Ask Josh: What’s The Deal With Folding Bolt Action Stocks?

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Competitive shooter and CMP veteran Daniel P. asks the following . . .

“Why do all your bolt rifles have folding stocks, man? I’d never use a folder in PRS, and I’ve never thought they did much for anyone unless you want a cool factor. You seem to like them, but I just need to ask why when they are objectively less precise as a fixed stock.”

Daniel has a good point here in that it seems like there is a huge influx of folding stocks out there these days. I’m going to answer this question from a couple standpoints that I have experienced firsthand as well as the technical question as to the accuracy point. For the sake of this article, I will be primarily discussing bolt action stocks.

First off, Daniel is correct in that I primarily like folding stocks because they are cool. Yes, there you have it. But cool is relative, as many guns with non-folding stocks are also very neat. There is a functional element that I appreciate, as while folding is indeed cooler than fixed, a folding stock adds some utility in unseen ways.

The functional elements of a folding stock are many, the first of which is that it makes a rifle much shorter for transport. Of course you could just go buy a bigger case to carry the rifle, but the option to make it more compact is great considering many people have limited space in their vehicles. This feature also comes into play in rifles that are packed-in for hunting.

Another functional element is that you don’t have to remove or alter your adjustments on the stock itself to clean the action or remove the bolt. I remember when I was a kid my friend had to fully lower his cheek piece every time to get the bolt out of the action of his rifle to maintain it. He hated doing that and had a stopper made to reset the height of his cheek piece.

Great Folding Stocks Available Now

There are plenty of great folders out there for your rifle. The majority are based on the Remington 700 platform, which you will see here in this article.

MAGPUL Pro 700 Short Action

The Magpul Pro 700 is a tank of a chassis. It’s extremely rigid and simple to use. One wrench turns 90% of the screws on it and you only need two others to respectively remove the endcap and install the NVD mount and another to adjust the grip-to-trigger distance and install the action screws.

Overall it is a beefy, but not heavy chassis. It folds over the bolt, but can be reversed or made into a fixed stock with a separate adaptor.

This Pro 700 is a metal skeleton with a a polymer skin. It’s a wonderful choice for a rugged chassis on a heavy bolt gun for use in match shooting. It’s not a custom piece and can be bought over the counter and is priced in the same ballpark as the rest of them on this list.

I like the Pro 700 and two of my 6.5 CM rifles wear them. The orange color (above) is a dye job I did on an FDE chassis and isn’t factory standard. Both rifles with these chassis shoot 1/2 MOA at all ranges and produce groups as small as 1/3” at 200 meters. Shooting with this chassis is like driving a Cadillac.

KRG WHISKEY 3

The next is the Kinetic Research Group Whiskey 3 chassis, a feature-rich, medium weight chassis that offers a great degree of modularity and has many upgrades available. The version in the photos here has a KRG enclosed forend with NVD mount.

It is substantially easier to change the color of your chassis and KRG sells the skins in a variety of colors, which is nice if you want to achieve a certain look like I did here on this custom 700.

I even had a Brownells barrel cut to match the overall look and it shoots as well as the others. This one produces groups of 1/3” for five shots at 100m and is capable of headshots all day out to 500M. The barrel length is 17 1/2” and it is optimized for the 130gr Berger Federal Match load. This chassis folds to the left.

Q SIDE CHICK

The next chassis on this list is the Q Side Chick, which is probably the lightest around. This folder is currently waiting for a .22LR action for use on the NRL22 circuit and the new rimfire long range being built at my home range up at the Marksmanship Training Center (MTC).

The Side Chick folds over the bolt handle and borrows features from the famous Fix rifle. The stock is similar in layout, but differs to account for the geometry of the 700 bolt. I love this chassis and I can’t wait to have a super-accurate and lightweight .22LR built on it.

I originally built a 6.5 CM on this chassis for an earlier TTAG article if you want to check out that review.

Speaking of The Fix, I had to include this rifle as, even though it’s a stand-alone design, it represents everything you would want in a folding bolt action. The rifle is extremely light and handy and is quite literally designed for weight and length savings for field use. This gun with a fixed stock wouldn’t be quite the same.

A 17” 6.5 CM is fine to 1K with no complaints. Here is one in a Q Side Chick chassis.

Is A Folder Less Precise?

For starters, Daniel is a much better shot than me at PRS and the like, but I’m better in CMP as a matter of score, which is something I like to remind him of when the Mausers start coming out to play.

All jabs aside, he is talented and shoots a rig that is very accurate in 6XC and is really much better than I am in positional shooting and off of barricades. I can match him prone, but that’s about it.

He shoots a fixed chassis from MPA on his rifle. I like how his gun looks and fits, but it is L-O-O-O-O-N-G. I’d say he’s shooting a rifle easily as long as am M96 Swedish Mauser and with his suppressor on the end, it’s more like a Brown Bess with the bayonet attached.

The KRG hinge is very substantial and locks closed.

He has a rifle made for what he shoots, where I have rifles that are much more cross-course as I build mine for content and general use and not necessarily for a dedicated sport. In fact, most of what I build I do so because it looks cool, a fact I’ve already admitted.

I will say that just because I have some Gucci setups doesn’t mean that I don’t know how to use them and my rifles all shoot lights-out and are easily as accurate as his on paper, maybe even more so. I, however, don’t have the leisure time of an unmarried childless man. (Dan I’m sending you the link to the article, you really need to ask her…the clock is ticking, man.)

I don’t think that there’s any evidence that really supports a folding stock being mechanically less precise than a fixed stock. There is no discernible wiggle at all in the Magpul Pro, KRG W3, or Q stocks. They are all rock-solid.

Could a fixed stock be better? I guess so since there is one less potential failure point, but I’ve yet to see that in practice.

The Q FIX is a very compact bolt action 6.5 or 308. It is only 6.4 lbs and is a great alternative to a semiauto for compact hunting- and brass retention.

At the end of the day a folding stock on a bolt action rifle is definitely a plus for most people. For those who think it’s a liability, I’d just suggest they not go with that feature. Or build a rifle that you want to fold and another to remain fixed. Since there isn’t that much ammo around, you should have more money to build more guns.

Have a question for Josh? Email it to [email protected] 

 

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, come on, man! You just want that sniper rifle short so you can pack it into some tall building without being noticed and shoot things up.

    Sincerely.
    Harris/Biden BATFE

    😉

  2. I went with an AI ACIS 2.0 stock. For the main reason of transporting the host rifle in a smaller case and the lazy way of getting the bolt out of action without removing the check piece.

  3. I’ve mentioned it before on similar posts about these rifles – where’d you get the Pro700 in brown/orange? Is this just photoshopped or is it actually this dark?

  4. …it makes a rifle much shorter for transport.

    Another functional element is that you don’t have to remove or alter your adjustments on the stock itself to clean the action or remove the bolt.

    My reasons #1 and #2, right there. The convenience is worth the money to me.

  5. My son and I argue over folding stocks vs. straight stocks. I say the accuracy suffers, he says not.
    I always finish it up with, ” Yeah, but you can’t bash somebody in the head with it without it breaking.”
    Being the I’ll prove dad wrong, I hope he’s got a good lawyer.

  6. His first 3 reasons are my 3, cool, convenient and compact. Plus the fact that my rpr came as a folder without modification. 100% zero play I can confidently say that a fixed stock would not make it shoot any better. It’s most likely in your head if it actually effects your performance

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