The 9 Best AR-15 Stocks Available in 2023
Stocks are one of those things that are often overlooked among novice builders. Though they may appear peripheral, the perfect buttstock upgrade can quickly take your AR-15 from good to great in terms of versatility and performance. In this article, we will be listing what we've found to be the best AR-15 stocks currently on the market.
What to Look For
Buttstocks come in several stylings that we will be outlining shortly. While there are certain styles that might be better suited for a specific use case, choosing the right buttstock will ultimately come down to what feels the most comfortable for you, both when firing and when carrying. What you should be most concerned about is how the stock feels on the two key points of contact when moving into the firing position: specifically, your focus should be on where your shoulder presses against the buttstock and where your cheek rests (cheek weld). Ensuring these points of contact feel both comfortable, natural, and secure will translate to greater accuracy and getting your sights on your target faster.
As mentioned above, the use case for your AR is another important factor to consider when choosing a stock. Heavy-duty durable stocks are necessary for extreme environments, and the overall weight of the stock is important if you will be carrying your AR over long distances. Fancier adjustable stocks with added features can be good when you’re searching for a tailored fit and feel or when multiple people with different specifications might need to use the same rifle; while a stock intended for a home-defense rifle will do just fine with a bare-bones design.
These are all basic considerations, but we will be expanding on these ideas as we examine different stock types and go through our list.
A Note to Readers From the Editor: While we've of course done our best to help you find the best AR-15 stock for your needs, it's important to note that buttstocks are one of the most individual-specific parts of an AR-15 rifle. We're all built differently, so what's most comfortable for a tall lanky person is likely going to be different for me, a shorter/"stouter" person (damn you genetics!).
Even things like face shape and head size plays a large role in this. With a rounder face, I'm likely to find slimmer designed stocks more comfortable than those of you with thinner faces.
All this is to say that you might simply need to try out a few different options before you find what's most comfortable for you. However, this article should help you get started in the right direction.
AR-15 Stock Types
Fixed Stocks - This is the most basic type of stock, patterned off of the original M16 design. Fixed stocks offer minimal options as far as adjustments and special features are concerned. Occasionally, they will feature compartments for small item storage, but the focuses for fixed stocks are durability and effective performance
Collapsible Stock - Collapsible stocks allow you to adjust the overall length of the stock (length of pull). This can be helpful for tailoring the stock to your body frame, when changing firing stances, or for when you are carrying layers of gear that might be pressed between you and the stock. Collapsible stocks generally offer the minimum level of adjustability needed by serious shooters—such as those using their firearms in tactical scenarios, elaborate hunting trips, or in some cases, competitive shooting.
For quite some time, you've been far more likely to find an AR-15 with a collapsible stock than you are a fixed stock.
Adjustable Stocks - These stocks offer more adjustable options than collapsible stocks. In addition to an adjustable length of pull, adjustable stocks often have adjustable cheek risers, butt pad length adjusters, and sometimes include compartments for small item storage. These stocks are great for getting the perfect fit and for getting a single rifle to fit several individuals of varying body types.
Minimalist Stocks - These stocks are designed to be as compact and lightweight as possible. They typically come with a fixed or a collapsible design, but their adjustability and special features are secondary to simply keeping a low profile. Minimalist stocks are a great choice for long hunts or military situations.
Folding Stocks - As the name suggests, folding stocks can fold up to make carrying and storage much easier. While this is indeed convenient, folding stocks are often outlawed in states with stricter gun laws, so be sure to find out the laws of your land ahead of time.
Due to the fact that the AR-15's buffer system is housed within the receiver extension/buffer tube that the stock fits on, folding stocks present a challenge to make for the platform. We will, however, cover some folding stock adapters that were designed specifically to combat these issues.
These are most commonly seen on short barreled rifles (SBRs) and AR-15 pistols, the latter of which uses a pistol brace instead of a stock.
The Best AR-15 Stock List
We'll be starting our best AR-15 stock list with some of the more budget-friendly options before moving into highly adjustable, but also more expensive options.
Magpul is a household name in the AR-15 world for their magazines and rifle furniture, including their line of buttstocks. The company's entry-level stock is the MOE (Magpul Original Equipment) stock.
