Chassis rifle builds vs high end production rifles for backpack LRH and south paws.

WeekendWarrior

Active Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
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31
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United States
I am a new member and I am very excited to interact with this community.

After two years of trying, I convinced my wife it's time for a new rifle. She signed my permission slip on Monday, and I'm ready to go! As a disclaimer, I'm set on a 300wm - I have everything I need to reload 300wm, I'm familiar and comfortable with the cartridge. No need to limit the discussion to this cartridge specifically though, as this thread could be of use to other members in a more general sense.

A little about the new rifle's intended purpose: I hunt elk, mule deer, bear, and I'm building points for a moose tag. "Long range" in the context of my personal long range hunting is 600-1100yards, or about 500-1000m. I like to backpack hunt and I'd like this rifle to be comfortable to carry when I finally feel old. Kids are on the horizon, so this will likely be the last rifle until I am both old in age and feeling.

So all of you know what I'm coming from, my current rifle is a savage stealth 110 300wm. With a vortex viper 5-25x50, rings, bipod, sling, a scope cover, and five rounds in the mag it weighs in at 16.21lbs - not kidding. I did swap out the buttstock for a magpul gen3 prs stock, which is why the weight is up a bit more than expected, but it should come back down to about 15.3lbs after the magpul prs lite stock I ordered arrives (gotta get under 16lbs to be legal in Idaho, spring bear trip coming up). This was the most affordable left handed, out-of-the-box, 1000 yard rifle I could find three years ago. Yes, I do take this rifle hunting - its been on several backpack elk hunts, several backpack mule deer hunts, and a backpack black bear hunt. All in Colorado wilderness areas. I strap it to my pack so I don't have to carry it on my shoulder or in my hand, which makes the weight tolerable but also creates the inconvenience of needing longer setup times before I can get a shot off. Laugh, gawk, gaze in dis-belief - if I can carry 200 pounds of elk meat out, I can carry 16lbs of rifle in.

On to the main event: lets discuss chassis rifle builds vs high end production rifles.

More and more companies are producing incredibly light weight chassis designs that make it possible to bring PRS accuracy and comfort on a hunt. Specifically, I'm thinking about the XLR element magnesium chassis which weighs 28oz with a carbon fiber grip and buttstock; or the MPA ultra lite hunter CF rifle, which says it will weigh in around 7.5lbs for long actions. I priced out what it would cost to build up a XLR element with a carbon six barrel in 300wm (26" barrel), a titanium action, and trigger, and the total cost comes to about $3475 in parts and an estimated weight of 6.12lbs. Add said and done this puts these two chassis systems on par with both the price and the weight of higher end long-action production rifles such as the Wetherby backcountry ti (long action is 5.9lbs, price is $3450), Cooper backcountry (5.75lbs, price is $3300) and open country LR lightweight (7lbs, price is $4000), and Christensen Arms ridgeline Ti (5.8lbs, price is $2500).

The evolution of chassis systems makes them worth considering, and certainly worth comparing to some of their traditional counter parts. For example, Cooper firearms offers a 1/2 MOA guarente with their traditional rifles, which is something both of the chassis systems can also offer in terms of their performance based on the barrels alone, while the Wetherby and CA ridgeline Ti advertise a 1MOA guarente. It seems the chassis systems have lost weight over time while the traditional rifles are becoming more and more accurate. With a properly developed load and a good shooter, all of these rifles will likely perform very similarly. In contrast, both chassis systems are available with a folding stock, which makes them ideal for carrying on a pack in the backcountry - a feature I wish I had on my current rifle. The chassis systems are also more comfortable for taking longer range shots given the rifle's customization - something that becomes clear to me looking at my current rifle compared to my very first rem 700. However, the chassis systems are still running a bit heavier and more expensive than the traditional rifles, which are both down sides.

To make the compare and contrast fully come to light, lets add in the 5oz weight of a spartan bipod system, the 22 oz weight of a vortex viper hs lr, assume we can find good rings for about 5oz, and add the weight of five 300wm bullets which is about 6oz. That brings us to a grand total of 2.375 lbs of additional carry weight per rifle. The final weight of the MPA ultra lite hunter would be ~9.875lbs, the XLR element build I priced would be ~8.475lbs, the Wetherby backcountry ti becomes ~8.275lbs, the cooper backcountry becomes ~8.128lbs, the cooper open country lr lightweight becomes ~9.375lbs, and the CA ridgeline becomes ~8.275lbs. The final carry weight for all the rifles falls between 8-10lbs. Im sure the weight could come down to below 7.5lbs with 22" barrels and short actions, or a lesser scope; however, I am trying to preserve the "long-range" aspect of this discussion in realtion to the size of the game I hunt, hence the rifles and specs I've highlighted.

