Friday, June 11, 2010

Mako Recoil Reducing AR-15 Butt Stock With Cheek Piece Review

Mako Stock Review, GL-SHOCK Review, GL-SHOCKCP Review, AR-15 Buttstock Review
Over the past few months I have been adding accessories to my older Colt AR-15 Sporter II.  One of the accessories I added was a UTG 6 position retractable stock.  I decided to go with this stock mainly because it was an inexpensive route for getting a M4 buffer tube assembly.  The stock itself is very plain and I had intentions of swapping the stock eventually.  That leads me to this review.  The Mako Group (Mako from now on) has just released a new product on the market.  It is their Model GL-SHOCKCP Revolutionary Recoil-Reducing AR-15 Butt Stock And A Cheek Riser (that's a mouth full).  There are a couple of things that I was very interested in trying out, such as the recoil reducing feature and the cheek piece.  I'm 6' 2" and 215 pounds, so recoil doesn't bother me on a .223 rifle, but this stock is supposed to be a drop-in replacement on a M4 buffer tube.  This means I could possibly swap it out on a AR-10 style rifle or shotgun in the future.  The other feature I liked was the Cheek Riser.  Since my AR-15 has a carry handle, my optics are always so high that I never got a cheek weld with the standard A2 butt stock.  That is why I decided to get the Mako GL-SHOCKCP stock and do this review.  You can purchase this stock from Mako for $119.05 plus S&H.

When you get your stock, you're going to see that Mako doesn't spend a lot of money on packaging or instructions for this product.  To be fair, none is really needed. The stock is durable (which it should be) and installation is simple (details later in the review).  The next two photos show the stock in the package and then the opposite side of the top of the package.  Throughout this review, if you click on a photo, it will bring up a higher resolution image.

The next set of photos show the stock after you take it out of the bag.  My first impression was that it is a solid piece of hardware.  There are no parts that rattle and it has a good look and finish.

To access the battery compartment, you push down on the lever shown in the right photo above.  While pushing down, you then slide the removable rubber butt pad down and off the stock.

The rubber butt pad is locked in place with a tapered dovetail slot.  When locked in place, it is firm and has no rattle.  I also like the rubber tread pattern and texture of the pad.

To remove the battery compartment plug, you pull out on the dovetailed portion of the plug.  There is an o-ring around the plug which makes a very tight and waterproof fit.  I actually had to pry with the back of my knife blade to get it to start moving and then it popped out.

As a test, I decided to check the waterproofing of the battery compartment.  I ran water over the plug for about 3 minutes while angling the stock so that water was pouring directly over different sealed areas.  When I removed the plug, I couldn't find any indications of water inside the compartment.

The battery compartment is designed to take two AA or two 123A batteries.  The photo below shows that there is a small ridge about two thirds down the battery compartment that prevents the 123A batteries from dropping in further.  Also this ridge helps reduce rattle for the longer smaller diameter AA batteries.

The photo below shows a AA on the left and a 123A battery on the right.  One thing I did not like was that after you reinstall the battery compartment plug, the batteries rattled inside the compartment.  If Mako could incorporate two small springs on the bottom of the cap, this could be fixed.

I decided to solve this rattle problem by placing an ear plug on each battery and then reinstalled the cap.  This actually worked nicely.  The cap was easy to get back into place.  For some people this rattle may not be a big deal, but for me, I'm a freak when it comes to rattles.  An example is that I usually wrap tape around my batteries on flashlights to help the fit inside the flashlight tubes.

The photo below shows the cheek riser in it's full extended position.  The two molded thumb nuts on each side of the stock are used to adjust the height of the cheek riser.  The riser will adjust up about 1.16".  There are no specific adjustment increments, so it is infinitely adjustable through it's range.  I was very impressed with the fit and smoothness of the cheek riser.  With the thumb nuts loosened, it slides up easily and then after snugging the nuts, the riser is held firm in place.  The thumb nuts house regular metallic nuts which have a locking feature (nylon I think) so that even when the nuts are loose, they will not rattle off. 

If for some reason you decided you did not want the cheek riser and also wanted to drop some weight out of your rifle, the riser can be easily removed.  The weight of the riser and mounting bracket is 2.78 ounces.