The MOE stock features the same reinforced polymer A-frame design as its more expensive big brothers, but with a greater emphasis on minimalism and lightweight efficiency. It doesn’t feature any storage compartments or adjustability options, but it lives up to Magpul’s quality standards where it counts: the MOE’s .30” rubber buttpad, simple sling mounts, and shielded release latch get the job done, plain and simple.
The Magpul MOE comes with the added benefit of weighing only 8 oz.
It also features the same 3.3” length of pull range as Magpul’s more expensive models. As far as aesthetics are concerned, all Magpul’s stocks come in 5 different color options: black, flat dark earth, gray, olive drab green, and pink.
At $40, the Magpul MOE is a great budget or entry-level stock with obvious improvements in performance, durability, and comfort over standard-issue counterparts.
Bravo Company BCMGUNFIGHTER Stock
Bravo Company set out to make the strongest lightweight stock available and in my mind did a pretty great job with the BCMGUNFIGHTER stock. The stock weighs just 7.5 oz, but feels more solid than some other lightweight options. This is due to the lack of extremely thin sections seen other lightweight stocks.
This stock was clearly designed for battle, as are all BCM products. It offers a snag-free design, ambidextrous QD sling mounts, and a slot for traditional sling attachment.
It's available at Brownells in both black and flat dark earth
You can also get this stock as a part of BCM's Stock Kit and pair it with BCM's Lower Parts Kit. We cover both of these in our best lower parts kit review.
Mission First Battle Link Minimalist - Editors Pick
While this stock may not be one to take to battle, I'm a huge fan of it and it's my pick for the best lightweight AR-15 stock.
For starters, it weighs just 5.8 oz, which has led to it being very popular with lightweight AR-15 builders. Despite being the lightest stock on our list, it actually has a wider buttpad and better cheek weld than either of the two previous options (see the picture below).
In addition to being wide, the buttpad angle is great. The extra angled portion at the bottom really makes it easy to shoulder your rifle and get on target quickly. It almost "rolls" into position. Finally, the texture of the buttpad is great and deeply textured in all the right places.
Aside from being slightly flimsier than others and likely a bit easier to break, I have one major issue with the stock: The QD mount is at the bottom, while I think a position like the BCMGUNFIGHTER's is superior.
Battle Arms Development Lightweight Butt Stock
We lied! The Mission First Minimalist stock above is not actually the lightest on our list... That's because it's tough to even call this next one a stock, though try arguing that to the ATF!
The BAD Lightweight Butt Stock (LBS) is about as minimalist as you can go, as it's essentially just a buttpad that attaches to your buffer tube.
Do you want to pay more for less materials? Do you want to lose the collapsibility found in just about every other AR-15 stock?
Well you can do all this and reduce a whopping 2.63 oz compared the Mission First stock by choosing the BAD LBS!
Despite my best infomercial pitch, I don't think I'll be rocking this option anytime soon.
With that said, those of you that are super devoted to building the lightest AR-15 possible may want to give this a look.
You also may want to check out BAD's lightweight receiver set, which I actually do think is pretty awesome.
Strike Industries Viper Mod-1
We actually haven't tried out the Strike Industries Viper Mod-1 yet, but are about to change that!
It appears to have gone a bit more extreme with the angled buttpad of the Mission First Minimalist stock (what we loved about it), while also fixing the issue of where the QD sling mounting points are. The QD cups on the Viper Mod-1 are on the sides, as opposed to the bottom.
This collapsible stock weighs 6.6 ounces and has an overall length of pull from 11.25” to 14.25”.
The Viper Mod-1 advertises an enhanced cheek weld and comes in 5 different colors schemes, with black and flat dark earth serving as the base colors, complemented by red and blue. It’s easy to install over standard-issue buffer tubes and comes with ambidextrous sling sockets for easy adjustments.
The Magpul PRS GEN3 Precision-Adjustable stock is often considered to be the best AR stock on the market. This stock is intended for serious shooters and offers a level of adjustability and enhanced precision unmatched by any of the other stocks on our list. But be warned, this comes at a price, as the PRS will set you back a couple hundred dollars.
