By Rob Kay and RN Price
When our friend and collaborator Randy Terbush, founder of Forgemark Arms, suggested we look at the Vltor Emod A5, we jumped at the chance.
This is an item that’s been around for several years but we never had the opportunity to examine it up close and personal. The entire EMod “A5” Combo Kit, consists of the Receiver Extension, A5 Mid-length Buffer (standard weight), M16A2/A5 Action Spring, Receiver End Lock, Receiver End Lock Nut Plate.
Our goal was straight-forward.
We wanted a comfortable piece of furniture for precision shooting that could provide an ergonomically correct cheek weld for around $200. Having compartments that could secure ear plugs, batteries and the like was cool, but the paramount goal was comfort and utility.
Vltor says that this A5 configuration was “developed on request from the USMC” for a “future upgrade on the M16A4”. Pretty heady stuff. Their website states that the Vltor A5 configuration stock kit is not merely an “EMod stock with M4 components”, it’s a completely new operating system.
New or not, it does look strikingly similar to the B5 System’s Sopmod series which a journalist friend told me actually preceded the Vltor. I’m not implying anything untoward but they look like twins separated at birth. (B5 Systems, btw actually does have a government contract. Maybe someday we’ll look at the B5 system and compare).
The Vltor website goes onto provide a description of the specs that include a longer receiver extension with seven adjustment points, a specially weighted buffer utilizing the M16A2 action spring and a total length. (FWIW we could only find five positions. Where did the other two go?)
When totally extended (in the mysterious seventh position?) the EMod has a longer length of pull than an M16A2 stock assembly.
Vltor says that the A5 kit is perfect for piston systems but says all AR platforms will benefit by providing a foundation for accuracy and reliability. We actually did test it with a piston system and it did work well.
We suspect it would work equally well with a conventional AR upper too.
But we digress.
The company clearly has a lot riding on this potential government contract. You generally don’t make a lot of money from government contracts (they can be a pain in the rear end I’m told) but bragging rights could be a huge marketing coup.
Unwrapping the kit was, we admit, a little special. The company had taken care to pack all the parts separately, in thick plastic bags and even the threading on the buffer tube had its own special cover that looked like a coaster on a folding chair.
Aesthetically, the “EMOD” is rather unusual looking and hard to miss when you see it on the range. An oversize, rather bulbous affair, it has a big fat, juicy recoil pad on the end. The EMOD is approximately 3/4″ longer than a standard M4 carbine stock.
Apparently the founder of Vltor is a pretty big guy and presumably he designed it with big people, with long arms, in mind.
Putting the A5 system together was like putting together any other buttstock kit. We did notice that the tolerances between the stock and the buffer were pretty tight. I mean really, really tight, even after some grease was applied.
To move the stock moves up and down the tube you need to depress a flat operation paddle with your finger tips. It’s not that sexy or convenient, especially if the tube refuses to budge. We like the friction lock on the Magpul and Rogers stocks much better—they are simply easier to operate. There are two tubes for batteries and a tiny, flip open storage box (suitable for earplugs) and a steel strike plate at the bottom.
The good news is that with these tight tolerances, there wasn’t a lot of wobble, especially if the stock was slid all the way. That said, there is a teeny bit of wobble in a fully extended position—more than on the Magpul and Rogers stocks we tested.
So how does it feel?
The cheek weld on this baby is great. As good or better than any other stock we’ve tried.
Is it solid?
Military Times a trade magazine did a “bashfest” which consisted of dropping a number of popular buttstocks with eight pound weights attached to them just to see what would happen. The EMOD didn’t do too well.
According to the article: “The pin on the EMOD bent on the first drop. The stock wouldn’t adjust after that. The second drop must have sheared the pin because the stock slammed closed. With no signs of trauma, we took the battery tubes off to see if we could identify the point of failure. There were two slight cracks running up the side of the stock walls from the pin slot. That gave the extension enough room to slide over the bent, and likely cracked, pin.”
Suffice it to say, Vltor cried foul. A friend who works for another manufacturer said that the “bashfest” was rigged. We’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt. At any rate, we thought we’d get all the opinions on the table.
The bottom line is, we liked the stock. It’s expensive—a little less cosly than a Magpul UBR, but it’s lighter. We don’t know how long it will last if you drop it on the ground or run a truck over it, but for range work, especially if you like the extra real estate to place your cheek, it’s great.
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