The weight of the GL-SHOCKCP without the cheek riser installed was 10.58 ounces.  This is slightly heavier than the stock it is replacing which weighed in at 7.55 ounces.  Considering the fit, battery compartment, butt pad, and the capability to install a cheek riser, I think it is worth the weight.

To install the stock, you grab the back sides of the lever and pull down until the locking pin is flush in the slot as shown below.  Then you can slide the stock over the buffer tube.  Also notice that the pin is all the way forward in the slot.  This slot allows the pin to be up and locked in the buffer tube and then allows the tube to move back when the internal spring inside the stock is compressed due to the recoil of your rifle.

Since this stock is a drop-in replacement that will fit both mil-spec and commercial buffer tubes, all I needed to do was remove my old stock and slide this one on my commercial buffer tube.  This is where I ran into an issue.  It seems that my commercial buffer tube was on the high side of the tolerance band and this was causing a tube/stock fit that was clearly too tight.

For those of you who are not familiar with the differences between a mil-spec and commercial buffer tube, a mil-spec buffer tube outside diameter should be between 1.145" to 1.150" and a commercial buffer tube outside diameter should be between 1.163" and 1.173".  You can see a good comparison of these two by checking out this link and viewing a comparison diagram.  The GL-SHOCK stock is designed to fit both, with the tighter fit being on a commercial tube.

I contacted Mako and was able to provide my information to their engineering department.  Mako engineering then did a thorough investigation and decided to tweak their mold to allow a better fit for commercial buffer tubes which seem to be coming in on the high side of the tolerance band.  Their investigation also revealed that most of these types of tubes were imported and that they had not run across this issue on any US made commercial buffer tubes.  If for some reason your commercial buffer tube and GL-SHOCK is too tight similar to my situation, you should contact Mako and they should be able to swap your product with an updated version.  Mako is sending me a new stock so that I can evaluate the fit against my larger buffer tube and also to evaluate the recoil reducing feature.  I will discuss both of these further in this review.

With my original stock now installed on my rifle, I decided to compare the different positions of the stock with reference to my old A2 stock.  The length shown for each position is shown from the edge of the lower receiver to the back top of the butt pad.

Position 1 - Length 7.75"

Position 2 - Length 8.50"

Position 3 - Length 9.25"

Position 4 - Length 10.12"

Position 5 - Length 10.88"

Position 6 - Length 11.45"

If you plan to use the stock in Positions 1, 2 or 3, you will get binding of the charging handle if the cheek riser is all the way down.  You can see this binding below with the stock in Position 1.

The first position that the charging handle does not lap over the cheek riser is Position 4 shown below.

If you are using the cheek riser, you may not have any issue with the charging handle if the riser is high enough for the handle to go under.

To evaluate the cheek riser height, I installed an older scope that I had sitting around my gun room.  Believe me, this is not my final optics choice for this rifle, but it has been a good scope for over 30 years.  I found the cheek riser a welcomed addition.  Over the years I have had other scopes on this rifle and have removed them because I didn't like the feel of not having my cheek on the butt of the the rifle.  I can already see that I'm going to start looking for a worthy scope for this rifle.

Up until now, I have done the review with my original stock which had the tight fit.  As you may have noticed in some of the photos, there are wear marks that are being formed on my buffer tube.  Also, I applied graphite and then finally a spray silicon to reduce the friction when moving the stock into it's different positions.  The combination of surface finish wear and lubricant has greatly helped reduce the tightness of the stock. Over time they may break in like a baseball glove and produce a great fit.

After a couple of weeks, Mako sent me a new stock based on their modified mold to allow more clearance for commercial buffer tubes.  I'm very impressed with how fast Mako jumped on this issue and were able to provide a newly manufactured configuration.  There is no visible difference between the stocks, but there is clearly an increase in size of the buffer tube area to allow a much better fit for the commercial tubes.  The new stock drops on a mil-spec tube and functions nearly like any other stock when changing positions.  What I mean by nearly is that it actually functions better because Mako has integrated spring acting tabs that will press against the buffer tube to reduce any free play (rattle) which may exist.  You can see these tabs on both sides of the locking pin in the photo below.

When I put the stock on my commercial buffer tube, it still has a snug fit for my tube, but this is my preference.  It is not so tight that making adjustments takes an act of congress, but it is snug.  This will vary per buffer tube because there can be tolerance differences.  I measured my tube and it is on the high side of the tolerance band.

