Cheek Weld: stock in trade of accuracy

Cheek weld: because consistency breeds accuracy.
March 18, 2020
Categories:Stuff and Things

Cheek weld is important — far more important than many people know. Like grip on a handgun, cheek weld is frequently misunderstood. That’s why so many people who really know what they’re doing work to establish the same cheek weld each and every time (including using guides or marks on their rifle). It’s also why the rifle cheek riser, adjustable cheek rest, and rifle cheek pad are such popular additions to certain weapon systems — not to mention such accessories as the SOPMOD stock (B5 SOPMOD that is) and various Magpul stock options (such as the Magpul MOE stock).

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Cheek Weld

Consistency equals accuracy.

We have  – well, should have – been hearing this for years.  There is no single element that guarantees someone will be a good shooter. Rather there is a collection of several seemingly small things (i.e. fundamental skills and actions) that must be reliably and consistently executed with each and every shot.

Cheek should always be consistent as possible.

⚠️ Note: you’re going to see a lot of “SOPMOD stock” and “Magpul stock” references in the coming paragraphs. That’s because that’s mostly what our guys use. There are others out there (FAB Defense, Mission First Tactical, Ergo, etc.)— pick the one that suits you best, and remember —it’s the cheek weld that matters most, not the particular surface you’re welding against!

Fundamentals of Marksmanship

If you think about it, the fundamentals of marksmanship make for a pretty short list of very basic things. Most people quote four fundamentals, some aver there are seven (the particular number is typically based upon whether we’re talking about how the Army defines things, or the Marine Corps).

Regardless, we’re talking about stance, grip, breathing, trigger control, sight picture, etc.  All are small, simple pieces of the puzzle. Nothing terribly complex about any of them.

The tricky thing is doing all of them exactly the same way, 100% of the time.

Spend some time on the range with some novice shooters and you’ll find a surprising lack of basic shooting knowledge…which is fine. We all gotta start somewhere. Even a squared away Modern American Jedi can stand to improve. Only a very few people are master blasters!

That’s why it’s important to always be a student of the gun.

In fact, some might argue there is no such thing as an expert, only those that possess more skill, knowledge, and experience than others. Becoming a good shot isn’t a destination to work towards. It is (or should be) a lifelong journey.

So, let’s talk cheek weld.

The SOPMOD Stock from B5 Systems

The SOPMOD stock from B5 Systems. This has proven to be an extremely popular buttstock in professional circles (including widespread use in the US military). Its design isn’t just good for a comfortable cheek weld, it lends itself extraordinarily well to consistency. Variants of this stock (including the Enhanced SOPMOD and SOPMOD Bravo) are used by many of our crew, the writers over on Breach-Bang-Clear, and a large number of their friends.

SOPMOD Stock

B5 Systems

•at Palmetto State Armory

•at the Tactical Sh!t store

•on Brownells

•via Natchezss Shooting Supply

• on RainierArms.com

SOPMOD stock in use in lieu of rifle cheek pad.

Look at this dapper fellow with his gentlemanly SOPMOD stock! No duct-tape and old foam padding rifle cheek pad for this gent!

 

Til Valhall viking shirts at MadDuoCo.

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What is cheek weld?

Guns have names, and parts or “areas” of the gun also have names (or, more accurately, it has nomenclature).  On the back end of a long gun, you will find the stock.  This is most commonly referred to as the “buttstock”.  The top line of the buttstock, where you place your ugly mug, is called the “comb” or “coomb” of the stock.

It is atop this area that we place our cheek when shouldering the gun and acquiring our sights.  Not your chin, not your neckbeard, not your nasty lips. Your cheek, and your cheek alone mates against the stock. This creates cheek weld

What is cheek weld

What is cheek weld? Here’s a hint: it’s not your butt cheeks we’re talking about. It’s your butt stock. Whether that’s a plain ole rifle stock, a SOPMOD stock, Magpul MOE stock, or an adjustable cheek rest, doesn’t matter. Consistency and repetition are key.

Kyle Lamb of Viking Tactics demonstrating proper cheek weld in the context of butt stock placement.

Kyle Lamb of Viking Tactics demonstrating proper cheek weld in the context of butt stock placement.

The exact place on the stock you place your face is going to be determined by the type of stock on the long gun, your individual body size, your choice of sights and a few other factors (wearing armor verse not wearing armor, warming layers, etc.). What is important, is that you firmly smoosh (yes, smoosh) your face to the stock in a consistent place, in a consistent manner, that allows you a good, comfortable view of your sights or optic.  This is essential to achieve accurate fire, and cannot be stressed enough.

“Placing the cheek in exactly the same place on the rifle comb with the same amount of pressure helps eliminate errors due to scope parallax, sight picture, sight wobble and minor involuntary body movements.” Shooters Den

Jeremy Stafford of Guns & Ammo Magazine practicing good fundamentals of marksmanship.

Not a SOPMOD Stock: this is a stock with an adjustable cheek rest (though also from B5 Systems).

It’s not like licking a flagpole in winter: get in touch with it! (Note: not a SOPMOD stock, but it is from B5 Systems, q.v.).

If you do not have a proper cheek weld, it will show with your first shot. You will get “kissed” by the scope, if you are too forward and not aware of your setup, feel your face slide off the stock, (requiring readjustment), or feel the stock slam against your face (we’ve seen people bruise their own face with shotguns because of this). Understanding cheek weld, and executing it consistently is a critical skill, especially if you plan on using magnified optics.

