A quick look at the combined efforts of the gun media and the major gun manufacturers’ catalogs and you’ll see that the aluminum rifle chassis is the “thing” these days. The internet is full of people extolling their virtues. Increasingly popular with precision rifle shooters, these rifle chassis are fairly common on the circuits and at local matches. Many are minimalist, mostly to keep the weight down. Many more will accept every accessory known to man turning them into a weight lifting tool with a trigger. Costs range from high to stratospheric with some approaching three grand, often exceeding the cost of the rifle they house by two or three times. You would think it is not possible to shoot accurately without one, but fortunately, that is just not true. It’s quite possible to shoot well with a rifle in a composite or similar stock. Top tier Precision Rifle Series (PRS) shooters still win with them; most police and military snipers still deploy with them. Truth is, composite stocks from the likes of McMillan Fiberglass Stocks and now Grayboe remain the norm, not the exception, and will likely continue to do so for years.
It’s a New World
Composite stock design and manufacturing has changed considerably since I picked up my first precision rifle some three decades ago. Today, well designed and built composite or polymer stocks are stronger and lighter than their predecessors, and are built to exacting standards. Sure, there are cheap plastic or rubber models out there, but look at the quality stocks and it’s a whole new world.
Processes used for molding and manufacture have improved along with the rest of the gun industry. Tolerances are tighter making many as drop-in as it gets. Folding models are available along with carbon fiber stocks weighing under two pounds. Some require a gunsmith for installation, most no longer do.
Adjustments can be added rivaling chassis systems, you can even add rails to accommodate the kitchen sink if needed. Unfortunately, prices have risen with the improvements. My recent order for a McMillan A5 fiberglass stock for an upcoming project cost more than a grand by the time it was complete. That’s the cost of what amounts to a hand made stock with roughly 18 hours of personal labor built to my specifications. That’s fine for some, but we needed a stock built to the same exacting standards that was affordable, and Grayboe has come through with flying colors.
A Family Affair
Named for two of his children, Grayboe is the brainchild of Ryan McMillan. Ryan is part of the McMillan legacy; his father Kelly is the current owner of McMillan stocks. McMillan is the epitome of a family business with employees that span generations. Having worked there for much of his life, and after serving his country as a Navy SEAL, Ryan wanted to bring the most popular McMillan designs with some of his own personal touches to the average shooter. Ryan brings a wealth of real world experience as a shooter and stock builder. As a Navy Seal he saw action in the Middle East, as well as in South America and the Pacific. Along the way he acquired a degree in physics making him uniquely qualified to create the Grayboe.
Most people don’t know how much work goes into a top tier composite stock. While touring the McMillan factory recently I observed that only a single step in the inletting process is automated. Inletting is the process of opening up cavities in the stock where the action and other parts will go. Everything else is done by hand. There are more than 18 hours of skilled labor in each stock. Each is built to the customer’s exact specifications. This is why a stock can cost well over a grand and take months to complete. Bringing the best parts of these stocks into a more affordable range required a whole new process, one void of the customization, one simple in design and easy to manufacture.
Grayboe stocks are constructed using a proprietary material that is injected into a custom mold. Unlike other molds that are filled and then inlet using a mill or CNC machine, the Grayboe comes out a finished product ready for preparation to paint or coat. Everything is molded in, including the action and bottom metal inlet, sling swivel studs and aluminum pillars. All that’s added is the stock butt pad and simple coatings. The stocks can even be dipped in one of several camouflage patterns. Retail prices are currently $299.00 for the Outlander and $349.00 for the Renegade.
Outlander stocks are low profile hunting stocks weighing in at 2.5 pounds. The Renegade is a licensed version of the venerable and prolific McMillan A5 design at 3.75 pounds. Since changes require new molds the company is starting with the most popular configurations and more rifle actions will be accommodated in time. Currently Remington short and long actions are the only models available.
Outlander stocks are designed to accept any Remington BDL bottom metal; the Renegade is molded to fit the Badger Ordnance M5 or similar Bottom Drop Magazine (BDM). Outlanders come with a single sling stud at the front and rear of the stock. Two studs sit at the front of the Renegade spaced to accept the McMillan 3” tactical rail if needed. More factory options will be supported in the future. You can order them individually on line, but most are sold through dealers and suppliers.
For years the McMillan A5 has been my favorite fiberglass composite design. My last deployment rifle used one and it is still driving tacks almost ten years later. Two different G.A. Precision rifles previously deployed used an A5. It may be the most copied tactical composite stock on the market. And for good reason – it works. It made the Renegade a no brainer for my testing. One was ordered up in Desert Transition paint, a subdued desert pattern with some darker brown tones. A McMillan 3” rail was already waiting at my shop. My friend Ernie at Red Creek Tactical provided a brand new Badger Ordnance M5 bottom metal with two AICS .223 magazines.
Hitting the Range
My idea was to keep this as simple as possible. Grayboe stocks are designed as drop in solutions using the Remington 700 and many of the clones out there. The barrel channel will support most Varmint / Sendero contours.
