My good buddy and fellow G&T writer, Chris Tran recently made a comment that is spot on. To paraphrase, he stated, "If all a [firearms] manufacturer brings to the table is a new color option, they need to innovate harder." So true. When Chris and I attend conventions for the firearms industry, like SHOT Show for example, we expect to see new and creative products. Things that are sparks of genius, creativity, functionality, practicality and style. As of late, I have had lowered expectations. Some manufactures, who will go unnamed, pay all this big money to attend these shows, put up booths, pay for marketing and employees to attend and only come with last year’s product or some new color combo or minor change. Yawn. Why bother? Sure you maintain a presence which is a good thing, but you also highlight the fact you aren’t innovating, or at the very least aren’t hinting that you are.
On the flip side there are companies that are constantly innovating and bringing new product to the table, not just once a year but throughout the year. One of these companies is Fortis Manufacturing out of Auburn, WA. Fortis has made a name for themselves for their innovative, well machined, light weight designs that range from small accessories, to rails, upper receivers and now, stocks.
I am fortunate to live in the same region as Fortis and am down their way often. Last year, Fortis Manufacturing’s CEO, Paul Hwang, sent me some preliminary documents containing some 3D renderings of a new and unique stock. He wanted some preliminary feedback on the design. I gave it and looked forward to seeing the prototype.
Fast forward to SHOT Show 2017 and low and behold a prototype version of that stock was at their booth. Fortis dubbed it the LA stock for its very interesting Lever Action design. We had a chance to interview Paul regarding the stock which you can see on the Guns and Tactics YouTube Page. Paul later sent me and Chris Tran pre-production units to use and abuse. At the time of this writing, the final production version is now available to the consumer and can be purchased on the Fortis website.
The stock itself looks like no other stock that I have seen in the current market. It features the Fortis high speed, modern look. Made out of Type III hard coat anodized 6061-T6 aircraft grade aluminum, it’s not the lightest stock on the market. This is a departure from the light weight designs Fortis is known for. That being said, its 15.8oz weight is significantly lighter than other comparable robust stocks out there. I would say it is in the middle of the pack weight wise and keep in mind it is aluminum, not polymer.
The stock has a patent pending lever action design that is operated by depressing a small lever that disengages the larger lever lock from the receiver extension tube (also commonly referred to as the buffer tube). Pull the lever all the way out to install or remove the stock from the extension tube. This is extremely easy to do. Once installed, the 6 position stock can then be adjusted to the shooter’s desired length. Simply clamp the lever in place once the correct position has been identified and the stock locks to the milspec extension tube without any side-to-side slop or back and forth movement.
The stock comb has a real carbon fiber wrap. This wrap not only looks slick, it does a good job preventing any facial hair grabs which is much appreciated. I rubbed it all over my face and couldn’t get it to rip out one of my man hairs. Other features include three integral QD sockets for sling attachment points. All three points can be found at the rear of the stock. One on each side plus one under the butt. The later features an internal adjustable set screw. The set screw allows the user to fine tune the resistance felt as the stock is slid along the extension tube. Back it out and the stock will have lots of free play in adjustment. Tighten it up and it takes more effort, but in this author’s opinion it makes it easier to locate the locking positions on the extension tube.
It should be noted, the lever action feature on this stock operates different than any other stock and takes getting used to. To adjust one needs to press the small lever down, then pull the larger lever out to adjust. This is a bit different than just squeezing a standard adjustable stock lever to make the adjustment. The trade off in the extra step is the LA stock is much more solid and robust than many of the typical polymer stocks one would fine out in the wild. We have mortared the stocks without issue. Mr. Tran happily noted he chipped out concrete chunks in his basement floor with the stock. Fortis 1, Concrete 0. The extension tube will snap or deform long before the stock fails and if the stock is collapsed, there shouldn’t be any issues with damaging the tube at all. Granted, there is an exception to everything and like any other man made device it has the potential to fail if subject to enough abuse.
During the evaluation period of the pre-production model, one of the items I wanted addressed was the ability to "feel" which position the stock was in prior to locking it down. If the stock wasn’t in the correct location, it couldn’t be locked down. The adjustable set screw in the rear of the stock previously mentioned helped with that. To take it a step further, Fortis included a few more goodies in the final production model. First you get a lock stop device. It is a simple tab that is installed into the extension tube at the shooter’s most commonly used length of pull position. This is an optional install, however it allows the shooter to unlock the stock, pull it all the way out and have it stop in just the right spot for length and lockdown. The second feature they included was a roll pin and magnet that can be installed under the adjustable set screw to lock in the desired detent location. This gives an audible click and tactile feel to the adjustment position. Lastly, they will offer the LA stock in a kit that includes the above mentioned items plus a Cerekoted extension tube and their QD end plate giving one more attachment point. The extension tube has been laser marked at each position setting to give a visual cue. So you can see, hear and feel the position the stock is in. Keep in mind, the lock stop, roll pin and magnet aren’t necessary for the stock to be installed or function. It should be said, if the roll pin and magnet are installed it will not be possible to remove the stock until those items are uninstalled first. Personally, the preproduction stock I am currently using doesn’t have these features and works just fine, but I plan to get them installed to test them out soon. You can view this kit and how it installed on the Fortis Youtube Page.
It is my understanding there could be different colors available in the future for the stock, primarily for the carbon fiber. I can envision a red or blue being popular with the 3-gun crowd and the black and maybe a ranger green or fde version for the more tactical and utilitarian market. None of the other-than-black colors have been confirmed by Fortis at this time. I also asked about the possibility of an aftermarket rubber butt pad to cover the aluminum. While not a big deal shooting the 5.56×45 or .300 blackout type rounds, the larger recoil impulses found with larger calibers could warrant more absorption a rubber pad would provide. Paul assured me they are looking into it but isn’t making promises yet.
It is apparent Fortis really thought out of the box with this one. The result is a rugged and sturdy stock that can take a good amount of abuse, looks good, feels good and functions well. No, it won’t be for everyone. It costs just south of $400 which isn’t cheap, but if you are looking for something new, exciting and innovative, the Fortis LA stock definitely meets those standards.
Check out our video interview with Fortis from TRIGGRCON here.