Your cheek weld is what determines the proper set up of the optic so that you achieve proper eye relief from the rear lens.  Overall, you will end up with different cheek welds on different firearms. It’s up to you to determine which is best for your shooting style, based on that individual weapon.   Remember, it should be comfortable. Comfortable enough that you could fall asleep while on the gun. If you feel uncomfortable, you need to slide your face around until you find the sweet spot that works. It’s not rocket science, it’s a fairly intuitive thing to figure out.

The more you shoot, the easier it will be to acquire proper cheek weld. It’s just a small, but important aspect of shooting.

Novelist Mike Kupari putting rounds downrange with proper cheekweld.

Cheek weld should always be consistent as possible, no matter what brand or style of butt stock you’re using. Certainly on each individual weapon, and as close as practical from system to system.

Magpul Stock options for different weapons and end uses.

Magpul Stock options for different weapons and end uses: the Magpul MOE stock is going to serve better than the Magpul CTR stock in many situations, but neither are gonna replace the Magpul Zhukov stock. And none of ’em will do you as much good as they would if you understand cheek welding!

Magpul Stock

There are several Magpul stock options to help with cheek weld issues, and not just AR 15 buttstock options either. The Magpul MOE stock, Magpul CTR stock, Magpul PRS stock, Magpul Zhukov stock, and…you get the point. There are several versions and they’ve all proven popular.

•at Palmetto State Armory

•at the Tactical Sh!t store

•on Brownells

•via Natchezss Shooting Supply

• at Cabela’s

• on RainierArms.com

Magpul MOE stock in action?

Magpul MOE stock in action? Looks like it. It’s too wide to be a Magpul CTR stock. (That’s what she said.)

Eye Relief, Accuracy, and other Sorcery

If you’re not familiar with this stuff, let us know. Leave us a question, we’ll do our best to answer. If you’d like to weigh in the topic in the comments, we’d love to hear it – constructively, if you don’t mind. We’re trying to educate people here, not be assholes.

There are a lot of salty folks reading this blog, lots of savvy shooters of both genders. Let’s get some good material out there for them what needs it — preferably before they go buy some fancy AR15 stock, adjustable cheek rest, or Gucciflage rifle cheek pad they might have to replace or trade out of later. Good as we think the SOPMOD stock is, for example, it’s not going to provide maximum benefit if the shooter doesn’t understand what needs to happen.

Robyn from Modern-hunters.com explains the concept of cheek weld thusly:

Cheek weld refers to the firm contact that your cheek should make with the top of your stock. When adjusted properly, good cheek weld should allow your dominant eye to comfortably look straight into your scope or sights. It also has the benefit of serving as an additional ‘anchor point’, a term I borrow from archery. In archery, an anchor point refers to a place on the body that the hand or string will touch with the bow is fully drawn and ready to shoot. This point serves as a cue to the shooter that they are set in a proper position and allows them to reproduce that position with every shot…Anchor points are critical for accuracy and consistency.

[T]he place where the cheek rests on the stock is an anchor point for rifle shooters. If you have ever struggled and had to move your head around to try to get a full, clear image through your scope, you likely have a cheek weld problem. And if you’re anything like me, correcting this problem will result in an immediate improvement in shooting…”

Cheek weld is important regardless of the weapon platform (which is why some folks use an adjustable cheek rest).

So do our readers have any suggestions? Any of you use a physical reference point? Anybody have a preferred rifle cheek pad or (for you precision types) adjustable cheek rest? Let us know!

We’ve heard several suggestions, including:

Put a pin (not a sharp one) in the optimum position on your stock and use it as a reference point.

Use a paint pen to mark the spot.

Cut a notch in the stock.

Use a tight ranger band as a raised reference point that can be felt. (Another cool thing about the ranger band on the stock solution is that you can also use it to stow the sling or to hold a tourniquet to the rifle).

One of our past readers says, “Find the sweet spot for your cheek then move the optics to get a proper eye clearance. If you don’t, long hours behind the gun will become very arduous. If your head does not automatically index to the same spot, you are gonna have parallax problems to contend with.”

Whatever you do, just make sure that it stays in the same spot and doesn’t move forward or backward!

Now, for those of you who have a hard time with learning from the written word, here’s a video from Kirsten Joy Weiss (who as you can see here is using an adjustable cheek rest).

Note: proper butt-stock length is an important part of shooting too — and it can affect your cheek weld. Just ask this crusty old fucker.

Rockwell Tactical puttin' rounds downrange.

Cheek weld, demonstrated in some shithole overseas (without a rifle cheek pad or adjustable cheek rest).

In some places (not here) we’ve seen a handmade “field expedient” adjustable cheek rest or rifle cheek pad used to maintain better consistency (and thus more repetitive accuracy). We’re guessing he’d rather have a Magpul MOE stock on there, but he can’t – not with that particular long gun.

B5 SOPMOD Stock

In action. 

SOPMOD stock somewhat theatrically in action (via B5 Systems social media).

A B5 SOPMOD stock somewhat theatrically in action (via B5 Systems social media).

This is the sorta scene most of our crew associate with the SOPMOD stock.

This is the sorta scene most of our crew associate with a SOPMOD stock.

Magpul MOE Stock

…and others, in action.

Possible Magpul MOE stock with field modification on top.

Possible Magpul ACS stock (or STR stock?) with field modification on top. What’s he got there where his cheek goes?

Magpul SL stock (not a Magpul MOE stock)

Magpul SL stock in action (not a Magpul MOE stock, though that’s how we identified it at first…but we were drinking then).

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  1. That one scene in ‘Heat’ that gave audiences the most realistic firefight in movie history - Sandboxx - […] the camera zooms in on Hanna, who moves the rifle’s buttstock high on his shoulder to get the proper cheek…

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