A couple of years ago I purchased my first Accuracy International chassis system, an AX AICS to be precise, for my Remington 700 AAC-SD. At the time it was a bit of a risk for me. I had never really considered myself a chassis kind of guy. It had a lot of features that appealed to me, though, and as it turns out I had nothing to be concerned about. I ended up with a system that fit me very well and gave me exceptional performance. It’s almost $1,500 so not for the light of heart, but if you are a serious shooter, a serious chassis is something you have already thought about, and I think this AI chassis is a great choice.
I was quite excited then when Accuracy International released an updated version of the AX AICS last year that I knew would be perfect for my 6.5 Creedmoor build. Dubbed the 2014 AX AICS, it immediately set itself apart from the previous stock due to the new right hand folding stock assembly reminiscent of AI’s multi-caliber PSR. The 2014 AX AICS was kind of hard to come by, but I was finally able to get one just after the first of the year and test it out in my new 6.5 Creedmoor.
It’s safe to say that it actually bears very little in common with the AX AICS that I use on my AAC-SD. From the outside they look similar, but upon closer inspection nearly every component has been tweaked to offer the shooter an excellent product that lives up to the reputation of Accuracy International.
The AX AICS
When I received the 2014 AX AICS it came in a rather nondescript box like my previous chassis but the packaging inside has been improved with fitted closed cell padding for all of the components that come with the chassis. Inside I found the following:
- 2014 AX AICS Chassis Main Section
- KeySlot Forend
- 2 Short Picatinny Rails with QD Sockets
- 1 Long Picatinny Rail with a QD Socket
- 1 Short Picatinny Rail
- 1 Harris Bipod Adpater
- Assembly Instructions
Compared to my first AX AICS, the newer version is much faster and easier to assemble since it utilizes fewer screws to attach the handguard thanks to a revised interface. Similar in appearance to the PSR and AXMC the forend has a larger “V” section that fits into a corresponding channel to create a more robust connection compared to the old design while using only two screws. Also unlike the previous version where you had to remove the plastic handguard to access the 10 fasteners, the hex screws on the 2014 AX AICS are accessible through the handguard itself. The 4mm hex wrench needed to attach the handguard, remove or attach rail sections, and make stock adjustments is conveniently stored under the cheek piece in a small recess. This was a feature that I first saw on the Accuracy International PSR and I’m glad to see that it’s filtered down to this chassis system.
Fully assembled without a magazine the total package weighs 5 lbs 6 oz but that weight is well balanced so it actually doesn’t feel quite so hefty. In comparison, the McMillan A5 that I had handy is equipped with a fixed length of pull, four flush cups, 1 bipod stud, a saddle cheekpiece, and a Badger M5 DBM which brought the weight to 4 lbs 5 oz. Manners Composite Stocks provides probably the closest comparison in terms of traditional styling with modern features in the form of their folding stocks with the mini-chassis system and other accessories which will bring the weight up to 5.1-5.3 lbs according to their website, essentially the same as the 2014 AX AICS. So weight wise the new AX chassis pretty much falls right in line with some of its competition when equipped with similar features.
In fact many of the features found on this stock are a direct result of Accuracy International’s participation in the US SOCOM PSR and USMC M40 chassis upgrade programs. The stock assembly on the 2014 AX AICS is probably the most obvious PSR-inspired carry over and completely different in design and function from the older version on the first AX AICS. The stock now folds to the right over the bolt handle so that the chassis is more compact for easier transport and storage. I said that the stock is PSR-inspired because AI didn’t just take the stock from the PSR and put it on the AX AICS. They took their time and redesigned it so that it would work with the widest number of bolt handle and knob combinations possible. Small details like the size of the aperture and the location of the flush cup were done to make sure that it could work. It’s not guaranteed to work with everything of course and I think a lot of it depends on who installed the bolt knob.
