The part of a gun that provides structural support and helps to aim steadily by holding it against the shoulder is called a gunstock or stock. The stability of a gun’s aiming depends on it. Gunstocks reduce recoil by transmitting the force evenly into the body.
If you use an AR-15 or M16 rifle, you already know that there are different stocks available for these guns. For the AR-15 and M16 guns, the A1 and A2 stock are the best. However, there are a few key differences between the A1 and A2 stock that make them distinct from each other.
The A1 vs A2 stock debate is ongoing for a long time. The difference in opinions about these stocks may confuse people. Without knowing the differences between them, you should not choose either.
In this article, we will discuss the differences, usability, and suitability of the A1 and the A2 stock.
All You Need to Know About The A1 Stock
The A2 stock has been the favorite of many soldiers for a long time. Here is a detailed breakdown of the A1 stock and the things you should know before deciding to own one.
Build and Characteristics
The A1 stock was the standard for the army a long time ago until the Vietnam war, which was replaced by the A2 stocks after the war. The A1 stocks are short and light stocks that are made of fiberglass-filled polymer. The A1 stocks are solid and do not have a trap door for the storage of a cleaning kit. The A1 stock is 9 ⅞ inches in measurement. The top screw of the A1 Stock is ⅝th of an inch. The A1 stock does not have a plastic spacer.
The A1 stocks are also considered to be very durable. Before the war, the A1 stock was standard and they were changed only to suit the newer training systems but many veterans still consider using the A1 stock due to its reliability.
The main characteristic of the A1 stock is its 9 ⅞-inch overall length (OAL). An AR-15 or an M16 rifle with an A1 stock will have a 12.8-inch length of pull (LOP).
The A1 stock is generally preferable for younger shooters or shooters with shorter heights. The butt plates of the A1 stocks are not checkered, they are plain polymer, some are rubberized.
The A1 stock is preferred by many people for its ergonomic overall length (OAL). The 9 ⅞” length makes it a very suitable stock for usage in quick battles or closed positions in combat. The length also makes it easier for shooters with short statures. The compact design means that the recoil will be evenly distributed when shouldered against the shooter’s body.
For younger or shorter shooters and female shooters, the A1 stock is the best choice. Even taller shooters may find it useful in some cases, especially if they have relatively shorter arms.
The length of the A1 stock also means that it will not be suitable for most taller shooters. Also, the lack of storage space may make it undesirable for some people. The butt plate is not checkered. The build of the A1 stock is durable but the build material is not as durable as newer products.
All You Need to Know About The A2 Stock
The A2 stock can be summarized as a slightly modified version of the A1 stock. A detailed breakdown of the A2 stock is presented below for your consideration.
Build and Characteristics
The A2 stock was adopted by the army as the standard stock in 1985. It is made of DuPont Zytel glass-filled thermoset polymer, which is more durable than older polymers. There is a built-in trap door on the A2 stocks. The overall length of the A2 stock is 10 ½ inches which means that it is ⅝ inch taller than the A1 stock and the top screw of the A2 stock is 1⅛ inch.
The taller 10 ½-inch overall length (OAL) means that the rifles with A2 stock have a length of pull (LOP) of 13.5-inches. Because of their length, a plastic spacer is mounted to suit their length. The A2 stocks are made of more durable materials and they are also lighter because of their newer and advanced polymer material. The trap door present in the A2 stock helps to carry a cleaning kit or similar equipment.
The A2 stock features a checkered butt plate, unlike previous iterations. There is also a plastic spacer present in the A2 stock.
The A2 stock is preferred by taller people and more seasoned veterans because of its length. It is suitable for prone shooting and they are the most preferred stock for target practice in the firing range or competitions. The built-in trap door also gives the shooter a space to store a cleaning kit. The durability of the A2 stock is greater than that of other stocks because of its advanced polymer grade build material.