With that said, the PRS lives up to its price point. Everything from its precision adjustment knobs to its cheek weld are just a step above the competition in terms of quality and design. The length of pull and cheek piece height adjust via aluminum knobs, and the rubber buttpad is also cant and height adjustable.
The QD sling is linked to rotation-limiting swivel cups, and there are also patented M-LOK slots on the bottom for rear monopod and accessory mounting.
The PRS is heavy, weighing in at 31.12 ounces, but there isn’t much to find fault with in this stock. It’s as top of the line as they come, and if you don’t mind the added weight or the high price tag, it’s well worth the investment.
Let’s turn our attention to the Magpul STR (Storage/Type Restricted) stock. This storage-capable stock lacks some of the advanced features of the PRS, but still features an ergonomic cheek weld, a smartly placed shielded operation lever, and a balanced, reinforced polymer A-frame design.
The STR has two sling loops and a reversible push-button QD sling mount. The buttpad is made from .30” thick textured rubber that can be easily upgraded if you feel so inclined. The stock also has a water-resistant battery storage tube capable of holding two AA batteries. The tube is accessed by simply removing the rubber plug set in the rear.
The STR cuts down on weight dramatically compared to the PRS, weighing in at only 12.3 ounces.
Its total length of pull adjustment range is 3.3 inches, same as the PRS.
All in all, the STR effectively meets the best-in-class standards set by Magpul at a price point that won’t break the bank.
Luth-AR Modular Fixed Buttstock Assembly (MBA)
The Luth-AR Modular Buttstock Assembly (MBA) is designed to offer shooters maximum adjustability and comfort, while still keeping to a reasonably lightweight build. Not only is the length of pull fully adjustable, but it also comes with an adjustable ambidextrous cheek rise. It’s made with a super strong glass-filled nylon and is held in position with a specialized anti-rattle set screw. It also features a Picatinny rail along the base. For those looking for further customization, Luth-AR also offers a separate buttplate that fits easily over the stock.
The MBA comes in either black or flat dark earth, weighs right around 10 ounces, and at $132, doesn’t require you to break the bank.
$87.99 at Optics Planet
Prices accurate at time of publishing
Fab Defense GL-MAG M4 ‘Survival’ Buttstock
You’ll notice right off the bat that the Fab Defense GL-MAG isn’t your run-of-the-mill stock. It’s got a unique look, but what’s most interesting is that it comes with a built-in 10-round magazine carrier—pretty awesome. The mag carrier has an easy-to-use quick-release button and is smartly set in such a way that it won’t be distracting when moving the rifle into a shouldered position. The overall design of the stock is sleek, and all the curved surfaces ensure that you won’t encounter any unnecessary snagging.
The GL-MAG is made with fiberglass and reinforced with polymer composite. Fab Defense offers several buttpad replacement options if you are interested in further customization.
Best AR-15 Folding Stock Adapter
Unlike other weapon platforms, the AR-15 design does not naturally lend itself to having a folding stock. This is because the buffer spring and weight are housed in the buffer tube/receiver extension that the stock fits on.
If you want a folding stock on an AR-15, you need something clever to solve this problem—which brings us to the Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter.
Law Tactical AR Folding Stock Adapter
$269.99 at Brownells
Prices accurate at time of publishing
The LAW Tactical AR Folding Adapter allows you to attach your buffer tube to one side of the folding adapter, while the other side attaches to your lower receiver and houses a bolt carrier extension.
As you would probably expect, you can NOT fire with the stock folded, because then your buffer system wouldn't be in contact with the bolt carrier extension.
What really sold me on this AR-15 folding stock adapter is the fact companies like Daniel Defense began using it as part of complete rifles. An example is shown in the Daniel Defense MK18 below:
Hopefully you found this guide helpful!
Our personal choice for the best AR-15 stock is the Mission First Battle Link Minimalist. We like it because it's lightweight, has a wide buttpad and good cheek weld. It's also one of the more affordable options on the market.
If you're building a rifle with an emphasis on long range precision shooting, you'll likely want to go with a stock that offers more adjustability. For this purpose, the Magpul PRS and Luth-AR MBA are great options.
Mission First Battle Link Minimalist
Need help finishing your build. Check out this complete AR-15 parts list that includes all of our recommendations.