This is a precursor to a review I’ll be doing on the Teludyne Straight Jacket Barrel system. At their request I’ll be heading up there, shooting my rifle for my best group, having them work their magic, then checking to see the kind of difference that the installation made. Working out the timing of the visit was surprisingly easy, but that put me in the position of coming up with a suitable “donor system” with about eight days notice.
I had a Remington 700 5R that I decided to use, but it was still in its original stock. If the modification of the rifle barrel works well then this will probably become my primary rifle, and in that case what I really want is something that gives me a better cheek weld (ideally with an adjustable stock) and allows for the use of detachable magazines. The tweaking Teludyne will do results in a thicker barrel, and modifying the existing stock to fit the new barrel is part of the process. Changing out the stock is really something that needs to be done before the barrel work is done, rather than after.
Discussions with distinguished shooters yielded mixed advice like “use whatever feels best,” but at the end of the day the majority of serious shooters were using Accuracy International or McMillan stocks. I had the chance to handle everything at SHOT and decided that the AICS 1.5 stock was better for me than the 2.0. The AICS 2.0 is the rage right now, but I don’t need a folding stock and the idea of taking on weight and complexity (and the additional chance something will go wrong) didn’t seem worth it, especially considering the additional cost.
I got to handle a number of custom rifles that were in McMillan A4 or A5 stocks, and it’s a nice system as well. I didn’t have a strong preference between Accuracy International and McMillan after SHOT, but after a call to the McMillan’s factory I learned that the lead time on McMillan stocks was at least five weeks, so AICS was the clear choice for this build.
Unpacking and Initial Impressions
The AICS came from Midway in a box, wrapped in bubble wrap, with an 8.5 x11″ sheet of directions and a hex wrench. The parts list looked like this:
1 x 5 round detatchable box magazine
1 x Left & 1 x Right Hand Stockside
8 or 10 x Stockside securing screws, depending on whether a Non Folding or Folding AICS is supplied
2 x Action retaining screws
2 x Washers
So, I was worried that I didn’t have the required screws and washers and whatnot. It turns out that everything was pre-assembled, and for some reason Accuracy International thought it made sense to inventory all of the component parts on the instruction sheet. Have no fear, it’s all there. It’s just a British inventory list.
The initial impression was this: solid. Before installation we disassembled the stock to take a look at it, and it’s basically one solid piece of aluminum as the core (as seen below), with a heavy composite that makes up the body.
Based on my experience installation should take about twenty minutes, assuming a stock Remington 700. In my case the installation took a bit longer, as we were working hard to get the action to line up perfectly. Overall the system is simple (it’s a V that tightens things down perfectly and solidly as you tighten the screws,) but I had an after-market Timney trigger installed, and it was difficult to fit. Once fit I discovered that the safety lever wouldn’t disengage, so we had to disassemble it again.
Here’s the problem we ran into: the Timney isn’t exactly the same size and shape as the original Remington trigger. When you actuate the safety on the Timney there is a horizontal bar that moves sideways in relation to the action. This bar was a bit too long to fit in the AICS stock without binding, so I had my gunsmith shorten the bar a bit, and use a dremel to cut a small dimple in the stock where this bar was binding. The incompatibility can be measured in millimeters, and the fix is simple, but expect a little bit of fitting work if you’re going to use an after-market trigger.
My Remington 700 now takes external magazines.
The magazine release and insertion is nowhere near as clean as you get with semi-auto pistols or rifles — the magazine needs to be solidly inserted, and there’s a lip on the magazine you may need to extract the magazine. It’s far from a drop-free design.
The magazines themselves are designed so that the rounds are stacked directly on top of one another, rather than staggered as with an AR or M1A magazine. I’m new to the platform, but I find that loading the magazines properly is a two-handed affair. If you simply try to insert the butt-end of the round under the feed lips and push it rearward you’ll find that rounds already in the magazine will tilt and wedge themselves in the gap at the back of the magazine. It’s not difficult to push down the existing round from the back-end while loading a new round — it’s just different than you’d expect if you’re used to loading AR or M14 magazines.
Special Note: On another site I read that a problem with this product is that once you mount your Remington action you can’t close the bolt on an empty magazine because the bolt catches on the follower. This is not the case with the stock I just installed. The bolt moves just like it’s supposed to, whether there is a round in the magazine or not. I will say that the first time I loaded I wasn’t sure the magazine was inserted properly as the rounds looked really low in comparison to the semi-autos I’m used to, but everything fed freely. I
Adjusting Length of Pull
I expected to receive a stock that had buttons that would allow me to push and pull various doo-dads in order to size the stock properly, like an AR or a SCAR. I was wrong. Rather, it’s like this:
The butt piece consists of these parts: a large (0.8″) plastic spacer, a small (0.4″) plastic spacer, and a fairly comfortable recoil pad. These are held in place with two bolts that require a 3/16ths inch hex wrench to remove. This hex wrench is not included in the kit, by the way. Once removed it’s pretty simple to put things together the way you like it, then bolt it back down into your preferred configuration.
That metal piece at the top of the butt-stock is the sling attachment point. It will fall off when you take out the rear screws, so if you don’t like it simply leave it off. Don’t lose it though — Accuracy International components are not cheap to replace.
I removed the large spacer and immediately had a rifle that provided the proper amount of eye relief while in prone – nice and easy. If you need more spacers AI makes them available in at least three sizes, and a quick Google search found at least one person selling after-market alternatives.
You really have two choices with the AICS: mount a “normal” bipod like a Harris, or spend a lot more money and use the Accuracy International bipod. I had a spare Harris lying around, so I put that on the rifle (no attachments necessary – just connect it.) Then I took it to a long range school and really learned its failings.
The first thing I learned is that it’s possible to buy the wrong kind of bipod from Harris. The options include at least long-versus-short, and also click-stops-versus-straight. I won’t weigh in on the height option, but I learned that adjusting a Harris bipod without stops from the prone position is just slow and awkward. It works, but not quickly, and it’s very frustrating if you’re trying to get a shot off quickly.
The AI bipod, on the other hand, was incredibly fast and easy to use:
- If you’re getting into position the legs are spring-loaded, so press the button and the leg will extend until it touches the ground (if it was too short) or collapse to the point where you want it (if it was too long). Simple and very fast.
- If you’re moving, simply grab both legs and squeeze, then you can move the legs into a storage position (forward or back — doesn’t matter.)
- Time to put the rifle back in the case? Bipod removal takes a couple of seconds. Simple.
It’s pricy, but the AI bipod is worth the expense if you’re going to use the rifle anywhere other than on a square range. The bipod design is just that good.