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Chassis vs Stocks – Will a chassis help my bolt-action to be a tack driver and why? PART 1

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

GCPD Arms designs and manufactures world class precision rifles, chassis stocks and accessories. At the heart of our range of precision rifles (whether our Elite Series, MSP, CWS or AMAP) lies our proprietary chassis stocks.

Some of our clients have come from a background where their rifles were fitted with timber, polymer or plastic stocks and several have asked about the benefits of going to alloy chassis stocks.

For many years, the target rifle world was dominated by timber stocked rifles, then shooters got onto laminates, fibreglass and composites – mainly because they were more stable than “natural” timber and offered some reduction in warping, shrinking, swelling and consequently improved accuracy!

Timber, timber laminate, and fibreglass stocks need to be very heavy to give sufficient rigidity to promote shot to shot consistency and building a precision target rifle on such a stock usually needs the services of a good gunsmith to ensure proper fit and bedding. All that messing around with epoxy plus the expense of a custom bedding job plus the time spent with your new rifle in the shop (“Waiting, waiting, waiting…” as a certain Greek greengrocer puts it.) costs time and time is money.

The bolt action rifle hasn’t changed much since Peter Paul Mauser was doing his thing back in the late 19th century. There’s been a bit of tinkering around the edges but let’s face it, we haven’t seen any really dramatic, major design changes since then - because it’s a good system that delivers the goods as far as accuracy, trigger pull, shot to shot consistency etc.

However, while the basic action hasn’t changed much, the stock has come a long way and, since the stock is one of the most important interfaces between shooter and rifle, a good stock can help to significantly improve your scores.

The development of what are called “chassis” stocks - precision machined out of high-tech alloys; incredibly ergonomic and adjustable and with a mechanical bedding system that just can’t be beaten using composite stocks and epoxy, has given the shooter another option. Looking very tacticool in addition to being completely functional is an added bonus.

These are the systems used by almost every major military force in the world for their long-range sniper rifles. If you’re a sniper or a target shooter, you’re after shot-to-shot consistency and accuracy. If you can’t predict where that bullet’s going to go, you can’t do your job or win competitions. That’s where chassis stocks come into their own.

Most good gunsmiths put a lot of work into obtaining an action/barrel/stock fit measured in several thousandths of an inch. Most of the CNC (Computer Numerically Controlled) milling centres used to make chassis stocks can operate to tolerances of 3 microns. To put that in perspective, one thousandths of an inch is 25.4 microns (a micron is .00004 of an inch); a red blood cell measures about 5 microns across; and a human hair is about 75 microns across.

Chassis stocks therefore offer a level of precision, consistency and accuracy that just can’t be equalled in timber, fibreglass or composites. You just can’t get a better bedding system, because asking even the above average gunsmith to work to tolerances of that level just isn’t humanly possible!

Sure, it’s hard to beat the sheer beauty of a hand finished walnut burl stock and some of the laminated timber or fibreglass stocks are pretty but, when it comes to durability, ergonomics and contribution to accuracy, it’s hard to beat a top-quality barrelled action in a top-quality chassis stock.

Back in 2015, the top 150 PRS and NRL competitors in the USA mainly used fibreglass or composite stocks – with Manners and McMillan stocks dominating the field by a large margin. That’s 150 out of a population of over 330 million – so these shooters can definitely be considered elite and, are in fact, professional shooters with lucrative sponsorship deals etc. Their income depends on their success in competition.

Fast forward to 2019 and 82% of these elite NRL shooters had switched to alloy chassis stocks, while 54% of the PRS elite shooters have done the same and the trend has been growing. Given that the trend is amongst a group of elite shooters whose income earning potential depends on winning matches, you’d have to take chassis stocks very, very seriously.

There are several interfaces involved in the shooter/rifle combination – these are between:

• Barrel and action.

• Action and stock.

• Action and bolt.

• Sight and firearm (between rings, mounts etc).

• Ammunition and the action.

• Operator (the Nut Behind The Bolt or NBTB) and firearm (trigger group, stock etc).

Each interface must be as precise and consistent as possible to ensure extreme range accuracy and consistency of shot placement. If technically and mechanically possible, it’d be good to either reduce the number of interfaces or at least to ensure that they are as precise and stable as can be – GCPD Arms’ use of modern materials and advanced manufacturing methods that offer tolerances that can’t be achieved by manual means does exactly that!

Ergonomics also need to be optimised – stocks need to be fully adjustable for individual operators, with the bore of the rifle as low as possible, optics as close to bore as possible and absolutely parallel to centre of bore etc. Things like Length of Pull, cheek piece height etc are all important to a serious shooter.

Let’s look at the reasons why GCPD Arms chassis stocks offer an unbeatable advantage over other types and exactly why you should move up to a GCPD Arms Chassis Stock, like our MSP range or even to a complete GCPD Arms precision rifle like our Elite Series, MSP-M700 Custom or MSP-T3 Custom models:

• Accuracy—the sheer precision of a chassis stock significantly improves the accuracy potential of any rifle.

• Adjustability—A good chassis stock (like GCPD Arms MSP-M700 or MSP-T3) offers superb ergonomics, with butt stocks that are fully adjustable to an individual shooter in terms of LOP, cheek piece height, butt pad height and cant etc.

• Versatility— GCPD Arms as an OEM, has the ability to machine in or to attach various

accessory attachment systems (picatinny rails, ARCA rails etc) so that the individual shooter can custom tailor a GCPD Arms rifle to its intended use (i.e. the style of competition) and can then quickly switch over accessories to suit another style of competition – or even to go hunting.

• Magazines— GCPD Arms chassis stocks use magazines that are universally available (e.g. ACIS or Accurate magazine) ensuring that you aren’t dependent on OEM magazines that can be difficult to source and expensive.

• Applications — your GCPD Arms chassis rifle will function flawlessly in any activity where precision is premium. Although some other cheaper chassis stocks can be heavy (because design and machining time to reduce weight costs money), GCPD Arms premium grade stocks are lightweight enough to let you use one rifle for target shooting and hunting (as an example, GCPD’s MSP in .338 Lapua magnum tips the scales at 4.3 kg and offers terrific recoil management and accuracy).

In our next part, we’ll be looking at those factors in more depth, so stay tuned…..

GCPD Chassis System vs Alternative Stock Design
Chassis vs Stock

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