Ever since I started getting interested in precision rifle shooting years ago, there’s been an ongoing debate in my head between traditional rifle stocks and modern chassis systems. On one hand, I think there’s something classic in appearance and handling of a nice traditional stock. That’s ultimately why I chose to go with a Manners T2 for Project Gungnir. On the other hand, though, there’s no denying the sheer utility, consistency, and “tool-like” appearance of a modern chassis. Today I’m reviewing the Oryx chassis, which I used on my competition 22lr project rifle, and leans more towards the utilitarian side of the spectrum.
Oryx is a standalone brand, but closely related to the guys at Modular Driven Technology (MDT). MDT has earned quite the reputation for intelligent rifle chassis designs and has a large following in the competition as well as tactical markets. They are also a bit of a premium brand, with nearly all of their systems breaking into the $1k mark when fully outfitted. The one exception is their latest XRS Chassis, which I really want to try out on a future project idea.
I purchased the Oryx Chassis at full retail price earlier this year. There was another chassis system suitable for my project on the market as well, which I’ll get to, but I ultimately went with the Oryx because I wanted to see how I felt about pistol-gripped chassis as well as try out something not many other folks had.
Bottom Line Up Front
The Oryx Chassis is a great option within the entry-level precision rifle chassis market. Compared to its competition, the Oryx comes in far more inlets and is the only one with a full-on pistol grip. The chassis is effectively a massive block of milled aluminum with some polymer side panels screwed on. I’ve not come across anything quite as beefy or stiff before.
However, the quest to mass produce the chassis at a lower price point for so many inlets does lead to characteristic “huh?” items. For example, the magazne well is intended for AICS-sized magazines, and that’s great for centerfire short action options. But with my 22lr Tikka T1x, it leaves large gaps to allow junk to get up inside.
The same applies to the trigger cutout, where the manufacturer had to leave large openings to accommodate a wide variety of actions. To be fair, some of this will be true of any “one size fits all” chassis, but its something that stands out to me.
The Oryx Chassis
I mentioned that most of MDT’s chassis systems will run you around $1000 complete, except for their XRS model. If there’s one reason that I think MDT “stepped down” to produce something in the $399 range, I think it’s their competition from the guys over at Kinetic Research Group (KRG). Both KRG and MDT, as well as others, make fantastic precision rifle chassis for high-end competition rifles. For several years, though, KRG dominated the entry-level market with their Bravo series. This was the other chassis I was considering for the 22lr project.
The $350 Bravo chassis consists of an aluminum “backbone” running from the rear of the action to the front of the stock. The rest of it, including the stock, is polymer. The system is lightweight and very popular with new precision shooters and hunters alike. However, KRG only has inlets for Remington 700 SA/LA (and clones), Howa 1500 (SA only), and Tikka T3x Short Action/CTR for centerfire rifles. With rimfire, your options are the CZ 457, Tikka T1x, and Ruger 10/22.
MDT likely saw an opportunity to go after the entry-level competition chassis market by offering more inlets, a pistol grip, and a beefier system overall. As of this writing, the Oryx chassis is available for the following rifles:
- CZ 455
- CZ 457
- Howa 1500 LA / Weatherby Vanguard LA
- Howa Mini
- Howa Mini Youth
- Howa 1500 SA / Weatherby Vanguard SA
- Remington Model 7
- Remington 700 SA (and clones)
- Remington 700 LA (and clones)
- Remington 783
- Ruger 10/22
- Ruger American SA
- Savage Axis SA
- Savage Axis LA
- Savage LA
- Savage SA
- Savage Mark II
- TC Compass SA
- Tikka T3x LA
- Tikka T3x SA
- Tikka T1x
- Mossberg Patriot SA
- Mossberg Patriot LA
- Mossberg MVP 308
- Mossberg MVP 223
That’s an impressive list for a single chassis, and it allows many more shooters to enter the market for precision rifle systems than otherwise might not have been able to without going down the custom-bedded classic stock route.
Oryx Chassis Appearance and Specs
When I first pulled the Oryx chassis out of the box, I was surprised by its weight. At 4.2 lbs, it’s not a lightweight. The KRG Bravo is 2.9 lbs in comparison. A full-on PRS chassis from MPA, KRG, or MDT will run somewhere between 4.5 lbs and 7 lbs out of the box.
