We expect most “First Gear” readers are sharing our collective sigh of relief over the election results. If only for a few short weeks—the antis are already vowing no respite in their savaging of a meaningful Second Amendment—perhaps we can get back to enjoying a cherished liberty as opposed to constantly fearing for it.
We might even get a Jeff Sessions-led Department of Justice that will set an example by enforcing a few more of the 20,000 or so gun laws already on the books. That way, the 99.99+ percent (that’s a real number, by the way) of us who don’t abuse our rights on a day-in, day-out basis can stop looking over our shoulders. If “they” stop lumping us in with multi-felony, professional drug criminals, gun crime and related violence might actually get reduced—what a concept! But as panicky “Hillary lost!” demonstrators are amply illustrating, fair-mindedness—to say nothing of historically demonstrable reason—has yet to descend on some 60 million of us.
Nevertheless, “First Gear” is going to celebrate a little, and in two senses of that word. “Little,” in the sense of modest, and “little” in the sense of small: Over the next several weeks, we’re building an AR we’ve long fancied. You’re invited as we fab a lightweight, small footprint, modern sporting rifle on the Stoner/Sullivan/Fremont pattern. To you initiates, that’s an AR.
For no real reason, we’re starting with the back of the rifle, which of course means the stock. We get that adjustable systems are very much the fashion at present, and certainly don’t mind them. We’ve lauded them on multiple occasions, even (here, for instance). They remove many challenges of stature and maneuverability with aplomb. We’re, ah, targeting, these in our build too.
On the other hand, we always seem to shoot our fixed-stock rifles a tad better, and a case in point is a “Frankengun” lower (with apologies to Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley) that sports—you guessed it—a fixed stock, specifically a Double Star/Ace ARFX Skeleton Stock. And we do mean fixed: Nothing we know of strikes quite the balance of rigidity, comfort and weight economy. It doesn’t hurt that it looks a little B.A., too.
If that very rigidity—and corresponding length—seems a stumbling block to our goal, we’d have to agree. The good news here is that an “entry length” version is available (7.25 inches long, as opposed to 10). It compares in length to a fully collapsed adjustable, and accounts neatly for added thickness of some military and LE gear, particularly body armor.
Which is juuuuuust a little too short for us, if you’re trying to adhere to that “nose on the charging handle” business. We’re not saying the rifle won’t shoot just fine, but as many experienced AR/MSR gents and ladies will aver, stock length has a complicated relationship with “mount” speed—height, arm length, handguard grip and head position greatly matter for the best and quickest sights/optic alignment—“Right” is right, and all else isn’t. Especially in an equation where “isn’t” equals “slow” (in our case, perhaps slower); it’s at least annoying. For a duty gun, the consequences could perhaps be much worse.
But it also happens to get us neatly to the second component for our back end—a Law Tactical folding stock adapter.
If we hadn’t already used our full quotient of conversational devices for this First Gear (like “juuuuuust” and “Grrrrrr”), we might now write something like, “Cue celestial chorus.” While keeping the rigidity we love, the Law assembly adds the length we lose on other shorty rigs. If the unfolded length is only “close” to your MSR length of pull, you can always add the ARFX pad. This allows fine tuning to within half an inch.
Arguably, none of this gets to the best part of the Law. When folded, it elegantly chops stowed length of our proposed rifle by all but half an inch of whatever stock you choose. With our shorter choice, this means not quite seven inches. On a more conventionally configured rifle, it could be close to 10.
If that doesn’t meet our “small” criteria, it’s hard to know what would.