One of the most important parts of a rifle is something that is often overlooked – the stock. Rifle stocks are one step you can take to customize your firearm to exactly fit the shooter and the uses of the gun. Let’s take a look at some different parts and types of rifle stocks. Read on!
What is a Rifle Stock?
A Rifle Stock is also known as a shoulder stock, buttstock or just the “butt” of the firearm. The receiver and firing mechanism as well as the barrel are attached to the stock which is held against the shooter’s shoulder when fired. The stock of the rifle allows you to firmly support and aim your gun.
Rifle Stock Anatomy
Rifle Stock Anatomy. Photo Credit – Gentleman’s Digest
It is important to know the parts of the rifle stock to help understand what type of stock will work best for our rifle and chosen application of said rifle. As shown in the diagram above, the parts of the rifle stock’s anatomy are mainly the butt and forend with the butt having a comb, heel, toe and grip.
The butt of the rifle stock is the part that is held into the shooter’s shoulder. Oftentimes with larger caliber rifles you will notice padding added to it to reduce felt recoil.
The comb of the rifle stock is the top of the stock where the shooter will rest our cheek to sight down the barrel or optic. Comb is very important as it puts the shooter’s eye into the perfect spot for aiming and eye relief for the optic.
Grips on a rifle stock are fairly self-explanatory. This is the part the stock the shooter’s hand holds keeping the butt tight into the shoulder.
A forend of the gun stock is where the shooter’s supporting arm holds the rifle up and maneuvers with the gun to aim it towards the target. It will be important to have a forend with excellent grip that fits the shooter’s body well.
Rifle Stock Construction
Rifle stocks can be made of many different materials and in many different styles. Ask yourself what type of climate you will be shooting in and the purpose of the gun. For instance, extreme temperatures often experienced in big-game hunting could potentially cause wood to warp, so a composite of some nature might be a better choice. Let’s take a look at a few of the material options.
Hardwood rifle stocks can vary greatly in accuracy and are susceptible to changes in temperatures, warping etc. When selecting a hardwood gun stock try to find one in a type of wood that is extra dense and hard. The softer the wood, the more prone to warping, shrinking/expanding and cracks the rifle stock will be.
A Curly Maple Hardwood Rifle Stock. Photo Credit – Accurate Shooter Bulletin
If we want a fancy, beautiful rifle stock we’ll be able to find a hardwood stock in nearly every exotic wood you can think of, making this a great choice for a displayed weapon as well as a great choice for a hunting rifle. Prices can vary from $50 into the thousands.
Laminated wood has a very high accuracy potential and is more resistant to changes in temperature and humidity because it is multiple layers of wood glued together and then sealed. This glue binding agent repels moisture and because we aren’t dealing with the natural grain of the wood we don’t have to worry about weak points that can eventually crack usually.
Laminated Rifle Stock. Photo Credit: Eabco
One thing to keep in mind with a laminated stock is that they can be heavier than the other options – one reason you see these stocks on benchrest long-range rifles. Laminated rifle stocks can usually be found under $500.
Injection Molded Synthetic
Injection Molded Synthetic rifle stocks are usually amongst the cheapest we can buy. These gun stocks are produced by injecting molten plastic in a mold. While these stocks might seem appealing due to price there are several drawbacks.
Injection Molded Synthetic rifle stocks are not stronger or lighter than most wood gun stocks and their strength and stiffness can diminish as the thermoplastics used heat up in the summer sun or from the heat of shooting. Less rigid rifle stocks can have effects on accuracy.
An Injection Molded Synthetic Rifle Stock. Photo Credit – Sportsman Guide
Composite rifle stocks are what you will usually see on high-end and military weapons. These are made from resin-soaked fabrics and powders put into a mold, compressed and allowed to cure. Composite Synthetic gun stocks can be made from various materials such as fiberglass, engineered fabrics or carbon fiber.
Composite Synthetic Rifle Stock. Photo Credit – Recoil Magazine
Rifle Stocks made in this manner and from these materials will often have reinforced stress points with something such as Aluminum. Lightweight, rigidity and chemically inert are the pros of these stocks but be prepared to shell out big money for them.
Bolt Action Stock vs AR Stock
Bolt-action rifles have an endless amount of options it seems but the AR-15 does as well. In general AR-15 stocks are Composite Synthetic or Injection Molded stocks. Typically AR-15 stocks are much more adjustable than your average bolt-action rifle stock. Remember that the AR platform of rifles are incredibly customizable to the shooter and their needs so the stock is going to be no different!
Retractable AR15 Stocks
Quite possibly the most common gun stock you will see on an AR is a retractable stock. This stock can be extended and retracted to fit the shooter’s size, length of pull, etc. With the flip of a lever or push of a button, the stock on your AR15 can be extended. Makes for a handy storage solution too! We like this one from Magpul here.
Fixed AR15 Stocks
Fixed AR15 stocks are what you might see on a vintage pre-ban Colt, similar to the M16 from the Vietnam-era in many cases. Obviously, if this works for a particular shooter more power to them. Modularity is the point of the AR-15 however, so it seems a bit silly not to have a more versatile gunstock. Nonetheless, many people like them. Check one out here.
AR15 Pistol Braces
AR-15 Pistols. Be careful with this one, as our beloved and revered ATF would like nothing more than to wreck your day at the range because you put a stock on your AR pistol, thus creating a Short-barreled Rifle. Thankfully, a pistol brace exists. A pistol brace is meant to be strapped to your arm to stabilize the pistol. Yes, you can shoulder a brace still. Sound stupid? Yeah, that’s because it is.
Left: A stock. Right: A pistol brace. Photo Credit – Shwat.com
Featureless AR15 Stocks
Continuing our trip down Stupidity Lane, we reach peak absurdity. In the United Soviet Socialist Republic of Cali… Errr. Sorry, we meant, in California, some lawmakers got a hair up their booties to make rifles “Featureless.” Not even going to speak about this anymore, we’ll just let the pic speak for itself. Sorry California.
A “Featureless” AR-15. Photo Credit – Caligunner.com
Shop Modulus Arms’ Butt Stocks
The gun world can be a huge rabbit hole when looking for compatible parts. We hope this helped give you some ideas for your next build or upgrading your current rifle! Don’t forget to check back often for helpful articles, tips and tricks etc! Looking for an AR-style stock? We’re slowly but surely expanding our inventory. Check out some of our favorites under parts & accessories! Until next time!