When it comes to choosing the right stock for a shooter, the overall length (OAL) and length of pull (LOP) matter the most. The 13.5-inches length of pull (LOP) might not be suitable for a lot of people. The longer length of the A2 stock requires a longer butt top screw, using a shorter butt top screw may result in non-optimal performance.
For people over 6 feet height, the A2 stock may be a good choice, but for people with shorter arms, it will not be comfortable to use and the recoil will not be distributed as evenly.
Comparing A1 vs A2 Stock
Comparing the features, build, components and use cases between the two types of stocks is the only way to figure out which gunstock would be more suitable for you. So, in this section, we will be comparing between the A1 stock and the A2 stock.
The designs of the A1 stock and the A2 stock are similar but still, they are quite different from each other in regards to their ergonomics and design elements. The difference in build material makes a lot of difference in regards to how they feel to hold. The more rugged design of the A2 stock feels sturdier in the hand.
The builds of the A1 stock and A2 stock are very different from each other. While the A1 stock is made of the older fiberglass-filled polymer, the A2 stock is built from the newer and more advanced DuPont Zytel glass-filled thermoset polymer, which means that the A2 stock is more durable and feels lighter than the A1 stock, despite being longer.
The A1 stock is durable but not as sturdy as the A2 stock. The rubberized butt plate on the A1 stock is more comfortable to use than the A2 stocks checkered butt plate.
The main differentiating factor between the A1 stock and the A2 stock is their overall length (OAL) and their contribution to the length of pull (LOP) of the rifle. The A1 stock is measured to be about 9 ⅞ inches and the A2 stock is ⅝ inches taller than it, which means that the A2 stock is 10 ½ inches in length. An AR-15 or an M16 rifle will have a 12.875-inch length of pull (LOP) with the A1 stock and a 13.5-inch length of pull (LOP) with the A2 stock.
This difference in their length is one of the main causes of all the debate surrounding the A1 stock and the A2 stock. Some prefer the longer length of pull (LOP) that the A2 stock provides because of their height and taller arms while others prefer the shorter and easier to use length of pull (LOP) of the A1 stock due to having a shorter height or preferring the easier maneuverability of the A1 stock.
The shorter height of the A1 stock provides easier and more comfortable grip and reduces recoil from shots and they are generally suitable for shorter shooters, younger shooters, female shooters, and tall shooters with shorter arms.
The much taller height of the A2 stock is well suited for veterans and people with taller heights and longer arms. Taller people generally will not be comfortable with the shorter length of the A1 stock and so the A2 stock seems like a clear choice for them.
The components of the A1 stock and A2 stock are another area where there is a drastic difference. The A1 stock lacks components such as a trap door or a plastic spacer. The trap door in stocks is a useful little compartment where the shooter can store a cleaning kit or something similar in size. The A1 stocks are solid and they do not have trap doors in them but the A2 stocks have built-in trap doors.
Similar to the trap door, the A1 stock does not have a plastic spacer either while the A2 stock includes a plastic spacer due to its taller length giving it more space. The butt plates of the A1 stocks are polymer-made, some A1 stocks have rubberized butt plates.
The butt plates of A1 stocks are not checkered but the A2 stocks have checkered butt plates. The top screws of the A1 stocks and A2 stocks also differ in length and so these screws are not interchangeable.
When it comes to usability, the A1 stock and A2 stock have a few key differences. The A1 stock has been developed and used since a long time ago for its quick maneuverability and its ease of use. The A1 stock is arguably better for combat and close-range firing. However, it is not great for prone shooting or competitive use cases. The shorter length of pull (LOP) plays a part in its quick usability.
The absence of the trap door in the A1 stock means you will not have easy access to the cleaning kit. The A1 stock even works better with LC-1 web gear than the A2 stock. Some say that the A1 stock also is the preferred option with flak jackets.
On the other hand, the A2 stock is much better for target practice and competitive shooting than the A1 stock due to its longer overall length (OAL). In actual combat, the A2 stock is relatively worse than the A1 stock because it cannot be maneuvered as easily. The added storage cell is a nice way to quickly access the cleaning kit.
