Chassis vs Stock Systems – A 2022 Guide

| Last Updated: May 6, 2021

Do you want to buy a rifle but still don’t know which is best for you?

In this article, we’ll explore the differences and similarities between both and bring you the best of both worlds.

You’ll read about the strongest and weakest points of both and when they are at their best. 

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Chassis vs Stock

There isn’t a clear winner in this match. So, before choosing your rifle, you better know what you’re buying, and most importantly, for what purpose. Both types, albeit different, share the same goal: to shoot precisely and with ease. Nowadays, there are comparable accessories and technologies for both systems. 

The best rifle for you will depend on your needs and tastes, and of course, what you have in your pocket.  You can see the pros and cons of both options and what they are best for in the table below.

Chassis

Stocks

Pros

Pros

Easy to mount

Lighter

Highly customizable

Attractive finish

Greater precision mounting surface

Traditional aesthetic

Cons

Cons

More expensive

Harder to mount and bed

Heavier than most stocks

Customization requires more gunsmithing

Best For

Best For

Mostly used in competitions and for precision shooting. Its adjustability makes it fit for virtually every circumstance.

Wooden-stocked rifles are mostly used by hunters and rifle enthusiasts. Synthetic stocks are commonly used for precision shooting.

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Relevant Characteristics Between Chassis and Stocks

Chassis

Characteristics

Stock

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Cell

Photo credit: americanhunter.org

Aluminum; Titanium; metal alloys

Construction Materials

Wood; Fiberglass; rubber; Kevlar

Up to 20 MOA, with the appropriate rails

Accuracy

1.5 MOA

Scope; Thermal; Bipods; night vision; quivers; sling adapters; barricade stops; Picatinny rails

Customization

Scope;Picatinny rails;Walnut wood stocks; Ebony stocks; Laminated stocksTactical stocks; Engraving

9.8lbs (light weight)

Weight

9lb (average)

More stable, because of weight and mounting system

Stability

Bedding system can affect stability, if not properly done

From $400

Cost

From $300

Similarities and Differences

They share the same purpose: to provide stability and convenient usability on the shooter's end. Both systems hold the trigger, the feeding mechanism and accept accessories, like night vision and bipods. Stocks are traditionally made of wood or fiberglass; aluminum is more common for Chassis. Now, lets look into the main features of both systems.

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Chassis and Stock Differences

The most noticeable difference is the material employed by both systems. First Stocks were made of wood, with the main advantage of being lighter than most of the Chassis' ones. On the other hand, Chassis tend to be more stable (as they are heavier), which helps accuracy.

Below, you can see the main differences in material and structure:

Stocks

a) Materials

They are traditionally made of wood. Since 1960, you can find them also in fiberglass, carbon fiber, or rubber. Those materials seem to have solved an old problem with wooden-stocks: they do not shrink or swell, regardless of the environment. They tend to be lighter than wood and cheaper than their Chassis counterparts.

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Chassis

a) Materials

Chassis are mostly aluminum, other metal alloys, or polymers.

b) Accuracy

Accuracy is considered the most vital point of Chassis rifles. Because they are made of metal, it does not flex when absorbing the recoil impact. According to some specialists, Chassis rifles also provide complete metal-to-metal contact on the whole gun.

c) Adjustability

Chassis rifles are very adjustable and have several accessories, allowing shooters to customize their rifles more easily. You can also add more weight to your chassis for better recoil absorption, for example.

Customization

Chassis offers an outstanding range of customizations, from thermal vision to barricade stops, so it's adaptable to virtually any scenario. They are also straightforward to mount and unmount. Although chassis rifles may appear more expensive at first look, you'll hardly need any to make any adaptations to the device to add a new accessory. A stock rifle would require some serious gunsmithing to be able to use comparable accessories.

Photo credit: rifleshooter.com

Stability

Because they are heavier than stock rifles, they tend to be more stable than stock rifles. Chassis also prescind beddings, which can cause troubles when not adequately installed.

Chassis and Stock Similarities

Actions

Both chassis and stock rifles employ the same action systems, such as bolt action, lever action, pump action, semi-automatic action, and break-action.

Bolt action systems are currently dominating the market, and they are as simple as they are effective. Rifles are not the only guns to employ them. But rifles are unrivaled when it comes to precision. Bolt action increases stability and accuracy by reducing the number of moving parts inside the gun while shooting.

Stocks may be upgrade-resistant, but they didn't stop in time either. Stock materials and gunsmithing have evolved. Rifles of this kind are now much more customizable and adjustable than in the past.      

Precision

There should be no difference in precision between a correctly barreled and bedded stock rifle and a chassis rifle. After adequate treatment, walnut should be as good recoil absorbent as any chassis system. Improvements in design are also closing the gap between both systems.

 

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Pricing

Before choosing between one type or another, it's crucial to understand what you need it for in the first place. Then, look for an option that fits your budget. Both types have an excellent price range, so lack of choices shouldn't be a problem. Precision rifles can be expensive, but there are some relatively affordable ones using bolt action systems. 

In the end, stocks and Chassis each have faithful users, with demands of their own. If money is not a restriction, both can be upgraded to the highest possible precision. Traditionalists shrug at any rifle that is not wooden-stocked, but they want accuracy and stability as much as any other shooter does. On the other hand, if you value the high-tech feel over tradition, the chassis rifles offer many more options.

