. While writing this review, I saw that BOBRO is coming out with a shorter version, so they've already addressed my first request. While I might prefer the feel of the TD grip (just personal preference), the convenience of the BOBRO with its SACL is a really nice feature to have.
8/25/07 - In my writeup on the BOBRO grip above, I mentioned that one of the things I'd like to see is a shorter version for those who don't wrap their entire hand around the vertical grip (like me). Well, they've come out with one. For those who prefer a shorter vertical grip, the BOBRO Short Vertical Fore Grip offered by Ranier Arms is the short version of the BOBRO Vertical Fore Grip. The length of the standard BOBRO is 4.5" from bottom of the knob to handguard rail, and the short BOBRO is 3.75" (grip portion is 3.25" long). The compartment in the core is 2.5" deep, and will hold a AA or CR123 battery with room to spare.
The Short BOBRO grip isn't just a standard BOBRO grip chopped at the bottom. Closer examination shows that the waist portion is slightly shorter and the grooved portion has been moved up. The base and SACL mechanism is the same. The Short BOBRO will still allow a full grip around it if you shoot that way and you've got medium-sized hands. For me, the shorter length is just about optimum.
Magpul Industries MIAD (and more)
12/19/04 -Magpul Industries (makers of the M93 stock) recently introduced their MIAD (Mission Adaptable) Modular AR-15 grip. I saw a concept model at the SHOT show in January, so it's nice to see the concept hit the market. Actually, as of this writing, only a pre-order batch has been sent out, as there are minor changes to be made, Rich Fitzpatrick says. The MIAD system comprises of the following components:
Opinions on grip comfort and preference are as varied as there are hand sizes, and it really boils down to personal preference and physical hand size. The MIAD offers a number of different solutions and it's likely that almost everyone will be able to find a combination of parts that fits their needs. I have small hands and relatively short fingers. Finger grooved front straps never worked for me as the bump would invariably end up under a finger instead of between them. I like the integral trigger guard on the F4 front strap, but I'd like to see a groove-less version. The distance of the trigger to the backstrap on the M16 series of weapons is rather short, and people with large hands or long fingers often feel 'cramped up'. The B2 and B3 backstraps address that issue, and while I found the B2 backstrap to be the most comfortable for trigger finger placement, my short fingers prevented me from reaching the mag and bolt release catches easily, so I switched back to the B1 (standard) backstrap.
There are some slightly sharp edges that could do with some soothing out - like the transition between the textured surfaces and the rest of the grip. Rich said that the texture will be reworked - I'd like to see it a bit more aggressive, which I'd prefer over the 3M grip tape insert version. The modular cores are easy to insert and retrieve, and don't seem to rattle inside.
Magpul also makes a curved trigger guard, that allows the use of bulky gloves. Typically, the standard trigger guard on the M16 is swung down to make room for gloved operation, but it's also sharp and not very comfortable. Magpuls aluminum trigger guard is a direct replacement for the standard guard, and smooths out the sharp edges quite well. It comes with a set screw for the front hole, and a roll pin for the rear. I was able to use my Oberland Arms trigger guard pin (seen on the previous page) and rubber- o-rings instead of the roll pin (Rich designed it with this use in mind). The F4 trigger guard follows the same contour as the aluminum one.
Magpul Ranger plates and Enhanced followers-
These replace the floor plates on M16 30-rnd magazines and
are a lower profile version of the original Magpuls. It's a direct replacement
for the standard floor plates. A black plastic floor plate insert/lock
locks the overmolded steel floorplate in place, which slides onto the
base of the magazine. Like the original Magpuls, the Ranger plates enable
a good grip on the magazine to be had during reloads, and does a better
job than the 550 cord and tie wraps that I currently use. More expensive,
yes, but so's everything else of quality and function. They don't add
any width to the magazine, which I like, and will fit well in most magazine
pouches. Good stuff.
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