Unfortunately, I have yet to come to a definitive conclusion on the topic. My PRS background and bias keeps me eyeing the chassis systems, as well as how much I like the idea of a folding stock. However, I know the lightest of the above options is a traditional stock rifle, and the thought of going from a 16lb rifle to a 8lb rifle makes me giggle with excitement. At this point I am leaning towards the XLR build due to it having the features I like about PRS and chassis rifles, as well as the theoretical final weight being below 8.5lbs with all the accessories included. Additionally, the 26" carbon six barrel I priced on the XLR build should result in comparable accuracy to the same barrel that is on the MPA, as well as the 26" featherweight proof barrel on the Cooper open country. I imagine in terms of accuracy, these three barrels will out shoot the Wetherby backcountry Ti, the Copper backcountry, and the CA ridgeline ti. Once I pay a gun smith to put it all together, the XLR build will likely be the most expensive of all the options too, and having never done such a build it is never the less nerve racking.

I would appreciate your thoughts on the topic. If you can think of anything I'm missing, please chime in. God bless.
 

ObiWanKannoli

Active Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2020
Messages
42
Location
06812
300wm is an excellent cartridge, and will fit the bill for mostly anything in North America. Great choice.

Regarding the chassis rifle, it's up to you, but I'll give my $0.02:

In my opinion the folding stocks for hunting are kind of a gimmick. I do understand entirely for the range, matches, storage, etc. But, if you're really out there with a loaded pack, you're definitely not slipping your rifle in it. If you were actually back packing the gun, the time it would take and noise you would make to take a pack off, open it, fumble through your gadgets and snacks for your rifle, open up the stock, shoulder, aim, and fire when you happen upon something too is a good reason not to go that route. For me at least.

Another note, chassis rifles differ from traditional hunting rifles in a major way; surface geometry. Hunting rifles are smooth, homogenous surfaces. Chassis rifle tend to have tons of holes, relief cuts, sharp edges, etc. What this translates to is that rifle getting snagged and caught on gear and hung up in thick brush or low tree branches. Avoidable, but a PITA none the less.

Last piece is weight. I know you've carried your heavy rifle in and out, I used to do the same. If you want to go light weight on this next rifle though, you will likely be hard pressed to beat a carbon fiber, traditional stock with a chassis style rifle. Will it be necessarily be by a ton, no, but if it's a goal it should be considered. You may find them around the same weight, but if you really want to DIY and go ultra light, a synthetic traditional is the way to go.

At the end of the day, do what makes you happy. I don't know what kind of hunting you do, so the above points might make zero sense and not be applicable at all. For the record, I love chassis rifle for their intended use. Plus, plenty of people hunt with them and have great success.

Best of luck in your search and build, and welcome to the community! By and large a very helpful, supportive group of people.
 

Rick Richard

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2014
Messages
3,991
Location
North Carolina
300wm is an excellent cartridge, and will fit the bill for mostly anything in North America. Great choice.

Regarding the chassis rifle, it's up to you, but I'll give my $0.02:

In my opinion the folding stocks for hunting are kind of a gimmick. I do understand entirely for the range, matches, storage, etc. But, if you're really out there with a loaded pack, you're definitely not slipping your rifle in it. If you were actually back packing the gun, the time it would take and noise you would make to take a pack off, open it, fumble through your gadgets and snacks for your rifle, open up the stock, shoulder, aim, and fire when you happen upon something too is a good reason not to go that route. For me at least.

Another note, chassis rifles differ from traditional hunting rifles in a major way; surface geometry. Hunting rifles are smooth, homogenous surfaces. Chassis rifle tend to have tons of holes, relief cuts, sharp edges, etc. What this translates to is that rifle getting snagged and caught on gear and hung up in thick brush or low tree branches. Avoidable, but a PITA none the less.

Last piece is weight. I know you've carried your heavy rifle in and out, I used to do the same. If you want to go light weight on this next rifle though, you will likely be hard pressed to beat a carbon fiber, traditional stock with a chassis style rifle. Will it be necessarily be by a ton, no, but if it's a goal it should be considered. You may find them around the same weight, but if you really want to DIY and go ultra light, a synthetic traditional is the way to go.

