I love the fact that the AR-15 platform is as stripped down as possible. That also might be its biggest weakness. Eugene Stoner did a great job by using the buffer tube on the rear of the receiver as the attachment point for the stock, but with the recent craze of making rifles as short as possible, that buffer tube is becoming the “long pole in the tent.” Shrinking it down isn’t easy. Safety Harbor Firearms thinks that they’ve come up with a solution: the Kompact Entry Stock (KES).
The idea is relatively simple. The design of the bolt carrier in the AR-15 is intended to make it as easy as possible to clean, meaning that the bolt carrier extends all the way to the rear of the upper receiver. Slicing down that bolt carrier allows some of the buffer system to reside inside the upper receiver instead of the buffer tube, thereby reducing the length of the whole system. It’s a pretty slick solution, and the execution by Harbor Safety Firearms seems spot on.
Installing the Kompact Entry Stock means replacing the entire buffer system, bolt carrier included. The package from Harbor Safety Firearms includes a new bolt carrier (but no firing pin, cam pin, or bolt), a new buffer, and a new buffer spring in addition to the tube and stock. The buffer is smartly designed to fit into the rear end of the bolt carrier for a little more space saving.
The process to get the whole thing in place can be a little tricky, but it makes logical sense. Remove the old buffer tube, swap out the bolt carrier, then place the new stock on the rear of the receiver. To keep things simple Harbor Safety designed the buffer tube to act as the key to the whole design, locking everything in place. Once you position the stock with the buffer and spring inside on the gun you insert the buffer tube and crank it tight with the provided hex wrench. The whole thing locks solidly into place.
Instead of riding along the buffer tube, the stock is attached to two rails that slide alongside the receiver set. There’s a button on the right side that allows the stock to move into one of three fixed positions, and a cotter pin on the rails prohibits the stock from sliding free and falling off.
One issue that I ran into with this stock involves the rails. In order to work properly the rails need enough room on each side of the receiver set to move freely. This is fine for most firearms, but the only SBR’ed AR-15 receiver I had at the time when the stock arrived was my Franklin Armory receiver which had two QD cups machined into the side. These QD cups were great in the field, but they were directly in the path of the rails for this stock. Those people with non-standard AR-15 receiver configurations might want to double check that there is enough space for the rails before making the purchase.
While the stock might appear to be very skeletonized and minimalist, the fact is that on the range I felt that it was very comfortable. Despite the lack of a full length buffer tube there was still plenty of space for me to rest my cheek on what little buffer remained for a solid cheek rest. The stock felt very solid while shooting as well, none of the twisting issues that I was anticipating were present whatsoever.
The folks over at Harbor Safety Firearms have done a damn fine job here. They’ve got a solid product that reduces the overall length of your AR-15 rifle without impacting the reliability. The only real issue I have with the kit comes from the proprietary bolt carrier. The supplied bolt carrier isn’t as slick and smooth as I’d like, but since it isn’t a standard component there’s no way to swap it out. I’d love to see a nickel plated version offered in the future to fix that. Otherwise this is a solid product that works exactly as expected.
Specifications: Harbor Safety Kompact Entry Stock
MSRP: $350 [Website]
Ratings (out of five stars):
Quality * * * *
The bolt carrier is a little rough in terms of texture, but otherwise the kit is well thought out and manufactured.
Function * * * * *
It works, and it works just fine. No reliability issues whatsoever.
Overall * * * *
The KES a great solution for those looking for a PDW stock for your AR-15. It’s not quite a five star product — there are other similar stocks that look better and others that are less expensive — but it works and doesn’t break the bank. I think I’m gonna keep it on my rifle for a while.