Lost in a sea of go-fast bits for the AR-15, its aftermarket support rivaling that of the Honda Civic, your humble TTAG scribe stumbled upon Adaptive Tactical’s EX Performance Adjustable Stock. Okay, so this thing is filling a unique niche with a big, squishy recoil pad and a street price of a scant $35. Let’s check it out . . .
A big recoil pad for an AR may seem silly at first glance, but this platform isn’t limited to the mild-mannered .223. Nor are AR-15 receiver extensions (buffer tubes) even limited to AR-15s. These days everything from shotguns to AK-47s to bolt-action, magnum caliber rifles are equipped with a good ol’ AR buffer tube, and for the very reason of compatibility with an endless breadth of replacement stock options like the EX Performance here.
Seen above, I chose to slap this stock on CMMG’s ANVIL, an AR-10/AR-15 hybrid that’s in for testing (review next week). The ANVIL’s .458 SOCOM chambering ensures enough recoil for the shooter to notice. For example, Underwood’s 300 grain JHP load makes 2,405 ft-lbs of energy, which is double that of a typical 55 grain .223 and it’s pushing a projectile with 5.5 times more mass.
Adjustment? Check. It fit the ANVIL’s Mil-Spec receiver extension properly (note: verify whether you have a Mil-Spec or Commercial Spec tube, as the diameters are not compatible) and solidly locked in all six available positions. Adjustment was smooth and easy, with what I’d call an appropriate balance between snug fit for limiting wiggle and sufficient clearance to avoid sticking. There’s wobble, but it’s less than with a parts kit M4-style stock.
The rapid adjustment lever is easy to use, and the large tabs at its front provide simpler removal/installation of the stock as compared to the narrow steel cross pin found on many other stocks. The adjustment pin that indexes into the receiver extension holes is “oversized extra strength” to accommodate heavy recoiling calibers.
A bolt-in, steel QD cup comes installed on the left side, but can easily be swapped to the right. At bottom, just in front of the recoil pad, is an attachment point for a standard sling swivel mount. No specific slots for a sling strap exist, but the open area under/in front of the QD cup can be used with a strap-style sling.
On the range, the first thing I noticed was a surprisingly nice cheek weld zone. It doesn’t really look like anything to write home about, and the obvious mold flashing along the top is a blemish, but the diameter and shape is very comfortable.
This one’s hard to quantify, but you know how some plastic feels really hard and cold, and some has a slightly warmer, more rubber-like feel? The EX Performance stock’s polymer is closer to the latter. Again, it feels better on the cheek than expected.
Less of a surprise: the recoil pad soaks up recoil like the soft rubber honeycomb trampoline that it is. While .458 SOCOM in a semi-auto ain’t 12 gauge from a lightweight pump, after another 100 rounds of reliability and accuracy testing through the ANVIL’s factory Magpul CTR stock, switching over to the EX was like a day at the spa.
The EX’s soft rubber recoil pad also provides plenty of gription on the shooter’s shoulder; it won’t migrate on you even with the thump of an AK, a .308 AR-10, or a semi-auto 12 gauge. Or mag dumps of 500 grain .458 SOCOM. Its curve also fits just right, finding a natural home where it belongs on one’s body.
Comfort and control lead to confidence, which means better shooting. It may be overkill for an AR-15 in .223/5.56, where something lighter would be a more typical choice, but with myriad larger calibers to choose from in the AR-15/AR-10 platform and more and more non-AR firearms accepting AR stocks, the Adaptive Tactical EX Performance Stock brings solid functionality and comfort to the table at a cut-rate price.
Specifications: Adaptive Tactical EX Performance Adjustable Stock
Fits: Mil-Spec AR-15 receiver extensions
Weight: 0.8 lbs
Made in USA
MSRP: $49.99 (street price about $34.95)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Fit * * * *
It strikes a nice balance between getting rid of slop — wiggling less than a parts kit M4 stock — and still adjusting easily. If I had it my way, though, I’d take it one notch closer to a wiggle-free fit.
Comfort * * * *
The recoil reduction afforded by the squishy, rubber pad is excellent. The cheek rest is comfortable and has a nice shape to it, though an overmolded rubber section would be the trick to five stars.
Finish Quality * * *
It’s absolutely fine at this price point, but obvious mold flashing prevents a higher rating. Fit of the recoil pad to the polymer stock is good, but not perfect.
Value * * * * *
There’s a lot of junk at this price point — when anything can be found in the sub-$35 range — but the Adaptive Tactical EX stock is not junk. In fact, it’s well-made, fits properly, and does what it’s advertised to do, while generally looking, feeling, and functioning like a more expensive piece. It even offers some “extras” vs. the quality products in this price range (e.g. Magpul MOE), like a steel QD cup, oversized removal tabs, that cushy recoil pad, etc.
Overall * * * *
It’s a heck of a lot of stock for the money, and it really excels at taming the felt recoil of hard-hitting calibers. For small shooters, beginners, and the generally recoil-averse among us, it would even do well on a .223/5.56. Anything to make shooting more comfortable can help to reduce flinch and increase enjoyment, which is a great thing. Short of mold flashing that I have since taken a razor blade to, it’s a five star stock for the price. Considering that okay finish and the bit of wobble on this particular buffer tube, though, it crosses the line at four stars…albeit a strong four stars.