Mission First Tactical has broken into the stock arena with their line of Battlelink stocks, which include enhanced features above and beyond the standard carbine stocks that come with most rifles, and in many ways surpass even the enhanced stocks available from aftermarket parts manufacturers.
For the longest time, the only gear riding on my rifle was Magpul, and for good reason. They make good kit. However, MFT's designs have intrigued me, because I've wanted a longer LOP (Length Of Pull) with a standard carbine stock, and I didn't want to go with a fixed stock for a carbine-length weapon. For a rifle that would have to go into close quarters (such as vehicles, rooms, or be broken up into a pack for transport), a fixed stock was not going to work for this system.
Also, I recently added a magnifier to my red dot to enhance my accuracy at range. Because of the eye relief on the magnifier, I needed to be able to get closer to the optic if I needed to. The fact that I could run the stock out longer was a bonus. Using a carbine-length system limits the length of the handguard due to the length of the gas system. I like to lock my reaction hand out as far as I can to achieve greater control of the rifle. With most stocks, the overall LOP does not give me the ability to do this as well as I'd like. I had considered purchasing a thicker buttpad for my MOE, but the MFT BULS brings everything together for my shooting style.
One of the main features of the MFT line of Battlelink stocks is the built-in mounting system for the Garmin 401 GPS unit. While I'd certainly like a GPS system for my gear, it wasn't going to be a purchase I would be making anytime soon, so the ability of the stock to mount the Garmin didn't factor into my decision to purchase this stock.
The first thing that struck me was how small and light the stock is. I don't mean it's little, it's just not as bulky as I thought it would be. After unpacking it, I was impressed with how rigid the stock is. Stocks with internal storage can have a tendency to feel flimsier as they give space over to internal storage, but the BULS feels like some heavy-duty kit. Even with items in the storage compartment, it comes out feeling a bit lighter than some of the other stocks I have in my gear locker. At the same time, the added length to the stock gives slightly better balance to the rifle, even after adding the additional optics equipment.
For those of you who are wondering, it feels sturdier than the Troy Battle Axe.
|The BULS with the storage core partially removed.|
The BULS features a flip-open storage compartment, which is filled with a foam storage core. The core has removable sections, and features a pull-tab for quick access-a smart design feature. For testing, I threw in six 5.56 rounds to see if there is any rattle or play in the storage system. As long as it's packed right, there isn't. I'll be experimenting with what other items I can store in there, but there's enough storage that you could put a LPK in there, minus the pistol grip. Currently, the compartment holds a boresnake, the Allen wrenches needed to adjust the optic mounts, and spare batteries for the optics. Not bad for a stock!
The door closes securely, and does not seem to be able to be opened accidentally, as the release tabs are almost flush with the stock. Opening and closing the stock is easy and intuitive, and works a lot better than many other storage stocks who rely on removable parts to access the storage compartment. Having a rear access door also makes getting to your gear easier than a stock like the SOPMOD, which makes you go in through the front.
|The BULS has a slim profile. Note the witness mark for setting the LOP.|
After running the MFT BSA, I was a bit thrown off by the cheekweld on the BULS. The BSA gives the user a SOPMOD-like cheekweld with its enhanced storage capacity flaring out the stock's profile. The BULS has a very slim profile, in line with the dimensions of the rifle's receiver. In addition, it has a witness mark for presetting the LOP for the sweet spot of whatever configuration you are running. As the stock has a greater OAL (Overall Length) than a standard stock, these witness marks are a great way to make sure you have your favorite length "bookmarked" on the rifle.
If I could make any changes to the stock, I would put out a model that would give a SOPMOD or BSA-like cheekweld, but that's just my preference.
On a side note, the stock is very hard to get onto the buffer tube, and takes quite a bit of strength to adjust the first few times. The instructions even confirm this, and tell the user to slide the stock back and forth on the tube several times, and the stock will wear a bit, creating a better fit. After having to really yank on it to extend the stock, I can say that this process works, and now the stock has the feel of a fixed stock no matter what position it is in. It feels as locked in as an Ergo F-93, Magpul UBR, or a STR with the friction lock engaged. The great thing about the BULS is that you don't have to remember to engage any extra locks or unlock the stock in an unconventional manner. You simply manipulate the release lever like a normal carbine stock. It's not shielded like the MOE or its equivalents, so the muscle memory you built on your old carbine stock translate directly to using the BULS. After working with the stock for the past few months, it has broken in very well, and slides easily along the buffer tube.
Shouldering the BULS is a great experience. The rubber buttpad keeps the weapon on your shoulder, and is vastly superior to the standard carbine stock buttplate. If you've ever leaned your rifle up against something and seen it slowly topple over as the stock slides across the floor, you know what I'm talking about.
In addition, the rounded toe of the stock makes bringing the rifle up to target a snap. It's not like a Duostock, where the toe creates a pre-made pivot point, but it's not engineered to be that extreme in either looks or function. What it does is allow you to roll the rifle up into the ready position no matter what position it started in. When coming up off the low ready, it allows the user to bring the rifle up in a consistent and efficient manner, with the stock constantly shouldered, even in a vest or plate carrier.
Additionally, there are several points to attach a sling in the traditional belt style, as well as 2 QD sockets on each side of the sling. MFT never skimps on sling mounting options, and the BULS is no exception.
|Stock Options: Top Left-Right: Carbine stock with BSA, standard carbine stock, Magpul MOE, MFT BULS|
As you can see from the photo above, the BULS gives a longer LOP than standard stocks, while being about the same profile as the popular Magpul MOE.
EDIT AND UPDATE 1/8/14
There have been a few questions about the LOP versus a standard CAR stock, so we took this opportunity to add a few updates.
CMMG Mil-spec 6-pos
PSA Mil-spec 6-pos
Blackhawk Mil-spec 6-pos
All the tubes must have been pretty close in spec, because the results were the same across all three lowers. The lengths are listed as collapsed/fully extended, as measured from the back the castle nut on the lower receiver. This was compared with two other stocks, the Magpul MOE and a standard CAR stock from Palmetto State Armory.
After testing the stock for over a year, we can say that it has definately loosened up a bit on the buffer tube. Nowhere near the wiggle of a CAR stock, but it slides easily on the tube now, unlike when we first got it, where it felt like you might need to mortar the rifle to collapse the stock.
The BULS has held up well, nothing has chipped, cracked, or fallen off of it. The rubber buttpad is still holding up fine, which is another point in its favor.
The four QD sling mounts are also holding up with no sign of wear or distortion to the surrounding polymer. Aside from a few scrapes and nicks from rough handling, this thing looks like it could be on a store shelf.
With all the stocks out there, an AR-15 enthusiast has no lack of choices. If you're looking for a rock solid storage stock with some great ergonomics, you should definitely check out MFT's line of Battlelink stocks.