MDT ESS Folding Stock Review

I’ve been a big fan of Modular Driven Technologies (MDT) products since they were first introduced.  From the TAC21, to the LSS, HS3 and ESS, each chassis system has worked well without breaking the bank.  The pinnacle of their product line, the ESS, is a favorite of mine.  Recently, MDT offered the option of a folding stock to the ESS.

If you read this blog you’ve seen the ESS folding stock on a few different rifles (in particular the Remington 700 and Howa 1500 shown in this post).   I didn’t post a review before because I wanted to make sure I had ample time to evaluate it.  Seven months and thousands of rounds later, I am ready.

Some shooters think a folding stock on a chassis system is a gimmick.  While you are certainly welcome to think that, folding stocks offer a number of advantages.  Folding stocks:

  • make your rifle shorter for storage in a vehicle or safe
  • allow access to the rifle’s breech for cleaning without removal of cheekpiece
  • allow a shooter to bore sight a rifle at the range, something you can’t do with many fixed chassis since the cheekpiece is in the way
  • help mitigate the extra length associated with a suppressor that stays on a rifle at all times

I went ahead and pasted the animation from MDT’s website since it is far better than any picture I could have taken…

The folding stock attaches to an existing ESS chassis system.  Unlike the legacy ESS stocks, the height and length adjustments are now made with thumbscrews.  This is a very nice feature since it does not require the use of tools.

If you’ve been around folding chassis systems for any length of time, you’ll know the weak point of the folding system is the hinge.  If a folding system is going to fail, it is typically the result of the hinge mechanism failing, coming loose, or wearing out of tolerance-a precision rig that rattles isn’t much fun after all.  The hinge mechanism on the ESS is extremely well designed and appears durable.  During the times I’ve tested it, it hasn’t loosened up one bit- and I shoot the system and fold the stock a lot!

The hinge mechanism on the ESS folds in two places allowing the stock to be reversible (folding to either side) and when folded to the right side of the chassis over the bolt handle (yes, it fits on my 700 with a straight PTG bolt handle and round knob).  This saves you at least an inch in total thickness when stowing the rifle, something you’ve undoubtedly noticed if you’ve ever had a left side folding chassis on a bolt gun.

While folding on the bolt side of the action makes sense in terms of cutting down on the width of the rifle during transport, it may not be the best solution for everyone.  For instance, when the stock is over the bolt handle it needs to be opened to allow the rifle to be cleared.  With the ESS folder this isn’t a problem since you merely need to flip the mechanism over to reverse the side it folds on.  An added degree of flexibility many other folding systems do not offer.

Overall I’m very impressed with the ESS folding system.  It is a very well designed product that clearly wasn’t rushed to market.  If you run an MDT ESS chassis, I’d highly recommend you consider the ESS folding stock, especially when coupled with the carbon fiber fore end, it makes for a slick, quality package.

To learn more about the MDT ESS folding stock, click here.