Grayboe is one of the newer players in the composite stock game when you compare it to others like McMillan Fiberglass Stocks, Manners Composite Stocks, B&C, and a host of others. Starting in 2016, they had a bit of a leg up in the game since the founder is Ryan McMillan, son of Kelly McMillan, the man behind McMillan Fiberglass Stocks. At present, they now offer six models to cover everything from hunting to tactical shooting with their latest being the Grayboe Phoenix stock. Grayboe was generous and sent me the new Grayboe Phoenix and one of their DBM systems to test out for this article.
The Grayboe Process
Grayboe’s claim to fame is that they’re able to produce a quality stock at an affordable price and without the lengthy lead times that some stock manufacturers are burdened with. They do this by forgoing the typically labor intensive hand layup method and instead utilize a heat cured molding process. Grayboe keeps the recipe a close secret but the Phoenix is formed from a carbon fiber and homogeneous fiberglass epoxy resin mixture designed to keep weight down and strength up. During the molding process, many of the main features and embedded components are molded in such as the threaded inserts and aluminum bedding pillars. This helps keep the costs down since numerous employees won’t be required to CNC and/or install these features later.
The process isn’t perfect though and Grayboe will say there may be some cosmetic imperfections, however, they won’t affect the performance of the stock. These imperfections sometimes manifest as small air pockets, an action inlet that may look a little uneven in spots, and a small divot underneath the recoil pad. I reached out to Grayboe about these items and their representative was very straightforward in explaining everything that I was seeing. Sometimes during molding small air pockets will occur because of the heat and depending on where they’re at, they’re left alone. If air pockets occur in a more visible area though they’re filled in using the same material the stock is made from. The little bit of unevenness in parts of the action inlet and recoil lug pocket is due to that area being molded in, not milled out on a CNC after the fact. With all of that, I figured the divot under the recoil pad was due to the molding process also and I was correct. The rep explained that’s where the buttstock is cut after it’s popped out of the mold and since that area is covered by the recoil pad, they left it as is. In my opinion, all of these items are purely cosmetic and don’t take away from the functionality and performance of the stock. A decent skim bedding job will make most issues disappear.
The Phoenix is a fully-featured stock with adjustable length of pull and comb height, multiple sling mounting points, MLOK compatibility, and very ergonomic curves. Grayboe will inlet the Phoenix for the Remington 700, most of its clones, and ten different types of bottom metal so most of the bases should be covered there. When I was picking the options on this stock I initially got it in a very generic setup for a short action Remington 700 with M5 bottom metal. Grayboe also offers the Phoenix in 19 different finishes from basic solid colors to hydro dipped camo options like Multicam and Kryptek. If you select a basic color finish, the Phoenix will ship in about four weeks, which it did for me, but the hydro dipping will add approximately 2 weeks to that lead time.
Out of the box, the stock was pretty much ready to go, I just had to make some minor adjustments to the length of pull and cheekpiece height but otherwise, I was set. As tested, my stock was right on the money at the advertised 2 lbs / 32 oz with 3 LOP spacers and the large T-handle cheek piece thumbscrew.
I did, however, run into a slight issue and gained some insight along the way when I went to use my Bergara HMR in the Phoenix. I didn’t think about it before but the cocking indicator on the Bergara stuck out just enough to hit the cheek piece and prevent full travel. After a quick call to Grayboe it turns out they know about this and if you order a Grayboe and indicate it’s for a Bergara they’ll go ahead and notch the cheekpiece. Grayboe offered to modify the cheek piece and send it back or if I was comfortable doing it myself that would be fine too. Well, after five minutes with a round file I was back in business.
To also facilitate a more universal fit, the barrel channel is left wide open, able to accept Remage barrel nut set ups and truck axle barrels up to 1.250” in diameter.
Sending Rounds Down Range
Since ammunition is limited at the moment, I used two different barreled actions to help me spread the burden a little bit and get a larger sample size for my evaluation. The MLOK plates on the bottom of the stock made it super simple to get set up for my Atlas bipod and be able to direct mount to a tripod. The ability to easily add and remove accessories using MLOK meant I could run the stock slick or “heavy” depending on what I was doing with the rifle.
I couldn’t find much information on recommended torque settings so I tightened the action screws on the HMR to 55 in/lbs. To make sure there wasn’t any stress in the action, I loosened the front action screw to see if there was any movement in the barrel. If the action is stressed, the barrel will raise up as soon as the tension is let off the front action screw. In this case, though, the results indicated the action was not stressed and it appeared that any perceived unevenness in the action inlet wasn’t going to be a problem. When I performed the same test with the B14R the results were all the same, with no detectable stress.
The HMR was the first rifle to send rounds downrange wearing the new stock but given the ammo shortage, I didn’t dawdle much at 100 yards. Shooting Hornady American Gunner ammunition the HMR turned out sub-MOA performance at 100 yards while zeroing. This performance continued at 200 and 300 yards, turning out some impressive groups at those distances on steel. The grip angle and palm swell felt great, everything aligned naturally to let my thumb rest along the top of the stock and my finger fell just right across the trigger.
I actually shot the Bergara B14R more with the Phoenix because I had a healthy amount of .22 match ammo to use compared to 6.5 Creedmoor. After dropping the rimfire into its new digs I used the B14R to run through some drills that I use to get ready for precision rimfire matches.
When I moved the barreled action from the factory stock to the Phoenix I was pleasantly surprised that the zero barely changed, only a few clicks up at 50 yards was needed. The five-round group on my practice target was sub-½”, which was more evidence the interface between the action and stock was just fine. The fit of the stock continued to impress me as I moved to drills that required me to transition to different positions quickly. The slim forend was comfortable and the flat bottom rode my Game Changer quite well off the barricade. The multiple sling attachment points also made it easy to set the sling up for more stability in standing, kneeling, sitting, and prone positions.
Observations From Use
While using the Phoenix I did notice a couple of things that I wouldn’t really call faults, maybe just gripes and they’re minor. The first is the narrow cross-section of the buttstock and how it rides a rear bag. I’m used to stocks with a flat bottom or butt hook that are really made to ride a rear bag. The Phoenix has a more traditional profile with a sloped, rounded bottom that glides along a rear bag.
This just meant I had to adapt my rear bag grip a little to accommodate the Phoenix to hold the bag in place under recoil. Once I did this, it kept the bag from sliding forward and me from having to reposition after every shot.
My only other real gripe is the bubble level. It’s a great feature and accurate, I verified it using a plumb line against my scope’s reticle and the level I have attached to the scope. However, my gripe is the color, the blue color makes it hard to see the bubble under some lighting conditions. Like I said, minor but something to think about if this gun may be used in low light situations, such as for hunting.
Cost is a big sticking point for a lot of us and rightfully so since not all of us can afford to throw buckets of money at something that may or may not work. The chart below makes a pretty fair comparison between the Phoenix and a few similar stocks on the market.
After spending a good amount of time with the Grayboe Phoenix I think it could be one of the best values around in terms of rifle stocks. It’s a jack of all trades stock that could do very well built up as a long-range hunting rifle or precision rifle for long-range competitions. The MLOK compatibility opens a lot of doors on how it can be configured with accessories and support options. The ergonomics and overall aesthetic aren’t extreme, it’s not big and squared off, it’s slim, practical, and best of all lightweight. I think Grayboe hit a home run with this stock and if you’re in the market for a composite stock, the Phoenix deserves a hard look.
For more information on the Grayboe Phoenix and all of its options visit Grayboe’s website here.