Thursday, September 17, 2015

XLR Industries Tactical Evolution Remington 700 Chassis Review

XLR Industries Tactical Evolution Remington 700 Chassis Review

Everything seems to snowball for me and this is what happened when I started looking at Remington 700 Short Action Chassis Systems, so continues the string of reviews featuring and reviewing all the various Remington 700 aftermarket chassis including this stunning XLR Industries Tactical Evolution chassis. XLR Industries offers several versions, however this version delivers a hard use design with a full shrouded free floated forend.

WHY UPGRADE?
The main question everyone will ask is why go to the trouble and expense to move from a factory stock to a billet chassis system like this XLR Industries Tactical Evolution stock or a premium target stock? There are a number of reasons to upgrade, however the most popular reason is consistency and improved accuracy due to a platform which is not affected by weather and humidity, and provides the same positive and precision grip/bedding on the action from shot to shot. These higher end chassis also free-float the barrel for the best possible accuracy from your Remington 700 barreled action and in most cases feature positive mechanical bedding which further increases accuracy and negate the need for the mess of resin or epoxy bedding the action.

Accuracy Improvement - That barrel free floating and mechanical bedding systems delivers an accuracy improvement. Every billet Remington 700 chassis I have tested has shown to deliver about the same 15% accuracy improvement over the factory Hogue stock. For example, this reduced my best 100-yard .65”-ish groups down to just over .5” and my more typical .8”-.9” groups down to the .7”-.75” mark. Not transformational, however it is an improvement and delivers more consistent groups which could make a huge difference at 800-1000 yards. I can only speculate based on my experience, but this stock in combination with a match trigger upgrade could increase accuracy by as much as 30% depending on your trigger.

Magazine fed Conversion - Most of the aftermarket chassis, including this XLR stock, also deliver integrated AICS style box magazine compatibility which saves you around $200 for a “bottom metal” AICS compatible magazine adapter for your factory stock. So instead of just a three or four round floor plate style magazine, you can feed your precision beast with 10-rounds at a time and delivers the ability to quickly reload or conveniently unload the rifle without "dumping" your rounds on the ground. AICS obviously makes various capacity magazines however ALPHA, Magpul, and MDT all also offer great options as well. The ALPHA are my favorite simply because they are a very compact double stack design.


Comfort - Yet another benefit of these chassis are that they are typically ergonomically and stability optimized for prone or benchrest shooting positions which deliver more long term shooting comfort behind the gun over long periods of lying or sitting down.

Most find there is a world of difference in comfort and fit when they get behind one of these chassis. If you want the best accuracy possible from your Remington 700 Action and additional features, then it makes sense to look at one of these chassis systems. Of course the obvious point I should make is that these target and sniper chassis are usually pretty heavy and are not really for field rifles that you are going to lug around for miles or use for a brush/walking stalk hunt. The purpose built chassis are designed for the most part to be supported with a bipod or sandbags and deliver the stability to increase long-range precision.

Adjustability & Customization - XLR are the newer kids on the block when it comes to billet Remington 700 chassis however people are going a bit nuts over them due to the impressive comfort, adjustability and the huge breadth of chassis offered for various guns as well as customization options.

All the XLR buttstocks are fully adjustable for cant, cheek rest position, cheek rest height, length of pull, and buttpad height. You can get insanely comfy behind this rifle. About the only thing it is missing from a comfort perspective is a memory foam pillow. The base of their buttstocks are angled to work with sandbags for elevation adjustments when prone or on the bench.


Easy Upgrade - Among the many different bolt actions XLR offers billet chassis for, the Remington 700 short and long action are of course by far the most popular. Shooters get a drop in stock replacement which delivers everything the professional and amateur shooter could ever want in a precision stock with literally every aspect of the stock is adjustable all while remaining completely backward compatible with off the shelf Remington upgrade components.
FIT, FINISH, FEEL, FEATURES, & FUNCTIONS
As with all the XLR industries chassis, this chassis is made from 60601 T-6 US sourced virgin billet.  Evolution series is available with any of XLR’s own billet buttstocks. In this case I choose their Tactical stock, so this chassis I am testing is called the Tactical Evolution Chassis. If I had selected the Standard buttstock, this model would have been the Standard Evolution. Hopefully you get the idea of their naming convention of the models.

