iota Kremlin Rifle Stock and Triad ZL Scope Ring Review
By Justin Hyer
The overcast sky provided a breathtaking sunset that cast beautiful rays of orange and red light across the clouds as the sun buried itself behind the westward mountains. The night had been gorgeous and filled with sightings of numerous deer, but not the elk I was after. I gathered up my gear to begin the trek to the truck and hopefully run into a wandering herd of elk on my way.
As I began to work my way up the hill my hunting partner was waving his arms and motioned for me to hurry. As fast as my out of shape body would let me, I hoofed it to the top of the hill. He told me he had been trying to get my attention for the past 20 minutes and that a small herd of elk was out feeding at the bottom of the next draw just over the ridgeline. My heart began to race at the thought of getting a shot off in the last minutes of legal shooting hours. I glanced at my watch; legal shooting hours had just ended!
Never one to waste an opportunity to try out new gear, I decided to see if I could have comfortably made the shot had I arrived just a few minutes earlier. I flopped down behind my rifle and went through my shooting sequence. With the push of a button on the Triad ZL rings I enjoyed beautifully illuminated turrets to quickly check that my windage was still on zero and I dialed up the necessary correction for elevation.
It was now over 5 minutes past legal shooting hours as I settled the crosshairs onto the lead cow, leveled up the scope and began to visualize the shot. With a slight adjustment of the rear bag the crosshairs locked onto her vitals and I touched the trigger. Had it been legal to shoot, the elk would have tipped over dead because the crosshairs had not moved from their original position. While I wasn’t able to fill my elk tag, the new stock and rings I was using from iota Outdoors had certainly been a pleasure to use.
Figure 1. ZeroLight at work at the end of legal shooting hours
I first learned of iota when I read about their ZeroLight technology. ZeroLight is an anti-cant device that has an integrated LED light to illuminate the bubble level as well as to cast a small beam of light onto the riflescope’s turrets. It was developed to fix the problem of fumbling with a flashlight or a cellphone while hunting predators under the cover of darkness or low light situations.
No longer would the user have to do the creative balancing act of holding a light and a weapon while adjusting turrets and checking the level on their rifle. With a simple push of a button to turn on the light the user could now use their weapon as if it were daytime to easily check their bubble level and read their turrets. This technology is also incorporated as an option in their lines of scope rings.
I received a set of the Triad ZL (ZeroLight) rings to use and evaluate throughout my rifle hunts this past fall. iota rings incorporate a unique design feature that places the screw heads on the underside of the rings. The location of the screws helps keep them protected from the dust and moisture that often settles into the screw heads of conventional scope rings. The screws follow an angled trajectory that still makes them accessible with a driver while the rings are installed on the rifle. As an added bonus, the top rings now appear very sleek as they have no screw holes breaking up their surface.
Figure 2. Front ring with no screw holes showing from the top
Figure 3. Close up of Triad ZeroLight
The Triad ring series is compatible with Picatinny rails and comes with a modular key system to help guarantee the best fit possible with the rail’s slots. The keys come in 0”, -.0035” and +.0035”and the user simply tries each key in the appropriate slot on their rail and uses the one that fits the best. On my rifle the rear key location was a perfect fit with a size 0” while my front key location could almost fit the +.0035” but I used the 0” to make sure it fit all the way; with a little sanding the .0035” would have been perfect. The modular key system is another unique design feature iota has developed to help reduce slop from the tolerances allowed in a standard Pic rail.
While placing my scope into the rings the fit was a little tighter than normal but it was easy to get it fully seated and rotated into the proper orientation. I torqued down the rings to the proper specs and the scope felt rock solid. Initial impressions? I loved the modular keys to get a tight fit with my Pic rail, the ZeroLight feature seemed interesting and the rings looked really good on my rifle.
Figure 4. Triad rings mounted on a Burris XTR2
After using the Triad ZL rings for many days in the field I absolutely love them. Having the ability to illuminate my turrets and level is a luxury I never knew I was missing. While I never felt the need to turn on the light in the morning I loved flicking it on for the last few minutes of daylight. As an added bonus for those users with aging eyes, it makes reading the turrets a lot easier without the need for your reading glasses when the ambient light gets low.
At their price point of $200 they’re not cheap but the integrated level and light make them a great purchase compared to other rings in their price range. Suffice it to say, when I build my next rifle there is a very good chance it will be topped with a set of Triad ZL rings, or their Nomad ZL rings, which are their one-piece base-ring combo. For those users who don’t want the ZeroLight technology, both their rings are offered without it as well at a slightly lower price.
iota also offers a stock they named the Kremlin. As those of you who have built custom rifles know, a custom stock often has a 6-8 month wait and can quickly become the holdup of your build. The objective for the Kremlin was to produce a stock that could be reliably delivered with a lead-time of 4-6 weeks. The stock also needed to be rock solid, look good, not be too heavy, and have great ergonomics.
