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Precision rifle gear – The Rifle

If you’ve read one of our earlier articles on getting started in PRS-style shooting, or you’ve attended a match or two, you might be considering what rifle you could compete with. I’m hoping to do a few posts on different gear considerations, but this first one will focus around the core of your system – the rifle.

Run what you brung

Don’t correct my grammar, I know “brung” isn’t a word. It just rhymes better. If you are not jumping into your local match because you don’t think you have the right gear, you may be missing an opportunity. If you have a rifle from a different shooting discipline, or even your mountain gun or bush-stalking rifle, bring it along and have a go. As long as your rifle meets the requirement of the shoot (i.e. within any calibre / speed restrictions) and is safe, there are a few reasons you should run it before investing in a new gun.

  1. You don’t know what you don’t know. Once you’ve experienced a few comps or handled and seen other competitors’ rifles, you’ll be able to make a much more informed decision on your first precision rifle purchase – this could save you thousands of dollars, or many hours of heartache and searching the internet for unavailable parts and conversion kits
  2. The sooner you start shooting this style of competition, the sooner you will learn and become more proficient
  3. If you somehow find out this sport isn’t for you (highly unlikely), you won’t have invested time and money in a rifle you won’t use again

So, get stuck in, get to your local match, and start sending rounds down range. Accept the fact that you won’t be as competitive with what you are running (or maybe you will be in a different class / division), and set yourself a goal to learn something from each stage.

Entry level – mid-range

An entry-level rifle is not only a time and money-saver when you get started, but with modern rifles and ammunition standards, might be all you need to be competitive for quite a few years. Climbing the ranks as a shooter is not a gear race (for the most part), and you will find that investment in training, quality ammunition / components, and time behind the trigger, will get you further much faster than buying a gun and scope combo that is more expensive than your car.

If you’re looking for a reasonably priced rifle, the common names in shooting are a good place to start. They have a lot of aftermarket support, which means you will be able to make changes and modifications as you go, such as buying a chassis or finding the right scope base. Generally speaking, you would be looking at Howa (Weatherby Vanguard), Tikka, Ruger, Remington, Bergara or Savage.

Rifles like the Winchester M70, Browning X-Bolt, Mossberg Patriot, Ruger M77 MkII, Ruger American or Savage Axis might all be great platforms to modify, but only to a point. If you have your heart set on one of these for whatever reason, do some research to see if there are sufficient aftermarket offerings to explore down the road. Primarily, this will be around the availability of suitable chassis systems or stocks, scope bases with a bit of cant built in (20 MOA rails, etc), and potentially the ease of changing barrels if you decide you want to rebarrel once you’ve worn out the factory barrel or want to make a change.

Whatever rifle and chassis / stock combo you go with, make sure to consider your magazine system. Having the ability to run 5 or 10 round AICS pattern magazines is almost a requirement for the sport, as you need reliability and (sometimes) a lot of rounds down range really fast. For long action chamberings, your AICS pattern mags will be limited to 3, 5 or 7 rounds in most instances. Generally speaking for practical or precision rifle sports, you want a short action cartridge based on a .308 case.

Back to the rifles we mentioned as good starters, here are some pros and cons:

The Howa 1500 is an absolute workhorse and makes a great practical match rifle with its heavy varmint barrel. Photo credit: Simon Gillice / Gillice Practical Rifle Events

Howa 1500 Short Action


  • Can be purchased as a barreled action without stock, saving on cost of parts you don’t need
  • Match rifle variants come with a very suitable heavy barrel profile, threaded muzzle and threaded bolt handle with oversized bolt knob
  • Great aftermarket support from the likes of MDT, KRG, etc
  • Weight adjustable two-stage trigger
  • Reliable function in adverse shooting conditions
  • Best value for money by far


  • AICS compatibility can be limited to certain mags (although this is easily remedied with notching out ahead of the feed ramp – best done by a gunsmith)
  • Aftermarket options are good, but not as universally supported as the likes of Tikka and Rem 700 actions (e.g. might be harder to find the trigger you want)