At the end of the day, do what makes you happy. I don't know what kind of hunting you do, so the above points might make zero sense and not be applicable at all. For the record, I love chassis rifle for their intended use. Plus, plenty of people hunt with them and have great success.

Best of luck in your search and build, and welcome to the community! By and large a very helpful, supportive group of people.
Are these comments based on your actual experience? I have a folding stock and use it exclusively for hunting and have never experienced what you have identified.

I can fold the stock and carry it attached to my back pack, which greatly reduces the height of the barrel above my head. In fact, the top of the barrel is less in height than if I was carrying on my shoulder with a sling. Also, removing from the pack and folding the stock is very effortless and little to no noise.

As far as weight, chassis can be either heavier or lighter in weight than a traditional stock, but that is dependent on stock material comparison.

As mentioned, there are cutouts, holes and etc that could be snag points, but no problem in all my outings.

Anyway, just another point of view
 

WeekendWarrior

Active Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
31
Location
United States
300wm is an excellent cartridge, and will fit the bill for mostly anything in North America. Great choice.

Regarding the chassis rifle, it's up to you, but I'll give my $0.02:

In my opinion the folding stocks for hunting are kind of a gimmick. I do understand entirely for the range, matches, storage, etc. But, if you're really out there with a loaded pack, you're definitely not slipping your rifle in it. If you were actually back packing the gun, the time it would take and noise you would make to take a pack off, open it, fumble through your gadgets and snacks for your rifle, open up the stock, shoulder, aim, and fire when you happen upon something too is a good reason not to go that route. For me at least.

Another note, chassis rifles differ from traditional hunting rifles in a major way; surface geometry. Hunting rifles are smooth, homogenous surfaces. Chassis rifle tend to have tons of holes, relief cuts, sharp edges, etc. What this translates to is that rifle getting snagged and caught on gear and hung up in thick brush or low tree branches. Avoidable, but a PITA none the less.

Last piece is weight. I know you've carried your heavy rifle in and out, I used to do the same. If you want to go light weight on this next rifle though, you will likely be hard pressed to beat a carbon fiber, traditional stock with a chassis style rifle. Will it be necessarily be by a ton, no, but if it's a goal it should be considered. You may find them around the same weight, but if you really want to DIY and go ultra light, a synthetic traditional is the way to go.

At the end of the day, do what makes you happy. I don't know what kind of hunting you do, so the above points might make zero sense and not be applicable at all. For the record, I love chassis rifle for their intended use. Plus, plenty of people hunt with them and have great success.

Best of luck in your search and build, and welcome to the community! By and large a very helpful, supportive group of people.
I appreciate the thoughts.

My rifle goes on the side of my pack, not in it, which makes shooting less complicated than you described. The stock goes in a side water bottle pocket, and I use one compression strap to fasten the barrel to the pack. The sequence of events for shooting is drop the pack, undo the one clip which I can do silently, and use the top yoke of the pack to stabilize the rifle, or lay down prone, and make the shot. In truth the time it takes to perform these shots is insignificantly longer compared to taking the same shot with the rifle in my hand or shouldered. Either way, the pack still comes off, and one clip to get my rifle doesn't make a difference from a time perspective. At longer ranges, I usually have time for this. I find I "hurry up and wait" more than immediately shoot. I get in a good position and just stare through my scope for 20-60min+ waiting for the animal to go broad side or other animals in the herd to move out of the way... just lots of waiting.

That said, the shot that I haven't been able to make is a quick standing shot because I have to take off my pack first. This really messes with the scenario of emerging into a meadow or field, usually making more noise than desired in the process, suddenly seeing something I missed while glassing, and not being able to simply shoulder my rifle and shoot. I have the long-range, patient shot down, but not the quick shot. Last year I ended up hunting elk at lower elevations in some aspen forests, and in anticipation of needing to make a quick shot I held my rifle in my hands, but after the first couple days my arms were so soar from holding a 16.3lb rifle all day I started putting it back on my pack. As I got to know the unit better, I started finding elk, and I kept screwing up the shots because I couldn't get my rifle out fast enough as I was finding them all-of-the-sudden.

