BOLT- AC­TION IN­NO­VA­TION

MPA BA COM­PE­TI­TION CHAS­SIS

Recoil - - Front Page - BY CANDICE HORNER

The word in­no­va­tion gets thrown around a lot, but Mas­ter Piece Arms is one of the few com­pa­nies putting in­no­va­tion into ac­tion on a con­tin­u­ous ba­sis. MPA has mod­ern­ized its bolt-ac­tion chas­sis with a lit­tle luck and a lot of lis­ten­ing.

When Phil Cashin bought MPA in 2008, he had a dif­fer­ent vi­sion than the path the com­pany had been trotting along. Cashin took a hard right turn

into the pre­ci­sion ri­fle mar­ket, which was a sur­prise to those of us who knew the com­pany for their semi-auto trailer trash Uzi clones. MPA chas­sis are now the most-used chas­sis by pre­ci­sion long-range com­peti­tors, ac­cord­ing to a Pre­ci­sion Ri­fle Se­ries sur­vey. And, most of the im­prove­ments to MPA chas­sis have come as sug­ges­tions from com­peti­tors.

If you’re fa­mil­iar with shoot­ing a tra­di­tional stock, the MPA chas­sis might seem like a prod­uct from the space age. But we’ve of­fi­cially been in the space age since 1957, so just go with the flow and be open to try­ing out a new sys­tem. Ma­chin­ing a chas­sis in­stead of deal­ing with ex­pen­sive and time-con­sum­ing molds in the man­u­fac­tur­ing process pro­vides nearly lim­it­less op­por­tu­ni­ties for it­er­a­tive im­prove­ment. In the case of the MPA BA Com­pe­ti­tion Chas­sis, it rocks more ca­pa­bil­i­ties than any other stock or chas­sis cur­rently on the mar­ket.

LUCKY BY DE­SIGN

MPA’s first chas­sis was de­signed in 2014, and it was an eye­sore. Hints of the orig­i­nal chas­sis can be seen in the new MPA BA Com­pe­ti­tion Chas­sis. The skele­tonized de­sign of the new chas­sis is pur­pose-built; ev­ery as­pect of the chas­sis makes shoot­ing ei­ther eas­ier, faster, or more ac­cu­rate.

Cashin said he got lucky with the first chas­sis de­sign be­cause it’s al­lowed for back­ward com­pat­i­bil­ity. “The base sys­tem of our chas­sis hasn’t re­ally changed over the past four years. We’re op­er­at­ing from the stand­point that we want our tech­nol­ogy to be back­ward com­pat­i­ble,” says Cashin. “So a cus­tomer who bought a chas­sis from us four years ago doesn’t have to feel ob­li­gated to spend $1,000 on a new chas­sis.”

In part be­cause old MPA chas­sis don’t need to die when a new fea­ture is un­veiled, Cashin gar­nered a loyal cus­tomer base. If a cus­tomer bought an older MPA chas­sis, he can send it back to MPA for up­grades at a min­i­mal cost — all it takes is a ma­chine time and the old chas­sis is the hot new, new.

KEY FEA­TURES

MPA chas­sis are ma­chined from a sin­gle piece of 6061 alu­minum. The only part of the chas­sis that’s re­mov­able is the butt­stock, which can be swapped from fixed to fold­ing. Shoot­ers with a need for a fold­ing stock can or­der it in­stead of hav­ing the fixed stock. The down­side of a folder is that its mov­ing parts create a small op­por­tu­nity for fail­ure. If you don’t need a folder, stick with fixed. We like the idea of eas­ier travel and not hav­ing to re­move our can, so we opted for a folder to save space in the gun case.

There are sev­eral as­pects of the MPA BA Com­pe­ti­tion Chas­sis that set it apart, so much so that other com­pa­nies have now be­gan to copy MPA’s home­work. The most no­table and most copied fea­ture is the ma­chined Arca-Swiss cut di­rectly into the chas­sis. Af­ter MPA started cut­ting a dove­tail into the chas­sis, sev­eral other com­pa­nies have done the same, or of­fered an af­ter­mar­ket Arca-Swiss plate that can be at­tached to the ri­fle. An Arca-Swiss style dove­tail al­lows the ri­fle to be at­tached di­rectly to a tri­pod. In many cases, shoot­ing off of a tri­pod is as stable as shoot­ing prone.

The dove­tail cut mates up with MPA’s Rapid Ad­just­ment Tech­nol­ogy (RAT) line of ac­ces­sories. MPA RAT adapters al­low for the shooter to quickly move a bi­pod along the length of the rail. This is ben­e­fi­cial for awk­ward shoot­ing po­si­tions, like shoot­ing from the top of a 55-gal­lon drum. By mov­ing the bi­pod back, you can build a more stable po­si­tion with both the bi­pod and rear bag in con­tact with the drum. Be­cause the RAT sys­tem is so easy to ad­just, mov­ing the adapters can be com­pleted while on the clock.

