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MDT Chassis Reviewed: The New XRS Crossover

MDT is known in the practical precision shooting competition forum for it’s massively popular ACC chassis. The ACC paved the way for adaptable performance with the introduction of its modular weight system. It allowed shooters to tune the balance of their rifles while offering an extended forearm, and one of MDT’s signatures, a vertical pistol grip. In fact, none of MDT’s chassis offered a swept grip, hunting-style stock. To fill this hole in their product line, MDT introduced a new chassis system that blurs the line between competition chassis and hunting-style stocks. The new crossover chassis is the XRS.

“There is, and probably always will be a subset of the shooting community that likes both the look and the feel of a more traditional swept back stock,” says MDT engineer Brad Neels. So with the XRS, he says, “we're providing that option to our customer base without compromising on a bunch of the things that have made our chassis systems work so well.”

The XRS model of MDT chassis offers shooters a plug and play avenue to a modern, feature-rich chassis that retains traditional buttstock ergonomics with the option of a vertical grip.

FEATURES

The feature list is impressive. The chassis foundation is a three-part 6061 aluminum skeleton that’s clad in polymer panels. As far as adjustments, there’s the infinitely adjustable comb height, the stacking length of pull adjustment, and your choice of swept or vertical grips. The XRS includes both grips, and they’re swapped easily with four screws.

Up front on the 12-inch, flat-bottomed forend are M-Lok slots at 3-, 6-, and 9-o’clock. Moving rearward, there’s a pronounced magwell stop, and AICS compatible magwell, trigger guard-flanking mag release, and a contour-bottom bedding block that extends rearward far enough to suit long-tanged actions without trouble. The action screws come with the chassis and are both captured. Out back you’ll find a QD sling cup plus threaded inserts on the buttstock’s belly to attach a section of pic rail or a bag rider, if that’s your thing.

INLETS & BEDDING

MDT makes the XRS in an impressive array of bedding inlets. In addition to the Remington 700 footprint version we’re using, there’s versions for the Remington Model 783 SA, Ruger American SA, Howa 1500 SA/Weatherby Vanguard SA, Savage SA, Tikka T3, and rimfire models for the Tikka T1x and CZ 457.

MDT chassis lug pocket

The XRS's recoil lug pocket measures 0.4-inch.

The recoil lug pocket on the R700 measures 0.4 inches, large enough to fit a wide range of factory and custom actions. The bedding surface is baby-bottom smooth and uses a continuous contoured plane as opposed to pillars or v-bedding.

The XRS's bedding block is a shallow contour as opposed to a V-bed, or pillar-bedded.

CONSTRUCTION

The XRS’s spine is a three-part aluminum affair that’s made up of the forend, the action block body, and the grip core. The three sections are bolted together and clad in polymer for looks and comfortable handling. The XRS has a few tricks up its sleeve, and one of them lies beneath the polymer covering the area behind the tang. This is where the grip core and the action block meet. 

The mortise and tenon interface between the grip module core and the bedding body makes a stout, flex-free connection.

The intersection of the aluminum parts is more than two slabs bolted together. Since this is a critical path for recoil, it’s imperative that these two offset parts act as one. The action block is cut like a mortise to the grip module’s tenon and the pair are bolted so there’s no chance for shearing forces to act on the two components, or on the bolts that hold them together. This particular feat of engineering does two things; one, effectively control and transmit recoil force. The other? It lets MDT make XRS for many different inlets. This modularity between the grip and action block keeps the production costs down, and that’s one of the reasons the XRS is a $500 chassis that feels like an $800 chassis.

The skeleton of the XRS exposed. The J-shaped aluminum grip core (center) is normally surrounded by the polymer buttstock panels (left)

The heart of the XRS is its swappable grip module. Instead of forcing the shooter to choose between a traditional swept grip or a modern vertical grip, the XRS includes options for both.

Regarding the decision to use a non AR-style grip, Neels says,“The nice thing about AR grips is that there's a billion options out there, but as soon as you go into a more proprietary interface like ours, you're really locking the customer into your system. So, we thought it was important to offer a couple of different options right out of the box.”

The XRS grip modules easily screw into place with four external screws allowing the shooter to try or change configurations in seconds without removing the action from the chassis. The grips themselves are stout polymer with a rubber overmolded surface that feel as solid as any standard rifle grip out there.

MODULAR UPGRADES

The modularity doesn’t end there. Up front, the XRS’s included forend is swappable for a souped-up version that has an integral ARCA rail below and an enclosed top for night vision and other M-Lok mountable accessories. The XRS ARCA Chassis System Enclosed Forend ($160) is an accessory we’re looking forward to trying, but wasn’t available at press time. Instead, we’re running the chassis with MDT’s 10.25-inch ARCA accessory rail that attaches to the base of the XRS’s original forend via four M-Lok points. It works, but the gap in ARCA coverage between the end of the rail and the magwell has us pining for the full-length coverage afforded by the Enclosed Forend accessory.