Tikka T3x / TAC A1 / CTR


  • Extremely slick action due to tight tolerances, polished finish and unique bolt lug design
  • Universal action length means changing cartridges down the road is relatively easy, even from short action to long action, etc.
  • The action is an excellent basis for a semi-custom rifle
  • TAC A1 comes with a fairly good factory chassis
  • Excellent aftermarket support by most major brands
  • TAC A1 and CTR magazines are fantastic in function, reliability and have a short height for a 10 round mag
  • The T1x 22LR is somewhat compatible with T3x parts and stocks, so a trainer set up replicating your main gun can be achieved


  • With the correct bolt stop, the Tikka is an excellent short or medium length action. If you want to change to a long action or magnum action cartridge in the future (e.g. 300 PRC), the action length can be limiting

    Tom S shooting as part of Team Gun Rack at the Tarata Teams Shoot 2022. The Tikka T3x is a slick action and a great basis for a semi-custom gun
  • TAC A1 and CTR mags are stupid expensive
  • T3x variants have very good barrels, but not usually of a profile sufficiently heavy for long strings of fire
  • Tikka barrels can be hard work to remove, but a good gunsmith will help with this
  • TAC A1 scope bases are supplied in 0 MOA and are high above the action, so you will want to change this if you change stocks. They are also somewhat difficult to remove (otherwise a good quality!)
  • A bit on the spendy side

Ruger Precision Rifle (RPR) Short Action


  • An affordable package rifle ready to go (when you compare to adding a chassis to standard rifle)
  • Later generations keep modernising, e.g. replacing Keymod forends with M-LOK
  • Limited chamberings, but relevant options for our sport (6.5mm Creedmoor, 6mm Creedmoor, and 308 Win if you don’t like winning)
  • Accepts a wider variety of magazines than most
  • Similarly to the Tikka TAC A1, features a variety of AR15 style controls and components


  • Not as refined as the Tikka TAC A1, which is probably the most directly comparable option, but reflective of the price point at 3/4 the street price of the Tikka
  • You will likely want to replace included items like the grip and muzzle brake

Remington 700 Short Action


  • The “standard” action shape and footprint, due to its prolific nature and saturation of the US market – the best aftermarket options
  • Most custom actions utilise a Rem 700 footprint,  so accessories and stocks can generally be re-used as you upgrade
  • Training rifles in 22LR such as the Vudoo or Bergara B14R can be equipped with the same accessories and parts to create true trainer systems
  • System is so well known that there is an endless font of knowledge on trouble shooting or improvement
  • Lots of “off the shelf” options suitable for precision rifle shooting


  • Varying degrees of quality control and materials / manufacturing over the years, as Remington has had several bankruptcies and new owners. The good ones are good, but it can be hard to know before you spend the money
Bergara is the newest manufacturer on this list, but taps into the existing market presence of the Remington 700 footprint

Bergara B14 HMR Short Action


  • A clone of the Remington 700, but generally higher quality – all of the pros and none of the cons mentioned above
  • Factory stock is suitable for field style shooting and is a good compromise / cross-over option when considering precision shooting and hunting


  • A bit more expensive – you’re spending Tikka money here

Savage 110 Short Action


  • Very accurate rifles at a good price point
  • Good chassis options from the factory, made for Savage by MDT
  • Barrel nut design makes for easy barrel changes in the future – lots of pre-fit barrel options make this a good basis for a semi-custom gun


  • Several variations in bolt release over the years – make sure your action is compatible with aftermarket stocks
  • Mag release, bolt release and trigger mechanisms can be a bit “fiddly” (might be personal taste, and my bias here)
  • Aftermarket support is good, but probably not as well supported in the precision rifle game compared to other options on this list

Custom guns

Guns NZ team shooter Graeme running his Curtis Custom Axiom in an MPA set up. Image credit: Dylan Ackley

If you’re looking at the high end of the precision rifle spectrum, you’re likely looking at a “custom” action. Either, you have been in the sport for a while and have a good idea of what you want, or potentially you’re new to the sport, but money is no object and you want the perfect rifle from the outset.

