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AI Stock Shootout: AX vs AICS vs AICS with Viperskins

My custom target/hunting 7mm Rem Mag has a McMillan A3-5 stock on it, but I’m also a fan of the Accuracy International stocks and have been considering building my next rifle on one of their chassis.  These are very popular upgrades for Remington 700 rifles.  With the recent release of their AX platform, along with the new skins available for the Accuracy International Chassis System (AICS) platform … there are a lot of options.

Folded AICS StockOne major benefit of an Accuracy International stock is it’s folding option.  Precision rifles can get pretty long, especially with a can.  I actually had a hard time finding a hardshell case to fit my 7mm with a 27″ barrel, even without a supressor attached.  So all of the stocks listed here are one of their folding stock options, and the photos and weights are all for short actions (although long actions should be very similar).

Another claimed benefit of Accuracy International stocks is that “requires no specialized gunsmithing and is quick and easy to install”. They actually say that you don’t have to bed the action to the stock … just put the action in and screw it down.  However, many people I’ve talked to still take the time to do that (including Surgeon Rifles).

AICS vs AX vs AICS with Skins Side By Side Comparison

AICS ($1100): The AICS is the old school, tried-and-true stock that is virtually identical to the original stock they created in 1978. You will see a lot of these at precision rifle competitions, and the longest recorded sniper kill (2,707 yards) was taken with a 338 in an AICS. Not everyone likes the thumbhole stock, and these are often criticized for being very bulky and heavy … but they are rock-solid.

AX ($1400): The AX series was release in 2010, and was designed to bring more “ergonomic and functional benefits.”  It was AI’s response to the critiques about the AICS being too bulky & heavy, and it also introduced a few new features, most noteably the 13″ fore-end rail with mount system for night optics and other modular accessories.  My question is … do you really need that?  I assume that was added to meet the requirements of the United State’s PSR contract bid, which seems to have been the catalyst behind this new series.  If you don’t plan to attach night vision in front of your scope any time soon, the rail simply gets in the way, and limits how low you can mount your scope.

AICS with ViperSkins ($1100 + $150 = $1300): And an even more recently, Victor released was a product they call ViperSkins that are designed for the AICS.  One of the cool things about the AICS original design is that the side-panels are just attached to the chasis, and are in no way structural to the gun … so they can can be easily replaced.  Victor is a third party that saw that as an opportunity to offer replacement skins for the AICS (or the AIAE or AIAW).

Vector ViperSkins for AICS

Victor ViperSkins for AICS Rear Closeup

These take a lot of the ergonimic features from the AX design, and allow you to apply them to your AICS … for just $150.  These features/benefits include:

  • Less Weight: ViperSkins are 4oz lighter that the ordinary thumbhole AICS Skins.
  • Widened Fore-end: Gives a more stable shooting platform when shooting off barricades.
  • Offhand Palmswell: Gives your offhand a proper grip your hand when shooting in any offhand position.
  • Pistol grip: Our standard grip gives you a grippy, non-slip, ergonomic hold. Puts your hand in the proper position to make accurate shots and keep the weapon under your control.
  • Fast action thumb shelf: The ViperSkins Fast Action Thumb Shelf gives you a positive index point for quick bolt manipulation and repeat shots.  (Seconds count! To quickly engage multiple targets, place your thumb on our “Fast Action Thumb Shelf” It allows you to manipulate the bolt then get back on the trigger without having to wrap your hand around the grip every time.)
  • Ergonomic Rear Stock: Carefully tailored to accommodate any sized hand, giving you the ability to acquire targets quickly and smoothly with the least amount of repositioning.
  • Texture: The medium toothed texture has been designed to give a good grip in wet and dry environments.
  • Material: A durable military grade polymer composite has just enough flex to resist hard impacts with a hardness to defend against scratching and chemical deterioration.
  • Optional Picatinny Rails: Allow universal mounting of forward IR illuminators, lights, PEQ15s, sling mounts, NV devices or anything you might require in the field.

Update 8/12/13: Soon after this post I ended up doing a in-depth review of the ViperSkins, which contains a more a lot more details.  Check it out at http://precisionrifleblog.com/2013/07/26/ai-skins-review-aics-viperskins/.

A Good Looking Flat Dark Earth Rifle (Avoiding The Diarrhea Color Palette)

One thing I don’t like about AI stocks is that their “dark earth” color doesn’t match any of the popular Flat Dark Earth (FDE) colors (like Cerakote’s FDE).  I’m actually colorblind, but I still can see that these colors clash.  I’m actually not someone with an eye for style, but when I pay $5,000+ for a rifle … I want it to look better than this (both are Surgeon’s standard color choices):

Flat Dark Earth Diarrhea Color Palette

One more cool thing about the ViperSkins is that they actually offer a stock in Flat Dark Earth.  It might not be exactly the same color as other accessories, but it is at least in the same ballpark.  So not only will it improve the ergonomics of the rifle, but the looks too.  Now that is a sharp rifle.

Vector ViperSkin in Flat Dark Earth FDE with Cerakote in Flat Dark Earth FDE

About Cal

Cal Zant is the shooter/author behind PrecisionRifleBlog.com. Cal is a life-long learner, and loves to help others get into this sport he's so passionate about. His engineering background, unique data-driven approach, and ability to present technical and complex information in a unbiased and straight-forward fashion has quickly caught the attention of the industry. For more info on Cal, check out PrecisionRifleBlog.com/About.

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  1. Mounting a sling so that the flat of the non-bolt knob side lays against the flat of your back is really a godsend for muzzle down carry through brush on long safari walks. Good picture of sling swivel location in this article.

    • I’m with you. I always prefer two flush cups on the side opposite the bolt. That helps the weapon stay flat against your back, without the trigger gaurd or bolt knob digging into you.