The Archangel is a fairly simple polymer stock from Pro-Mag for your M1A that installs easily and brings some versatility to your rifle.
This is the package, next to a stock M1A SOCOM. Visually the stock is an inexpensive copy of an aluminum stock three times the price, but the under $250 Archangel isn’t expandable or modifiable like the stock it is meant to copy.
The features it does have though are really well made. This is the adjustable comb. Even in the highest position it doesn’t wabble.
Most people think of an adjustable comb as strictly an advanced long distance shooter tool, but they are also useful if you leave your rifle in a CQB, uphead mode with a red dot or holographic sight. Having a perfect cheeckweld with no adjustment gets you right on target.
The length of pull adjustment is a posistive click wheel, just like the comb adjustment. This is a more useful feature than you think until you actually try it. Fitting a rifle to yourself improves your shooting a great deal. Note that there is also a pull hook on the bottom, which is something many chassis charge extra for. The Archangel is a little fugly, but once you understand why things exist the stock gets more attractive.
The recoil pad is head and shoulders more comfortable to shoot than the standard steel buttplate on the SOCOM. Notice how nicely fit it is as well. All of the edging and fit on the Archangel is meticulous.
The big downside to the Archangel is that it only has one rail on the bottom. It does comew with this plastic rail cover as well. You could theoretically drill holes in the side of the stock to put side rails on, but it would probably void your warranty.
There is a forward and a rear standard rifle sling mount. The front one is oddly canted, so you can’t use it for a Harris/Caldwell style bipod. This is probably because of the bottom rail. They figure that you will just use that. Note the apparently metal sleeved hole for push button sling mounts as well. The holes are ugly but it makes the gun more versatile, and it is a lot to work with conidering the original stock has just these military sling brackets.
The pistol grip is one size fits all, and kind of chunky for my taste, but it isn’t hard to shoot it well.
Pro-Mag Archangel M1A
“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” is the way the majority of shooters treat their guns. But there are those of us who like to trick certain guns out because they fit a specific purpose better with cool stuff on them. The Springfield Armory M1A is one of those guns that can go either way. The M1A was designed as a military rifle, known as the M-14, so out of the box, in both its short and long versions, it’s good to go for close quarters combat, and the peep sights built in are good enough to shoot at a man sized target out to 600 yards. But tricked out, the M1A is even better, and the military even uses it today in a modern chassis system that can take rails and optics. The problem with consumer M1A chassis, like the bullpup Juggernaut Rogue that we reviewed last year, is that they are both expensive and heavy. Unless you have money to burn and the muscles of a special forces dude, most M1A chassis just aren’t worth the trouble, until maybe now. Pro-Mag makes a copy of a very expensive professional chassis that they call the Archangel. We found that it installs fairly easy, ads some genuine versatility to the gun, and probably improves the accuracy quite a bit. It retails for under $250, and besides being reasonably priced, isn’t a behemoth. At only 10 pounds for the complete finished rifle, the Archangel isn’t significantly heavier than even the fairly svelte M1A SOCOM I stock. If you have an M1A that you want to make that much better, this is an official heads up that the Archangel seems like a great buy.
Our test gun is a standard 18″ barrel SOCOM I. This is the model with the forward scope rail and no quad configuration on the forend. The stock on this gun weighs about 3 lbs. when you take it off the gun, and most shooters agree that it is extremely “wieldly” when you compare it to other .308/7.62 battle rifles. What the gun isn’t, is adjustable and expandable. If you don’t want to shoot a SOCOM I pretty much the way it is, plan on buying a new stock or chassis. The military uses a chassis that is made by Sage called the Enhanced Battle Rifle, and it has led the charge toward M1A stocks being made out of aluminum billet, which is heavy. The Pro-Mag Archangel is a fiberglass filled polymer copy of one of the aluminum stocks made by J. Allen Enterprises, which starts at a $599 base price with no options. We have never reviewed the Allen stock, but it looks to be extremely high quality, made from Aluminum with polymer side panels. The big thing about the Allen stock, which we will see later with the Archangel, is that they seem to have designed a system to lock the M1A action to the stock without the need for custom fiberglass bedding. M1As have been used by competition shooters and snipers for decades, and the best guns are generally fiberglass bedded. The Allen stock, and this Archangel, eliminate the need for bedding by using the lever force of the M1A takedown lever.
How close the Archangel stock comes to the Allen is impossible without the latter in hand, but my guess is that the Archangel is a slightly cruder version of essentially the same thing, at literally a fraction of the price. Blasphemy you say? Well you do generally get what you pay for, and the same is true of M1A chassis, but there is an old explanation in the Lee Precision reloading book about reloading presses that you should really read. It explains that though Lee presses may look “chinsey,” for lack of a better word, the “higher end” reloading presses, like the RCBS Rockchucker, probably the most popular press of the era, were made for overkill. In actual foot pounds of force required for reloading, the article argues, you just don’t need that much metal. Lee presses, I suspect, are just like the Archangel stock. It is several times more solid than the actual gun requires, made out of plastic. Aluminum is a great material. As a rifle stock it feels good in your hand, and the sharp edges and nice finishes make you feel like you are holding a genuinely high quality piece of equipment. The thing is, for a rifle stock, plastic is probably a better material, and embedding fiberglasss into the plastic cures any weaknesses that pure plastic would have. These heavy, expensive, machined aluminum stocks are great, but they are, like a Rockchucker press, overkill for the job at hand.
