XLR Industries Evolution Chassis System Review
By Marty Dabney
This review will give you some insight into an excellent chassis system that can be made to fit just about every type of shooting style.
In trying to find a stock to fit my new Savage custom I wanted something different than the average tactical stock, so I started looking around and ran across the XLR Industries website. Immediately I found out that this is not your average cookie cutter stock. The XLR Industries Evolution Chassis System is an all aluminum chassis that boasts sleek lines with an infinite amount of adjustments. Its pistol grip design and detachable magazine are just up my alley. I was amazed at the options that were available and the amount of actions that that can be inlet for, from your average Remington 700 all the way up to the biggest Lawton action. Even the 50 caliber, and everything in between. And if you don’t see your specific action on the XLR Industries website, give them a call and they can custom inlet for your specific action at no extra charge.
There are three chassis available from XLR. The XLR Evolution chassis is the standard chassis that works well with just about any of your standard actions like the Savage, Winchester and Remington based actions. The second chassis is the XLR Evolution HD chassis. This chassis is for the larger actions like the Stiller tac, .408, and the Surgeon XL. The last option is the XLR Evolution BMG chassis. This is designed for the largest .50 BMG actions. With each chassis there is the option for a single shot or repeater if your action is designed for it. Each chassis also has the option of a 12 or 14 inch hand guard that can be upgraded with a 4 way picatinny rail kit or a single rail for bipod mounting, as well as a 3 inch benchrest plate. Also, all stocks have the option of a folding butt stock kit.
The folding butt stock kit.
The rail kit.
The butt stock has several options. The first option is the standard stock that comes with the XLR Evolution and XLR Evolution HD. It has one supporting arm and a 5/8 inch sand bag rail, and is adjustable for length of pull and cant. The recoil pad is adjustable for height. The cheek piece is available for either right or left handed shooters, and there is also an option for an ambidextrous cheek piece.
The extreme butt stock.
The second option is the extreme butt stock. This is a heavier stock that features 2 supporting arms as well as a 1 inch sand bag rail. It also comes standard with an ambidextrous cheek piece. This stock has an adjustable length of pull but is not adjustable for cant. This is the standard stock for the .50 XLR Evolution BMG chassis, but is an option for the Evolution chassis. The third option is the tactical stock. It has an ambidextrous cheek piece, swivel cups on both sides and provisions for a monopod.
The standard stock.
The thing that I like the most about the XLR Industries Evolution Chassis System is that it uses Accuracy International magazines, which are some of the best magazines you can find. The only variation to this is that the CheyTac actions use M310 magazines. And for the final finish the Evolution Chassis comes anodized in your choice of redstone, black or green.
Showing the rib cut out to accept the ultra mag case.
As a side note, some shooters have been modifying the Magpul PRS stock, but permanent alterations will have to be made to the stock and will make the stock unusable for use on the AR type rifles.
Now it was time for me to make a decision on what to go with. I knew I was going to build a 338 edge in a tactical style rifle, but most of the ones I see are single shot due to the OAL of the cartridge, and I wanted a repeater. So I looked around and found a Savage 7mm ultra mag, and a week or so later it was headed to the gunsmith for a new barrel and brake. Then I called Kyle at XLR and started brainstorming on a chassis. With the XLR chassis that used Accuracy International magazines my only option was the CIP mag, as it has an OAL of 3.725”. After a little help from the guys at Savage Shooters, we took some measurements and called XLR. We decided that the mag well was large enough to feed the larger cartridge without any modifications to the action, so I ordered the XLR Evolution stock with the tactical butt stock.
After a modest 8 week wait my chassis was sitting on my door step. When I opened the well wrapped package I was taken away by its quality and rigidity. There were no machining marks, scratches or poorly fitted parts, just a high quality piece of art. I couldn’t wait any longer so I headed to the basement and started bolting up parts. I used the supplied action screws, and the action bolted right up with no off center screw holes. I torqued the action screws to specs and tried to install the hand guard. In my haste I didn’t read the directions so I had to unscrew the hand guard clamp to allow the alignment hole on the fore arm to slide over the dowel on the chassis. I unscrewed the clamp and started over, following the instructions.
