As most of you are probably aware, I live in California. California is special in many ways, some good and some not so good. The state is beautiful and the weather is spectacular. The people here do not have a particularly good reputation for friendliness, but I suspect it is the same thing as we have every place with large cities. Living in a very densely populated area brings out the inner jerk in most of us, while the further away from a major city you get, the friendlier your neighbors are.
What is not so good about California is the politics. It is a liberal progressive’s dream come alive and the results are finally coming in: California has the highest poverty rate in the nation if you adjust it by the cost of living.
Another thing that is not so great here is the spectacular stupidity that is our gun laws. I am not going to bore you with all the details, but basically as of now, if you have a semi-auto centerfire rifle like an AR-15, you either have to register it with the state as an assault weapon (which means that you can not sell it within the state or if something happens to you, the state will confiscate it as it can not be inherited by your children) or you can go “featureless”.
Here is what “featureless” means: the cretins here in PRK who make these laws have decided that certain features in a rifle make it inherently dangerous and the public can not be trusted with them. In a nutshell, you can not have a rifle with a detachable magazine and a pistol grip (or thumbhole stock). Other things you can not have are collapsible stocks, flash hiders, bayonet mounts and forward pistol grip. If you have two or more of these features, it is an assault weapon and, apparently, (sarcasm on) if you own a rifle so configured you are just bound to head out and mow down a bus full of nuns (sarcasm). If you are trying to figure out how this makes sense, don’t. It doesn’t. Everyone knows it doesn’t. The state of California wants the citizens fully disarmed. They have, apparently decided that an outright ban is not going to work, so they are simply making owning guns in California sufficiently inconvenient to gradually chip away at it until noone here has them.
I think that their pipe dream is unlikely to come true. There are approximately 18 million gun owners in California and every time our knuckle dragging, booger eating, mouth breathing elected officials in Sacramento come up with some new insane regulation, within days someone comes up with a workaround.
Basically, everyone is going featureless and to do that, the key thing is to do away with the pistol grip. There are a few ways to do so and when you see an AR-15 in my pictures with a very funky looking stock, that is why: I had to go featureless. I have decided to experiment with different featureless arrangements, and have tried most of them at this point.
The three most developed options are, I think, Thordsen FRS-15 stock, Hera Arms CQR stock and Juggernaut Tactical (JT) stock.
FRS-15 stock sorta mimicks the handling of a hunting rifle to a good degree:
It looks a little odd, but is reasonably comfortable and gives you a good degree of control. Safety selector manipulation is a little tricky though. The deal with wrapping your thumb around the grip is, best I can tell, is as follows: if it is possible to wrap your thumb around the grip below the highest point of the trigger, you are basically a “mass murderer in waiting”. On the other hand if the shape of the grip takes your thumb above the highest point of the trigger blade (or trigger pin, I am not sure), then you are no longer a menace to society. Makes total sense, right?
Hera Arms CQR and Juggernaut Tactical (JT) stocks on the other hand retain the grip angle of the proper AR grip except without the ability to wrap your thumb around the grip:
Hera Arms stock is an integrated design that incorporates the buttstock and grip into a single unit complete with several sling attachment points and potential changes in length of pull via buttpad spacers. The small black cover on the bottom of the stock toward the back conceals a plastic Picatinny rail that can be used for alternative sling attachment points or a monopod. The CQR stock in free states is sold as a thumbhole design, but for us in the PRK, it is sold with a black plastic plate that covers the thumbhole. That plate can be removed in a non-destructive manner in a few minutes of removing screws. For people like me who go to free states to take classes occasionally, this is a nice feature. While shooting in California, you get to keep your thumb on the right side of the action, where it naturally rests on the safety selector switch (an ambidextrous safety is a necessity in this case and a short throw design makes for a more comfortable thumbrest).
JT stock quite simply retains the regular AR grip, so you can choose something that works for you. The metal part right behind the grip is an integral part of the stock, so if you move to one of the three states, you can’t easily remove it. One interesting feature of this stock is that it does away with the extension tube entirely and since it is made of rather thick aluminum, it makes for a rather smooth shooting experience without the annoying “twang” of the spring. Another interesting feature of the JT stock is that it comes with a replacement rear takedown pin that incorporates a shelf of sorts for your thumb:
That helps shooting comfort a fair bit, but makes safety manipulation a little more difficult.
On balance all three options work. I think overall I like the Hera Arms CQR the most so far on a low recoiling gun, but it will take a little more testing to be sure.
For kickers, like my 458 SOCOM, Thordsen FRS-15 has a lot to recommend itself. Being able to actually have a proper grip really helps control the movement of the rifle (when you light off a 300gr pill heading out at 1900+ fps out of an AR-15, there is a lot more movement to the rifle then you get with 5.56).
The other option that I have not discussed is simply setting up a fixed length stock (remember, in California speak, “collapsible stock”=”mass murderer”) and a separate grip that does not allow you to wrap your thumb around. The original such grip was the MonsterGrip and there are quite a few newer and cheaper versions that seemingly take a standard grip and add a fin on the back. If you like your particular grip, you can also wrap it in kydex and create a fin on the back that prevents the wraparound grip. The advantage of newer such grips and of the wrap around method is that the grip angle is the same as on normal ARs. The original MonsterGrip slants back more. I will revisit these in a little bit and post some pictures.
I am sorta attracted to the idea having a kydex wrap for one of my grips. That way, if you head out to one of the free states to go hunting or for a training class, you can remove the kydex wrap for a few days.
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