First lets go over the features on the Archangel, then we’ll go to what’s missing. For most people who want to use their M1A for both close quarters battle and long distance shooting, the adjustable cheekpiece is probably the best feature. It allows you to adjust the stock to a perfect cheek weld position for long distance shooting, and then it can be re-adjusted for an uphead holographic or red dot sight. We found the adjustable cheekpiece to be solid and reliable, with no wobble at even at the high positions. The same goes for the adjustable recoil pad. Outwardly the stock appears to be solid plastic, but the gear adjustments for the cheek and rear pad pieces have an audible click as if there is metal in there, and they don’t slip or falter in use. The same can be said for the pushbutton sling mount holes on the Archanangel. They appear to be just holes in the plastic chassis, but I tugged on them with torque, and the swivels don’t come out and don’t appear to damage the chassis. Whatever the formulation for the plastic is on these chassis, the folks at Pro-Mag seem to have gotten it right. The Archangel has several more models out, including a recent Mosin-Nagant addition, and they are all based on the success of this chassis which was first released in 2011.
The weaknesses of the Archangel could be dealbreakers for you. It is a ‘what you see is what you get” kind of product. The only rail is the bottom front, made for a bipod, and it is more of the same plastic. I plan to leave this stock on this SOCOM, so I didn’t crank on the bipod, nor did I try a forward vertical grip. The rail doesn’t look sturdy enough to take any significant abuse, and like we suggested with the Kel-Tec KSG, if you plan to put a forward grip, get the polymer Tapco one instead of something made out of Aluminum. I could see twisting an aluminum grip off this gun, but a plastic grip won’t have a single point of failure, so it should stand up to most demands in CQB competition. The lack of an ability to add additional rails is kind of a bummer. Technically, this is of course plastic so you could just drill holes and mount standard rails if you counterbore the holes on the inside. Just make sure your rail toys clear the sides if you decide to try it.
Installing the Archangel isn’t as easy as they make it sound, but it is kinda worth it because you get a perfect fit. If you have never taken apart an M1A, you just pull the rear of the trigger guard out of its clip and the whole gun falls apart. The entire top of the firearm is held onto the stock by the trigger assembly, which is a lever, and the force is applied to the two feet that you can see here in the pictures. Like any M1A stock, the Archangel fits between the upper assembly and the trigger guard assembly. But what the folks at Pro-Mag did was make their stock slightly thicker than the distance between the metal pieces, so you squeeze the stock in. This is how they claim to avoid the need for bedding, because the action is locked to the stock via the plastic pads of the stock and the metal feet of the triggerguard. The only problem is that you buy a “drop in” stock, but at least on this gun, it needed some fitting. The directions say to use a file but I used a razorblade, and as long as I scraped only a few times before trying to re-fit, it seemed to be the ideal tool. Plastic is actually a good material for this, because unlike aluminum it has memory and springs back when you squeeze it.
Accuracy with the M1A faces a lot of challenges, and the Archangel only cures one of them. It doesn’t replace the top handguard, which on the M1A (and the Garand), is held on by a spring clip mated to grooves in the barrel. If anything throws accuracy off in an M1A more than anything, it is these cuts and pressure from the clip. As the barrel heads up, it bends toward the cuts. The entire front gas assembly connection is also a problem. You can’t “free float” and M1A if you want it to remain a semi-auto, because that extra tube in the front that is mounted to the barrel is what works the action back and forth to strip the next shell. Nonetheless, we did find some improvement with this M1A SOCOM over the factory stock. Out of the box this gun shot about 3 MOA, and at 50 yards with open sights it shot about half that for these tests. Occasional flyers were the only thing keeping the gun out of MOA range, which is phenomenal for a gun with so many things clamped to the barrel. Without a well tested, full length higher grade M1A it would be difficult to judge what this stock can do as compared to a traditional bedded stock, but this rudimentary test showed promising results.
The M1A is a dinosaur of a firearm according to many, but the fact that it still soldiers on in our military, and also wins 600 yard matches, speaks volumes for the merit of the original design. The Archangel stock from Pro-Mag adds just enough versatility to the M1A to be worth the $227 you can currently buy it on Amazon for. It isn’t an elite product, and it isn’t even that good looking, but the Archangel isn’t a cheap made in China knockoff either. Pro-Mag makes these stocks in the USA, and they come with a full warranty. It would be nice if the Archangel had a rear scope rail, because though the peep sights on an M1A are great for what they are, long range shooting is much easier with good optics. The “scout” rail on the SOCOM is great for red dots and holographic sights, but the scout scopes, with the long eye relief required to see through them, are very limited in their usefulness. There is no doubt that the Archangel is a high quality piece of a equipment that you can buy with confidence that it will do what you expect of it. We hope to get the Allen stock in here at some point, as well as the Troy, another aluminum stock, but for now, this Archangel does the job.
Make sure you read the instructions before you install your Archangel. It isn’t as “drop-in” as we would all like. It says to check the Youtube, but the videos are on the product page so you don’t have to search for them.
This leaves you the upper assembly, the trigger assembly, and the stock in the middle. You just put the Archangel in the middle instead.
If your trigger guard doesn’t close at first, this is actually a good thing because you can sqeeze fit your gun to the stock perfectly, just like a custom gunsmith would do.
Very small amounts of plastic can be scraped away by a razorblade, dragging it, or you can cut forward like this a bit as well. Do both sides evenly, and keep testing to see if your trigger guard closes.
Surprisingly the razor knife didn’t make the plastic white or create an ugly bruise.
Just keep scraping until the top of the upper assembly is flush with the plastic and your trigger guard closes.
We experienced what appeared to be great potential out of the SOCOM after installing the Archangel. As you can see, 4 bullets went into about a 1/2″ at 50 yards, but we kept getting these flyers. This could be a magazine issue or just the Walmart quality ammo.