Once I had everything bolted up, I started to adjust the stock to fit. I was very impressed with the amount of adjustment this system has. The cheek piece has more than enough adjustment for my extra high rings and is very comfortable to use. The length of pull also has plenty of adjustment. This particular butt stock does not come with a cant feature, but the recoil pad does adjust up and down. One downside to this stock is that you have to remove the adjustable cheek rest during cleaning if you have a long action. I believe that a short action bolt will come out without removing it, but I don’t have one in front of me to say for certain.
Once everything was in place I decided to do a function test to check for proper feeding. I loaded up 5 dummy rounds with empty cases - 250 grain Sierra Match Kings and no primers. My OAL was 3.685, which left plenty of room in the magazine. I loaded the first round in the magazine, but the problem was in trying to load the second.
I learned that the Accuracy International 338 Lapua Cip Mags weren’t designed for the Ultra Mag cases due to the placement of the shoulder on the case. It sits farther forward than the Lapua, causing the case to catch on the front rib on the mag. So with a little cutting with my cut off wheel and a file I removed the rib on both sides to allow the cases to go properly in the magazine. With this little hiccup out of the way I loaded the magazine and cycled the bolt. All of the rounds cycled like they were supposed to with no jams. I repeated this several times and had the same results each time. Now don’t forget that this was my 250 grain Match King load that I was using, which fell under the 3.725” OAL limit.
Now that everything was ready to go, I decided to take the rifle to the range for some real life testing. Shooting from a bipod I felt comfortable from the word go, because the stock was already adjusted to fit my shooting style. I wasn’t trying to strain to get proper cheek weld and my length of pull was right where I needed it to be. I was in a very relaxed form and was able to concentrate more on my breathing and trigger control.
The first shot was nicer than I could have imagined, with the stock recoiling in a nice, even push against my shoulder. With the balance of the stock, each shot was consistent and returned to battery like it was supposed to. The pistol grip made it even better by allowing me to have a firm grip. I shot several nice groups off of the bipod and decided to try some offhand shooting. Again, the rifle recoiled nicely allowing some consistent shooting.
The XLR Industries Evolution Chassis is what I would call a fairly lightweight system that allows shooting from different positions with less fatigue than is typically found with other modular systems. Even with my 30 inch medium target contour barrel the rifle was balanced well enough for those off hand, sitting and kneeling shots. It was also be light enough for some flatland hunting, though I don’t think I would want to carry this rifle into elk country or Africa. It would be ideal for a nice long range hunting setup.
The main con with this stock is scope mounting. If you have a scope base that extends .200 of an inch past the action face, it will have to be milled off to allow the installation of the hand guard. Also, you will have to carefully select your scope ring height to match the objective. Often you will have to go with a high or extra high scope ring to allow clearance of the hand guard. XLR has a formula available at their web site to help with scope ring height selection. I have extra high rings on my rifle, but with the cheek rest having so much adjustment it is not a problem.
I believe the XLR Industries Evolution Chassis System is one of the best options out there if you want a modular design. The ergonomics and finish are some of the best I have seen, and everything, including the options, is very reasonably priced. The XLR Evolution Chassis System will allow years of shooting and hunting, and XLR stands behind all of their work with a lifetime warranty on everything they sell. Not only does XLR Industries produce high quality products, but their customer service is impeccable. When you call XLR, you will usually get the owner, Kyle, and he will work with you on every question you may have. I give XLR Evolution Chassis System and the XLR company a very high rating. I am 100% happy with the decision I made.
Marty Dabney is a full time cattle farmer and a part time farrier/blacksmith from central Virginia. He is the father of two children and believes that getting the youth of the world interested in hunting, shooting and the outdoors in general will help them gain a respect for the land, the animals and the rights that so many have fought to preserve.