I started with my Remington 700 SPS Tactical in 300 Blackout. It has proven very accurate and has served as a test platform for a number of scopes. Currently configured as a rabbit hunter, it is stock other than coating, a tactical bolt knob and Timney straight trigger. Scope is a Burris XTR II 3-15 FFP (First Focal Plane) using an SCR Mill reticle. Mounted in Vortex rings it has produced consistent .70 inch groups using Corbon MPR (Multi Purpose Rifle) 125 Grain TMK. Using my partner’s 125 grain hand loads, it shoots as tight as half an inch at 100 yards. Dead Air’s Sandman S (Short) 30 caliber suppressor is attached using their muzzle break. Recoil is non-existent, it’s quiet, and a ton of fun to shoot.
I grabbed the rifle, M5 BDM and Grayboe Renegade stock along with basic tools and trucked out to the range. To facilitate photos, it was assembled at the shooting bench on location. The first thing you will notice is how clean the process is since the action and bottom metal inlet are clean and smooth. There was no need to take sand paper to it at all. The M5 bottom metal fit perfectly. Snug but not tight, straight and true. The action lined up and sat flat with no high spots or rocking. Timney’s trigger fit without issue. There was plenty of space in the barrel channel and it was dead straight, not always the case with stocks costing a great deal more.
Checking for free float, there was no contact. Torque was set to 35 inch pounds to start. I start there and tighten incrementally if accuracy or repeatability is an issue. Magazines inserted and locked into place properly dropping free. Using the supplied studs, a Harris Bi-pod was installed and it was tested for groups at 100 yards. My best group that day was a tad under .60 inches using the Corbon, about as well as this rifle will shoot factory ammunition. Steel rang at 200, 300 and even 400 yards. Tested on the 12” steel at 500 yards, kind of a stretch with this caliber, it worked great. Using data gathered from my last trip to Follow Through Consulting it rang 6 out of ten times at this range. Feeding was smooth along with positive and consistent ejection. It’s as accurate as this rifle gets, all without bedding and assembled in the field, pretty impressive.
Heading back to the shop the scope was changed from the Burris to a 1-6 power Trijicon Accupoint using a Mil-Dot Crosshair. It’s about the perfect power for this caliber since it’s mostly a 100 yard varmint hunter. Trijicon’s green dot is perfect for fast and close with very clear glass, plenty of magnification, and mill dots facilitating the limits of the 300 BLK. Sling studs were removed from the front and McMillan’s 3” tactical rail installed. It includes a QD sling attachment and the provided screws worked perfectly allowing me to tighten the rail properly. One of my Atlas Bi-pods was installed. A black leather shooting sling from World War Supply was attached using the QD front and standard rear attachment.
Zeroed for the new scope, it produced the same groups as before with a couple at just shy of .60 inches. Again, no bedding here, just drop the action in the Greyboe. After 300 rounds it never shot loose and held its zero. My Atlas bi-pod was steady, and the sling allowed me to practice some unsupported shooting. Using the Dead Air Sandman S keeps it light, pretty short, and very handy. The result was a very accurate short range varmint rifle, or something that is just plain a blast on the range!
Initial testing was to see how “drop in” this stock really was, and it proved to be excellent. Its next task will be as a trainer for unconventional and odd positions. The McMillan A5 stock I recently ordered will house a competition ready custom build chambered in .260 Remington; the Grayboe Renegade will get an SPS chambered in .223 Remington installed. It may be the perfect task for this stock. Many competitors use 5.56mm / .223 Remington rifles in the same stock as their comp gun for practice. Shooting an 8 inch target at 400 yards with a .223 requires a steady hand and allows lots of repetition at a much lower cost. Since the Renegade use an A5 design it keeps the cost for the second rifle minimal. It is also the perfect training platform for new shooters no matter the age. Look for another article on how that works out.
Police snipers in training for years have asked how to build their own rifles matching the issued gun that uses a McMillan A5 stock. In most cases it was just too expensive. Grayboe makes that easier than ever and down right affordable. Find a used Remington 700 SPS or similar and drop it in the Renegade for less than you’d spend on a comparable custom stock. You could even add a scope and rings and still spend less than the cost of some chassis systems. No special tools, messy bedding, or time constraints, just drop it in and go to work. Use the correct rings and you don’t even need a cheek rest, making it about as simple as it gets.
Grayboe’s Outlander is an excellent choice for a high quality, light weight stock at the price of some cheap plastic or rubber models. It provides another choice for those without the need for the weight and features of the Renegade. Proven in design, both Grayboe stocks are strong, well built and will fit most Remington 700 type actions. They provide an option for those preferring standard designs, built to be used and available immediately. Priced for just about anyone they will reach a market that has been starving for some better choices. Don’t be surprised if these show up as options on factory rifles as well. Whether in need of a new stock, or building a quality hunting or tactical rifle these Grayboe stocks need to be on your list. Plans? Post in the comments below!