Rifle Chassis vs Stock – What’s the difference?
When it comes to purchasing, upgrading, and getting the most from your hunting rifle, it’s no secret that the options are endless! To help guide the decision-making process, our firearm experts created this firearm blog post to explain the differences between rifle chassis vs stock, so you can create the perfect fit between you and your hunting rifle.
Rifle Stocks: If you purchased your rifle from a local retailer or gun shop, chances are that rifle's barrelled action is held together using a generic wood or plastic stock. Over the years, additional stock materials have been introduced as well. These include fiberglass, rubber over-molded, composites, and more depending on the manufacturer. While each stock material/configuration can vary in quality, price, and performance, most experts will agree that plastic and lesser quality stocks will produce more flex caused by recoil after firing.
Rifle Chassis: Similar but uniquely different, a rifle chassis performs the functionality as a rifle stock but is manufactured from other materials. A rifle chassis system also allows owners to customize multiple touch points, including slings, bipods, and tripods. Additionally, because the chassis body is constructed from metal (like aluminum), many experts would agree that the rifle won't flex under the recoil of a heavier caliber. Hunting, competition shooting, and tactical/military situations are common reasons for upgrading to a rifle chassis.
Three Smart Upgrade Options for your Favorite Hunting Rifle
Ten years ago, anyone putting a chassis on their hunting rifle would have been publicly scorned and forced to wear a scarlet “C” on his chest. It just wasn’t done. Nobody wanted to see machined aluminum on a hunting rifle when everyone knew that the Fudds wanted wood, the tech-nerds wanted carbon fiber, and the cheapskates wanted injection-molded polymer. Depending on the day, I belong to all three groups. I am the walking embodiment of rifle stock inclusion.
Just as some in our society struggle to define gender, I struggle to find limits on what materials shouldn’t be used in rifle stocks. Wood? Certainly. Carbon fiber? Of course. Where it gets racy is when we start talking about mixing things like magnesium and carbon fiber. Innovation like this is far more than market experimentation.
It is the direct result of advancements in supply chain management and manufacturing that have driven both the cost of materials down and reduced the machine time required to turn out a finished product. Thanks to these advancements, chassis absolutely belong on hunting rifles.
MDT HNT-26: State of the Art
The chassis best suited for today’s hunter is the MDT HNT-26, which blends a magnesium action block with carbon fiber furniture. Installing a barreled action is as simple as slipping the barrel down the carbon fiber forend and then tightening the two action screws, securing the action in place. What makes the HNT-26 unique is the artful blend of carbon fiber and minimizing the use of expensive and cold magnesium.
MDT and other chassis manufacturers like XLR use magnesium because it is lighter than aluminum. When used in a large block, the weight difference is enough to notice. The downside with magnesium or any other metal is the discomfort that comes with handling it in cold temperatures, which is a lot of the hunting season.
The HNT-26 solves this problem by bolting a carbon fiber forend, pistol grip, and folding stock to the central magnesium action block. This chassis does an excellent job of keeping weight down while providing a rigid bedding surface for the action (necessary for the best accuracy). MDT also uses a material that is comfortable to touch in the places where the hunter puts his hands and face.
XLR Element MG: Great Value
The next chassis appropriate for hunting is the XLR Element MG. A guy could buy two of these chassis for the cost of one HNT-26, but this chassis is made entirely of magnesium and aluminum. The two weigh about the same, but the HNT-26 will be more comfortable in cold weather due to the presence of carbon fiber at the chassis touch points.
KRG Bravo: Sleeper Choice
The sleeper of the hunting-appropriate chassis is KRG's Bravo, which looks a lot like a stock but is really a chassis. It has an aluminum spine that makes installing the barreled action a snap and has polymer skins covering the spine, making it look like a rifle. It is the least expensive of these three chassis mentioned here, but it is also the heaviest by about ten ounces.
If a hunter wants the looks of a traditional stock with none of the baggage that comes with a chassis (like cold touch-points), the KRG Bravo is the way to go. It is readily available and relatively inexpensive, just a little chunky. If the hunter wants all the good features of a chassis and is willing to have cold hands, look to the XLR Element.
From my perspective, any of these three rifle chassis would be an excellent upgrade for your next hunting trip. However, I recommend that if you have the money and you're not looking to settle, you absolutely CAN NOT go wrong with purchasing the HNT-26!
What do you think? Do you have an upgraded rifle chassis that you recommend, or do you find that your manufacturer's rifle stock performs to your standard?