When getting into the world of precision rifle, there's a ton of knowledge to acquire. Even a single subject, like a barrel, can be dissected down to the molecular level to discern the differences. We'll leave these components to their respective experts and tackle the ones we know best; the stock and the chassis. Let's look at the differences when choosing between a stock and a chassis.
Oryx Chassis System. A very versatile chassis system.
TRADITIONAL RIFLE STOCKS
When purchased from a local gun shop or retailer, the barreled action is typically held using a wood or plastic stock. Other materials are also available, including fiberglass, rubber over-molded, and composites depending on the manufacturer. These different materials have different advantages and disadvantages. For example, wood may be less expensive and weigh less than a custom fiberglass stock but may be more prone to temperature changes and less impact resistant. With many factory plastic stocks, there will be more flex when firing caused by recoil.
Many inexpensive (i.e. factory) stocks are built "one size fits all." They don't usually offer any adjustment and are made of a plastic composite or wood. More expensive stocks offer adjustment to the comb height and length of pull. This is important for fit to your body to manage recoil and get a faster sight picture. Custom-built stocks can take your measurements for these and are built into the design but don't adjust. Having adjustability means other users (your kids) can shoot these, and they will be better for resale.
Most stocks also offer some form of mounting hardware for bipods and slings. Traditionally, this has been and still is done using a "sling swivel stud" on the bottom of the forend and buttstock. M-LOK slots underneath the forend are a newer option to offer more selection when it comes to mounting bipods, tripods, slings, and ARCA rails.
The usual form of attachment between your action and the stock is done using two "action screws" that hold the stock. Depending on the stock, the action of your rifle may sit directly on the wood or plastic. This is typically the least accurate method as recoil from the rifle since the bottom of your action is mated to an uneven surface. Changes in temperature and the amount of torque being applied to the action screws can affect your accuracy.
A more accurate form of bedding is pillar beds or glass bedding. Another, more modern method is the aluminum bedding block. An entire block of machined aluminum is embedded in the stock between the forend and buttstock. It creates a more stable surface for mounting and typically doesn't require an expensive gunsmith to securely bed your rifle.
The biggest difference in the feel of stocks vs. chassis regarding performance is how recoil is felt. A factory rifle stock without any adjustability won't be able to mitigate felt recoil, as well as a custom-fitted or adjustable stock. The shape and the material of the stock will affect how recoil feels as it travels from the muzzle to your shoulder. Finally, many stocks from the factory don't accept detachable magazines. If you want to use a box magazine, you're required to purchase an additional bottom metal and possibly take it to a gunsmith for some machining.
THE MDT FIELD STOCK
The new Field Stock breaks the mold as an aftermarket precision rifle stock. We're able to combine some of the best features of a chassis with the warm comfort of a traditional stock. It uses a full aluminum bedding block, creating stiff, chassis-like bedding of the action. The glass-filled polymer of the remainder of the stock is comfortable, lightweight, and very durable. Other high-end features include the comb and length-of-pull adjustment. There are multiple M-LOK slots on the bottom of the forend and sides to attach Picatinny and ARCA rails. It even converts most rifles to use AICS magazines. The MDT Field Stock was designed to offer all the features of a more expensive stock but manufactured using modern engineering techniques.
MDT Field Stock. Available soon from MDT!
RIFLE CHASSIS SYSTEMS
Rifle chassis systems are machined from solid pieces of aluminum. Because this body is metal, it doesn't suffer the same drawbacks as other materials that will flex under the recoil of a heavy round. Chassis are increasingly used in competition, hunting, tactical employment by military and law enforcement, and for average shooters wanting to practice their long-range skills. With a chassis, you can take any action, such as a Remington 700, Savage 110, or Tikka T3x, and bolt it into a chassis without needing modifications from a gunsmith.
Many chassis are designed with the ability to adjust multiple aspects of the platform. Buttstocks can be adjusted for length and height to get your face behind your scope in the right spot every time. Grips can be changed out to fit a shooter's hand, and the system as a whole is designed to create a perfect fit between the shooter and the rifle. This leads to a more stable platform with more recoil control for faster follow-on shots.
When attaching your rifle action to a chassis, you are bolting it down to a solid piece of aluminum. The ORYX Chassis is a single piece of machined aluminum from the forend to the buttstock. This gives it a very rigid platform for any action attached to it. The aluminum bedding in the ORYX creates a solid interface that improves recoil and harmonics in a rifle formally coming from a factory rifle stock. Getting the most accuracy out of a rifle stock requires an expensive trip to the gunsmith. You can achieve the same accuracy out of a chassis, and it only takes about 5 minutes at home with a single Allen wrench.
Professional Shooter with an Oryx Chassis System.
A chassis like the ORYX is going to feel different when you shoot it. Because of the one-piece aluminum design, the recoil is going to travel in a more linear direction, straight back, into your shoulder. The ability to adjust the chassis to fit your body exactly keeps your body in alignment when you experience recoil. You'll be able to spot your impacts better and adjust for follow-on shots if necessary. The ORYX chassis, like others, also converts a factory rifle to use AICS magazines. This means more rounds in your rifle and faster changes between magazines.
A chassis is an excellent upgrade if you are in the market for a new stock. The ORYX Chassis and MDT Field Stock have different form factors but will increase accuracy, comfort, and modularity. A chassis is a more rigid and stable platform. They work great for competition-style shooting and have been used by many people to win at top-level precision rifle competitions like NRL Hunter matches. They're great for people who want a target rifle for shooting or still hunting. The Field Stock carries many of the same benefits of being adjustable and having a solid bedding block. Either way, your rifle will feel and perform much better with all the benefits you get from upgrading either platform.