My Remington 700 has a Badger Ordnance tactical bolt knob installed by GA Precision and I found that I have to lift the handle ever so slightly to get the stock to snap in to the retaining collet. A minor issue and one that I’ve read about with at least one other 2014 AX AICS but not a deal killer. Just like with the older version of the AX AICS there are adjustments for the cheek height and length of pull, however now those adjustments can be made faster and easier. The buttpad of the stock is adjustable for height and cant through the simple means of a thumbscrew at the rear, which is a great feature to help get the stock perfectly fitted for maximum comfort. The cheek piece can be adjusted for not just up and down but also side to side using the included 4mm hex wrench that’s stored underneath. On the underside of the stock there’s actually a small KeySlot section that can be run bare or with one of the included short rail sections. This allows the use of the included hand stop or a rail mounted monopod to provide a steady rear support.
The New Bedding
One particular detail that interested me very much about this new chassis was a seemingly revised bedding interface that I’d only seen briefly in a video from SHOT Show. It wasn’t until I got the chassis in my hands that I’d seen exactly what Accuracy International had done and the thought processes behind it. Instead of the traditional V-block type interface most are accustomed to the new interface has two parallel ridges at the rear tang and front action screw.
I asked Accuracy International about this and the purpose for those ridges is to move the support lower on the action and most notably improve support under the rear tang. Too little support and flexing of the rear tang has always been a criticism of this and other chassis systems that use a traditional v-block bedding interface. To cope with this aspect of a traditional chassis some shooters use certain torque settings for the front and rear while others just bed the rear tang to give it more support.
Another overlooked feature that AI employed came from their work with the M40 series of rifles during the development of the chassis upgrade program. They found that after some of the actions had been trued the action screw holes would be offset a little so they made the holes in the chassis oblong so the screws wouldn’t be touching the sides, a very minute detail that could have a big impact. The recoil lug pocket has also been modified to except larger recoil lugs, which was another common complaint with the older chassis systems that then had to be modified. However, I found during my first attempt to mount the new 6.5 Creedmoor barreled action into the chassis the Badger Ordnance recoil lug bottomed out in the pocket. It appears that two small shelves on either side of the lug pocket kept the lug from seating all the way down. This was an easy matter to remedy and after a few minutes the gunsmith had the recoil lug milled down until it wasn’t touching anything in the chassis.
The chassis still utilizes the same AX specific five and ten round AICS magazines as the previous generation of AX AICS. These magazines differ from the other AICS magazines used with the legacy AICS stocks in that they have a small lip on the front that fits into a corresponding notch in the magazine well. This tab holds the magazine firmly in place for ultra reliable feeding when it is inserted into the flared magazine well.
Standard AICS magazines will still work with the AX AICS chassis despite what others have alluded to on the interwebs, they will just be able to rock forward slightly more because of the lack of the tab. I have not experienced any issues running the standard AICS magazines in the chassis and even if they were rocked all the way forward they still functioned perfectly. One caveat that needs to be remembered though is that you can use both AX and legacy AICS magazines in the AX AICS chassis but you can’t use AX magazines in legacy chassis systems or third party detachable magazines systems designed for standard AICS magazines.
Taking a look at the KeySlot forend on the AX AICS, it might bear some resemblance to the KeyMod systems that have been taking the AR-15 world by storm but the two really couldn’t be any more different. From the outside they do look similar but when looking at the details the depth and profile of the recesses inside mean that the two are not compatible. In fact the forend on the 2014 AX AICS has been redesigned and improved from the previous version with revised geometry on the internal recesses and with a larger hole for the KeySlot studs. This means the tube has more in common with the PSR and AXMC handguards than the older KeySlot tube found on my first generation AX AICS.
This newer design helps make the rails more recoil and vibration resistant so that accessories won’t come loose or lose their zero at the worst possible time. It’s nice that the newly designed KeySlot studs also sit flush with the inside of the forend when they are tightened down that gives it a nice fit and finish.