The next feature to evaluate is the recoil reducing feature.  Just to be clear, when I talk about this recoil reducing feature, it is in terms of "felt recoil".  Felt recoil is your perception of the recoil.  The addition of springs helps spread the recoil over a longer period of time which gives the rifle a softer feel and thus less felt recoil.  For more information on recoil, you can read this article from Wikipedia.

To evaluate the recoil reducing feature, I installed the new updated stock from Mako. I did have some doubts on it's effectiveness with my standard 55 grain (1293 ft.lbs. @ muzzle) plinking ammo and felt like I would need to shoot some heavier bullets to really feel the difference.  I ended up getting a couple of boxes of BVAC 75gr HPBT Match ammo.  This ammo has a muzzle energy of 1261 ft.lbs.  On paper, these two cartridges seem nearly identical when you compare the muzzle energy, but I know that the heavier bullet will give a slightly increase recoil based on my experience.

The big issue I had was how to really measure the reduction in recoil without it becoming just my opinion.  Since the stock recoil reducing feature is based on spring compression, I decided to try and see how much spring compression I was actually getting when I shot my rifle.  The final (cheap) way I decided to measure the spring compression was to set up some markers at different increments along the travel of the locking pin.  I setup a series of strings along the path of the locking pin.  The strings were attached by tape to the stock.

The first photo below shows the stock in the initial position (before compressing the spring).  The second photo shows what happens to the string around the pin when I compress the stock to the first horizontal string above the locking pin.  The third photo shows what happens to the strings when I press the stock to the second horizontal string.

After shooting the 55 grain .223 ammo, I could not see any change in the string around the locking pin, which tells me that the recoil reducing spring was not compressed due to the recoil of this ammo.

Next I switched to the 75 grain .223 ammo.  The photos below show the before and after condition of the strings when shooting the 75 grain ammo.  You can clearly see that the string in the after photo is no longer tight around the locking pin.  This means that there was a slight spring compression, but you can also see that the spring compression was not as far as the first horizontal string when you compare to the photos above.

Before                                                            After

Since I don't own a fully auto rifle (yet), I'm limited to making shots at the rate of me actually pulling the trigger.  I tested this with a couple of three round quick shots and achieved the same results.  What does all this mean for the recoil reducing feature? The bad side is that I don't think this feature will make any significant difference on a standard (not auto) .223 rifle.  The good side is that anything with more recoil than a .223 will see a real reduction in recoil (compression of the spring).  If I had a buffer tube on one of my shotguns, I would drop this in and check it out, but at this time I don't.  Based on my results, I have no doubt that this would reduce felt recoil on any larger caliber.

Bottom Line:
I would consider this stock to be in the higher end category.  When you consider the fact that it has waterproof storage and a cheek riser, and then compare the price to others on the market, I believe this stock provides a good value.  Since it is already a good value without the recoil reducing feature, I consider this feature to be a bonus.  Just because the recoil reducing feature is not very effective on a standard (not auto) .223 rifle doesn't mean it can't be swapped out in 30 seconds to a .308 rifle (AR-10 style) or shotgun which will have more recoil.


  1. Thank you for this posting, it has helped my final decision to try one of these stocks.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to review and post on this product. I am going to purchase this stock because of your honest review.

  3. I think you will be happy with this stock. I'm still very pleased with it and will one day put it on an AR-10 platform to take advantage of the recoil reducing feature.

  4. Thank you for this detailed review. I am concerned about the stock riding the charging handle.

  5. Thank you for doing a review of this product from the perspective of and with the techniques of an engineer. As a Mechanical Engineer myself I found this review very through and plan on getting one of these stocks for my LR308.

  6. I have a spikes buffer tube along with this stock. I love the stock but it is in no way close to being a snug fit. Any suggestions on how I might change this?

  7. The accepted fix is using a commercial tube.

  8. Thanks for the review. This will go well on my m1a.

  9. This confirms my research on this stock for my lower build project. Since I will be using this on my Bushmaster 450, I expect the recoil reduction feature to come into its own on that caliber.