I don’t have much experience with these actions myself, but generally speaking you are buying a Rem 700 SA clone (or variation thereof) which is compatible with Rem 700 accessories and stocks.  The action is going to cost around the price of a whole gun from the previous section, and then you have a choice of barrels. Barrel selection in New Zealand is improving dramatically, but prices are still a bit painful, especially if you are shooting a “barrel burner” of a cartridge.

Typical actions in this category would be:

  • Impact Precision
  • Lone Peak Arms
  • Defiance
  • Big Horn
  • Curtis Custom
  • Surgeon
  • BAT
  • Barnard (NZ)
  • Hardy Rifle Engineering (NZ)

Pair your action with a barrel – it’s helpful for getting bullets down range. You’ll probably encounter these names in barrel manufacturers:

  • Proof Research
  • Krieger
  • Bartlein
  • Criterion
  • Hawk Hill Custom
  • Benchmark
  • True-Flite (NZ)
  • Hardy Rifle Engineering (NZ)
  • Vulcan Barrels (NZ)


For most of us shooting precision rifle sports in New Zealand, gear selection is a bit of a journey, and it kind of follows the sequence listed above; start with the whatever you have, then get a dedicated precision gun at an affordable price point, and eventually spend all the money. If you aren’t sure what is right for you, hop in a comment section on Facebook, it’s always full of helpful information. Kidding! Go to a match – see what there is, talk to people, and see what makes sense for you.

You can always contact us for advice on where to purchase gear. We stock some of the above brands ourselves, or can point you in the right direction.

How to find PRS / Field Shooting matches in NZ

If you’re new to the precision rifle sports, or maybe you just read our recent article on what PRS and Field Shooting are, next steps are probably to find out how to get involved and where matches are held. This article will list out all of the current organisations which hold these kinds of matches – if we do miss any, feel free to drop us a message on Facebook and we’ll make sure to add it.

Speaking of Facebook, the bulk of info on matches, entries, updates, etc., is done through Facebook and Facebook Messenger. If you don’t like social media, or you’ve just never got around to it, it would be worthwhile creating a profile just so you can interact with these organisations.

A rare non-natural prop at a TLRS event. Featured shooter Mizz Gunrack

North Island

Gillice Practical Rifle Events

The original and the best! Simon has been running shoots for longer than most of us have been in the sport, and his events inspire and inform a lot of the other matches held across the country. You can follow GPRE on their Facebook or Instagram pages. Regular matches held by GPRE include the Pre-Roar Eye Opener (Mar), Desert Duel teams match (May), Speed vs Precision 22LR Match (Nov) and Tarata Practical Rifle Match (Nov).

As and when other properties / locations have been available, Simon has held other medium range and long range matches, as well as frequent 22LR shoots. Keep an eye on their social media for events not listed above. GPRE events are mostly held in the Central North Island, around Taranaki and Waiouru / Taihape.

Taranaki Long Range Shooting

TLRS, run by Graeme (and his loyal crew of volunteers), largely follows the format established by GPRE, adding its own flair and personality. Having started off as some social gong shoots a few years ago, the organisation and matches have evolved significantly to be some of the best precision matches in the country.

Surplus Steel is an awesome Service Rifle / Field Shooting crossover event that is a highlight of the shooting calendar

Regular events for TLRS include Surplus Steel (Jan), Ahititi Long Range Challenge (Feb) and Winter Blast (Jun / Jul). Other matches have included Bowers Valley Brawl (a dedicated long range / magnum event), and some 22LR matches. The Ahititi Long Range Challenge is the biggest event in the precision sports calendar, with the 2022 match consisting of 3 days of shooting, each day being a separate event. TLRS operates mostly in Ahititi (Taranaki), and other Central NI locations, up to Waitomo District.

