Review: MDT TAC21 Rifle Chassis
I love my Remington 700 AAC-SD rifle, but it had some issues. The lack of a free-floating barrel, the sucky cheek rest, the inability to use Accuracy International magazines…. The totality of those issues had me looking at options for replacement stocks. With the possibility of getting my hands on an XM2010 chassis getting even more remote, I was getting ready to pull the trigger on a McMilian stock when Maarten from MDT dropped us an email and asked us to try out his nifty chassis system. And boy, was I impressed . . .
The concept is phenomenal. Take a standard Remington 700, drop it into this chassis, and you instantly have a rifle that almost rivals Remington’s XM2010 in terms of features. All you need in addition to a rifle and the chassis is a buttstock assembly and pistol grip for the AR-15 rifle and you’re good to go. And thanks to the adaptability of AR-15 parts, the rifle can be adjusted to exactly fit your specific body type.
In concept, that is. In practice, getting the thing assembled takes some work.
The chassis comes in three parts; the receiver block, the trigger guard/magazine assembly and the forend. In order to get your existing rifle into the chassis you’ll need to temporarily remove the trigger and permanently remove the bolt stop, a process which involves drifting out the trigger pins.
I’ve done it before, and watched as my stock Remington 700 trigger exploded all over my workbench when I removed the punch (having forgotten to install the replacement pin that holds the trigger together). If you’re not mechanically inclined, you might want to take the rifle to a gunsmith to have them do the install for you. Thankfully, the chassis kit includes two small pins that will hold the trigger together while you swap stuff around.
To me, the installation process was so daunting that I was only willing to do it after I had saved up enough money to satisfy MDT should they want the thing back. This was going to be a one way process for my gun, win or lose, as I didn’t fancy the idea of drifting the pins out again to send the chassis back.
But once the chassis’s installed, you really wouldn’t ever want to go back.
Thanks to the folks at Magpul, I had a PRS rifle stock to put on the rifle And with the ergos of an AR-15, the gun feel SO much better. There’s a damn good reason why in-line stocks and adjustable cheek risers are popular, and it makes the Remington 700 a much more user friendly rifle.
It even looks sexier. I had people coming up to me on the rifle range complimenting me on my fine-ass gun, asking me what it was. Putting the Remington 700 in the TAC21 chassis makes it look like some sort of spacegun instead of the $600 bolt action rifle it really is. “Why is that guy over here on the 100 yard range?” I heard the guy next to me ask his friend. “He should be over on the 500 yard line, at least.”
While the ergonomics may have been miles better, the real “killer feature” of the chassis for me was the free floating barrel. Charlie Sisk is a big fan of strapping the action of his custom Remington 700 rifles as deeply into a big block of aluminum as he can, and he seems to be doing well with that approach. MDT, on the other hand, has taken more of a laissez-faire approach to the action with only about three contact points between it and the chassis. This lets the action and barrel flex more, but doesn’t seem to negatively impact accuracy. In fact, just the opposite. What used to be a 1 MoA rifle has become a 1/2 MoA rifle.
At the beginning of my range session, I put five or six rounds of Federal Premium into a hole about 1/2 inch in diameter at 100 yards with no problem. But, as the day went on, I started having issues. The rifle would swing wildly from being 2 mils low to 2 mils high without me touching the turrets. I thought it might be an problem with the temperature of the barrel, but when I went to tap the barrel to see if it was hot, it wiggled in the chassis. It had come loose, and I had left my wrenches at home.
One liberal application of Loctite and a severe torqueing of the screws later and the problem has been solved, but it sure was annoying. Just FYI for all you prospective buyers out there.
My second favourite feature, after accuracy, is the detachable magazines. The chassis takes standard Accuracy International mags and I think that’s just damn nifty. There’s no logical reason why, I just think it’s really cool and looks awesome.
Also very nice: the entire back section of the rifle comes off. The stock is attached using a tail cap that slides over the back of the rifle, and is held in place by a chunky rotating pin. This lets you remove the back section for cleaning or transportation, making the overall length of the rifle very small for transportation.
Is it worth the money? In my opinion, yes. No other chassis on the market gives you this level of modularity and adaptability while keeping the weight down to a reasonable level. You’re looking at about $1,700 for the full rifle when complete (well, without optics), but with only the addition of this chassis you can shoot as well if not better than rifles costing twice that price.
MDT TAC21 Rifle Chassis for Remington 700 Rifles
Price: $700 (short action) / $800 (long action)
Ratings (out of five):
Feel & Function * * * * *
AR-15 ergonomics in a .308 bolt action rifle? Sign me up!
Ease of Use * * *
Any time the instruction manual requires you to get out your punch set, that immediately knocks off a star or two. For this chassis, getting everything together was such a pain in the ass that I wanted to knock this down to two stars. But considering how amazingly it works when you’re done, I’ll leave it at three.
Overall * * * *
Yes, it’s a pain to put together, but when you’re done you have a high quality precision rifle on your hands.