Along with the accessory forend, MDT also offers a one-pound internal weight that slides into the forend to tune the rifle’s balance. The internal weight is compatible with both the stock chassis forend and the optional Enclosed Forend accessory. For adding weight to the back of the gun, MDT’s Buttstock Length of Pull Spacer Weights ($60/each) add 0.8 pounds apiece. 

OUR SETUP

We ran the MDT XRS on the range and in competition with a couple different actions. As a centerfire host, we installed our 6.5 Creedmoor chambered, 22-inch Proof Research stainless steel barreled Bighorn Origin action in the XRS. Then, we plugged in a Zermatt Arms RimX rimfire action with a Lothar Walther prefit stainless barrel.

The wide mag catch flanking the trigger guard is well placed and secures mags well.

Both setups ran flawlessly without needing any special attention. Accuracy International’s AICS metal mags, MDT 12-rounders, and RimX mags all fit and fed reliably. If your action requires more or less mag clearance, MDT says they have mag latches in various lengths ready to ship for customers that need them. Give them a call, let them know what action and mag combo you’re trying to make run and they’ll send you a mag latch to swap in for free.

mdt chassis

We had no issues with several popular triggers fitting in the trigger pocket. We didn't need to do any fitting work to the chassis.

As far as the trigger cutout, both our Triggertech Diamond and Timney HIT triggers fit neatly in the pocket. Lucky for us, both actions were good fits with the XRS’s supplied action screws. Folks that need longer or shorter screws to work with oddball actions will have to figure out how to replace the captive action screws. The easiest way we’ve seen to get the screws out is to drill a slightly larger hole in the polymer action screw retaining slots. Not a big deal, and we think most customers won’t need to swap action screws and will be pretty happy with the convenience afforded by the retained screws when working on the gun.

Both action screws on the XRS are captured.

We added a Magpul QD sling attachment up front and plugged into the provided QD receptacle on the rear of the chassis. The location of the rear QD is ideal for us at the top of the stock. It pulls the stock into the shoulder when the sling is pulled taut without pulling it upward as happens with slings attached at the bottom of a stock.

MDT's 10.25-inch ARCA rail accessory leaves a large gap at the rear of the handguard. We're looking forward to replacing the forend with MDT's new ARCA integrated forend that does away with the gap.

Lastly, as mentioned, we used an MDT 10-inch ARCA rail under the forend –which isn’t ideal since it leaves a 2-inch gap between the rail and the magwell stop. Competition shooters will want to get the dedicated XRS Enclosed Forend that features full length ARCA rail coverage.

PERFORMANCE

The XRS feels solid. There’s no hint of squishyness anywhere while moving the gun into a firing position or under recoil. Recoil is carried straight to the rear and there’s no remarkable levering upward thanks to the tame geometry of the recoil path.

All adjustments held in place over months of shooting, though we’d like a way to prevent the two comb riser screws from moving… perhaps by replacing the easily turning knobs with flush screws.

The proud comb height knobs make cheek riser adjustments easy.

We noticed the riser hardware is modular, and there’s a cutout for a centered riser pole that hints at an optional upgrade being available someday that would convert the riser system to a locking setup.

xrs mdt chassis disassembled

Notice the modular comb riser hardware.

As far as the grips. We tried both and ended up sticking with the vertical grip. It fit our hand well and provided the ideal reach for both of the triggers we used.

The XRS ships with both vertical and swept grip options.

The stock’s foot is broad and long enough that we didn’t feel the need for a bag rider when shooting prone. And, the stock foot cutout is perfect for a hand under the stock during position shooting, offering a solid index point for fast, repeatable gripping.

Overall, the XRS MDT chassis has great adaptability and rigidity, the two things that make a chassis worth owning. It’s a super comfortable setup for running competition and hunting disciplines year-round and at $500, it’s a great option for anyone that wants competition chassis performance without commiting full-time to a full-on competition chassis.

  • 6061 aluminum chassis core
  • Polymer Panels
  • Forend Width 2.12-inches
  • 12-inch M-LOK compatible forend
  • 13-inch length of pull adjusted with ¼-inch spacers
  • 1 ⅝-inch comb height adjustment
  • Accommodate barrels up to 1.25-inch diameter
  • Compatible with AICS pattern .223 or .308 Short Action magazines
  • Interchangeable vertical and angled grips included
  • Weight: 3.9lbs
  • $500
  • More at MDTTAC.com

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