TLRS and GPRE have collaborated in 2022 to run the SPARC 22LR series, four matches with distinct flavours, different match directors and locations, culminating in an upcoming series final.

To follow TLRS, you can check out their Facebook or Instagram pages. Graeme also runs Bolt Action Media, and co-hosts the Precision Unloaded Podcast with Mark (land owner / match director / podcast host extraordinaire).

The Gun Rack

Yes, that’s us! We’ve run a grand total of two 22LR events in the northern Waikato region (out towards Port Waikato) over the course of 2022, and hope to do more in the future. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram for more updates.

Our aim is to provide matches that the other regular match directors/ hosts can participate in (as they’re always doing the hard work), as well as holding events closer to Tauranga, Hamilton and Auckland. This means a little bit less driving for those of us up this way, and also means we can attract new shooters to the sport.

Rifle being made safe at the end of a stage. We shoot in any conditions, so long as we can see the targets.

Precision Rifle Series New Zealand

PRS NZ are the official PRS affiliated organisation in New Zealand, and run matches in the Waiouru / Taihape area. It seems to be the aim of the organisation to get other match directors / locations involved and part of the series in due course, as well as qualifiying shooters to compete in the PRS USA Finale.

You can find them on Facebook. PRS NZ is also supported by Long Range Academy, and you can find out more at their website.

Central North Island Gun Club

CNIGC are primarily a Service Rifle club, and they host a few really cool events every year (along with all their club shoots). If I’m not shooting a precision or practical rifle match on the same day, I’ll try and be at their ANZAC shoot, Rapids, etc.

A couple years ago CNIGC worked with Simon from GPRE to run their first 22LR precision match. As far as I know, they have held more matches since then and have gone from strength to strength. Some of the CNIGC members have become familiar faces at other North Island matches, so it’s good to see the sport spreading to shooters from other disciplines.

CNIGC have a website where you can get in touch or find out more.

Auckland Shooting Club

Auckland Shooting Club are based in Makarau, about 45 mins north of Auckland central. They host 22LR precision club matches, amongst lots of other shooting disciplines. It’s not clear if this is restricted to members only, so get in touch, I’m sure they’d be happy to point you in the right direction.

Auckland Shooting Club have a Facebook page and a website for contact details.

The dreaded camo net is a prop that features at GPRE shoots every now and then – gear management is essential.

South Island

Now, I have very limited knowledge of the precision rifle scene down South, so Mainlanders, please excuse the brevity of this section.

Section 22 is a great resource for our Mainland friends looking to get into precision shooting. Blair also imports some essential gear for the sport

Section 22

Section 22 is run by Blair, and hosts a bunch of 22LR matches in the North Otago region. Blair also imports a bunch of shooting gear, including tripods, ammo pouches, Wiebad bags, etc. Section 22 is run as a private group on Facebook, so have a look for them there.

Sparrowhawk NZ

Sparrowhawk NZ has been around for a minute or two. These guys have their own range in South Canterbury and run regular shooter education and training courses. They also host matches at their range. You can find them on Facebook or at their website.

Boundary Creek

Another venue down South which frequently hosts precision style matches, the range is just outside of Oamaru. A private group on Facebook contains info on upcoming matches, so search for them on there.

Hokonui Precision Rifle Matches

22LR is a great way to get into precision shooting, yet is still a highly competitive and fun subsection of the sport when you’re fully into it.

Another private Facebook group for you to search and apply to. A great resource for matches being held in the South Island.

Alpine Long Range

Alpine Long Range hosts matches in the Canterbury region, not too far from Christchurch. You can follow them on Facebook to keep an eye out for upcoming matches.

Peak View Range

PVR operate an established range with targets available for plinking or practice at distances from 100m – 1000m. They also run competitions and have a shop to buy gear you might need. If you or your significant other need extra motivation to get out there, they also operate Peak View Retreat.

Peak View Range can be found in Nelson, on Facebook or their website.

