Editors Note: This is an excerpt from How to Buy an AK-47 — a recently published AK Buyer’s guide. This excerpt from the book focuses on choosing the right AR-style buttstock for your AK.
by Rob Kay
It goes without saying that most AK owners will customize their rifles in one way or another. Adding an AR 15-style buttstock to your Kalashnikov-style rifle is a very popular exercise for users who want the flexibility of a collapsible system and/or are adding a folder.
So how do you choose the right one?
When selecting a buttstock, there are two main points to consider: comfort and weight.
With this in mind, we looked at five different popular options that we think will work splendidly with your AK.
It’s become de rigueur for Magpul to be everybody’s go-to furniture. When it comes to AKs, the CTR (compact/type restricted) buttstock is a very popular option. No wonder. It’s very solid and looks good. There’s no irritating wobble that less well-engineered stocks exhibit, and it provides a good cheek weld.
The A-frame design will help you avoid snags, and the release latch, which is shielded, is a great feature. I had no accidental release-latch encounters and the friction lock ensured a rattle-free experience.
The CTR Mil-Spec model I reviewed comes with a removable 0.30-inch rubber butt pad. CTR has a larger butt pad available, if that’s what you need, but I don’t think this will be a problem, even with a 7.62x39mm AK.
If your goal is to find a reasonably priced, comfortable, well-constructed buttstock, then it’s hard to argue against considering a CTR, which weighs in at 252 grams.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is around $80, and you can get it on sale for as low as $60. Not a bad deal. As they used to say, “No one ever got fired buying IBM.” You could say the same about Magpul.
The Rogers Super-Stoc may not be as popular as other brands, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving it consideration. It’s strong, lightweight, and sports a patented “Cam-Lock” system that is designed to remove excessive play, which is all too often found on collapsible stocks.
It has a removable recoil pad, sling loop, quick detach sling swivel mount and quick release lever, which unlocks the Cam-Lock and indexing pin with one motion.
It’s also got an innovative one-size-fits-all feature — it will accommodate both Mil-Spec and commercial buffer tubes. You’d think other manufacturers might have figured this one out. But you’d be wrong.
Rogers has hit upon a product that occupies a sweet spot in the buttstock spectrum. It’s a good-quality offering that’s going to appeal to competitive shooters and range rats while occupying an affordable niche at $75.
When I first took the stock out of the box, the first word to jump into my mind was “minimalist.” It reminded me of a fish skeleton. Not an ounce of fat on this baby.
It’s comfortable, though, and the butt pad provides for an ergonomic fit on the shoulder.
The tolerance on the buffer tube is super snug. Even if the Cam-Lock is not cinched down, it’s tight. The Cam-Lock on the Super-Stoc is reminiscent of the CTR design, which also has a front-locking lever. However, the Super-Stoc is engineered differently and, perhaps, even better.
The CTR utilizes a front-locking lever that secures the quick release lever. However, the Super-Stoc’s front Cam-Lock lever serves as an additional point of contact to lock down the stock to the rifle, making the connection even stronger.
I also liked the Cam-Lock lever’s ambidextrous capabilities. It comes stock on the right-hand side but, if you want to reverse sides, it’s easy to swap out.
It’s also very durable, performing admirably in a “Military Times” review called “Buttstock Bashfest.”
The only thing it doesn’t have is as much real estate as some of the others for cheek-weld purposes, but there’s certainly enough to make it work.
This product is used by Colt on some of its government-issue rifles.
At 186 grams, it’s tied for No. 1, as least heavy.
Vltor EMOD A5
Vltor makes excellent products and its EMod “A5” Combo Kit is no exception. It consists of a receiver extension, A5 mid-length buffer (standard weight), M16A2/A5 Action Spring, receiver end lock, and receiver end-lock nut plate.
I wanted a comfortable piece of furniture for precision shooting that could provide an ergonomically correct cheek weld for around $200. Having compartments that could secure ear plugs, batteries and the like was cool, but the paramount goal was comfort and utility.
The stock bears a striking similarity to the Lewis Machine Tool (LMT) SOPMOD model (and the B5 System’s clone). Vltor says that the A5 kit is perfect for piston style rifle systems, and it worked well with the AK, which is, indeed, a piston system.
