Gunstocks: Getting A Handle

By Chris McLoughlin

Aftermarket Custom Additions For Rifles & Pistols

The notion that a gunstock is little more than a handle for a piece of ordnance is quite a simplification, but it is accurate nonetheless. As handles, stocks do not generally change the function or the overall dynamic of guns whether they are pistols or shoulder weapons. Rather, they function as does any other handle in that they make the device that they are attached to ... handier, and in several ways. Here we look at two examples of gun stocks, one for a rifle and one for a handgun.


The UARS (Ultra Accurate Rifle System) is a joint effort combining the talents and insights from well established sources in the small arms world. Rich Jee’s and Ted Yost at the Gunsite Training Center, Inc. and Will Von Gall of Autauga Arms, Inc. have collaborated to form Innovative Design and Engineering Associates, Inc. (IDEA). This entity will manufacture and market the hard anodized aircraft grade T6061 aluminum rail and the high density thermoset uruthane (a super plastic composite) units. The first of these will be made for short action Remington 700 series guns, to be followed by Winchesters, Savages, and eventually a variety of high quality bolt action rifles.

In what can best be described as a very user-friendly kit, the UARS system does not require the services of a gunsmith to custom fit and tune the arrangement. Ted Yost, Gunsite’s master gunsmith-in-residence, has fine-tuned the ease of installation aspect for this as a part of his contribution to the project. The shooter begins by removing the bolt and disassembling his barreled action from its factory furniture. He then mates the barrel and action to the UARS stock after tending to the magazine and follower, and seats the action against the rail. The final assembly step is merely tightening the two supplied screws to secure the action to the stock. The screws are set for metal-to-metal attachment to preclude any possibility of stripping out of a softer material; it is recommended that they be checked to be in the range of 45 - 60 pounds of torque. Properly fitted, which is almost a “drop-in” procedure, and the barrel is completely free floated. The deed is done in about five minutes using ordinary tools and without the help of a custom gunsmith or professional woodworker. There is no call for epoxying or other special attentions to the barrel.

The effect of the UARS is consistent accuracy and enhanced efficiency of the shooter with his weapon. The stock itself, the handle of the system, is streamlined and ergonomically designed. At the forend there is a provision for a sling and there are several attachment positions for mounting a bipod. A multiple synthetic-material spacer system and recoil pad allows for adjustment of the length of pull and assures a positive gun-to-shooter fit.

Major John Plaster, a highly respected combat precision rifleman, training officer, author and military historian, invited several arms journalists to Gunsite for early test and evaluation shooting sessions with preproduction prototype samples of the UARS units. In his own testing of the UARS, Plaster, who has been aligned with Gunsite since 1992, reports that he has cut his group sizes by up to 50%. Further, Plaster notes that when installed on a tuned, sharpshooter grade bolt gun and using match ammunition shots grouped another 16% tighter. Additionally contributing to the appeal of the UARS system is the fact that the low bore axis and the advanced ergonomics reduce the felt recoil by an estimated 25%. This alone makes the system significantly valuable for hunters, target shooters, and law enforcement precision riflemen.

Ted Yost, who has worked on the project since its inception, is an accomplished rifle shooter himself and he notes that he is able to watch bullets strike the targets under his aim. My own expertise with shoulder weapons is not as profound as Yost’s, but I was very well pleased with my own results in shooting with the UARS. My best grouping of two serials of three rounds measured less than the length of my index finger and could be covered by it. The UARS is indeed a handle for the gun and in no way is the bolt action impeded by the exotic lines of the stock. Recoil was notably softened, and I found myself to be quite comfortable behind the gun. I liked that aspect and the exotic yet practical look of the UARS, and the fact that it is lightweight yet feels robust.

Gary Johnston, a well respected rifleman in his own right and a credible arms journalist, had even better experiences with the UARS. After setting the trigger on his Remington 700P to break at 2.5 pounds, he fired a 0.30 inch three shot, one hole group at 100 yards using Federal 168 grain 308M ammunition. Later in the day Johnston fired a five round serial in ten seconds and the group measured exactly one inch. In subsequent experimentation with the UARS using various brands of ammunition and in different bullet weights, his groups were recorded at under 0.5 inches. In all the UARS stocked Remington 700P delivered a 40% - 50% accuracy improvement over the factory stocked gun.

