Initial impressions of the Choate “Ultimate Varmint” Stock with the words “Designed by Major John Plaster” molded into the left side….
Context for the rifle: I have an older Savage 10FP Tactical 308 with 20″ barrel that still has the “tupperware” stock from long before Savage went to the accutrigger and round rear bridge.
Context for the shooter: I’m a fairly large person by statistical standards (over six feet, over 200 lbs), I have big hands (military size 10 or 11 depending on the manufacturer). I wear a size 12 ring. I’m not a NFL or NBA size, but I’m on the larger side of normal.
To me the Choate Ultimate Varmint Stock is perfect in the hand grip area (a frequent complaint from other reviewers is that the grip is too large), but too short in length of pull even with the two biggest LOP extenders installed. And those two LOP extenders are the absolute max that can be installed because the very skinny third one makes the two butt pad attaching screws not able to grip. As it is, using the longest screws that came with the stock I’m getting about a centimeter of engagement on each, and I’m not exactly comfortable with that so I might have to get some longer ones elsewhere.
The forestock is wide, but not as ridiculously so as the “Ultimate Sniper Stock” and smooth rather than textured with plastic spikes. I like this, as it is as close to a “budget chassis” as most anyone is going to get for the older square rear bridge Savage actions (1988 to 2006). A front accessory rail is going to be quite familiar to anyone who has done time shooting 10m air rifle or precision small bore.
The 20″ barrel of my Savage looks comically short in the “Ultimate Varmint” stock, like it is missing a suppressor. The barrel is not threaded for a suppressor, but if ever purchasing a can gets simpler than getting a mother may I stamp from the ATF I may chuck that baby into a lathe and git ‘r done.
The sling swivel studs are a nice strong design in my opinion, they are essentially a stud that goes through the forestock and buttstock horizontally so you can mount a shooting sling or carrying strap (the two are not the same) as you see fit. However they don’t fit snug enough to be silent, and I’ll probably end up needing to use some nylon washers or something else to quiet them down.
So, the bad…the Ultimate Varmint stock is a mix of “too big” and “too small” in various areas, not particularly well finished. If the grip is too big you can sand it down, and if the length of pull is too short you can add the spacers and then maybe even a slip on buttpad if you need more material. Still, for a 200 dollar base price stock that is essentially a molded plastic over an aluminum bedding block, these sorts of modifications shouldn’t be something that someone is talking about in a first impressions review.
And so, the good. For 200 dollars you get a stock that is a tried and true accuracy enhancer over the tupperware factory stocks of the era, and duplicates the functionality of the newer “accustocks” although I personally believe the Ultimate Varmint stock has better ergonomics for precision shooting. The accustock on the lower end Savage heavy barrel variants is still a hunting stock design, and the wrist lacks the proper geometry to support prone shooting or even other position shooting not involving a standing hasty sling or off of shooting sticks. The mechanical accuracy for the accustock is amazing, but ergonomically the Ultimate Varmint stock is going to be better for most people even with its downsides.
Interesting points. The Ultimate Sniper stock completely changes the balance of rifle, moving it rearward. This helps the rifle feel much more stable in a standing unsupported position and in a seated position. This would obviously be different on a rifle with a 24″ or 26″ barrel, or for a long action variant.
Summary, the Ultimate Varmint stock is priced about fifty bucks higher than it should be, but can totally get away with this because there isn’t much competition for the 1998-2006 Savage 10 aftermarket stock segment. It is a good stock in terms of being an upgrade over the factory offering despite not being the epitome of excellence in a few areas. If you shoot a lot of prone supported, this is a great stock for you. If you shoot a lot of “3 position” style rifle shooting, this is a better stock than the factory stick. If you just want to hunt, stick with the factory stock as it is lighter than the Ultimate Varmint stock by a fair amount. If you are a bigger person, simply having more stock to work with is going to be a good thing for you adjusting LOP and cheek piece.
I wouldn’t recommend someone go out and buy an older Savage to then spend more money on upgrading the stock, as overall that is going to be about equal of buying a New Savage with an Accutrigger and Accustock already installed from the factory. The Timney trigger on my rifle adds another even hundred to the cost, and the 20 moa EGW scope base another 38 bucks. All in all, an older Savage is probably not the most economical rifle to customize to your particular body.
But, if you have already sunk the cost into getting a Savage to shoot the way you like it, but still aren’t satisfied with the stock and are OK with never getting back out of the rifle what you put into it, then an Ultimate Varmint stock is worth a look. Sure it looks like plastic Derp from the last decade, but damn if it doesn’t work just fine.