The Oryx is essentially one long piece of anodized 6061 aluminum running from the tip of the forearm all the way to the buttpad. I don’t think you’re going to get much stronger or stiffer than that. The metal is nicely machined and evenly finished. MDT machined M-LOK channels on the underside of the forearm for accessories, and the magazine well characteristically doubles as a barrier stop.
MDT uses polymer panels mounted to each side to create the handguard and stock. The polymer cheekrest is adjustable via set screws, though I replaced those with the available thumbwheels. The included panels are OD green, and only OD green. You can buy them in black or FDE for an additional $39.99, but you can’t select those as options when you buy the chassis itself. There is a QD socket for sling swivels on the each side of the stock’s bottom, but you have to mount your own solution to the front of the rifle.
The chassis accepts AR-15 pistol grips, but comes with Oryx’s own rubberized model that I actually quite like. When grasping it, there is a nice amount of “give.” It also has comfortable palm swells and little “shelves” on each side for resting your thumb. There are also some angled flat spots on rear of the aluminum chassis itself that work for resting your thumb.
The trigger guard is large and beefy, and I wish they had radiused the edges a bit more as the sharp corner tends to rub on my gripping fingers.
The factory length of pull is 13.5″ including two removable .25″ spacers. I added two more to both better fit me as well as provide more contact space for any bags I might be using under the stock.
Overall, the Oryx chassis appears very tool-like and well made. It’s a no-frills hunk of aluminum designed to do one thing only: lock down a rifle action.
When you look closely at how the Oryx Chassis is built, you can spot the business model that MDT is going after. Pretty much every chassis manufactured is identical, except for the areas that they machine for fitting the action.
The barrel channel is about 1.26″ wide throughout, so you can fit anything up to 1.25″ in there. The .75″ barrel of my T1x is somewhat swallowed by the opening when you see it from above.
Viewed from the underside, I can see right through the front of the magazine well to the barrel mounting screws of my T1x. The Oryx Chassis is supposed to be used with AICS pattern magazines (with some exceptions), and the only modification they made when I selected the T1x variant was removing the magazine latch. The T1x magazine well and release sit nestled up inside of the Oryx’s magazine well for a somewhat odd appearance, but still very functional. This configuration actually protects the magazine release quite well.
I also noticed a larger than average hole where the trigger comes through to the guard. This is to accommodate a wide variety of actions. Both of the gaps in the trigger as well as the magazine well mean that crud has a better chance of getting up inside (though it will probably also fall out).
When you take all of this in, you understand that MDT is keeping prices low by offering the fewest variations that they can. It’s all the same magazine well, same barrel channel, same side panels, same everything except for the inlet.
There is a bit of an ecosystem of accessories building up for the Oryx. The list isn’t huge, but it makes sense. For example, I already mentioned the thumbwheel adjustment knobs for the cheek riser as well as different colored side panels. I also installed the non-weighted butt spacers. MDT makes an ARCA rail that fits the underside.
I asked MDT what kind of future plans they have for the Oryx when it comes to aftermarket accessories, and they remained tight-lipped. Given how it’s constructed, though, I see no reason that there couldn’t be a huge variety of accessories in the future as everything pretty much bolts on to the beefy aluminum skeleton.
Oryx Chassis Performance
Aside from looking cool, this is ultimately the reason that people buy chassis systems. We want to wring out accuracy from our rifles.
My testing is not perfect, but I think it gives me enough of a sense of things to come. Prior to installing my T1x in the Oryx, I performed accuracy testing using the factory plastic stock. You can see those results over in my T1x review. In that test, the best performing ammunition was Lapua Center-X, with an average group of .442″ at 50 yards.
With the Oryx Chassis, that shank by 37% to .34″ at 50 yards.
I mentioned that this testing was not perfect, so I want to be transparent about that. For example, the original test took place seated at a bench with no support in the rear. The second took place from a seated position on the ground with a sling.
In all, the rifle feels much sturdier in positions, and I have no concerns about wrenching down on a sling compared to when it was in a lightweight polymer stock that weighed a scant 1 lb 12.7 oz.
The Final Verdict
I started off on this journey wondering if I would like a chassis system over a traditional stock. More specifically, would I enjoy a pistol-gripped chassis. On that question, I really like the Oryx.