New Zealand Mountain Challenge

The Vortex NZ Mountain Challenge has been running since 2015, and is a world class long range event. The most recent event had a 3-day format, with a 1000 yard shoot off, the main mountain challenge match, and a precision rifle match on the third day.

You can find more info on the Mountain Challenge on their Facebook page. The match is sold out fairly quickly from what I hear, so make sure to keep an eye on it if it interests you. The Mountain Challenge is an annual event in Wanaka.

Product review: MDT TAC21 Chassis for Tikka T3 long action

Chassis systems have really come to the fore in the past few years, as tactical and precision rifle shooting has gained a larger following. Throw in lots of product innovation and modularity, and you’ve got a recipe for success.

There are three rifles that usually get the royal treatment, and have chassis built for them by most major manufacturers. Namely, the Remington 700, Savage 110, and the Tikka T3(x). The Howa 1500 usually features too. If you’re looking for a chassis for any of these rifles, you’ll have plenty to choose from. Having looked around the market, I decided to to give the TAC21 chassis a go.

The reason the TAC21 really stood out as a potential option for the build I was working on, was that the forend came off as a separate piece, but still had a continuous Picatinny rail. This was particularly important for me, as my Tikka T3 in 6.5×55 has a full over-barrel MAE suppressor that comes right back to the action. It has a 1.26″ OD and would need to be removed after every shoot to get gas residue and powder fouling off the barrel and crown. The TAC21 looked like it was up for the task – and it sure looked a lot easier than taking my rifle out of its standard stock every time I left the range.

The TAC21 by Modular Driven Technologies (MDT). Note the dimensions are for a Remington 700 SA. [Image credit: MDT]
The TAC21 by Modular Driven Technologies (MDT). Note the dimensions are for a Remington 700 SA. [Image credit: MDT]
So, after deciding on a chassis, MDT offered us one to review. This is always a good sign – when a manufacturer stands by their products enough to let them out into the wild with reviewers! So, after customising my order on the MDT website, it was time to wait for it to be shipped to NZ.

The agony

Nothing is more painful than having a cool new toy come from across the world, and not knowing when it will arrive!

Compounding my dilemma was the fact that it was a Tikka T3 long action. This meant that standard AICS mags would not work, because of the shorter magazine port. MDT makes their own magazines, in metal. They are Cerakoted the same colour as the chassis too. Unfortunately as I placed my order, they were out of stock and back ordered, so I waited “patiently” as they made up some new ones.

When the rifle did arrive, I happily single-loaded for a while, until the magazines were ready.
When the rifle did arrive, I happily single-loaded for a while, until the magazines were ready.

However, this was all mitigated by the fact that MDT’s staff are perhaps the best human beings on the planet. I judge a company a lot by how they treat their customers, and MDT tops the charts in my books. The only other company that would share that rank would be Vortex. And when it comes to some of the really big bullet and component manufacturers, I can tell you, your concerns are right at the bottom of the pile with them.

You may think I received special treatment as a reviewer and that my experience is not really a true customer experience. Well, the first person I spoke to knew I was a reviewer – the other two people did not. So, I’m comfortable standing by the statement above.

The best day, was when I inquired after progress on the mags, and was told they were a few weeks out still. How was this the best day? The kind lady at MDT offered to send my entire order ASAP, and then expedite the magazines to me when they were available, at no charge.

To which I said ‘Yes’. Very much yes.

I really wanted to give this chassis a thorough testing, and I didn’t mind single-loading for a month or so if I had to. And I’m glad I did, as this gave me a chance to work through some of the unique aspects of the system, and also take it along to some cool events, such as the Long Range Fundamentals course with Kerry from Precision Shooter.


First impressions

I cannot overstate how excited I was when I opened my package from Canada. But I unfortunately couldn’t use it straight away, as I was sighted in and good to go for my first F-Class shoot. After I attended that shoot with the Franklin Rifle Club at 600 metres, I got home, stripped and cleaned the rifle, and got busy putting it into the TAC21 chassis.

