I recently received a Choate tactical stock for my Savage sniper project. I did a lot of research on stocks for the Savage 110 bolt action rifle, and itís not easy to find a good stock to fit them other than the factory style stock. I didnít want the factory style stock, I wanted more of a target stock, and I found a few online and at the same time I found that Savage made Long Action and Short Action rifles and sometimes in the same calibers and the only way to be sure was to measure the spacing of the stock screws. The center to center hole spread of 4.275 is the short action and the 5.062 distance is the long action, so make sure you are getting not only the correct action, but the correct bolt spacing for your stock. Get the wrong one and it will not fit.
I was stuck between the wood stock and the polymer stocks. The wood stocks are incredibly beautiful stock, but they will warp and change your point of impact depending on weather conditions. The laminated stocks are much stronger and nearly resistant to warping and breakage, but the problem with wood stock is the inletting. You normally want a 100% perfect inletting (which is custom is EXPENSIVE), or inletting with an aluminum recoil block or pillars, typically mixed with Glas bedding. The point of the block is to spread the recoil forces on the stock, otherwise the stock will deform the wood overtime and shift the point of impact over time.
For the last 50 years or so people have been using a stock filler of epoxy (or other forms) to provide the perfect custom fit to the stock so all the forces are distributed evenly. This adds to the life of the stock as well as the accuracy because the action and/or barrel do not shift over time or shot to shot.
For years now they have been making fiberglass and polymer stocks, and they tend to be light and durable and can handle the extremes of military abuse, but at the same time they tend to look like they fell from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down (now you know why so many are camouflaged).
So in my quest for a stock I found that the wood stocks were not properly inletted, so accuracy and fitting was going to be a challenge and I was building an affordable sniper rifle, plus I would have to wait 6 weeks to receive the wood stock, so and it was not going to save me any money, so wood stocks were out of the selection. I looked at the remaining selection of polymer stocks and read all the customer reviews I could find and all three sounded basically the same, so it was down to a close look at the stocks and the prices.
Now in my research the only CON really commented on about the Choate stock was the weight. Which was about 1 lb more than the others, and this was due to the others being fiberglass and the Choate being 20% fiberglass
filled polymer, with a nice long Aluminum bedding rail. So the Choate was stronger and you would have to roll over it with a tank to break it. In fact, if you do break it Choate wants to know how you did it, and they will replace the stock for free.
After looking at all the stock options it was actually the Choate stock that looked the best, and this was a bit surprising to me. I would have thought the ďhigh endĒ stocks would have as many features as the Choate tactical stock, but they didnít, in fact they looked a bit plain next to the Choate tactical stock, and it actually looked like a nice stock. Itís black, and has a slight texture to it, so thatís the stock I chose to use for this project and the best part is the stock was much cheaper than the others.
Well today I received the Choate stock, and I was a little surprised when I was handed the box. Even with the box it was not as heavy as I was expecting. I opened the box and there was the stock, which was shipped directly from Choate, and it was well packaged and not only was it a really nice looking stock .
Now I have a quick comment on light stocks vs. heavy stocks for rifles. If you are looking for a hunting rifle you typically look for an ultra light stock and rifle. You donít want to be dragging a heavy rifle miles into the woods and back, and while the recoil of a light rifle is much heavier you normally donít feel that recoil shooting at a big buck. Light rifles in good sized calibers are only for hunting, and not real good for target or tactical shooting, and not typically the stock you want on a rifle that you will likely wear out the barrel from use. Itís no fun being at the range and getting pounded to death by your rifle. Now a heavier stock has more mass and it helps dampen the recoil of the heavy calibers and it makes shooting the rifle at the range much more fun. Keep that in mind when you are making a stock choice. The Choate stock is much heavier than the ultra light fiberglass covered foam stocks, but in the long run I think you will like the added weight when it comes to shooting.
Now back to the Choate stock.
The Choate tactical stock is nothing like the Ultimate Sniper Stock, itís more conventional in layout, and it was designed by Major John Plaster, a well known stock designer, while there are many stocks of this design, this one really got it right. The included recoil pad is the best recoil pad I have. Itís soft and really provides a lot of give for added comfort without being too soft. The stock includes length of pull spacers which is a nice feature. Make sure that you adjust the length of pull for the time of year you intend to shoot in most. In other words, donít adjust the rifle to be perfect while wearing a t-shirt, but expect to be shooting it mostly in the winter for hunting because you will be wearing a heavy coat and the added padding will make your rifle length of pull too long.
Thatís why AKís are so short. Itís not that they have short arms, itís the fact that the AK was designed to be an all season rifle, and can be fired with a big bulky coat on without having problems with the length of pull (now you know why AK stocks are short)
The trigger guard included with the stock is actually better quality than the one from the factory which is a nice change, and the full length aluminum bedding block is just what you need for the best possible accuracy, while still maintaining a free floating barrel. The bedding system used has been quoted time and time again of providing fantastic accuracy. The block is a V block so the action is automatically centered in the stock for a perfect fit. While its overkill, Iíll be bedding my action in with Acraglas for a perfect custom fit with no chance of the action ever moving around. While I donít think it would move around at all unless the screws nearly fell out, I wanted to take mine the extra step to insure I have all the accuracy potential possible. While it may not shoot anymore tighter groups, it will make me fell better, and target shooting is mostly mental anyway.
The texture is fine, itís not heavy at all, and if you fell the texture is not to your liking you can always stipple the stock to suit your needs (try that with fiberglass), and the forearm width actually even fit my hand (which nearly impossible to do), and I found the wide forearm comfortable. If you have really small hands you may not get a really good grip, but its polymer, so you can do some minor fitting if needed. Itís also fitted with a rail for an included Harris bipod mount. Now the track is designed do you can quickly adjust the bipod location from the rear by adjusting the tension on the bipod.
The stock comb is well shaped and it looks like it may come very close to fitting my scope height once I have it mounted. I really will not know until I finish the rifle.
Now to the grip area
This is the one section and the only place on the stock where I have to add a critical point. The stock fits me perfect and I have large hands, so the grip area for the shooting hand good. Itís not perfect because itís just a little big for people with smaller hands, so if you are a pigmy looking for a stock you may have to look for another style because stocks of this style have too large grip area, and this one is just a little bit bigger. Once again itís a polymer stock and itís possible to do some minor alterations, and a few people have reduces the width of the grip to better suit them. It works with me without adjustment, but it would have been a little more pleasing had it been a bit smaller. (Itís larger because itís harder to add material to make it fit then to sand some away.)
So thatís my only real negative comment, and itís actually not all that negative. Itís a good looking stock at a very affordable price, with a built in bedding block so you can get the most accuracy out of your rifle. Typically you can improve your rifles groups just by mounting this stock to your rifle without any additional bedding or adjustment at all, and that says a lot about the quality, which I must point out is very high quality and best of all itís MADE IN THE USA.
If you have not considered the Choate stocks, you might want to give them another look, I chose it for the basis of a sniper rifle where the wrong stock choice can destroy accuracy and the right stock can improve it. Look around the internet for customer reviews on the Choate Tactical stock, and you will be surprised that the comments for such an affordable stock can be so good.
Check them out at http://www.riflestock.com/ and if you still have any questions you can actually speak to the Owner of the Company Fred Choate. Try doing that with many of the other stock companies.
One last comment, they do make one tactical stock thatís even better, and thatís the Custom tactical stock.
The photos below are of my personal stock. You will be seeing more of this stock on the Savage Sniper Rifle Article on building a 6.5x47 Lapua sniper rifle.
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