What is a rifle buttstock? In traditional rifles, the buttstock is the part of the firearm in rear of the breech mechanism which can also be used to shoulder for the shooter to firmly manipulate the firearm and easily aim while firing. For modern AR style rifles like the AR15, the stock continues to do all these things but may also have extra features such as storage compartments or QD (quick detach) points for slings. Today, we discuss the best AR stocks money can buy.
Magpul is an industry leader in making parts and accessories for firearms. Here are some of our favorite stocks that they make; the MOE, CTR, STR, ACS and fixed stock.
“CTR” in Magpul CTR Stock stands for Compact/Type Restricted Military Model, which is extremely solid, light and designed with the streamlined A-frame profile to avoid snagging onto anything like foliage or gear. Towards the front, on the bottom side there is a friction lock mechanism that is used to help eliminate wobble on the buffer tube and avoid accidentally collapsing the stock. There are quite a few airsoft/Chinese replicas of this stock so be sure you make your purchase from a reputable source to get a real one. This stock is extremely popular for its reliability, minimalist look and is often paired with shorter carbine or pistol length AR15s.
There are a lot of Magpul products that have the acronym ‘MOE’ in it. What does it stand for — “Magpul Original Equipment.” Of the Magpul MOE stocks that we like, there are two. The first one we’ll mention is the MOE Carbine Stock. This AR stock will work with any AR15/M16 rifle using a mil-spec length buffer tube. If you’re wondering why this stock looks so similar to the CTR stock, well that’s because they are pretty much identical.
The only thing the Magpul MOE stock is missing is the extra friction lock cover. Honestly, we’ve never had snagging issues or the MOE stock accidentally collapse on us so we feel that the MOE stock is plenty good enough, the CTR just looks cleaner. However, the CTR stock has QD attachment points on both sides of it while the MOE does not.
Magpul Fixed Stock
Actually, the Magpul Fixed Stock is also a MOE stock. Just as the name suggests, this stock is used in one fixed position and is not retractable or adjustable. If you are using a longer rifle or doing any longer distance shots then having a stock that you don’t need to mess with adjustments can help you focus and consistently find your eye box (if using a scope). Fixed stocks are also necessary for those of us living in California to keep our AR-15s “compliant” and not in an “assault weapon” configuration.
Magpul’s STR Stock is as awesome as it is badass. Its bulkiness and oversized cheek welds make this a very comfortable stock to shoulder while aiming down sight. The “STR” stands for Storage/ Type Restricted). Beneath the cheek welds are two storage compartments on both sides of the stock that can fit spare batteries, candy, or if you want to be really intense you could keep the last bullet for yourself in there too. The Magpul STR Stock still retains the most fundamental necessities in a modern stock, which includes its retractability, QD sling attachment points and rubber butt pad so it doesn’t slip off of your shoulder no matter what type of clothing or gear is being worn.
The Magpul ACS Stock is quite similar to the STR stock in that they both have the oversized cheek welds with storage tubes beneath them. However, where the STR stock has hollowed out material, Magpul ACS Stock has an additional storage compartment that is opened by a small door on the right side of the stock. This compartment isn’t big enough to stuff a sling into but it certainly could fit a good amount of QuickClot (combat gauze) or candy like M&Ms… Maybe some emergency lube. Only downside to the Magpul ACS is that it only comes with the holes for QD attachments and not the attachment ring itself so you’d have to buy that separately.
Builders going for a M110, SR-25 type build or a faithful clone, you’re going to need the older classic A2 buttstock. It looks like it belongs with an M16 or an older M4A1 but we digress. A2 buttstocks are caliber specific so make sure you’re buying one for the correct rifle you have. They’ll either be for the AR-15 or for .308 (AR10). Once you do have your A2 buttstock you’ll realize that it came with a much longer buffer tube than you might be used to seeing. Make sure you also get the appropriate buffer weight for that which will be a rifle length. Check out our blog on AR-15 buffer weights if there’s any confusion on what you should be using.
B5’s Sopmod Stock was really the first modern stock after the M4 or LE style mil-spec buttstock. It’s a modern classic, no nonsense stock with storage compartment (although not easily accessible or water proof), 6-position retractability, QD sling points and a soft rubber butt pad for ultimate comfort. It may not be as sexy as a lot of the newer Magpul stocks but it is definitely by far the tightest stock with absolutely zero wobble or movement. They’re still being made today and are offered in a variety of the most popular color ways. No loss here if you purchase the B5 Sopmod Stock.
If you haven’t noticed yet, the B5 Sopmod has served as the design inspiration for a lot of the buttstocks that came after it. That includes BCM’s Gunfighter Buttstock, also called the Mod 0. Weighing in at only seven ounces, it’s certainly one of the lightest AR stocks on the market. It features a large button that covers almost the entire underside of the stock so when you go to adjust the position it’s basically impossible to miss it.
This is important and a valuable design so you don’t ever fumble with the stock and waste precious time doing so. There are large QD sling attachment points on both sides of the BCM stock and if you remove the butt pad you’ll reveal a door to a pretty large compartment area. Someone should make a chart on which stock can store the most Peanut M&Ms as a reference to each stock’s storage capacity.
The Daniel Defense DDM4V7 was my first AR15 rifle and to this day is still one of the best AR’s I own. Its stock furniture was super comfortable such as the ergonomic pistol grip and vertical foregrip. But eventually I had to instead install the BCM foregrip due to California gun control laws and I recently opted for a more updated, rubberized grip from Magpul, the MOE+. However, that was over the course of several years of ownership. From day one, I immediately took off the Daniel Defense buttstock and tossed it into the closet.
While it may look ergonomic and stylish, it may as well have been a fixed stock. The small release lever made it extremely hard to adjust the Daniel Defense buttstock’s position. Even if you did properly hit the release lever, it was definitely way too tight on the buffer tube to smoothly move back and forth. For those fellow DD fans out there I’m sorry but save your time and immediately get something better. The Daniel Defense buttstock is no bueno.
While there are some buttstocks that are strictly for AR10’s such as the Magpul PRS Gen 3, the Luth-AR stock, or A2 stocks for .308 — the dirty secret here is that just about any AR15 stock can also double as an AR10 buttstock. They are interchangeable as oftentimes they’ll use the same sized buffer tubes, the only difference really is the buffer spring and weight inside of it. Builders usually opt for .308 specific, or AR10 buttstocks when they plan on doing long distance and precision shooting.
What is the difference between a buttstock and a brace?
A buttstock for an AR15 or AR10 is either going to be retractable or fixed in its position. Stabilizing braces can do that too. The difference is that stabilizing braces are also called pistol braces, with their cuff attachment and velcro strap that is part of the stock-like product.
Get your next AR Stock from 80% Arms!
The best AR stock for you is going to depend on what kind of AR15 or AR10 you plan on building and what you intend to use it for. Other than stocks or braces you buy for legal compliance's sake, choose a stock that makes sense for you. Note its profile, how slim or thick it is, how heavy is it and what extra features it has that might entice your purchase. With the exception of the Daniel Defense buttstock, if you buy any of the AR stocks mentioned in this blog today, you won't be disappointed!
So are you ready to complete your build with a fancy new AR stock? Don’t neglect this part of your build. Get your next buttstock from 80 Percent Arms and let us know if you have any questions or need help. Our legendary CS team will be happy to assist via email, phone or live chat.