The first thing I noticed was that the solid aluminium chassis and Skeleton Rifle Stock added a good deal of weight. This was ideal for my purposes (an F-Open build), where extra mass means more stability and less felt recoil. If you’re after a lighter chassis system, for more run-and-gun shooting sports, look at the LSS or HS3 chassis by MDT – many of the same benefits as the TAC21, but much lighter by design.


I won’t go through how to assemble the product – it’s pretty easy, and there are step-by-step instructions included. There are also some Youtube videos out there if you’re a visual learner.

While I was putting the rifle together I immediately noticed a few points. This chassis is not carelessly designed. There are some very obvious cutouts and reliefs specifically for my Tikka, where a Remington or Savage would have a different layout (bolt stops, safeties, etc.). Instead of finding a way to cookie-cutter design this chassis, they designed it around the actions they wanted to house, and did so with a high degree of accuracy and utility in mind.

The safety is easily accessible, and there is nowhere for the bolt to hang up. The bolt stop/release has its own little slot in the aluminium housing (they provide a longer retaining pin for this), and there’s even a window cut into the side so you can see your serial number. That last detail impressed me as an extra little bit of thoughtfulness.

The MDT 300 WM metal magazines give you an extra 1 - 2mm to play with.
The MDT 300 WM metal magazines give you an extra 1 – 2mm to play with.

Other things to note… The Tikka’s free-floating recoil lug has just been upgraded for you. The chassis comes with a steel lug, that is far superior to the soft, aluminium one that comes standard on the T3. You’re also completely replacing your trigger guard and mag well, so this means you can’t use your factory mags. This is no problem though, as the factory magazines are always too small in capacity and never long enough to load out to the lands for you reloaders.

The MDT Tikka T3 LA magazines are solidly constructed out of steel, and designed for cartridges up to .300 WM. You can bend the feed lips to suit your round. I lightly bent the lips on my two magazines to get a grip on my 6.5×55 cartridges. I could have bent them over a bit more, but I found them tight enough that nothing would knock the rounds out unintentionally, and I could get 6 rounds per mag instead of 5. This is ideal for the F-Class shooting that I’ve been doing, where you shoot your 24 rounds in 2 details of 10 scoring shots and 2 sighters. This means only one mag change per detail, rather than the four mag changes I was having to do with the factory magazines.

Mail day! Thanks MDT! #nomoresingleloading

A photo posted by The Gun Rack (@gunracknz) on

The forend snugged up nicely to the body of the chassis – the offset screw holes helping to lock it in place. The rail on top truly was continuous, with perfect machining. The attachment of the forend is one of only two improvements I could think to make to this design.

The screw in the top rail could be hard to get to, depending on your scope/mount situation. I actually found I could just clear the scope with an allen key and remove the forend when necessary. Although most shooters would not need to remove this piece as often as I would, to clean under the full suppressor.

As I said - just enough space with my setup. Note the screw holes on the side for attachment of 1913 rails.
As I said – just enough space with my setup. Note the screw holes on the side for attachment of 1913 rails.

I would perhaps have done two screws on the diagonal sections between the rail (top) and the sides, rather than have the screw on top. I would rather have four screws to undo, than potentially have to take off my scope if I needed to work on the barrel exterior. However, I am no engineer, and aside from the extra labour and materials that would be required, I couldn’t tell you if my idea for fixing the two pieces together is anywhere near as good as the original design (in terms of robustness, etc.). So, a grain of salt and all that.

The other thing that I think would improve this design (for the Tikka shooters amongst us), would be replacing the bolt stop/release with an aftermarket one that sticks out further. It can be a bit finicky to get the bolt out, but certainly not to the point where I would say it is a flaw in the design. Just an area that could be improved – and perhaps this is an area for the end user to look at.

