Riflecraft Tactical Hunter With MDT Chassis System
- By Pete Moore
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 19/12/2016
To those that seek accuracy and performance a custom gun is it. Traditionally this means the unavoidable new barrel and action if it’s to be a full job. Everything is tweaked and blue printed to get the best possible launch platform then fully bedded into a custom stock. Here you have the choice of materials but top choice is hand-laid fibre glass, or similar synthetics with aluminium inner bedding blocks and front and rear pillars. This last stops the action screws touching the stock and therefore reducing the negative effects of vibration. The same can be done with wood laminate, which is near as stable even if using an existing barrelled/ action the stock work mentioned is still required.
All that bedding work is done to provide a stable and consistent base for the action to sit in aided by the barrel being free-floated in the forend. At the same time you have to decide upon a stock layout that suits - thumbhole, adjustable, tactical, varmint or target. Truth is your wildest dreams can be accommodated by any good gunsmith given you have a deep enough wallet and are prepared to wait!
Bearing in mind my comments on a ‘solid launch platform’ there is perhaps another way – chassis systems! Here a purpose- machined aluminium spine takes the place of all that fibreglass or laminate and also the complex bedding and pillars. With this base for accuracy achieved how it looks on the outside only requires bolt-on furniture. This concept is perhaps best illustrated by the Accuracy International AICS (Accuracy International Chassis System). Which gives the ability to drop in a number of action makes to make you very own L96/AW look-a-like sniper rifle even down to using AI’s box mag system.
OK AICS is no longer big news but still proves popular. Taking this a stage further is MDT (Modular Driven Technologies Corp.) I first became aware of this when Low Mill Ranges sent me their TAC21 in 223 Rem a few years ago, which I would describe as an aluminium exoskeleton offering a fully closed in receiver and free-float, tubular forend in the current AR15-style with an integral 20 MOA scope base. This package contained a Remy 700 action which only made contact in the bedding area and offered as standard a proper detachable mag system. The AR-like layout offers a massive choice of furniture. In essence you provide the barrelled/action and MDT does the rest! Plus you don’t have to be a gunsmith to put it all together and it should need little if nothing doing to it from the off to make it shoot!
Newer and less gross is their LSS, which is a more simplistic lower with mag well, pistol grip and buffer tube adaptors and simple barrel channel. Made of billet 6061-T6 aluminium, hard-anodized to mil spec type III for extra strength, you just drop in the action of your choice. MDT offers the following options in both long and short action builds - Remington 700, Model 7 and 783, Savage 10, 11, 12 and 16 and 110, 111, 112 and 116 and Axis, Tikka T3, Mossberg MVP and Howa 1500/Weatherby (short action only).
The LSS is available in CerakoteTM black or flat dark earth finishes. The chassis uses detachable box magazines in .223 and .308 calibre for Short Action (SA) and .300WM or .338LM magazines for Long Action (LA) rifles and is compatible with AICS style magazines in .223 or .308 (SA) and 300WM, 30.06, 338LM. It allows you to bolt on MIL- STN-1913 accessory mounting rails too. The LA chassis uses 3.715” long magazines; note mags in this size can also be encountered in 3.775” and 3.805”, so check before buying other makes!
Riflecraft Ltd have been promoting MDT recently and sent me their Tactical/Hunter on the LSS chassis. There are a lot of options on furniture from fixed and folding/ telescopic butts and buffer tubes, scope, light, laser and NV mounts and magazines. With the exception of the mounts, mags, buffer tubes and an in-house folder; all the furniture is after market from companies like Magpul and Hogue etc; why make it if it’s already available?
