An adjustable buttstock, commonly found on a chassis rifle stock system, is vital for properly fitting a rifle to your body. Unless you go with a custom rifle stock, most stocks are a "one size fits all" that will generally work okay for shooting in a sitting or standing position but are lacking when you start lowering your profile to a prone position. A conventional wood or fiberglass rifle stock can be tailor-made to fit your specific body morphology, but unlike a chassis stock system, young shooters cannot easily grow with the system. They also cannot be adjusted if multiple people are using the rifle, nor can they be easily adapted to different shooting styles or technology.
Let us look at some buttstock features and discuss why they are essential.
Length Of Pull (LOP)
The length of pull is the distance from the trigger to the end of the buttstock. Getting the right length of pull is crucial because it allows you to shoulder the rifle quickly, helps get a clear sight picture and proper eye relief, mitigates felt recoil, and allows for easier manipulation of triggers, bolts, magazine reloads, and safeties. Proper length of pull also reduces muscle strain and makes holding the rifle more comfortable.
How do you measure the length of pull for your body?
The easiest way is to hold your arm at a 90-degree angle and measure from your bicep to your trigger finger as though it was at 90 degrees, staged to apply pressure to your trigger.
Length of pull will vary from shooter to shooter, but the beauty of an adjustable buttstock, like our MDT Skeleton Rifle Stock or our MDT Skeleton Carbine Stock, is that length of pull can be easily adjusted. This allows for multiple shooters, regardless of size, to be able to share the same rifle.
Tip: Take notes about your specific settings or take a paint pen and put small witness marks, especially if you are sharing your rifle with multiple people.
An adjustable comb is critical for a consistent head position and proper eye relief. Previously we mentioned that conventional rifle stocks are adequate for shooting in upright positions like standing or sitting, but can lack the appropriate comb height when a shooter moves into the prone position. What happens is the cheek weld turns into a "chin weld", which is not ideal for shooting in the prone. An adjustable comb will allow you to get your eye in line with the scope for a clear sight picture.
Tip: The prone position is stable and easy to get into. It is one of the most stable shooting positions for hunting, zeroing, or tactical applications. Set your rifle up for the prone, and you will be fine when it comes to standing and sitting positions.
The majority of MDT buttstocks have a butt pad that can be raised or lowered for better shoulder placement. Why is this important? Though not critical in the standing or sitting position, it can be vital for the prone position. Depending on body type, many shooters struggle with getting the buttpad high enough into the "shoulder pocket." Unfortunately, we see many shooters using non-chassis rifle systems where the apex of the buttpad is resting on the collar bone or just below it. This is not ideal, and the rifle will be uncomfortable to shoot. The buttpad should sit firmly in the shoulder pocket with the center of the buttpad near the collarbone.
Tip: Raise your butt pad till it is in line with the comb. This will ensure proper placement and mitigate felt recoil.