Review: MDT LSS Chassis System

Rusty S.
by Rusty S.
Tikka T3 Lite in MDT LSS Chassis

I must confess an affinity for Tikka and Sako rifles for hunting. I’ve hunted with a Tikka T3 in .300wm in Alaska, and it performed superbly. Most of my hunting here in the lower 48, however, takes place in a high-alpine environment, where the hikes are steep, and usually my hike in is 4 or more miles. My goal was to have a rifle that is accurate, lightweight, rugged, and adjustable. I purchased a Tikka T3 Lite with this goal in mind a few years ago, but the stock left a little to be desired. I wanted to be able to achieve a perfect cheek weld for consistent accuracy, as well as situations where I might be spending a long time looking through the scope waiting for a good shot to present itself. I also wanted to test the T3 Lite out as a host for a chassis system. I had been interested in retrofitting one of my rifles into a chassis for some time, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to try one out.

Factory Stock T3 Lite (Image source tikka.fi)

Chassis:

I put the T3 in an MDT LSS chassis in order to keep the overall rifle lightweight, while having the opportunity to select my buttstock and grip. There were a number of other choices for Tikka action friendly chassis, but the MDT LSS was definitely the lightest and most customizable. The “bottom metal” also has the advantage of using AICS magazines. The MDT LSS can improve accuracy by providing the action with a “v-block”, wherein the action sits on 2 flats when properly torqued down via the action screws. This is designed to prevent stress or movement of the action. The design of the chassis also free-floats the barrel. The chassis came with very clear and well written instructions, including torque settings. Installation was easy, taking less than 10 minutes. I simply removed the barreled action from the factory stock, inserted it into the MDT Chassis, used the 2 action screws provided by MDT and torqued them correctly, and I was done. MDT also provided a screw for installation of most AR-15 style pistol grips, which I then used to put on a Hogue rubber grip. The chassis was threaded for installation of a AR-15 carbine buffer tube and castle nut, and I put these on as well.

Tikka T3 Lite in MDT LSS Chassis with 5 round AICS Magazine

Stock:

The stock I chose was a FAB Defense GL-Shock with adjustable cheekpiece. This worked out to be a fantastic choice. It had a snug fit, was easy to use, and the cheekpiece stayed put no matter how many rounds I fired. I definitely noticed a reduction of recoil versus a regular collapsible stock (I tried a Magpul CTR stock on this rifle as well), and this was also a good stock to use with a can cannon, prior to the most recent ATF determination letter, of course. Fit to a mil-spec tube was flawless.

Optic/Mount:

The optic I put on the rifle is a Swarovski Z6 2.5-15×44. This scope had already survived and performed extremely well during a trip to Alaska. It held zero and had no issues from numerous flights and wildly changing weather conditions. The glass is also extremely clear, and aids greatly in low light conditions at dusk and dawn. I mounted it to the rifle with a GG&G accucam 30mm low mount for scoped rifles and a picatinny base. While it is a bit heavier than just rings, the accucam unit is more robust and can be attached securely with the accucam lever. The well-made one-piece construction also eliminated the need to lap the rings. I found that the zero did not shift when I took the mount and scope on and off the rifle.

The optic and rings proved to be a super-durable, excellent combination.

Overall Performance:

The 22″ 1:11 twist barrel on the Tikka T3 Lite performed the best with Black Hills Gold 168-grain A-Max load. Groups tightened from 1″ with the action in the factory stock, to .75″ in the chassis. This was better than the advertised 21% accuracy improvement from MDT. Shooting for groups is very difficult with the T3 Lite, as the barrel profile is so thin that it heats up and groups start to widen after 3 rounds without sufficient time in between shots for the barrel to cool. The rifle’s weight increased from 6lb 3oz in the factory stock to 7lb 10oz with the chassis, tube, and adjustable stock. The overall weight of the rifle in the chassis with optic, mount, and loaded 5-round AICS magazine was 9lb, 15.5oz. The chassis forend was not as comfortable to hold as the factory stock, but felt much better when I was wearing gloves. The rifle did end up balancing very well right around the action, and was easy to shoot offhand out to 300 yards. The rifle was also much steadier in my shooting sticks due to the squared off profile of the MDT LSS forend. Having an adjustable stock in the rear was an asset in that I could stay on the scope for much longer periods of time with consistent cheekweld and no neck-ache. I mostly carried the rifle in an Eberlestock scabbard, which I have found is the most comfortable way for me to hike and climb with a rifle. I hiked over 40 miles with it this season, with elevation gains of over 2000 ft, and it rode nicely in the scabbard and didn’t feel like a boat anchor on my shoulder. When I had to put the final stalk in on game, the rifle carried nicely and was comfortable in prone and seated shooting positions. Improvements I might make on this rifle in the future would be to cut, re-crown and thread the barrel to about 18 inches, or if I can, obtain a factory T3 Compact tactical barrel. I will also add an angled forend grip for better ergonomics up front. Readers familiar with Tikka’s current offerings however, would already know that now Tikka offers 2 rifles that would better fit the bill of a light rifle with adjustable stock, the T3 Lite Adjustable and the T3 Compact Tactical. I have no regrets about trying out the MDT LSS chassis for the Tikka T3. If you have a rifle that you wish to try a chassis on, I encourage you to do so. The added accuracy and functionality are well worth the price.

T3 with pack and shooting sticks.
T3 riding in Eberlestock scabbard attached to pack. I've found this is the most comfortable way to carry it.

Pros:

  • Easy to install, excellent instructions
  • Rifle retained lightweight characteristics
  • High level of customization
  • Increased accuracy
  • Ability to use AICS magazines
  • Very well made

Cons:

  • Need to purchase buttstock, buffer tube, castle nut and grip as opposed to other one-piece chassis systems.

MDT LSS Chassis System

MSRP $399

Thanks to Aaron Hughston Shooting School for range time

Rusty S.
Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. Editor at Outdoorhub.com

More by Rusty S.

Comments
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4 of 16 comments
  • Thedonn007 Thedonn007 on Dec 16, 2015

    I see that they make a chassis for my Savage Axis. However, I am not sure that I want to spend $400 on a $250 rifle.

  • HenryV HenryV on Dec 16, 2015

    Surely you "con" is the major selling point for the system?

    • See 1 previous
    • HenryV HenryV on Dec 16, 2015

      @Rusty S. For me the system is all about having a choice of AR furniture. Better value than buying a straight pull AR here in the UK.

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