The S.T.A.R.: Fitting the Rifle to the Shooter

Buying an off-the-shelf rifle is akin to buying an off-the-rack suit. It fits, sort of, but it will never fit as well as one that was tailored for the wearer.

When it comes time to purchase precision long guns for their marksmen, most agencies will go shopping for off-the-shelf, bolt-action rifles.  After the rifles arrive the troops will go about trying to adapt them to the individual shooters.  They’ll add cheek pads and spacers, either from the store or home-made.  I’ve seen some interesting cheek pads made from foam and duct tape.  Buying an off-the-shelf rifle is akin to buying an off-the-rack suit.  It fits, sort of, but it will never fit as well as one that was tailored for the wearer.

If the agency had a wild hair and decided to splurge on the guns, they may have purchased rifles with adjustable stocks.  Generally, the adjustments were up and down on the cheek piece and back to front for the butt pad.  Up to this point in time most shooters felt like they were doing pretty well if they could adjust the comb height and length of pull.  That’s all about to change. 

The S.T.A.R. (Sisk Tactical Adaptive Rifle)

During a dinner conversation in the fall of 2012, Charlie Sisk related to me a story similar to those I’d heard so many times before.  His custom rifle business was log-jammed by an inability to get stocks in a timely fashion.  While enjoying our meal adjacent to the “Million Air Aviation” terminal in Gulfport, Mississippi (Charlie had flown his two-seat airplane into town) Sisk outlined what he felt was a solution to his and other rifle makers stock problems.

The first issue was production time.  Charlie wanted to find a way to build custom-grade rifle stocks in a more efficient and timely manner.  “Fiberglass stocks are 1960’s technology.” He explained.  “Not much has changed over the last several decades except the colors and accessories. They make fiberglass stocks today much like they have for years.”    

A skilled machinist and private pilot, Charlie decided to explore the use of aircraft-grade aluminum for a stock.  Once the material was decided upon, the next step was to improve upon the existing models. “I felt that by using modern aircraft aluminum and 21st century computer-operated machining equipment I could come up with a stock the likes of which no one had ever seen.”  Sisk related. 

Charlie had brought along some mockups and drawing for me to look at but a finished product was yet to be completed.  We kept in contact and several weeks later Charlie called to tell me that he had the final design complete and he’d have two custom rifles built on the new S.T.A.R. stocks in a few days.

It wasn’t long before I was on the road to Dayton, Texas with my videographer, Jarrad, in tow.  We spent a couple of days with Charlie at his shop and on his private range testing out the new rifles and, to be sure, I was impressed.


Let’s begin with the stock itself.  The new STAR stock is machined of aircraft-grade aluminum and is actually two-piece configuration.  The forward portion houses the rifle’s barrel and action.  They rear portion is the Adaptive Stock.  Sisk Rifles connects the two components with a patent-pending STAR mechanism.  This is the heart of the stock system, allowing shooters to make fine adjustments on a 360 degree plane.  The rear portion of the stock can be rotated or canted to the left or right to fit not only individual shooter but the shooting situation. 

There have been adjustable stocks before that allowed the shooter to modify the length of pull and comb height but never has one been so adaptive to the shooter.  This new cheek piece can be raised and lowered and angled front to back both vertically and horizontally.  At the rear a padded butt plate can be adjusted in and out for length of pull but it can also be canted a full 360 degrees to truly fit the shooters shoulder pocket.  Humans aren’t square, they have contours. 

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