The folding stock is desirable for the pack in and pack out portions of my backcountry hunts. I currently hunt with a chassis, and the mlok never catches on things, the muzzle however is a different story. Shortening the rifle by 10" with a folding stock would put the muzzle at head level and should keep it from catching on anything I don't hit my head on first. When I'm actually hunting, I imagine having the rifle shouldered because it would be lite enough to do so and at it's full length and ready to shoot, or in hand if hunting timber. I'm in Colorado at the moment, and most of my hunts start by putting my head down and pounding trail to get past the crowds for the first day, so my rifle is on my pack during this time regardless of what the rifle is. I think a folder would be great for this purpose.

I did find a custom shop that makes both carbon fiber traditional stocks and does custom builds with the XLR element magnesium chassis. After talking with their team over the last two days, I decided to go with the chassis setup. The way I'm hunting, I think the chassis makes a lot of sense. Its going to have a 26" proof sendero lite barrel and a titanium action. Prior builds with the same parts were coming in around 6.1lbs, and will go sub 6lbs with a shorter barrel. I'm going to be happy.
 

WeekendWarrior

Active Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
31
Location
United States
Are these comments based on your actual experience? I have a folding stock and use it exclusively for hunting and have never experienced what you have identified.

I can fold the stock and carry it attached to my back pack, which greatly reduces the height of the barrel above my head. In fact, the top of the barrel is less in height than if I was carrying on my shoulder with a sling. Also, removing from the pack and folding the stock is very effortless and little to no noise.

As far as weight, chassis can be either heavier or lighter in weight than a traditional stock, but that is dependent on stock material comparison.

As mentioned, there are cutouts, holes and etc that could be snag points, but no problem in all my outings.

Anyway, just another point of view
Rick,

I agree with your thoughts. I ended up going with a chassis, the xlr element magnesium to be specific. It weights about 3oz more than the litest carbon fiber stock I could find. The folding stock is going to be great for packing the rifle around too.
 

ObiWanKannoli

Active Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2020
Messages
42
Location
06812
Awesome man! Glad you worked out what you wanted to do. Like I said, I was just offering my input based the way I hunt, my experiences, and my gear. You've got to do what works best for you. Would love to see this bad boy when it's complete, sounds like it is going to be an awesome build!
 

WeekendWarrior

Active Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
31
Location
United States
Awesome man! Glad you worked out what you wanted to do. Like I said, I was just offering my input based the way I hunt, my experiences, and my gear. You've got to do what works best for you. Would love to see this bad boy when it's complete, sounds like it is going to be an awesome build!

I'll post the build. Should be done in late May, so I'll have all summer to shoot with it before hunting season opens up. It will look like this, less the suppressor, with a carbon fiber handle, and cerakoted in OD green instead of orange:

1614919070130.png



1614919150073.png
 

WeekendWarrior

Active Member
Joined
Mar 1, 2021
Messages
31
Location
United States
Definitely do! That's beautiful. The OD green is a great choice IMO, it just goes with carbon. Does that rear rest deploy from the stock?
I went with OD green to make the rifle a bit more camouflaged. All the metal will be bead blasted to give it a dull finish, so nothing will sparkle. Should be an awesome setup. The rear rest is a separate accessory that XLR and Mesa Precision recommend, that is the shop doing my build. The rest comes off the stock.The reason these guys like it is for using a rear bag at the range. The version they sell now looks like this:

The more I think about it, the more excited Im getting for this rifle. With Mesa Precision's actions and using 24" proof barrels, they are shooting 0.18-0.3moa groups at a 100 yards. I have never owned a rifle capable of this performance, and the thought of having on that also weight 6lbs is really awesome. They have a several loads developed for their 300wms they recommend as well, giving me a starting point for developing my own. Check out these groups from their site:

1614956466992.png


I was thinking more about the overall weight and looking at some of XLR's designs, and I bet they could make this chassis lighter. This chassis with stock and grip is 28oz, which is on par with carbon fiber traditional stocks, and I imagine future versions will likely incorporate a carbon fiber mlok rail to lighten the rifle even more. Imagine putting a 24" featherweight proof carbon barrel on the rifle? Or moving into a short mag cartidge? Could easily take another pound off with those changes. Not that I would want to, but its fun to think about. Maybe something for my wife in the future.
 

Rick Richard

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 7, 2014
Messages
3,991
Location
North Carolina
You like it? Any opinions on the accessories or setting it up? I have never owned something so lite.
Like it very much so. Mine is setup for a 300NMI, Kelbly action, Proof barrel, NF NX8 4-32 built by Ryan Pierce. As mentioned, the entire package is a shade over 10 lbs...perfect weight in my opinion for making accurate long rang shots.
 

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