The Vltor website provides a description of the specs that include a longer receiver extension with seven adjustment points and a specially weighted buffer utilizing the M16A2 action spring. I could only find five adjustment positions. (Where did the other two go?)
The EMod is approximately ¾-inch longer than a standard M4 carbine stock. It’s designed it for big people, with long arms in mind.
To move the stock up and down the tube, you need to depress a flat operation paddle with your fingertips. It’s not that sexy or convenient, especially if the tube refuses to budge. I like the friction lock on the Magpul and Rogers stocks much better—they are simply easier to operate.
The good news is that with these tight tolerances, there isn’t a lot of wobble, especially if the stock is slid all the way.
That said, there is a teeny bit of wobble in a fully extended position—more than on the Magpul and Rogers stocks we tested.
The cheek weld is great on this — equivalent to the SOPMOD model from LMT.
The bottom line is, I liked the stock. It’s expensive but has the benefit of extra real estate to place your cheek as well as two tubes for batteries and a tiny, flip-open storage box (suitable for earplugs) and a steel strike plate at the bottom. It was the heaviest, at 391 grams, of all the ones we tested. Price for the buttstock (as opposed to the kit) is $95.
Mission First Tactical Battlelink Minimalist Stock
The Battlelink Minimalist Stock caught my eye because of its light weight and innovative design.
The “Shepard’s Hook” is eye-catching and works quite well with an AK.
At about 185 gr (with the 8 feet of braided paracord) it’s lighter than the Magpul CTR – roughly equivalent to the “super” light Roger’s Super-Stoc.
Mounting it was a bit of task. The spring-loaded pin that frees up the stock to slip in the buffer tube is short and quite stiff. Using your fingers is brutal. Instead, you’ll need a channel lock or the butt end of a spoon to shift the pin far enough to slip the tube in. Once in, there’s no rotation or slippage and no need for a lock, as on the CTR, because the tolerances are so darn close.
The model I acquired, known as the BMSMILNRAT- BMS, has braided paracord strung from the tip of the buttstock to the base. The whole effect reminds me of those triangles we had to deal with in geometry class.
For the record, the woven paracord is officially called a “NEMO Rapid Assault Team Strap or NRAT Strap.”
I must say it looks pretty cool. The strap slightly obstructs the QD mount, but applying a little elbow grease will allow you access.
Mission First Tactical succeeded in building a distinctive, light, aesthetically pleasing product. I was concerned that the Shepard’s Hook would catch on my clothing, but, to date, I’ve yet to catch it on anything.
The top side of the stock has lot of real estate — even more than the Magpul CTR. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the difficulty of putting it on and removing it from the tube. If you’re not planning on swapping it out a great deal, this won’t be an issue.
I suspect you’ll see more of these on AKs as time goes by. MSRP is $84.99 — or $60 without the braided paracord.
Military-issue gear is by definition, pretty cool. It’s been vetted and battle-tested.
The LMT SOPMOD is no exception. LMT, according to its website, “is the sole provider of the SOPMOD Buttstock to the U.S. Special Ops Command, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and other government agencies and bureaus.”
I decided to look at this buttstock because one of its clones, the B5 Systems SOPMOD, is popular with some of the top AK builders. It occurred to me that it would be better to look at the real deal—the original that the emulations are modeled after.
The stock has a very substantial feel about it. It’s made as one piece, and built like a tank. It has a great cheek weld and two watertight battery-access storage tubes that will keep the interior dry up to 66 feet. (Let’s hope you don’t put yourself in that position!) There’s a substantial rubber butt plate that reduces felt recoil and offers a no-slip surface against clothing, web gear and body armor.
As expected, there are quick-detach sling swivel mounts on either side. Installing the stock was easy and the fit was quite tight. No wobble in the least. The stock looks cool and is ergonomically correct. I can understand why they make clones of this.
If you ditch the storage tubes, which I suggest, you dock another 50 grams, bringing the weight to a very respectable 307 grams. At $200 it’s expensive, but the genuine article.
Rob Kay writes about firearms for On Target Hawaii and is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.