Advantages of Chassis Builds

Here are some benefits of choosing this build:

Customization

Chassis offers an outstanding range of customizations, from thermal vision to barricade stops, so it's adaptable to virtually any scenario. It's also user-friendly. Mounting the Chassis is straightforward. Adjustments and implementing accessories are simple too. With an adjustable buttstock, so you can fit it comfortably against your body.

Accuracy

Stability amounts to better accuracy, for sure. That's not the only reason why chassis is famous for it. It's because you can still improve it significantly via customization.

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An easy, stress-free installation removes the "human error" variable while mounting your rifle. 

They deal better with recoil as well. Not only because they are heavier, but also because you can customize this part, too, with better quality muzzle brakes.

Pricing

Chassis starting prices are higher and stock ones. They come from a factory already adjusted to fit whatever accessories you deem fit. So, you won't be visiting your gunsmith very often. 

Upgrading your magazine to a detachable one can cost you up to $400 on your stock rifle. Chassis usually come with this feature from the factory. Overall, chassis are a better option than stocks for both professional and amateur shooters. Most amateurs aren't skilled enough or won't bother learning how to bed their rifles properly. 

Even if you don't plan on buying every accessory out there, chassis' higher starting prices are justifiable by a naturally better accuracy and more magazine options. If precision is your thing, you can customize it to the limits of the current technology. More stability and repeatability redound on superior overall performance, explaining why Chassis are gaining space in professional competitions.   

Advantages of Stock Builds

Wood stocks are the most preferred by traditionalists. Their aesthetics touch the limits of a piece of art, and their history plays with the imagination of many enthusiasts. Since 1960, lighter and cheaper materials have arrived on the market, such as fiberglass and rubber.

While some prefer synthetic materials for practical reasons (being price one), others disdain their "lack of charm". Here, you'll read a more detailed description of both options, as well as their advantages and liabilities.

Photo credit: snipershide.com

Wood Stocks

Those are the first ones, historically speaking. Its simplicity is the key to more than a century of success. The wood used to be cheap and also made a great insulant. Moreover, wood provides better absorption of the recoil impact, resulting in more stability.

Bedding can be a hassle to inexperienced shooters, but it prevents deformations caused by shooting and recoiling when correctly done. Wood is also a way to add value to a rifle. Some wood can be costly, such as ebony and walnut. 

Engraving wood is also a very stylish way of embellishing your adventure partner and turning it into a desirable decoration object. 

Synthetic Stocks

The first synthetic stocks were out for sale in the '60s and resolved an old wood stocks problem: impermeability. They don't bend out of shape, no matter how extreme the weather may be. Such stability favors repeatability. The first ones were made of fiberglass, but now there are plenty of other options, from rubber and composite materials to Kevlar.

You can have wooden-laminated stocks if you really like the wooden feel but still want the consistency and lighter weight of synthetic materials. Synthetic stocks are also cheaper and more easily adjustable to new features than wood ones. 

Many sportsmen still prefer wood, mostly for aesthetical and traditional reasons. It's understandable because pinpoint accuracy is not crucial in such an environment, and the satisfaction of handling such a historical weapon comes first. 

Outside of the hunting or enthusiast environments, wooden-stocked rifles are losing ground. Laminated wood is a more robust and weather-resistant option, though. When it comes to precision shooting and competitions, synthetic materials are more common, for they are more adaptable and constant. 

Its adjustability is something in between wood stock rifles and chassis rifles. If you like stocks but would like to add some more functions to them, synthetic stocks are the best choice. 

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Bottom Line

First, know what you want your rifle for. Technology has evolved to provide the best gear for almost every situation and taste. Wooden-stocked or laminated wood rifles are a common choice for hunters who see no reason to spend a kidney buying the latest competition chassis rifle but also dislike synthetic materials. 

Synthetic stocks, nonetheless, can be easier to handle and tend to be cheaper. Their adjustability and customization options fall somewhere between wooden-stocked and chassis rifles. Although if you want a gun, you can gear up, chassis are still the best options in the market 

People Also Ask

Which stock is better? Which one is heavier? Is glass bedding essential? In this section, you’ll read more about the particularities of wood and synthetic stocks. There’s also a cut-to-the-point explanation of the importance of using glass bedding on your rifle’s maintenance and accuracy.

Is Synthetic Stock Better Than Wood?

It depends. Wood absorbs the recoil impact well, but synthetic materials improved to the point there's no sensible difference in quality. So, it's mostly a matter of taste, as both options have comparable advantages and liabilities. There isn't always a difference in weight, as synthetic stocks can be hollow or solid. 

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Is Glass Bedding a Stock Worth it?

Glass bedding protects the wood and sits the barreled action more firmly within the stock, thus improving accuracy. If the action moves around during the firing or recoiling process, the shot will never be as precise as it could be. It's a cheap and straightforward way of improving accuracy on whatever stock you have.



Josh Lewis the managing editor at Gun Mann and when he isn't writing about guns he is more than likely tinkering with them. He also enjoys hunting, fishing and spending time outdoors. As a lifelong gun owner he knows his stuff!