Barrel and sights aside, having the best AR 15 stock is perhaps the most important factor in the “getting bullet to target” equation.
And in true modular fashion, the land of AR buttstocks is vast, confusing, varied, and at times deceiving.
What stock do you need?
How do you shoot most? Prone? Precision? Fast and nasty?
Are you hunting boar or hitting paper? Are you a big and tall guy or small gal who loves 5.56?
These questions come together to form that important equation.
In this article, we will break down the best AR stocks—collapsible and fixed. We will help you decide what type and model are best for building your AR-15.
Before we get into those top 5 shoulder and cheek pillows, we will categorize some stock types and buzz words next.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
AR Stock Terms To Know
Length of Pull
Length of pull (LOP) is the most important measurement of any AR-15 stock. This is the measurement of the distance between the end of the gun’s buttstock to the middle of the trigger. If you haven't upgraded your trigger, consider doing so as well.
So what does that mean to you? A lot. Bad LOP means your arm will be too cramped and your nose will be touching your charging handle.
On the other hand, you will be too extended with poor sight picture and grasp for that fun button. This is another reason collapsible stocks are so great.
Mil-Spec vs. Commercial
No, one is not better than the other. “Mil-spec” has no meaningful connection to actual military service rifles when describing your buttstock.
A mil-spec buttstock simply uses a smaller outer diameter buffer tube (1.14 inches, to be exact) while the commercial buttstock features a larger outer diameter (1.17 inches).
The venerable collapsible AR 15 stock is universally recognized. Imagine that triangular, 6‑position M4-style buttstock and you have the basic definition.
Most collapsible stocks provide the appropriate LOP in any shooting position—standing, sitting, or prone. That is why the military uses the 6-position. They train in all shooting stances. Service members often find themselves engaging in all positions.
Yes, these are different from “collapsible stocks”. They generally have adjustment features that let you tweak your cheek riser and butt pad. These are great for all-around shooters or guys and gals who need the most precisely tuned shooting position possible.
The fixed AR 15 stock is actually an homage to the original service rifle configuration that inspired the civilian ArmaLite Rifle. If you have seen any classic Vietnam films, you know what the OG fixed stock looks like.
It is that strange, wedge-shaped, axe-looking thing. Today fixed stocks offer loads of benefits and features for the AR 15. Make no mistake, the fixed stock is not a simple tool. It has its purpose. We will get into that now.
Best AR 15 Stocks - Top 5
Come on, are you surprised? Is the MOE boring and simple? Maybe. But is it one of the most bought and sold stocks, backed by a load of popular demand? Absolutely.
The Magpul MOE is the true modern-day M4 stock, through and through. It is literally just a skeletonized M4 collapsible stock that is a bit more comfortable.
It features a slightly improved butt pad profile that finds home more quickly against your shoulder. It also features a rubber pad that helps with grip and recoil mitigation.
The MOE is tight, offers plenty of LOP adjustment from 10.5 inches all the way up to 13.8 inches. You can also get the fixed stock version as well, which is very popular.
The adjustable and fixed versions can be purchased in mil-spec or commercial spec diameters.
It comes in plenty of colors. It is aesthetically pleasing, easy to install and operate, and provides plenty of real estate for a good cheek weld.
Oh yeah, it is very affordable at just $40. Unless you are stuck on building an M4 clone, go with the MOE.
This MOE stock is simple to use, easy on the wallet and provides comfort without reinventing the wheel.
This one is easy, folks. If you want an AR 15 stock that is as primordial and simple as possible, the MFT Battlelink Minimalist is your top choice.
This little guy takes all the original functionality of the USGI M4 stock and puts it into an even simpler, lighter, smaller profile without sacrificing that USGI stock’s level of comfort and stable cheek weld.
You are getting an adjustable LOP, a sling mount, and a non-slip angled butt pad. All these features make getting into the high-ready easier and quicker.
On top of that, you are getting a relatively comfortable yet simple cheek weld in a similar fashion to the USGI M4 stock. However, the beauty here is how small and lightweight the MFT is.