The Tikka T3 bolt stops differ from calibre to calibre. This allows to Tikka to produce a more uniform action, cutting down costs. I imagine it would be quite an undertaking to design, make and stock all of the possible options. However, if you look around, some machine shops and gunsmiths do make aftermarket versions out of steel or what-have-you, so it could be something to look at if you have fat fingers like me.

Breaking her in

This rifle has become my main centrefire rifle over the past few months, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I did have some frustrations at the start, and we’ll go through how to avoid these yourself.

Scope mounting. If you have a large objective lens (which you likely do if you want a chassis for your shooter), it will not clear the full-length rail on short or standard rings. Unfortunately my Vortex precision-matched rings were 1mm too short to clear the chassis, so I hopped onto the Optics Planet website and set about ordering a one-piece riser, to get some more height.

I was told the riser I wanted was considered an AR-15 part, and therefore couldn’t be exported from the US. Annoying, but rules are rules. They gave me a couple replacement options and I went with a pair of quick detach risers (ironic, as these seem much more suited to an AR, but anyway).

So, I mounted my Vortex Viper PST 6 – 24 X 50, and hit the 100 metre range at Waiuku Pistol Club. I almost cried. My rifle, which was shooting handloads into 0.2 MOA groups was now double grouping and doing just under 1.5 MOA. I felt sick to my stomach at the thought of having to do this review, with such a negative result.

After burning through around 50 rounds of pricey handloads, hearing comments like ‘shooter error’, I was ready to go home. I took the chassis apart to wipe the barrel down and noticed the QD riser at the front had worked loose, and must have been shifting back and forth a minuscule amount under recoil. Feeling like an idiot, but a hopeful idiot, I went home to reload some more rounds and hit the range the following weekend.

Thankfully I have a 2-inch offset cantilever ring mount, provided by Vortex for an upcoming review on their Strike Eagle scope. I switched this in and patiently waited another week to get to the range. With the cantilever mount, the centre of my scope now sat about 2.5″ above the centreline of my bore. Not a major problem, except this will accentuate any user error involving cant. I would suggest getting a bubble level to ensure vertical alignment to the target. If you’re into long range shooting, you probably have one already.

Thanks to Vortex I had an offset mount on hand. Note the height off the barrel.
Thanks to Vortex I had an offset mount on hand. Note the height off the barrel.

Another almost negative was that I found the latch that secured the Skeleton Rifle Stock to the chassis to be very stiff. I spoke to MDT and sent them some photos, of where paint had scraped off the housing for the latch’s retaining pin, indicating it was having trouble camming fully over.

This tiny build up from initial use was making it difficult to connect the chassis and stock. It didn't take long to sort it out though.
This tiny build up from initial use was making it difficult to connect the chassis and stock. It didn’t take long to sort it out though.

The MDT staffer said that a break in period could be expected, as the part was machined to tight tolerances to ensure a tight fit for the life of the rifle/chassis. He offered to send me another latch pin, free of charge, so I could polish down my current one, and use the new one after it had broken in. I said thanks, but no thanks. It wasn’t worth wasting their time and money if it was such a simple solution.

To ‘speed up time’ with my break in period, I gave the latch a couple hard taps with a wooden dowel and a rubber mallet. It now works perfectly.

The Skeleton Rifle Stock V4 is heftier than it looks, and features adjustable LOP and comb height. There's also mounting points for a rail at the bottom, to attached a monopod.
The Skeleton Rifle Stock V4 is heftier than it looks, and features adjustable LOP and comb height. There’s also mounting points for a rail at the bottom, to attached a monopod.


The TAC21 is designed to take your rifle from factory to precision with very little effort. Bedding is one of the most important aspects of increasing the accuracy of a rifle, and MDT makes this easy. The action only touches the V-bedding in a few spots, and with incredible repeatability and sturdiness. The forend leaves your barrel completely free-floating, for any barrel less than the diameter of the action.

If I had started with an out-of-the-box rifle with factory ammo, I would have expected to see dramatic gains in accuracy. MDT claims up to 28% increase in accuracy, and I can believe that, looking at the design.

