Monday, November 13, 2017

MDT ESS Sniper Chassis System Review

MDT ESS Sniper Chassis System Review

Some of my favorite precision rifle chassis's reviewed were the billet HS3 and LSS chassis systems from the Canadian company MDT offering the precision rifle shooter true drop in precision rifle chassis which can immediately up the precision of nearly any standard precision rifle action from Tikka, Savage, Remington, Ruger American, Browning, or Howa.

MDT’s LSS is a lightweight sniper chassis and the HS3 is a unique color panel configurable chassis.  Now MDT has introduced another great chassis named the ESS which is available in seven different actions, left or right handed, and configurable with multiple forend options, lengths, colors and buttstock options. The result of the configurable options are several 1000 different configurations - literally your MDT ESS precision rifle chassis may be extremely unique compared to others.

To test out this new MDT ESS chassis I choose a Howa 1500 Short action, right handed FDE base chassis, 15-inch NV railed handguard in FDE, with the MDT Skeleton buttstock in FDE. Of note, I could have mixed and matched colors for a unique look. The black handgrip and other small parts offered a nice color contrast for the build. The MDT ESS stock was set up with a Howa HWB40004 .223 action with 20” heavy bull threaded barrel. All of MDT’s stocks accept AICS pattern magazines, however MDT offers their own reliable and affordable polymer AISC pattern 10-round magazines which I use frequently on many precision rifle builds.  In this case I used their .223 AICS polymer magazine which is compatible with the longer 77gr+ .223 long range optimized bullets.


A Timney trigger was added to maximize accuracy of this little precision rig. I have been using Timney triggers for years and they always deliver impressive results downrange and are one of the few companies who offer a huge variety of triggers for various firearm models and brands beyond just Remington.

An awesome precision build deserves a top-end optic. The Burris XTR II 5-25 with G2B Mildot reticle certainly fit the bill to help the already highly accurate Howa action deliver everything it possibly can. Burris offers several other reticles however as a writer I like simplicity of the mil-dot reticle to do editorial swaps between various optics and rifles without relearning each new reticle. Weaver 34MM rings were used to mount the huge 34mm tube-ed Burris XTR II.


FEATURES & FUNCTION
According to MDT the HSS chassis represents a lot of refinements from its original chassis designs. Several of the MDT chassis are used widely as OEM precision rifle chassis by manufacturers throughout the firearms industry in various configurations. The chassis carries forward the proven V-block bedding system designed to form a solid and reliable base for the rifle action. MDT tuned the magazine well to ease insertion while also quieting the rattle and movement of the mag in the chassis - my take is that it is significantly tighter. The tab style magazine release has been replaced with a semi-flush ambidextrous paddle that can easily be activated by a weak or strong hand but is less likely to be accidentally released.

MDT also tweaked the recoil lug mortise to accommodate a wider variety of aftermarket recoil lugs, and the trigger area has been opened to accommodate most aftermarket triggers. Other ergonomic elements include an integrated barricade stop for the precision rifle shooters adding a polymer forend grip at the balance point to improve cool to the touch handling with a hot barrel. The octagonal profiled handguard delivers more improvised and solid rest use than a round forend. Even thumb shelves have been added for open grip shooters.


MDT moved from a typical AR buttstock interface to their own ESS skeleton buttstock trunnion which greatly improved the AR15 compatible comfort and trigger finger alignment. The ESS stock is fully adjustable including lateral adjustment for the butt-pad and the cheek rest height. MDT will offer an M4 carbine style buffer tube adapter in later 2017.

What is most appealing about the MDT HSS chassis system is that the buyer can configure the chassis exactly the way they want it without compromising on features. If you want a short, long, railed, partially railed, or un-railed chassis you can get that all without hoping you can fit or remove rails later on as needed. MDT offers the HSS chassis for Remington 700, Savage, Ruger American, Tikka T3, Howa 1500, Stiller Tac 338, and Browning X-Bolt actions.

Most MDT’s ESS chassis kits start around $450 and go up from there depending on options selected but some configurations are a little less. Assembly is easy and simple delivering an accurized platform without messy bedding. Our chassis installed on the Howa 1500 action in a matter of minutes.

The Howa actions have proven themselves to me to be more consistently accurate than my Remington actions and this setup was no different. The older Howa .223 action were a slower 1:12 twist and loved 55gr or lighter rounds, however the newer .223 actions like this one are 1:9 which are more accommodating to heavier bullets. Working through various test rounds it became apparent that the Howa .223 still liked the lighter spectrum of bullet in the 62gr-55gr range. My best 100-yard groups were from Hornday VMAX 53gr Superformance rounds delivering a nice five round .43” group. Overall this rig shot sub-MOA with pretty much any match quality ammo I tested which was primarily Hornady.


FINAL THOUGHTS
This is a beefy heavy duty precision rifle chassis with nearly limitless configuration options. MDT consulted a number of professionals in the precision rifle shooting industry in the development of this chassis and it is clear they did their homework. The fit and finish is exceptional, the fitment of the action was problem-free, and the performance was very impressive.  Once you get over the looks and have spent time behind the chassis shooting, the ergonomics have been well refined over their multiple chassis systems and this one is by far the most comfortable with complete control over all adjustments.

The chassis is well built, delivers the heft needed for a precision shooting platform, and allows the shooter to configure or reconfigure the platform as needed. This is an outstanding chassis which delivers all the capabilities, precision, fit and finish of a high-and premium chassis without the cost.

SPECS
Weight: Chassis: 1.6lb
Forend: 0.6lb - 1lb
Buttstock: 2lb.
Length of Pull: 13.4" - 14.4" (Based on Remington 700).
Ambidextrous, easy reach magazine latch – can be operated with trigger finger or left hand.
The extra large magazine well for easy mag insertion/removal.
Barricade stop in front of the magazine to prevent putting pressure on the magazine.
Angled front profile with hand grip for minute vertical adjustments and comfort/protection from the elements.
Thumb rests on both sides of the chassis.
Wide front profile for extra comfort/stability when resting on flat surfaces.
Stock height at comb and heel – 0.5” below bore centerline.  1.0” of riser adjustability.
Allows for barrel contours up to 1.300” straight taper.
Accepts AICS pattern magazines for both short and long action. (3.715” long action)
Accepts aftermarket lugs up to 0.375 thick and tapered
Compatible with all non-beavertail AR pattern pistol grips.  Beavertail grips will fit with minor trimming.
CNC machined from Aircraft grade Aluminum and finished with H-series Cerakote.  Cheek-piece, fore-grip, and butt-pad constructed of composites.

The ESS Chassis System comes complete with a chassis, butt stock, and a forend.
All hardware is included. You will need Allen keys to assemble and install on your rifle.

SOURCES

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