MPA’s spigot mount comes in two forms, Pi­catinny or dove­tail. By ex­tend­ing the real es­tate of the forend, the spigot mount gives you an­other spot to mount a bi­pod. Mount­ing the bi­pod to the spigot leaves the rest of the forend for use with the RAT sys­tem or tri­pod.

Along the bot­tom of the rail are mul­ti­ple holes, and while it may seem like aes­thet­ics or pos­si­bly weight-re­duc­tion, there’s a pur­pose. One of the most-used MPA ac­ces­sories is the bar­ri­cade stop. With a push of a but­ton, you can move

the bar­ri­cade stop along the length of the forend by putting it into any hole. Hav­ing so many op­tions for the bar­ri­cade stop lends to much more sta­bil­ity and less wob­ble when shoot­ing from bar­ri­cades of any width.

Orig­i­nally, MPA chas­sis shipped with an an­gled AR-style pis­tol grip. Most shoot­ers would place their thumb on the thumb rest that’s ma­chined into the chas­sis. Cashin re­al­ized that us­ing an an­gled AR grip caused un­due ten­sion in the shooter’s wrist. Af­ter over 30 ver­sions, the En­hanced Ver­ti­cal Grip (EVG) was born. The EVG is com­fort­able to use be­cause it has spe­cific ar­eas to sup­port your thumb and trig­ger fin­ger. Hav­ing a steady but not stressed grip helps mit­i­gate the shak­ing that oc­curs from hand ten­sion. The EVG is the most com­fort­able de­tach­able grip we’ve used for long-range shoot­ing.

Adding weight to a ri­fle helps man­age re­coil. Some shoot­ers hol­low out tra­di­tional stocks and add weight at spe­cific points to bet­ter bal­ance the ri­fle and lessen re­coil. When Cashin saw a shooter at a match adding weight with shot­gun pel­lets in his stock, Cashin had an epiphany. A low-pro­file weight sys­tem was de­signed for the MPA sys­tems. The Weight Tun­ing Kit can add a to­tal of 4.4 pounds or as lit­tle as one pound. Weights at­tach to the forend or butt­stock. Adding the weights is as sim­ple as re­mov­ing what­ever is in the way and putting the ri­fle back to­gether; it’s as easy as Le­gos. Once in­stalled, the weights look like they were part of the ri­fle the whole time.

Mea­sur­ing muz­zle ve­loc­ity us­ing a chrono­graph is a ne­ces­sity for pre­ci­sion shoot­ers. We use it to pre­dict the wear on the bar­rel, and also as one of the many vari­ables for ballistic en­gines. Know­ing the muz­zle ve­loc­ity helps you gather the gun data in­stead of hav­ing to doc­u­ment data on pre­vi­ous en­gage­ment. Many com­peti­tors travel with a Mag­neto Speed chrono­graph and recheck the muz­zle ve­loc­ity at matches. The prob­lem is that the Mag­neto Speed

is nor­mally hung di­rectly from the bar­rel, which shifts the point of im­pact. So those rounds can­not be used to con­firm zero or data. MPA built a so­lu­tion, the RAT Mag­neto Speed Adap­tor. By at­tach­ing the Mag­neto Speed to the dove­tail ver­sion of the spigot mount, it doesn’t come in con­tact with the bar­rel.

Rarely do com­peti­tors have to do a mag­a­zine change in the mid­dle of a stage. But if it has to be done, it bet­ter be as ef­fi­cient as pos­si­ble so you’re not fum­bling around with a mag­a­zine. Cashin worked with pro shooter Ryan Cas­tle to de­velop what’s known as the Ryan Cas­tle Mag Cut. The left side of the mag­a­zine well is cut, mak­ing pop­ping a new mag in faster than the stan­dard cut where you have to per­fectly align the mag and ease it in.

With the re­lease of the Com­pe­ti­tion Chas­sis, MPA nixed the rear mono­pod that’s found on other MPA chas­sis. In­stead, a Bag Rider or an En­hanced Bag Rider comes in­stalled on the chas­sis. The Bag Rider ex­tends the bot­tom length of the butt­stock and the en­hanced ver­sion is even longer. This fea­ture goes hand-in-hand with a rear bag. Shoot­ers can move the rear bag for­ward or rear­ward to ad­just the el­e­va­tion of the muz­zle. A rear bag used in this man­ner al­lows for large and small ad­just­ments, so you can get stable on your tar­get and have min­i­mal wob­ble.

The last key fea­ture of the MPA BA Com­pe­ti­tion Chas­sis is the in­cli­nome­ter lev­el­ing sys­tem. In lay­man’s terms, it’s a bub­ble level. Even a small amount of cant can put your im­pacts off tar­get. Many long-range shoot­ers in­stall af­ter­mar­ket bub­ble lev­els on their ri­fles. With the in­te­gra­tion of a level in the MPA chas­sis, you can see if the ri­fle is level with­out tak­ing your face off the cheek-piece.