Do I think it’s as comfortable or good-feeling in the hands as my Manners T2? No, not really. I think traditional rifle stocks feel more comfortable, but I will admit that there is probably an emotional element to that. I don’t think the Oryx is uncomfortable, except for some harsh edges around the trigger guard, but it certainly feels like a tool. I suppose this goes back to the walnut versus plastic argument of the M14 and AR-15.
When it comes to the question of the Oryx vs KRG Bravo, what do I think? Well, I need to spend some time with the Bravo to tell for sure. It has a much more traditional look and feel to it, which I would probably prefer. However, the increased weight of the Oryx certainly helps with it comes to recoil absorption and steadying the rifle for competition. What is your priority?
In all, I think the Oryx chassis is a fantastic entry into the entry-level precision rifle chassis market segment. Along with it is the KRG Bravo, Cadex Strike Nuke Evo, and Magpul’s hunter stock, the Oryx does a great job balancing price and performance- and it does it with far more options for inlets than the others.
Matt – honestly I ‘skimmed’ over your article but was interested enough to check out the Oryx website. Wow – I like it! A down the road project but might go with it for a long range rifle using a Rem 700 30-06. Like you, I will always ‘prefer’ the ergonomic feel of a traditional stock for most uses but for a bench rest paper puncher it would fit the bill nicely and not break the shooting budget. I’m thinking the weight of it plus the heavy barreled action will take a ‘little off’ the shoulder – I’m in my… Read more »
Hey Paul, I’m glad you liked it! I’m a fan of the Oryx, but since you’re talking about the R700 platform, which is pretty common, I also suggest checking out the KRG Bravo that I mentioned (https://kineticresearchgroup.com/product/bravo-chassis/) as it gives you a bit more of that traditional stock feel.
If you have a little bit more to spend, you might also like Cadex’s Strike Nuke Evo
Thanks for the other recommendations Matt! I do like the KRG Bravo chassis at similar price. One of the reasons I still may get an Oryx down the road is I have a sub moa (sheer luck) Weatherby Vanguard in 30-06 also – Bravo only comes in short action Howa). You have me thinking how much fun a .22LR precision project would be……..
I love the Vanguard (very similar to my Howa 1500), the Oryx is a good fit for that but something to keep in mind is that there might be some fitting to accommodate the magazines. One of the things I’ve learned (and will document via another post) is that getting a magazine system to work with a Howa-based rifle takes some work.
A 22LR bolt action is very fun, you should totally do it.
Great write up! I was contemplating getting this chassis over the bravo for my t1x.Being a satisfied MDT owner I ended up ordering the Oryx. It came in yesterday. Not sure when I’ll get a chance to shoot it but I’m looking forward to it.
Thanks, James! It seems like you were in the same conundrum as me. I do quite like the Oryx and don’t think I’ll be replacing it anytime soon. But I have in mind to try out a .223 bolt action project and I’m torn between the Bravo or MDT’s new XRS.
MDT states that their chassis’ improves accuracy by up to 28%. It’s interesting to see some shoot group sizes to support those claims.
Curious about the opening for the magazine with the Oryx/t1x combo… did that extra space make magazine changes less precise or more difficult? I find the T1X in stock form already requires an well aligned magazine insertion but there is no extra/open space so this is not too difficult/slow but could be worse with added space around the action.
Thank you for your thorough and honest review,
Hi Sean, I haven’t personally had any issues with getting the magazine in quickly. I index it against the trigger guard and then up it goes. Since writing this review, I’ve found that the extra space left in front of the mag up inside of the well protects the magazine release quite well without slowing me down.
What is the riser pad you have on the oryx?
Hi Drew, it’s a Wiebad model designed for the MDT ACC (https://wiebad.com/mini-stock-pad/)
Great article, thank you for taking the time to wrtie this out and express your thoughts. MDT also does a rimfire line which accomodates the Tika T1x. I was wondering what your thoughts on that would be. I am more interested in the comparison of the two in my search for chassis systems.
Hi Mark, thanks for commenting. The Oryx has been a great chassis for my T1x, and it performed very well in a recent PRS Rimfire match. Had the MDT XRS been available for my T1x last year, though, there’s a very good chance I would have gone that route. In fact, I’m planning to use the XRS for a Tikka T3x project in the future. I think that is just my preference for more “traditional” stocks over pistol-gripped chassis.
Can the mag release on the T3x version be removed so the T1x action can be installed? I’m wanting to buy one chassis that will accommodate both my T1x and CTR. (re-installing the mag release when I switch the chassis back to the T3x CTR action)