I’ve made several modifications to my AR-15 over the years. Well, to be more specific, I’ve changed every single part on the damn thing. I’ve put thousands of rounds (at least 8,000 in the last year and a half) through this gun. I’ve dropped it, kicked it, thrown it on the ground in frustration, fired it with lube and without, with irons and optics, at close and medium range. And I’ve gone through several stocks in that time before finally finding the one I loved the best. That one is the B5 Systems Enhanced SOPMOD.
Like most civilian AR-15 shooters, I started with a basic, 6-position collapsible stock. It was what came on my Smith and Wesson M&P15R. It was fine as a start, and allowed me to change the length of pull though it rattled a bit. When I expanded my armory, I picked up a chipped UTG 4-position stock for a few dollars. It has a commercial diameter buffer tube, rattles a bit, and is honestly, not the highest quality on the market. On the other hand, it’s simple and extremely compact. I ended up giving it away as part of a basic carbine I built for my brother.
For a while, I ran a fixed A2 stock on my rifle, wanting the rigidity as I concentrated on more accurate shots at range. I loved the solid feel of the stock and the ability to store my cleaning kit within it. Seeking to have an even more advanced stock for longer range shots, I installed a Magpul PRS, though I ended up selling it, as I disliked the additional weight it added to the carbine. As a side note, I used the money from the PRS to buy a Geissele SSA-E trigger, one of the finest I have ever used.
Ultimately, I decided on a carbine stock, though I went with a Vltor A5 buffer system (without the Vltor buttstock). While I disliked the weight of the PRS, I was impressed with the quality of the construction. I considered a Magpul CTR stock, as I liked its friction lock and the tight feel it imparted to the stock system.
After careful consideration, I ruled it out for the simple reason that I’d been using a collapsible M4 stock for years and the muscle memory was already well ingrained in my responses. The CTR has a slightly different operating system (the stock adjustment control is within the “triangle” of the stock). My hand automatically went to the outside of the triangle when seeking to adjust the stock, rather than inside. For a shooter just starting to shoot the AR-15, I would heartily recommend the Magpul line. In fact, I used one when constructing a carbine for my best man. But for someone who is used to the traditional method of operation, this could lead to confusion at a critical juncture.
I had read a lot about the LMT SOPMOD stock, and liked the reviews I saw. This design is also known as the Crane stock. However, the price was (and is) outrageous. I firmly believe that products which have an NSN number (officially used by the military) tend to be overpriced.The reason is basically, ” The SEALs use SOPMOD stocks, therefore you should be willing to pay an exorbitant amount of money for one.”
I don’t drink that Kool-Aid.
But the stock was reported to have very little to no wobble (a feature I lusted after), to be very robust, and have internal storage compartments. I dreamed, but couldn’t bring myself to buy $200 piece of plastic.
So imagine my joy when a company called B5 Systems got a contract to produce the SOPMOD and decided to break into the civilian market. Their stock is at a significantly lower price point; $89 versus the $199 charged by LMT. The stocks are nigh identical. Both meet the US government specifications for the SOPMOD stock. In fact, the B5 version has a QD sling attachment point, which the original LMT did not.
So let’s get down to the features of the B5 SOPMOD. First is the solid lockup that you experience with it. There’s no wobble. The stock itslef has a sloping shape, which gives the user a much better cheek weld than the M4 stock. This is of great importance to me, as I find that I shoot more accurately and more consistently with a reliable, comfortable cheek weld.
Other stocks also have this feature, including the Magpul ACS (and ACS-L), the Magpul STR and the Vltor IMOD and EMOD. I didn’t choose the Magpul stocks for reasons already provided. As to the Vltor stocks, I shied away from them simply because they tended to tear out my facial hair (whiskers get caught in the teeth of the stock storage compartments).
The B5 SOPMOD has two water-tight storage compartments. You have to remove the stock from the buffer tube to access them, but they are locked solidly in the stock and there’s no danger of them rattling loose. I’m a big fan of storage space on a rifle. Because I’m so scatter-brained and prone to leaving things behind when I go out to the range, the storage options are a great asset. I currently have in these compartments a front sight adjustment tool, two AA batteries (for my Trijicon SRS), and a carbon scraper to clean the bolt carrier. In order to eliminate rattle, I have a few earplugs stuffed in there as well. If someone made a cleaning rod with shorter segments, I’d fit that into one of the storage compartments. And yes, they really are water-tight.
Different users like different stocks. It’s not my place to tell you what you should purchase. That said, the fact that I’ve stuck with the B5 SOPMOD, even after trying a host of other stocks, should tell you something. I regularly receive AR-15 components and accessories for review and I can say with a straight face that there’s really not another stock out there that I’m dying to replace my B5 with. Truth be told, I haven’t even considered requesting another stock.
Well, maybe B5’s new Bravo SOPMOD….
By Allen Cosby/53GR Images