M1A Stock Options: Pro-Mag Archangel
January 11, 2013
While there are several different wood stocks available for M14 type rifles at reasonable cost, choices in synthetics priced below $400 have been limited. At the high end we have the excellent McMillans and at the low end G.I. fiberglass but until recently there were no full length moderately priced synthetic marksman stocks available. I have often lamented this gaping hole in the accessory market.
I have fitted many of the G.I. fiberglass stocks to M1As over the last 25 years and their primary defect is flimsiness. The forend is very flexible and it bends from the weight of the rifle if a bipod is employed. I would rate the G.I. fiberglass stock as utilitarian only. Anyone requiring top accuracy would be better off with a bedded commercial wood stock. Springfield Armory supplied their basic M1As with the fiberglass handle for many years, but they must have run out of them since recent production rifles come with an injection molded plastic stock which is an improvement over 1960s G.I. issue.
A couple of months ago I received a call from Drew Kelly, Director of Marketing for Pro Mag Industries asking me to evaluate a new M14 stock they had just introduced. Honestly, I'm really not familiar with Pro Mag products and didn't know what to expect. (Disclaimer: I usually leave new product introductions to the real gunwriters at SGN and stick to gunsmithing tips but this particular item is so significant to M14 shooters I am going to cover it here.) Before I received a test stock I browsed the sites of internet vendors searching for pictures of the product and pricing. At one point Midway USA had them on sale for $207 and I had my doubts that a U.S. company could produce a high quality synthetic stock in that price range.
I have evaluated the product and test fired several rifles in it over the last few months. It is well worth the money. Constructed of carbon and glass fiber with no metal spine, it is extremely rigid. A bipod mounted to the 1913 rail molded on to the forend should have negligible effect on accuracy or point of impact. The pistol grip is near vertical with ambidextrous palm swells and contains a storage compartment for odds and ends.
The cheekpiece is adjustable for heightusing an easily adjusted wheel with detents for repeatable settings. The cheek weld on scoped rifles is about as good as it gets. Pro Mag has dispensed with the standard M14 hinged steel buttplate and replaced it with a 1-inch recoil pad mounted to a plate that is adjustable for length of pull.
One of my few criticisms of this stock is the minimum 14-inch pull length. A standard rifle has a 13-1/2-inch length of pull, and the new stock seems a bit long if you are used to shooting M1As with G.I. stocks. I may shorten the pad 1/2" on my test sample. Sling swivel studs are positioned front and rear, along with flush mounts on the sides for the push button type detachable swivels if you wish to mount a carry sling. The Pro Mag weighs only one pound more than a standard walnut stock.
While the stock is advertised as a drop-in unit, rifles I tested required a bit of fitting under the trigger housing pads so the trigger guard will lock closed. The instructions cover this eventuality. I found the stock ferrule to front band fit to be too tight on rifles with unitized gas systems, so a small amount of material might need to be removed from inside the stock in this area.
Receiver to stock fit is tight like a bedded rifle and the actions I tested all fit nicely with one exception. Springfield Armory M1A receivers made prior to 1990 (estimated) may have a ridge on the bottom right hand surface that will interfere with stock fit (see photo). The stock will have to be relieved in this area so the receiver will seat flush. The forend is deliberately designed with a downward curve to tension the barrel by pulling on the front band, moderating barrel harmonics for best accuracy.
And it is accurate. I tested standard and "loaded" Springfield M1As by firing groups with the factory stock and again in the Pro Mag stock. The accuracy of every rifle tested improved when the new stock was installed. A typical example was a standard Springfield M1A manufactured in 2000 supplied with a black painted G.I. synthetic stock and chrome lined G.I. Winchester barrel.
Aside from a unitized gas system the rifle was unmodified. Firing Federal American Eagle 168-grain OTM ammo (cat #A76251M1A) at 100 yards from the bench with a 4-12X scope produced 3 round groups in the 1-1 1/2-inch range. I thought this accuracy was outstanding for a standard rifle with a surplus barrel, but installing the Pro Mag Archangel stock reduced groups under and inch, with my best measuring 3/4". From a G.I. barrel? Wow. I was impressed. Subsequent testing of other rifles yielded similar results.
I believe rigidity is a major reason this stock shoots so well. The built in barrel tension combined with the stiffness of the carbon fiber and the general ergonomics of this stock results in an excellent product "made in USA" that M1A owners should take a hard look at.