This rifle uses a Remy 700, 308 Win Tactical action with heavy, 20” barrel fitted with a Hardy Gen V reflex moddy. The LSS chassis is purpose-built for any of the listed rifle makes and is a total drop-in unit that securely bolts into position. However there’s a generous recoil lug pocket should you want to bed the lug as has been done here and a Timney trigger has been fitted. The action screw holes are already over-sized so no need to fit pillars! I love the minimalistic, one-piece design that includes the mag well and rear-mounted release catch, large trigger guard (good for gloves) and the almost vestigial yet rigid forend. This is drilled underneath in four positions for a QD sling stud and the top/front is tapped to fit a horseshoe, over-barrel Picatinny base (NV Hood) ideal for forward-mounted NV.
In this case the rifle shows MDT’s one-piece, step-down Picatinny rail that offers both scope and forward mounting positions. Furniture is your choice; my tester came with a Hogue, rubber, over-moulded pistol grip and their CAR15-style telescopic butt with a side folding adaptor. My choice would be slightly different, I’d fit a fixed buffer tube with a Magpul PRS® Precision-Adjustable Stock, which offers both LOP and comb height adjustments and an under slung Picatinny rail that would allow the fitting of a monopod. Equally their MIAD® GEN 1.1 Grip Kit – TYPE 2 pistol grip, which is the best AR handle ever!
Feed in this case is from MDT’s 10-round, 308, polymer magazine. Completing the package is an extended/ tactical bolt knob, Harris BRS bipod and Vortex Viper 4-16x44 in a set of their heavy, 30mm rings. Ammo; well a no-brainer - Hornady 168-grain TAP FPD, which is probably some of the best, all-round accurate 308 fodder!
All-up weight is not bad, a tad heavy but certainly useable, the LSS chassis adds 1.7 lbs. Some of that weight could be alleviated by binning the long top rail! The pistol grip positions the hand for a comfortable, first pad finger position, which works well with the Timney blade and break! The Magpul MIAD would be better with its fuller grip and rear strap spacing system! LOP is generous to say the least; the side-folding adaptor adds an unavoidable 1.75” and the LOP offers a 13.5 to 17” adjustment (butt closed to open). Even for my gorilla arms I just pulled the butt out 1-click for a perfect position. I found the standard stock a bit low and skinny for a solid cheek weld, some of this must be laid at the door of the high scope base, which could be cured by standard height bases. Annoying is the fact the side folder does not lock when it’s stowed!
The rifle snuggles up well in the aim and you soon appreciate the generous free-float and comfortable firing position. Given this is a Riflecraft build the action is slick and the long bolt knob means smooth cycling from the shoulder with no serious loss of head/ scope position. The mag can take 10-rounds but I found it fed better with 8-9 maximum. Over all I do like the LSS build.
Performance; well again much as expected with the Hornady TAP easily cutting 1⁄2” @ 100m; accuracy potential promotes confidence at all ranges! I would expect this gun to shoot well out to 1000m in the right hands! MDT says: “it increases accuracy by up to 21%.” Well it doesn’t seem to do any harm!
This is an interesting, practical and near non-gunsmithing approach to building a semi-custom rifle and in some ways cost-effective as you already have the barrelled/action. The LSS alone costs £344.33, to which you could add a Long A2 or CAR-type buffer tube (£37.43) and fixed stock adaptor (£44.91). Then select a butt – the Hogue is £67.37 and their pistol grip £22.46. Moving up the Magpul PRS is £250 and the side-folding adaptor £127.25. MDT magazines are £35.93 223 or 308 and the NV Hood £59.88. To put it into perspective - say a McMillan A5, adjustable stock costs £750, then add in £252 for pillar and synthetic bedding that’s a cool grand. The bottom line for the LSS is £552.42, a Magpul PRS butt ups that to £735.05; not too bad!
PRICE: as tested £1,335 Timney trigger £153.47 Bedding £80 Hardy Gen 5 moddy £281.37
CONTACT: Riflecraft Ltd, 01379 853745 www.riflecraft.co.uk www.mdttac.com
FOR: Modular system DIY build Potential accuracy increase
AGAINST: If you don’t like the minimalistic/ Tacticool look
VERDICT: Clever and cost-effective performance upgrade Good choice of manufacturer’s models Well worth consideration if that look floats your boat!