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Victor Company USA "Viperskins"

Whenever the Accuracy International Chassis System (AICS) is discussed, you will invariably hear someone complain about the thumb hole stock. The next on the list of complaints is usually the squared off forend. Some of us have learned to live with the ergonomic shortcomings of the AICS, others have just selected a different chassis. Apparently Accuracy International was listening because you can now purchase the AX Chassis System. This replaced the thumb hole with a pistol grip and a tube style forend.

The introduction of the AXCS brought a great option for the new buyer. However that didn't help the thousands of AICS that are already in the hands of shooters. This is where Victor Company USA enters into the picture. Victor Company is already known for their Accu-Stack AI Cheekpiece risers. Thankfully the stocksides or "skins" on the AICS are quickly and easily removed and replaced. Victor Company came to the rescue of AICS owners with their Viper Skins AICS replacement stocksides.

The Viperskins install much like the factory stocksides. The only exception is that the AI skins use the same length fasteners at all locations. The Viperskins use several different length fasteners. The included instruction sheet makes it easy to determine which fasteners go in which locations. Once the skins are mounted there is a palm swell/back strap that attaches to the pistol grip with four screws. This back strap is made of a softer pliable material that fills the hand nicely. Victor Company has announced that in the future, different sized palm swells will be available.

The Viperskins totally change the feel of the AICS/AE/AW. It is amazing that in only a couple minutes time you can make a profound difference in the way the rifle handles. The forend of the Viperskins is more rounded than the AI stocksides. They give a feel much more similar to a standard stock. There is a swell located just in front of the magazine well that seems to draw your hand when in an offhand position. The “dimples” in this area allow your fingers to get a little more grip.

The biggest change is the pistol grip. It is at a similar angle to the AI stocksides but with the obvious lack of the thumb hole. This should be a welcome change to shooters with larger hands. Above the pistol grip is an indent on either side. These indents are intended to be thumb rests for those shooters who prefer to “float” their thumb alongside the stock instead of wrapping it around the grip. The indent also allows for easier access to the safety lever on Remington or AE systems.

The buttstock on the Viperskins is quite a bit different than the factory AI stocksides. The contour is much closer to that of the current AI AX rifle. The high hook in the butt allows for a secure grip by the support hand. This helps the support hand to keep the stock pinned in the pocket of the shoulder. It also assists in steering the stock when transitioning from target to target.

The forend of the Viperskins come with three threaded inserts on either side. The base package includes screws to block off the holes. The included screws are a bit chunky and end up just where your fingers grip the stock. Most shooters will probably want to replace these with a more rounded option to assist with the new smoother contour of the forend. For those who need to attach a light or laser to the chassis, Victor Company can supply a Picatinny rail set that screws to the forend.

I have spent quite a bit of time behind our AI AE MkII. When I slid behind it for the first time after installing the Viperskins it felt like a totally different system. The grip was comfortable and my support hand felt natural in the hook of the stock. When I hefted the rifle into an offhand position my hand naturally slid back to the palm swell on the forend. I have never had an issue with the thumb hole stock on the AI, but there is no doubt that the Viperskins set is an ergonomic improvement in the forend.

The fit an finish of the Viperskins is equal or better than the factory AI skins in most aspects. There are no gaps and once installed the Viperskins don’t demonstrate any undue flex. The only negative I could find was a slight creak in the pistol grip when twisting the rifle on the bipod. I attempted to tighten the screws to alleviate this, but it did not help. I don’t feel this in any way impacts function and it had little effect on my impression of the skins.

Currently the Viperskins are only available in “Tactical Black” and only for the short action AICS 1.5 and 2.0. We had no problem installing the skins on our AI AE MkII. Bolting the AICS skins on the AE or AW leaves you with a large gap around the bolt handle. This is an aesthetic issue only does not impact the function of the system. Victor Company will be releasing the Viperskins for the AE/AW soon. Also coming will be different molded in colors. If you can’t wait for the colors, Victor Company does offer the black Viperskins with a water transfer Multicam coating.

The Viperskins offer a great option to AICS/AE/AW owners who are not satisfied with the feel of the chassis but don’t wish to upgrade to the AX Series.

- Victor Company USA Website -

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