To give you a better frame of reference, here are the “before” pictures of my AR pistol.
In a beautifully coincidental turn of events, a package from Thordsen Customs arrived in the mail the same day the BATFE reversed their previous decisions and concluded that shouldering the SB15 is a Very Bad Idea™. In any case, the SB15 came off and was replaced by one of Thordsen’s “Enhanced Buffer Tube Cover Kits”, on which I also mounted a CAA Saddle, courtesy of a Saddle Adapter Kit.
There were no real problems with installation; the only slight catch is that the Buffer Tube Cover is designed to go over a “normal” buffer tube and use the stock key on the bottom of the tube to center the cover. Since my tube lacks that feature, I just had to eyeball it and go. It is worth noting that Thordsen sells keyed buffer tubes without stock detents milled into them, so you can have both the advantage of not having to worry about centering and not having to worry about some overzealous BATFE weenie claiming you “intended” to install a “real” stock on your pistol. In any case, the Buffer Tube Cover worked just fine with the KAK SB-15 Pistol Buffer Tube, so no worries on that count, and it gives me a little more clearance so my monkey arms are not all bound up.
My only real complaint is that the CAA Saddle is… well, crap, which tends to correlate with my other experiences with that brand. It gets the job done, sure, but the amount of flashing on the plastic I had to scrape off one way or another was absolutely atrocious:
If I had known for certain that an MFT E-VOLV would have fit, I would have bought one of those instead, but I was not sure if it was compatible with the necessary Adapter Kit to get it to mate up with the Buffer Tube Cover. Oh well, the CAA thing works just fine, but it solidifies my inclination to shy away from that company.
The only other change is that the previous end plate was swapped out for a rather interesting Damage Industries QD Thin Profile end plate – basically it allows a quick-detach plug to be inserted into the divot in the lower receiver directly beneath the buffer tube. The QD gadget is then rotation-limited by the buffer tube, and happily ambidextrous to boot, which works out pretty well when coupled with a Single-Point Sling from the same people.
The intent – which has been tested with dry-fire at home, but not live-fire at the range yet – is to adjust the single-point sling appropriately that the saddle is perfectly positioned for cheek-welding when the sling is taught, and then use my right hand on the pistol grip to push out on the firearm and the sling to pull back to create something of a dynamic tension, with my cheek stabilizing the whole thing (kind of like the middle image here, but definitely not like the bottom image). Obviously this is an AR pistol, just like it always has been, so it is not exactly going to be the most accurate thing in the world, but it will work just fine for entertainment purposes. My only slight glitch is that the single-point sling has a rubber strip on the inside, which complicates repositioning it; not the end of the world, though.
Better Half asked why not just cheek-weld on the buffer tube itself, and the answers are pretty straightforward – the bare metal is uncomfortable, the recoil spring inside is loud when not dampened by surrounding material, and most AR sights are optimized for having material on the buffer tube. Basically, this all comes down to user comfort.
As folks on the Book of Faces have noted, the Thordsen rig is not immune from the BATFE whimsically changing their minds in the future (Thordsen posted the current letter they have from the BATFE), but I figure it has two things going for it. First, it is not a “stabilizing brace” or “arm brace”, and thus does not fall under the purview of the recent bout of F-Troop idiocy, and, second, it does not have the “foot” of a actual stock, and thus the likelihood of idiotic people ruining a good thing by bombarding the BATFE with “clarification” letters is markedly diminished. Yes, I do believe that they would have eventually reversed their “shouldering it changes nothing” decision, just because even the imbeciles at the BATFE would eventually realize how badly that was endangering the validity of the NFA*, but I have absolutely no doubt that idiots looking a gift horse in the mouth and bombarding the BATFE with “mother, may I?” letters accelerated that process precipitously.
So, for the love of God, shut up and stop asking stupid questions you do not really want the answer to.
(* – I am not a lawyer and all that, but before this most-recent “clarification” letter I could totally see an argument being made along the lines of, “So, DC v. Heller mentions that firearms ‘in common use for lawful purposes’ are protected by the Constitution. Y’all at the BATFE have indicated that shouldering a pistol with an SB-15 is lawful, in that it does not change a firearm into an NFA-regulated device, and given the number of SB-15s in circulation right now, they are certainly ‘in common use’. So if shouldering something that looks like a stock – but is not – is ok, why is shouldering something that is a stock not ok?” Obviously, this is no longer valid with the most-recent letter, especially given how they called out and “revoked” the previous letters, but I have to wonder if this thought occurred to them. Only their underwear will ever know.)