The Kremlin enjoying the shade by the river
After a few design iterations the Kremlin was born. I have included the diagram below to show the dimensions of the Kremlin to help you get a reference for its size compared to other stocks on the market. The stock has a listed weight of 2.5 pounds but mine weighed 3 after the addition of a bipod rail and two flush cups.
iota Kremlin stock dimensions
The Kremlin is currently offered for Remington 700 footprints in both long and short action, right and left handed, with a Sendero barrel channel and inletted for standard BDL or M5 bottom metal. It comes with pillars installed and is available in your choice of various molded in color patterns. If you want to customize your stock to include accessories such as flush cups, additional swivel studs or bipod rails, or if you require a different barrel channel inlet you can contact iota and they can accommodate most requests.
I ordered my Kremlin in Citadel Grey for a Remington 700 short action with an M5 inlet. I requested that two flush cups be installed on the left side of the rifle and a bipod rail be added to the forearm. The stock arrived within a few weeks of ordering and I hurried home to slap it together.
I tried to place both of my barreled actions (Rem 700 and Bighorn TL2) in the stock but neither one would fit correctly. A little detective work showed the recoil lug pocket was not deep enough for my aftermarket lug on my Remington or the integrated lug on the Bighorn, but some quick handy work with a Dremel had the actions fitting in no time.
Both my rifles wear aftermarket barrels that claim to be Remington Sendero/Varmint contours but both of them fit too tightly in the barrel channel. It took less than 10 minutes to open up the barrel channel enough to free float the barrel by wrapping sand paper around an appropriate sized socket and sanding it out. The M5 metal I ordered from Stocky’s fit like a glove as I finished bolting the rifle together.
For the field review I decided to use the stock with my Rem 700 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. I had some early feeding issues that I thought were because of improper inlet depth but all measurements on the stock were within M5 specifications. Ultimately, replacing my magazine solved the feeding issue.
The Citadel Grey color scheme hides great in the rocks
Throughout the process, iota was very helpful when I called to discuss my feeding issues, and they helped me diagnose the problem. I also discussed the fitting issues with my recoil lug and they informed me that the recoil lug pocket was designed around a standard Remington 700 lug and that they had now changed the program to accommodate larger aftermarket lugs. If you have any problems with iota products, I suggest you contact them because their customer service is impeccable, and they were extremely helpful in making sure I felt my issues had been resolved.
With my rifle assembled I headed to the range to get it sighted in. The Kremlin was designed to look and feel very familiar to users who have used other popular stocks for long-range rifles and I quickly felt right at home behind it. It has a higher than average comb, which means many people will find it very comfortable to use without the need for an adjustable cheek piece. I was easily able to get a comfortable sight picture through my scope, although I could have benefited from just a little bit more height and could easily achieve that by throwing on a thin stock pack/cheek rest.
The vertical grip allowed my hand to very naturally find where it wanted to be without any effort or coercing; it made achieving a consistent shooting form very easy and was extremely comfortable to shoot with. I would consider my hands to be average size and it really felt like the grip was custom made for me. My comfort behind the stock was apparent, as I had the rifle sighted in within 3 shots and I fired a sub ¾ MOA group with factory ammo. Not bad for a stock that hadn’t even been bedded to the action.
The butt stock has a nice angle on the bottom that allows elevation adjustments to be made by sliding the rear bag forward or backwards, but the angle is gradual enough that it rides the bag well during recoil. The butt stock is also completely solid to provide additional strength. LimbSaver makes the recoil pad, and it is a great pad that keeps your shoulder very comfortable during firing. One thing I’ve grown really fond of in the past few years is a nice recoil pad and this one simply does its job well.
One of my favorite areas of the stock is the forearm. The forearm is designed to be wide enough and flat enough to be stable over a sand bag, backpack, or makeshift rest but narrow enough and round enough to be comfortable in your hand. I like to carry my rifle one handed while holding it just in front of the bottom metal, and the forearm easily allowed me to do that. The stock is made of a fiberglass shell with a carbon fiber backing and it had a warm feel to it even when temperatures dipped down towards freezing, which I really appreciated as I carried it around the mountains.
The only complaints I have with the stock are small. One is that the parting line is very visible on the stock due to the molded in colors. While this is not a big deal to me, almost every person that handled the stock mentioned it. The second complaint is that the inletting on the rear tang on my stock was quite excessive for a factory Remington 700 action. This absolutely does not affect function, and actually went unnoticed by me for the first few times I handled the rifle. With my Bighorn action this space was almost completely filled, and since they offer it as a Remington/Stiller footprint my guess is that a Stiller action would fill the whole space nicely. Just be aware that with a standard Remington action you’ll see that void.
Parting line visible through the molded in colors
Tang inlet is a little large
After a month of use in the field I can say that I believe the Kremlin is a dang fine stock option around the $500 mark. The ability to get a great stock delivered in less than 6 weeks makes it very attractive. The stock makes driving the rifle easy and is just as much at home prone as it is offhand.
The Citadel Grey looked great in many different environments and received a lot of compliments at the range and in the field. I have another custom stock sitting in my safe that is feeling scared as it may find a new home to make room for another Kremlin so I can have matching stocks on both my long range rifles. I like the Kremlin stock that much.
Justin Hyer began reloading during high school and developed a passion for making precision shots that quickly blossomed into a love for long range shooting. He has spent his whole life living in the shadow of the Utah mountains and enjoys being minutes away from excellent shooting, hunting and fishing locations. He currently works as a product development engineer designing medical implants and instruments.