XLR stocks all accept AR15 grips, however it comes with the best one I could ever come up with to put on a rifle like this. The grip is a soft rubber santoprene style ergonomic grip - feels awesome. XLR’s chassis can accept “some” AR15 buttstocks, however why would you go there when XLR’s are better, more adjustable, higher quality, in some cases lighter, and less expensive starting at only $180. XLR’s folding $115 stock adapter can also be added to any of the stocks.

The XLR Industries Tactical Evolution chassis I tested is XLR’s most popular chassis offering both lightweight and durability. It is not a lightweight stock at just over 4lbs and nearly twice as heavy as my stock factory Hogue stock, however it is lightweight compared to most billet chassis systems. It is a chassis which can be heavily knocked around and will take the abuse. The tubular handguard allows a structurally rigid forend with minimal weight to help offset barrel weight. A friend who is one of those legitimate “yeah I dropped the deer at 650-yards with a single clean shot with my 8mm belted magnum” kind guys and shoots regularly at over 1000-yards loved this chassis. Loved it like I thought I wouldn’t see it any more kinda loved it. His comment was that although a rifle like this will likely spend most of its life supported, there will be times where a full handguard delivers positional shooting options to overcome a bad shooting position. His point was that in most cases a bolt gun shooter would likely grip the barrel during this poor shooting positions which would impact the point of aim, with the Tactical Evolution chassis you have a enclosed barrel and full handguard to leverage without impacting free-float barrel accuracy. It all made sense to me.


The other nice thing is that you have the potential to mount rails and accessories at 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions with the XLR Tactical Evolution handguard. So if you wanted to add night vision, thermal, lights, or IR equipment you could.  I can see why this is XLR’s most popular chassis.

The Evolution chassis has been lightened a little however not as much as their Carbon milled skeletonizing model. I would fully expect one of their chassis to appear in a Bond film at some point due to amazing looks.

I will note that extended Remington scope bases do not work with this chassis due to the handguard tube unless you want to cut to shorten them down. XLR sells a high quality 20MOA base, however I had to remove an extended 20 MOA xTreme Hardcore extended scope base and swap it for a Brownells steel standard length scope base which worked perfect. Also higher scope rings will likely also be required for clearance. I ran out of scope rings and plurged on a set of premium American Precision rings to mount the Lucid Crossover scope high enough to clear the handguard assembly. From my estimation, you will need high rings versus medium rings, however this is all dependant on your scope dimensions.

Where the XLR’s Element model and other similar open top chassis allow you to just drop in an existing Remington 700 setup, this XLR Evolution chassis has that front forend and receiver trunnion to contend with. It was a a bit of a pain in the butt to need to re-order and buy all new parts, so this would be the potential notable downside of this style chassis. If you are building up a precision rifle with any enclosed forend style chassis, I would forewarn you that great attention should be paid to the required base and ring height before you start buying items.

The Evolution chassis is not a 2 min chassis swap like the XLR Element. The Evolution stock needs to have the forend and trunnion removed for installation of the action. Once I dropped my Remington 700 SPS .308 action in, the forend is re-assembled back on the chassis. Not a long or involved process, however it does take about 15 minutes.

THIS BUILD
Remington 700 SPS AAC Tactical barreled action, Brownells Steel Remington 700 SPS scope base,  American Precision high rings, Lucid 4-16x44 Crossover Optic, and KRG Bolt Lift bolt handle.

FINAL THOUGHTS
Considering the stunning beauty of this chassis and craftsmanship, it's surprising that XLR is selling this at only $790 considering many other billet chassis are much more. It is a deal, wrapped up in a attractive design that actually, you know… performs as good as it looks. The major advantage of this chassis is that it delivers full coverage free-float handguard which according to my long-range expert could be handy in the field. The only downside I saw on this chassis was having to work around the handguard with scope mounting, other than that I see no downsides to this chassis.
SPECS
XLR Evolution Chassis
6061 T-6 billet action block
Type 2 Class 2 anodized finish
12 inch or 14 inch hand guard
Ergo overmold tactical AR grip
Right or left hand configurations
Fully adjustable stock
Sling ready
Single shot or DBM setup
No gunsmithing required
Made in U.S.A
MSRP $790 + Optional $115 Stock Folder Adapter

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