Building a custom rifle Part 3 – Got the rifle Chassis Bug? I did!
Got the rifle Chassis Bug too?
A few years back the bug of the rifle chassis started to hit the firearms market. With Accuracy international already widely utilising an aluminium chassis for their rifle builds other companies followed suit creating all sorts of different stocks, fully adjustable and readily available for a number of popular, off the shelf and custom actions. This trend exploded and it seems like it’s here to stay however some shooters seem to be going back to wood stocks. Let’s find out more.
Why swap to an aluminium rifle chassis?
With chassis or skeleton aluminium stocks, rifles generally won’t need bedding as a composite or wooden stock often needs.
1)Traditional pillar bedding shown here
Bedding needs to be done by a competent and experienced gunsmith or stock maker that will take the time to do it properly. Although there are DIY kits to do it yourself, I prefer to leave this to the professionals and have one less thing to worry about when I’m on the firing line for competition. The bedding of your action will ensure that the fit and pressure across the action bedding area is consistent and equal ensuring there is no pressure being exerted on your barrelled action. Whatever the weather condition, bedding ensures your rifle and stock assembly does not introduce new pressures on your barrelled action. This normally happens with weather changes and consequently warping of the stock material that induces new stresses to the action or barrel.
With aluminium chassis and other aluminium bedding blocks as introduced by manners, there are other options off the shelf.
Back to the aluminium chassis: Now with picatinny rails easily bolted on to aluminium chassis, you can now add whatever you want to your rifle, swap parts around, add NV rail, Mount laser range finders to the stock, add a Kestrel HUD to the side of your scope, extend your forend by switching to a longer or shorter one, sky is the limit. Over the barrel bipods have also started to crop up as more and more users realised they could use the Nightvision rail mounted above the barrel to attach a bipod above the axis of the barrel so that the rifle would hang below.
Who is making aluminium rifle chassis?
Chassis manufacturers based in USA:
Among these, Scott Mcrees came out with a very versatile and affordable stock that could be used for tactical, hunting or even Benchrest shooting just by swapping the forend of the stock and adding specialised kit like bag riders or monopods to a picatinny rail below the butt.
This made chassis highly adaptable to different rifle disciplines by screwing on anything you wanted basically. Later they came out with a folding stock version, a carbon forend version to lighten the chassis and a stunning 50BMG chassis for the Mcmillan Tac 50.
Cadex did the same and since then the Canadians have switched from the McMillan Tac 50 to the Cadex tremor Chassis.
XLR industries, PDC custom, Ashbury international, Cadex, PGWDTI and MDT all had their share of the market with affordable verging to expensive chassis or complete rifle builds that could upgrade any factory rifle from cheap plastic stocks to quality, precision machined stocks.
European based manufacturers
Other manufacturers in Europe were not far behind to adapt to this trend and swiftly but surely began creating their own versions. UK based Tier one created their own version which had raised some interest but has been since discontinued.
Dolphin gun company came out with their own aluminium chassis for FTR and F-Open rifles which made them highly competitive in selling a complete FTR rifle for £2500 when using their own aluminium chassis.
The reigning UK champion in 2019, Asad Wahid is using one of these stocks.
Other manufacturers like Akila focused on creating stocks for specific rifles such as the blaser r8. They make a beautiful aluminium rifle stock with nice wooden fittings to go with it creating a unique combination between aluminium and traditional wood.
If you recall the PSG 90 had a wooden pistol grip as well and even other brands like PGM Precision offer this possibility with beautifully selected wood for the pistol grip, forend and cheekpiece. I have to admit, it is a rather attractive look which I quite fancy.
European manufacturer Keppeler use to make a KSV bullpup in a nice wood and aluminium combination. Although that combination is no longer made, the same rifle is still available in an aluminium only version.
Recently, Slovak rifle chassis manufacturer LARS made a few awesome designs that go from traditional styling to highly modular rifle chassis which are fully adjustable with folding and even collapsible stocks. Beautiful works that deserve a close look if you are in the market for one. The owner, Ratislav told me that they are also open to do custom inletting for an additional fee. Besides that, Russian rifle manufacturer Vlad Lobaev made their own rifle chassis complete with their own actions, a fully blown precision rifle made in Russia with the same reliability we have come to expect from Russian arms manufacturers.
Have you got the rifle chassis bug as yet? We don’t mean to detract you from the traditional wooden or composite stock and we will feature some awesome traditional stocks. However given the volume and popularity as well as the facility to add or remove anything you want, chassis are here to stay.