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

Chas­sis fans choose chas­sis for their adapt­abil­ity and mod­u­lar­ity. Non­chas­sis shoot­ers end up see­ing the light once they get some time be­hind a wellde­signed chas­sis. Many chas­sis have sim­i­lar fea­tures, and that’s what we like about these sys­tems. We like that you can ad­just the length of pull and cheek­piece and make ad­just­ments on the fly.

Even though it’s not nec­es­sary, you can glass bed the ac­tion and bar­rel thanks to the V-Bed­ding sys­tem. A Pi­catinny bridge at the front of the chas­sis gives a base for mount­ing night vi­sion or other elec­tro-op­tics. There are six QD swivel lo­ca­tions, four on the butt­stock and two to­ward the front of the forend. The ad­justable butt­stock pro­vides a length of pull between

13.75 to 14.75 inches and the pad on the butt­stock can be tilted and moved to en­sure the best fit for you. With a turn of a wheel, the cheek-piece moves up and down. Hav­ing an ad­justable cheek-piece is of­ten over­looked by shoot­ers, but it’s the se­cret to get­ting con­sis­tent eye re­lief each and ev­ery time you put your head on the ri­fle.

The MPA BA Com­pe­ti­tion Chas­sis ac­cepts a gamut of pop­u­lar ac­tions and it’s even avail­able with left-handed op­tions. All MPA chas­sis are fin­ished in Cer­akote; the stan­dard col­ors avail­able are black, burnt bronze, flat dark earth, gun­metal, ma­rine red, NRA blue, sniper green, and tung­sten. Cus­tom fin­ishes are avail­able; you just have to con­tact MPA.

With all this good, there’s got to be a lit­tle bit of bad. For­tu­nately, the bad isn’t a deal breaker. The screw sizes aren’t the same on the chas­sis. This makes sense since some parts need

larger screws for their strength. To re­move and re­place ac­ces­sories, you bet­ter have a mini tool­box. We had a set of Fix It

Sticks, which had all the bits we needed. For ex­am­ple, the spigot mount needed a 1/8 bit, while the Bag Rider needed a T-25, the Night Vi­sion Bridge needed a T-15, and the Weight Tun­ing — we think you get the idea. But once you have your ri­fle put to­gether the way you want, hav­ing all the bits and play­ing gun Bar­bies, swap­ping out pieces doesn’t have to hap­pen un­less you want it to.

SHOOTABILITY

To test this chas­sis, we wanted to burn through a lot of ammo and have fun while do­ing so. We opted to put a Vu­doo Gun Works V-22 barreled ac­tion in the MPA BA Com­pe­ti­tion Chas­sis. The V-22 came with a Tim­ney Trig­gers Calvin Elite Cus­tom Rem­ing­ton Model 700 trig­ger. We topped the ri­fle off with a Night­force 5-25 ATACR with the new Mil-XT ret­i­cle. You can read more about the V-22 and the Mil-XT in sep­a­rate ar­ti­cles in this is­sue. And, as al­ways, we run sup­pressed when pos- sible, so we put an Aca­dian Ar­ma­ment Lynx si­lencer on this build.

We wanted to shoot this gun un­til we ran out of ammo. The V-22 is cham­bered specif­i­cally for La­pua 22LR, so we only shot about 500 rounds to pre­vent break­ing the bank. La­pua ammo is known for shoot­ing well, but it’s more ex­pen­sive than the av­er­age 22LR you’ll find at Walmart.

We could sum up the shoota­bilty of the MPA BA Com­pe­ti­tion Chas­sis with one word: easy. It was quick to ad­just the fit between dif­fer­ent shoot­ers de­spite vary­ing in size. The op­tions seem to be end­less, and we ex­pect that by the time this ar­ti­cle goes to print, MPA will have a hand­ful of new ac­ces­sories or up­grades for this chas­sis.

SIG SAUER, Vu­doo Gun Works, Kestrel, Mas­ter­Piece Arms,Night­force, PG. 10

The orig­i­nal clunky chas­sis has been thinned out and be­come more user-friendly.

Fold­ers are func­tional, if you ac­tu­ally use them.

Dis­creet ma­chin­ing along the forend is a huge par t of MPA’s suc­cess in the pre­ci­sion ri­fle arena. Hav­ing a bar­ri­cade stop im­proves sta­bilit y.

Bipods can be at­tached in mul­ti­ple ways and lo­ca­tions.

The bub­ble level is inan ideal lo­ca­tion for a quick peek to make sure the ri­fleisn’t canted. The V-bed­ding sys­tem al­lows for glass bed­ding, if you’re so in­clined — but it’s not nec­es­sary.

An ex­tended bag rider is the per fect mate for a rear bag.

No more bar­relshift when chrono­graph­ing, thanks to the MPA RAT Mag­ne­toSpeed adapter. (Archived chrono data shown.)

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