I’ll admit it right up front: I’m a fan of Mission First Tactical. The Pennsylvania-based company has been in the AR-15 accessory business for a while now, offering stocks, grips, handguards and other components for America’s favorite rifle. Its polymer Minimalist stock is one of the company’s most popular upgrades, with a lightweight yet sturdy design that shaves ounces while still functional. It’s been so popular that it’s become an OEM component for a number of rifles.
So, last year, when Mission First Tactical revealed the aluminum version of the Minimalist stock, I was curious, and a little perplexed. It’s heavier and more expensive than the polymer version (although comparing pricing to the polymer Minimalist isn’t a fair comparison; putting the new aluminum Minimalist against other collapsible aluminum stocks and the price is far more inline). We have decades of research that show polymer collapsible stocks perform just fine, even on battlefields; why the move to aluminum?
Andrew Thony, Production Management for Mission First Tactical, offered that, “The inspiration for the aluminum BMS stock was that of rigidity and durability. As you know we have beefed up our magazine line with the extreme duty version as well as with the plastic Extreme Duty BMS. We wanted to bring MFT's stock product line up another notch. The aluminum version brings the durability of the AR platform in a ‘work’ capacity to a new level. The weight was kept as low as possible to complement our butt stock family theme as well as open the door to a new tier of strength and reliability.”
One of the first things I noticed about the Battlelink Aluminum Minimalist stock is how exact it is. Getting it mounted on the carbine was somewhat of a chore—I found it easiest to use a small slotted screwdriver to pull up the retaining pin, rather than try to use raw hand strength to pry it out. Once on, though, it’s a definite upgrade. One of the tradeoffs on the polymer stock is the small release lever that collapses and extends the stock, but on the aluminum model, it’s a longer lever that takes up nearly the back quarter of the underside of the stock. Grab the stock either from the back or the top and you can manipulate the lever easily and adjust length-of-pull quickly.
There’s a host of other neat options, like an improved cheekweld, ambidextrous sling mount points and a removable buttplate for future options. But, it’s the rigidity of the stock that most impressed me. I added it to one of my “go-to” carbines, one that has already shown rock-solid reliability and impressive accuracy out of a carbine with a moderately priced barrel (Brownell’s excellent B-TAC line). Adding the Battlelink Aluminum Minimalist stock allowed me to make the carbine even more accurate and adjustable while only adding a couple ounces in weight. That’s one tradeoff I’m happy to make.
In the end, whether it’s worth it to you to swap out a perfectly good polymer stock for a better aluminum version is a personal matter. If you’re looking for the slightest edge, or simply for a different look, the Battlelink Aluminum Minimalist stock from Mission First Tactical is an excellent upgrade to consider. MSRP: $179.99.