Taking an already accurate rifle and putting it into the TAC21 chassis system, what I was looking for was accuracy (repeatability of shot placement – not smallness of group size).

With scope now properly mounted, I was surprised to find there was hardly any POI shift from the 20 MOA Nightforce rail that was mounted to the Tikka action, to the 20 MOA rail integral to the action housing on the MDT chassis. It was literally a couple of clicks to get centre at 100 metres.

With factory ammo, I noticed accuracy was perfect. I had my doubts and expected I might get some shift in POI due to the optic being mounted to the chassis and not the rifle, but the repeatability was there. I had less than a full box of Norma ammo, so didn’t do too much grouping, but did notice a decrease in group size as well, by about 0.1 – 0.2 MOA, down to an average of 0.7 MOA.

Profile of the MDT TAC21 and Tikka T3.
Profile of the MDT TAC21 and Tikka T3.

My personal handload featuring Norma brass, 143 gr Hornady ELD-X projectiles, Federal Gold Match LR primers and ADI AR2208 powder (Varget) was just as repeatable.

As I mentioned before, repeatability was the test here, not smallness of group size. My handloads were tuned specifically to my rifle as it was, and this testing was done with the exact same load, with no further adjustment. It wasn’t shooting 0.2 MOA anymore, but it was shooting a consistent and repeatable 0.6 MOA.

Why did my handload group size increase, while the factory ammo groups decreased in spread? I suspect the bedding of the rifle worked its magic on the factory ammo, which is made to much lower tolerances than my reloads – and therefore could really benefit from the improved bedding.

I suspect my handloads increased in group size because the tension on the action has changed – almost double the torque to secure the action to the aluminium chassis, compared with the factory plastic stock. I imagine this has changed the harmonics somewhat. To reduce my group size again, I could either move my charge weight up or down a small amount, or I could play with seating depth.

Even at 0.6 MOA I was happy to take this rifle out to an 800 metre shoot, and it did quite well. Note if you use a rear bag, the inline stock will be higher off the ground, so you may need a bigger bag.
Even at 0.6 MOA I was happy to take this rifle out to an 800 metre shoot, and it did quite well. Note if you use a rear bag, the inline stock will be higher off the ground, so you may need a bigger bag.

The latter is now a much more distinct possibility, as I have an extra 1.5mm of mag length to play with. I hope you haven’t got this far into reading this (fairly lengthy) article, and believe the increase in group size is an indication of negative performance on the part of the TAC21 chassis. As mentioned above, this is purely a function of my handloads being tuned to the rifle as it was.

With a bit more time to play around, I expect I’ll get this rifle back down to its 0.2 MOA capability, while enjoying the modularity of the rifle and ergonomic bliss that comes with having the action and butt stock inline. Just quickly, these are the features that I really like about the MDT TAC21:

  • V-bedding block for increased accuracy and decreased points of contact
  • Thoughtful design
  • Included recoil lug
  • Straight-line design to absorb felt recoil and decrease muzzle flip
  • Full length top rail – 20 MOA too!
  • Plenty of places to add a Magpul rail or two for your bipod, monopod, laser, printer, coffee maker, whatever…
  • Sling swivel stud included for bipods, but easily removable for rail mounted varieties
  • Excellent finish of hard anodizing plus Cerakote in your preferred colour – I had no marks on the stock after months of use, except for where the QD riser was loose on the top rail, and a couple points in the butt stock attachment area, that are not visible anyway when the rifle is assembled
  • Huge tolerance for barrel size, meaning you can have straight no-taper barrels, massive muzzle devices, whatever you want
  • Decent amount of weight for prone shooting and recoil reduction, but light enough to lug around a bit if necessary
  • It looks fantastic, and your factory rifle can play with the RPRs and HCRs and whatever else is on the firing line
  • Better magazine options

If you want any more convincing, head along to the MDT website and check out the customer reviews for this product. You will see exactly what I have experienced. Great product, fantastic service, and an all round improvement in your rifle.