Putting it all together
Of course there’s no way to be sure that all of the changes and revisions will equate to a better product until you actually bolt a barreled action into the thing and shoot it. Initially I had some concerns that the action would be too stressed when it was torqued down into the chassis and I’d end up having to skim bed it. This apprehension was based on a previous experience that I’d had trying to use this action with another chassis from a different manufacturer.
All of my apprehension seemed to go away though when I finally dropped my new 6.5 Creedmoor barreled action onto the bedding interface and saw no discernible stress on the action when I tightened everything to 57 in/lbs. That was a good sign that the ridges in the bedding interface were doing their job but as the saying goes “the proof is in the pudding.”
Leave it to me though to pick a day to go shoot my brand new set up when the wind is howling at 30 miles per hour and the temperature is cold enough to make your fingers go numb. I did the best I could to get zeroed and put up a couple of respectable groups on paper but when the wind is moving you and the target backboard, it just isn’t that easy. That being said I was able to shoot several sub-MOA groups with Hornady’s 140gr AMAX Match and Winchester’s 140 gr Match ammunition. Hornady’s match ammunition was the best performer overall with a couple really nice 1/2 MOA groups at 100 yards, better velocity, and more consistency.
At 200 and 300 yards I really began to appreciate the amount of adjustability and the comfortable grip angle on stock since it seemed to quite effortless to stack rounds on top of each other from the bench owing some thanks to the Bushnell 3.5-21X50 ERS. It’s a gratifying feeling to see every shot just make the dark spot on the target get a little bigger. I knew to quit while I was ahead, especially considering the cold and windy weather so I packed it in, destined to return again for some more range time to get ready for the Nightforce Optics PRS Shoot Out.
I didn’t have a lot of time to get ready but week before the match I was able to put some more rounds down range and I wasn’t disappointed in the least with the accuracy at 600 yards. For the longest time I thought that an accurate rifle had to be pillar bedded and a chassis system only provided good enough accuracy. It turns out this isn’t quite true, at least not in my case as the stock was comfortable, it helped me absorb the recoil, and absolutely hammered nails out to 600 yards.
The Nightforce PRS Match
Before I knew it the Nightforce-sponsored PRS match was upon us and I experienced my first issue with the chassis system. During one of the early morning stages on the first day, I noticed that the adjustments for my length of pull and cheek piece had loosened up. The grippy material used on the cheek piece adjustment kept it from falling down and after a minute with my Leatherman MUT I was back in business.
I caught up with another competitor that was using a 2014 AX AICS also and asked if he’d had similar issues. His answer made me realize that I’d overlooked a couple of small details I’d like to pass on. If you tighten the screws only hand tight, they will eventually back off and to give the screws a little more extra oomph, use the included 4mm hex wrench to give the screws another quarter turn. Turns out this information was printed in the instructions included with the chassis that I didn’t bother to read so that one is on me. So now you know and knowing is half the battle. the chassis was superb throughout the rest of the match and I had no issues with loosening action screws or adjustment screws. On the second day we shot a lot of off hand shots, improvised shooting positions, even from our weak side and the stock didn’t let me down. I was able to make quick easy adjustments and I stayed comfortable behind the trigger.
The 2014 AX AICS is easily one of the best purchases I’ve made this year. I’ll be the first to warn you though the chassis isn’t cheap. It retails for just under $1500 from most vendors. However I believe that money is well spent considering the 2014 AX AICS is only about $150 more than what the pre-2014 retailed just a couple of years ago. The modest price hike nets the end user additional accessory rails, more adjustability, a revised bedding interface that works very well with a factory action, and a right hand folding stock for easy, compact transport. Although there are cheaper chassis systems on the market and ones that are much more expensive, I don’t think any of them have the longevity and reputation of Accuracy International. If you are looking for a chassis system for your Remington 700 or clone action that might see some serious use I highly recommend taking a look at the 2014 AX AICS.