How can you eliminate the rattling in a sliding AR-15 stock? I’ve tried several kinds, but they all rattle and make quite a bit of noise. Short of duct-taping them in place, I can’t prevent this.
It’s terrible when an otherwise good gun is ruined by a crappy stock. Thankfully there are some options out there to fix this issue.
The problem our reader is describing is the movement in a sliding AR-15 stock. The stocks are designed to be collapsible in order to accommodate all size shooters and let them properly adjust the stock length (or “length of pull”) to suit their own style and physical size. In order to make the stock slide back and forth easily the designers don’t typically design stocks with very tight tolerances which leaves plenty of space for the stock to move back and forth. There are four solutions to this issue.
Solution 1: Ignore it.
If you’ve listened to the Car Talk radio show long enough you’ll hear them mention using electrical tape over the “check engine” light for really old cars. The same solution works equally well for this situation. If the stock isn’t bothering you too much then just ignore it, as any solution will require you to spend some extra cash and break out the toolbox.
Solution 2: Fixed Stock
Collapsible stocks are great, but fixed stocks work equally as well. The Marine Corps still uses fixed stocks on their standard infantry rifles and they don’t seem to have an issue with it, and swapping out your collapsible stock for a fixed stock will eliminate any movement.
There are two options for fixed stocks, either you get a milspec stock (such as the A1 or A2 stock) that is identical to the M-16 stock, or you get a new production stock like the Magpul PRS. What you’re using the rifle for will determine which stock is best for you, as “tactical” rifles will be better suited with an A1 or A2 stock and “precision” rifles will be better suited with modern stocks. Some people also prefer the ARFX style skeleton stock that cuts down on weight and has a comfortable cheek pad.
For either option the buffer tube will need to be replaced on your AR-15 rifle. This is the black tube that your bolt carrier and buffer assembly slide in and out of when the gun cycles, and also where the collapsible stock attaches to the rifle. While collapsible stocks require the buffer tube to be positioned a certain way using a castle nut and have a boxy protrusion underneath them, fixed stocks use a smooth buffer tube that screws on flush to the receiver. After swapping out the buffer tube follow the manufacturer’s instructions to finish the installation. Total time for the fix should be less than 30 minutes.
Solution 3: Solid Adjustable Stocks
A number of manufacturers have come out with stocks that combine the adjustability of a collapsible stock with the rigidity of a fixed stock, most notably Magpul with their UBR or “Utility Battle Rifle” stock. It uses a proprietary buffer tube and sleeve system (so yes, you will have to swap out your buffer tube) along which the actual buttstock travels. The sleeve has grooves and notches that keep the buttstock firmly in place wherever you want it and doesn’t let it wiggle at all. I like it so much I put it on my competition rifle and it works perfectly. The lead image is a picture of my gun lying in a field during the 2011 FNH 3-Gun Nation Championship in West Virginia yesterday.
There are other manufacturers that have similar products that do the same thing. I know of one company (whose name escapes me) that makes stocks which are adjustable only by the use of a screwdriver and so lets people get around assault weapons bans. As a side effect it also creates a solid stock that can be adjusted and won’t move around.
Solution 4: Fix it
The last solution to fixing your wobbly stock is to fix it in place yourself, turning your collapsible stock into a fixed stock. Depending on what kind of stock you have and how wobbly it is will dictate exactly how to fix it in place, but the general process is to place enough material at the back of the stock behind the buffer tube to keep it from collapsing any farther and then liberally applying super glue to the tube before shoving the stock back on. I do NOT recommend this method, but it is an option.
IN SHORT, the best solution is to swap out your stock for either a fixed or a more solid stock. The way that collapsible stocks are designed and manufactured makes them wobble, and I haven’t come across a collapsible stock yet that uses the standard collapsible stock buffer tube and doesn’t have some major issues. There are options available, but the good ones require a little minor gunsmithing.
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