  10. Thank you so much!!! I promise the time you spent here has saved me time and money. I'm going with this stock. 1. A true non interference cheek riser 2. most bang for the buck! Now only if every manufacture would do what you have done.
    P.S. make sure you do your research when buying this stock. There is a couple different models that look the same.
    Thanks, Bill from Northern Kentucky <--- best state EVER!

  11. Does it have a feature that cinches to the buffer tube? the amount of play in the standard adjustable stock is annoying. I am referring to how the stock can twist clockwise/counter clockwise a few degrees as well as rattle.

  12. I've read that the Mako Group cheek risers can be a bit wobbly when they are raised and you are looking down the sights (I assume they're plastic). Have you had any issues with them as far as wobble goes?

  13. I have not experienced any issue, but honestly I rarely use the cheek piece. At the moment I don't have a scope on my AR.

  14. I just put one of these on my Doublestar Carbine and it is so tight, I can't hardly move it. I guess I am going to be getting in touch with Mako. Other than that, I like it.

  15. Got a 7.62 x 39 upper for my AR. After a day at the range I would come home practically punch drunk. I picked up this stock from Natchez (best price). It's like shooting a 5.56 now.

  16. Excellent review. Text and pics most helpful. I was kicking around pros and cons of this, Magpul ACS and Vltor EMID. Your review sold me. Purchased a gl-shockstock for my LR308 just today. Cheek riser should be the ticket for Leupold MarkAR on PEPR. Now an adjustable gas block to tame the BCG slamming and it'll be good to go. Really appreciate this review. Thanks.

  17. I do have this stock on my M-500 and it will soak up 3" 00/000 Buck and 2 3/4" 1oz slugs like a champ. The felt recoil doesn't change much but the impact to the body is greatly reduced. Right now I am considering the cheek rest because I cannot get solid cheekweld with my ghost rings much less a reflex or red dot sight on my shotgun. You have definitely convinced me to go through with the purchase.

  18. Great review! I am going to order one.

    BTW: if you want the recoil spring to work on lighter loads, pull out the spring and replace it with one that has a lower spring constant (defined as the number of inches of compression divided by the amount of force applied to it (lbs). For example: if the original spring compresses 0.25 inches when you apply 5 lbs of force to it, the constant would be 0.05 in/lb. you can find spring suppliers on the web. Buy one of the same diameter and length, but with a lower constant. Contrary to popular belief, cutting the original spring will not give you good results.

  19. Can you use a Recoil Buffer (Piston) with this Stock? If so what model # of Recoil Buffer? Thank You

  20. Since this stock is designed to fit on a mil-spec or commercial buffer tube, a pistol style recoil buffer which is a drop in replacement for the normal buffer should fit inside the buffer tube. I don't have any experience with the piston style, so I can't make any comments on performance or model.

  21. This was a good review. However, it bothers me when manufacturers change their product to fit the least common denominator. I would have told you to buy a mil spec tube. I fail to understand why the Chinese junk commercial "standard" supersedes the more accurate mil spec standard.

  22. Just bought a S&W MP-10 in .308/7.62 x 51. Thinking about replacing the factory adjustable carbine stock with one of these. I'll let you know if I think it makes a big difference in recoil on an AR-10-style rifle.

  23. Have one on my DPMS 338 Federal and its a night and day difference between the standard A2 stock I had. It did tame the recoil down, not like it was bad to begin with, but I noticed the difference. Great stock for the ar10 platforms.

  24. Excellent review. Thanks!

  25. I have 3 weapons with this stock and moded others with heavy recoil -shot and 308 works great and tough too

  26. Thank you for this great review. I'm considering replacing my STR stock as I want the adjustable cheek riser.

  27. Good Review. I actually experienced the opposite of your fit issue with this stock. I purchased it as a package with a buffer tube, buffer, and spring included with the stock, and mine was an extremely sloppy much so that I considered sending it back even though I otherwise really like it. I decided to see what I could do to tighten it up first, so I placed two layers of "100 MPH tape" inside of the stock. It fits great now. Note: if anyone does this, you want to adhere the tape to the inside of the stock, NOT the outside of the buffer tube.

  28. I just got this in the mail and its so tight on my buffer tube I had to use a mallet to take it off. I have a commercial buffer tube. You would think that even a cheapo company can design a buttstock that works. I hate buying parts that suck. I thought spend some more money and I will get a quality and fitting product, guess I was wrong.