How to Choose Which Stock is Right for You
The A1 stock has been reliably used by the army until the Vietnam war. After the war, the A1 stock was modified and the A2 stock was born. Most modern guns come with the A2 stock nowadays but many people still prefer the A2 stock over the A1 stock.
The ⅝ inch difference between the overall lengths between the A1 stock and A2 stock may not sound like a huge deal, but in reality, this small change makes for a drastic difference in the usability of these two stocks. The shorter A1 stock will be perfect for younger or new soldiers as they can get comfortable using a proper AR-15 or M16 rifle.
If shorter shooters are paired with the longer A2 stock attached M16A2 rifle, they will have trouble maneuvering the gun. This is also true for female shooters as females have relatively shorter hands.
In actual real-life combat scenarios, the A1 stock is a better performer than the A2 stock. An M16 or an AR-15 with an A2 stock is troublesome to wield inside an armored vehicle where there isn’t a lot of space to move around and maneuver the rifle. For quick firing and combat in closed areas, the A1 stock is clearly the better choice.
The A1 stock is more fragile than the A2 stock because the A2 stock has more advanced materials. The build is better on the A2 stock and its extra length is great for sharper accuracy and prone shooting. For tall shooters with long hands, the A2 stock will be the optimum choice.
For competitions, the accuracy of the A2 stocked rifles is higher. Target shooting is another area where the A2 stock shines brighter than the A1 stock.
People wearing tactical gear have difficulty using the A2 stock, sometimes missing the target completely. For taller people, the A2 stock can be a great choice. Although the A2 stock is great for prone shooting, most of the time in actual combat, you will not be shooting from the prone. The ⅝ inch difference also makes a huge difference to how you shoulder the rifle and depending on your shooting posture, the A2 stock might not be for you.
In general, The A1 stock is preferred for most people. The durability may be lower than the more advanced A2 stock, in real combat situations, the A1 stock is a better choice. However, if you are choosing the stock for use in competitive scenarios, then the A2 stock will be a better choice since it can be shouldered more steadily. In general, the A2 stock is relatively better for a calm and slow firing.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
- Sometimes, the height or the length of the arms of the shooter may not matter due to the kind of training the shooter has received. If the shooter has been trained with the A2 stock despite being relatively shorter or younger, it’s possible that he would feel more accustomed to the A2 stocked M16A2. Similarly, a six-foot or taller shooter may prefer the A1 stocked AR-15A1 if that is what they have been using for a long time.
- The stance of the shooter also impacts their choice of gunstocks. The A2 stock was developed to be used from the prone position. The longer length of pull (LOP) makes the A2 stock a better choice for target shooting. However, if the shooter is shooting from the grass, in closed spaces, inside buildings, or anything in general that is not a firing range, the A1 will be the better choice.
- If the shooter is wearing military gear such as body armor, then the A1 stock will be right for him or her. Using the M16A2 rifle has resulted in a lot of missed targets for some, even in the firing range. The A1 stock works better with the body armor as the shooter can instantly pull the rifle up, aiming it at the enemy while entering a stance that puts the body armor in line of a possible attack, instead of weak spots.
- The A1 stock and A2 stock are interchangeable and they can be used on both the M16 and the AR-15 rifles. The A2 stock does have some extra components such as the plastic spacer. Also, keep in mind that the top screw of the A1 stock and the A2 stock are of different lengths. If the wrong butt top screw is used, the function of the buffer tube may be damaged.
The A1 vs A2 stock debate has been going on for a very long time. The proper choice should not be based on opinions alone. The usability and use cases for both the A1 and A2 stock should be the main consideration.
The subtle differences between the A1 and A2 stock impact the performance of the shooter. This article covers all the best use cases, differences, and also details the suitability of the A1 and A2 stock.
So, while choosing the correct gunstock for you, keep in mind the explained details and choose the proper gunstock to maximize your performance.