At just 6 ounces, it is perhaps the lightest weight stock on the market. It may be the slimmest one available, too.
This unique hybrid stock is technically adjustable, but it is also a fixed stock. If you are a prone or bench shooter that wants perfect sight picture and a rock-steady stance without turning your AR into a paperweight, the MBA is the one for you.
This stock can be mated with a standard A1/A2 round tube; however, it will not fit an adjustable tube. It also includes the old-school A1 buttstock screw to attach it to your rifle.
The MBA provides plenty of comfort with the adjustable cheek riser, which offers an additional inch of height for big optics and precise lenses.
The MBA is made from strong glass-filled nylon, weighing just 1.25 pounds. This is certainly on the lighter end of fixed stocks that include cheek risers.
An optional and comfortable butt pad offers an additional 1 1/6 inch LOP, so there is still some wiggle room if you desire.
The MBA-1 certainly looks cool if you’re after style points. It can be had for just $140. That is a lot cheaper than most other fixed stocks with adjustment capabilities.
First off, this thing looks cool as hell and functions even cooler. It completely changes the profile and operation of any standard AR 15 by way of an included standalone, shortened buffer tube and custom bolt carrier group with buffer spring.
The biggest selling point of the PDW Stock is its size. It will cut the total length of your black rifle by 3 inches more than a fully collapsed M4 stock. That is more than any other stock or buffer assembly including AR pistols available.
The PDW offers the traditional 6 positions of adjustment with LOP ranging from a minuscule, fully retracted length to a useful 12 inches.
When fully extended you will be obtaining your cheek weld atop the shortened buffer tube. To us, it feels similar to the original M4 stock’s weld.
The PDW Stock offers full cool guy points when extended thanks to two steel guide rods in lieu of a traditional buffer tube. At the end is an aggressive, one-piece aluminum butt pad.
To be sure, this thing is made for maximum grip, but surprisingly it not uncomfortable.
The PDW is made for maximum utility and compact carrying. It is probably one of the most rugged, well-built butt stock systems available for the AR. The price reflects the fact that it is high quality.
Depending on sales that you might find, you can expect to drop anywhere between $350 and $450 on this kit.
That is a big pill to swallow, but if you want one of the most bada** AR stocks on the market or if you are building the most compact SBR possible then this one is a must have.
If you are a believer in taking the original M4 stock that just worked great and making it basically perfect, then pick up the Magpul ACS Carbine Stock.
A true successor, the ACS features a comfortable cheek weld thanks to its beefed-up, pushed out, rolled sides. An integrated butt pad is minimal but offers grip and a hint of recoil insulation.
The butt pad profile measures a robust 8 inches at centerline, providing plenty of support for your shoulder without feeling cumbersome or intrusive.
The stock is made out of a tough polymer that we think could actually be used as a crude Billy club if you are black on ammo.
The whole thing weighs just 14.1 ounces.
The LOP adjusts with a nifty friction lock to keep everything free of wiggles. The full closure LOP measures 11.6 inches. The full extension is 14.9 inches so you have 3.3 inches of adjustment.
Two nifty little features we love are the compartments hidden inside the cheek rests and the small lid compartment in front of the butt pad. The cheek compartments offer enough space for two AA batteries on each side.
You could be creative and tuck away some cleaning kit bits and baubles like a bore snake or brush. The smaller compartment allows space for lower receiver springs, ear buds, or retaining pins.
The ACS is designed with a sort of “hybrid” profile. It looks similar to most M4-type buttstocks, but it provides plenty of under-cheek grab like a clubfoot stock.
If you are a prone shooter and like to hold your stock with your non-firing hand while your rifle is benched or rested, you will appreciate this subtle design cue.
In summary, the ACS provides huge improvements to the already-great M4 stock. You will appreciate the improved comfort, sight picture, and utility in any shooting stance.
Professional cool guys, SEALs, and operators use the ACS. You will enjoy it, too. We feel it emulates and improves upon every aspect of the original AR, making it an easy #1. It can be purchased for around $90 and is the best AR 15 collapsible stock.
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