> How the A-5 was developed
> Tactical stock vs. hunting
How was the A-5 developed?
Gale McMillan, founder of McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, partnered with the Marine Corp in 1975 in a project that has been recognized as the birth of the modern tactical rifle, the M40A1. Made of fiberglass, with a medium width forearm for heavy barrels and traditional hunting lines aft, this stock is still in service with many units.
Over the years, McMillan Fiberglass Stocks worked closely with the nation's elite military marksmanship units to develop refinements for their specific needs. The A-2 was originally developed for the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team and is current issue for the US Navy Seals.
The A-3 was developed in response to the FBI's request for a lighter version of the A-2. It is currently used by the FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Energy, Department of Treasury, Department of Customs and many law enforcement organizations around the world.
The A-4 is current issue on the Marine Corp's M40A3 rifle.
There is a healthy competitive attitude between the nation's elite tactical marksmanship organizations, and all are passionate about what they feel is important when designing a tactical stock for their teams. In this environment, it is inevitable that the question is raised, "What would be the ultimate tactical rifle stock?" Kelly McMillan, president of McMillan Fiberglass Stocks not only polled the finest from our nation's elite units, but also took the discussion public on the Internet through the website snipershide.com.
"Here is the consensus," reports McMillan. "Shooters wanted a wider Winchester Marksman style beavertail forearm, the smaller pistol grip of the McMillan A2, and the light weight of the McMillan A3. Some liked the butt hook of the McMillan A-4 used on the Marine's M40A3 and some preferred a stock without, so we created a dual-purpose butt hook that is fully functional, but out of the way when not needed. Adjustability is very important, so we offer several different options in adjustable cheek pieces and butt stocks. Yet we can build the stock in one piece for those departments that prefer no moving parts." The result is the A-5, the professional tactical stock that incorporates the most requested features from the entire A-series.
McMillan sent several A-5 prototype stocks out to top marksmanship units as well as recognized professional shooters. The feedback was excellent. The A-5 stock is now in full production.
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How is a tactical rifle stock different than a stock for a hunting rifle?
A tactical rifle is used under stress, usually when all other measures have failed and human lives are in danger. At the critical moment, all components must work flawlessly, every time. This prime consideration flows through all the decisions a stock designer must make when developing a tactical stock.
A tactical rifle must be rugged. Unlike a hunting rifle that you buy at a discount store and keep in a closet 51 weeks a year, a professional tactical rifle is a working tool used every day. A tactical rifle might be dragged through swamps, bounced around in jeeps or helicopters, and jostled by ordinance concussions. It must endure conditions that would turn ordinary hunting stocks into firewood. What's more, it can be in the field for weeks on end -- miles away from a neighborhood gunsmith.
A tactical rifle is heavier than a hunting rifle. Its stock must be a rigid platform for the thick bull barrels, large optics, night vision equipment, and bipod attachments than can stress a lightly constructed stock, alter contact points and skew shots.
A tactical stock is a robust stock. When the adrenaline is flowing, every heartbeat seems to move the crosshairs by a foot. Some military units even add more weight to the stock to dampen movement from the pulse, as well as to reduce recoil.
For a large organization, interchangeability of parts under field conditions becomes important. Most organizations find that their barreled actions swapped among McMillan's precision CNC-inletted stocks shoot just as accurately as when they are individually glass bedded.
Ergonomic design trends for tactical rifle stocks have their roots in equipment developed for top competitive events, such as the Olympics or national matches. Additional input comes from close partnership with the elite marksmanship units using the stocks, such as the special forces teams of the Marines, FBI, Navy and other agencies.
A tactical rifle is often issued to a number of different shooters. Many units prefer stocks that offer adjustability for different body types and shooting styles. Through the use of three different cheek piece options and three different butt system options, McMillan's tactical stocks are highly adjustable to a shooter's physique and shooting position.
Changes in weather can twist a wood stock, ruining a rifle's accuracy. Long before fiberglass stocks became the rage in hunting rifles, the military recognized the material's superiority for adverse weather conditions. The professional marksman must have absolute confidence a shot will go where aimed. Unlike wood or some "synthetic" stocks, McMillan's hand-laid fiberglass construction is unaffected by water, weather, heat, cold, humidity, and atmospheric pressure.
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