As Will Von Gall of Autauga Arms puts it, “... we may see the whole industry move incrementally in this direction.” It will be a step forward, and with the UARS leading the way.


In certain sectors of Europe it is permissible to add a quickly detachable shoulder stock to a handgun without bringing suspicions of clandestine activities to mind. In the U.S. it is permissible to have an arrangement like this for a handgun, but there is a lot of paperwork involved to keep the result within the parameters of the law. The compliance licensing process is somewhat tedious and distasteful, and that will often serve to make certain hardware seductively enigmatic and all the more desirable to those who are “challenged” by administrative regulations and reporting details in general.

If you were in Europe in a country known for cheese, timepieces, pocketknives to disassemble virtually anything, cleanliness and neutrality, say Switzerland for example, you might want to make time pay a visit to Franz Schlafli at the Schlafli & Zbinden Gun Shop (at Morgenstrasse 148) in Bern. By any standards in the world, the S&Z shop is quite a repository of exotic hardware. Their inventory includes Bulgarian Makarov pistols with the original sound suppressors, spare threaded barrels for Berettas, Glocks, Colts, CZs, H&Ks, SIGs, caliber conversion kits, “schalldampfers” (suppressors) for small arms including everything from AUGs to Skorpions, integrally suppressed Ramline .22 pistols, and a range of “vollautomaten” (full automatic) and “halb automaten” (semiautomatic) pieces, Steyr SPPs, 32-round magazines for Glocks, and hundred round C-mags from the Beta Company, all in good supply. But today we address their proprietary line of quick detachable stocks for Glock pistols.

The stock units that S&Z markets for these guns are much more than a simple wood or plastic wedge that somehow clumsily attaches to the grip frame. The S&Z stocks are well designed devices which slip into the open section at the rear of the pistol grip area of the full size guns including but not limited to the Model 18, Glock’s select fire piece. Manufactured on a milling machine, these stocks are made of a heavy grade of aluminum and they are hinged to fold in half for compact storage and portation.

The shoulder piece or butt plate is curved to fit comfortably to the shoulder contour and ribbed to help preclude slipping when the piece is fired quickly. The construction is lightweight at less than a pound, but the device has a substantial look to it. Folded it is about a foot long, and extended it measures just under 18” which is regarded to be in the optimum overall length range for a stocked pistol.

With the stock in place the function of the pistol as a reactive instrument is significantly compromised. The stocked pistol’s role for military or law enforcement deployment now reclassifies it to an offensive weapon much like a machine pistol (MP) - which is distinctly different from the submachine gun (SMG) or tactical carbine (TC). That noted, the stock can be carried separately and attached to the pistol in a matter of seconds when the situation allows the time such for preparation. In place and extended, the stock does not require the adjustment of your well practiced and familiar firing grip on the weapon to accommodate it. The stock does serve to greatly stabilize the handgun in action, thereby enabling more precise shots over longer ranges. Further, positive effect is created for second and follow-up shots which may become necessary should situations get way out of hand. None of this is to say that a Glock - or any other pistol for that matter - decked out with a detachable shoulder stock can replace a submachine gun or tactical carbine in its properly selected situation, but it does add a dimension to the pistol that might be of value if not interest to certain police and law enforcement agencies.

In summary, whether for a rifle or for a handgun, a specialty stock from a competent aftermarket manufacturer, one whose business is grounded in shooting disciplines, does take any small are to a new level of efficiency. For rifles, it’s not a problem, but if you’re going to stock a pistol pay the transfer/making tax for a Short Barreled Rifle so that you can’t be touched by the long arm of the law. (See SAR Volume 1, Number 10 for an article on filing a Form 1 to manufacture an NFA type firearm)

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N8 (May 1999)
and was posted online on May 13, 2016


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