We are excited to get our review of the Victor Company USA Viper Skins posted! I have been following the product development over at Victor Company USA since Michael Victor, the owner, announced his products a few years ago over on the Sniper’s Hide Forum. At the time I had been using my Accuracy International Chassis System with my custom Remington 700 rifle for a few years. Accuracy International was pushing their new AXCS, or AX AICS chassis, pretty hard. What Michael Victor did with Victor Company was take the best features of the Accuracy International AX Chassis and apply them to the legacy stocks that thousands of loyal AI customers had been using for years.
Part of why I start with the history of this product is because I want to illustrate how innovative it was for those that are new to the precision rifle community and didn’t necessarily get stuck in an expensive choice a few years ago. When Accuracy International released the AX Chassis it was quickly and widely accepted as a high quality rifle chassis. It had the ability to bolt a barreled action in and go without bedding just like the older AICS chassis, but with a number of enhancements. The attractive enhancements for a lot of people were the pistol grip, the hook design of the butt stock, and the ability to mount accessories on the front end of the rifle. The downside, was the $1300+ dollar price tag, on top of the $900+ most of us had already spent on an AICS some years before.
Michael Victor and Victor Company came to the rescue of more than a few AICS owners. By working with high quality injection molds he was able to craft and design a set of ‘skins’ for the aluminum AICS chassis backbone. It meant owners of the AICS could remove the two skin halves from the backbone, and install a set of Viper Skins in a few minutes, and in doing so bring most of the function of the AX home for less than $200. Now AICS owners have a rubber pistol grip, a hook buttstock design, and rail options for the front end of their chassis for accessories. The skins are high quality injection molded polymer that fit tightly and have been known in many cases to have a better fit than the skins the chassis came with. The grip is rubber and quite comfortable. The rail options for the front end of the chassis are made from quality aluminum materials and the sling swivels even have anti-rotation cuts within the QD opening. You can read our review of the Victor Company QD kit here!
The design of these skins is really pretty impressive. What Michael Victor did with Victor Company was amazing. He brought all Accuracy International Chassis System owners the features we all wanted from the Accuracy International AX Chassis line at a fraction of the price. He allowed us to hold on to the stocks we had bought with our hard earned money while breathing some new life and function into them. Accuracy International is not a foolish company. They offer AICS systems with pistol grip skins now as well. So what is a prospective AICS purchaser to do?
My advice would be to start with the thumbhole. That may sound silly coming from a guy raving about the enhancements of an aftermarket company producing pistol grip stock sides, but here’s why. There is a reason the AICS was so popular. It is a good design, and there are many that prefer the thumbhole feel for precision shooting. I think the pistol grip fits a bit better into the ‘tactical’ shooter category myself but to each their own. At under $150 for a set of Viper Skins this is an easy upgrade and an affordable one if you do dislike the thumbhole.
The reason I personally, opinion only here, would stick with Victor Company for the pistol grip option is the thought that went into it and the doors it opens for future changes and upgrades. Its a sexier looking set of skins, there was thought given and attention paid to enhancements like the thumb shelf, and the accessory mounting options. Victor company offers other accessories like a Grippy Cheekrest and Accu-Stack spacers for the cheek rest. They also offer multiple versions of the rear buttstock with different design features. You can read our review of Victor Company’s V2 Rear Skins here on AccuracyTech’s website. What this boils down to is that Victor Company USA is the Hennessey Performance center of the AICS Chassis. Buy the AICS with the thumbhole, and if you have things you don’t like about it, or something you want is lacking, there’s a Victor Company product for that!
Beyond the reasons mentioned, Victor Company and their staff are good people. They are polite to and appreciative of their customers. There is a dedication towards excellence and they are continually tweaking the design and making small improvements. Victor Company sponsors a host of tactical matches each year and that is one thing we as consumers need to show our appreciation for! They are based in the USA, their products are made in the USA, and if you need to get a hold of them, they are available.
The skins have a grippy texture to them that keeps the polymer from getting overly slippy when wet or dusty but at the same time isn’t obnoxiously sharp or grabby. Obviously the pistol grip is a big design feature over the thumbhole AICS skins. I find it a bit easier to ‘wield’ the gun and move it around when I can wrap my whole hand around a pistol grip with a palm swell that fits my hand better than the thumbhole design. I’m not knocking the thumbhole, plenty of people like it, but for the guys yearning for a pistol grip, this is the answer. The fore end of the rifle is wider and that was done specifically to give a more stable platform to rest the rifle on when shooting on top or over the top of a barricade or during non prone shooting positions.
There is a groove up near the bolt knob where you can rest your thumb. That gives you both a tactile indication that your hand is in the right place if you are shooting and rapidly running the bolt and it also gives you a spot to stick your thumb if you don’t wrap your hand around the grip and you shoot thumb forward. The butt of the rifle was redesigned to allow shooters to hook the butt over and behind a bag or other shooting rest for added stability and consistency. On the front end of the rifle, you have threaded brass inserts to accept the rails and accessories that Victor Company also sells. If you run night vision and need to attach a laser designator, or if you just want to run a QD sling instead of HK hooks the AICS chassis comes with, you can attach those accessories at those mounting points. Yes, they are more than strong enough to support accessories and a rifle. I’ve lugged my hefty gun around a few competitions now using my QD TAB Sling attached with the Victor Company QD Sling Kit. All those enhancements and the Viper Skins hit the scale at four ounces lighter than the standard Accuracy International skins!
I’ve enclosed a few shots of my older set of Viper Skins to show how the rifle has held up under typical use. The gun sees trips to the range and is shot on a variety of surfaces from concrete, to benches, to padded shooting mats, up to and including rocks and rough terrain in tactical matches. It hasn’t been abused but I also haven’t babied the gun or pampered it so it has a few battle scars and scuffs. There are no major marks at all, the stock sides have never buckled or failed, and this is in part due to the design process and choice of polymer. Victor Company deliberately chose a polymer that was fairly stiff, but would flex under impact rather than fracture or break. The brass threaded inserts are molded into the stock sides and have never even budged or hinted that they would come loose and I’ve lugged a heavy gun around a number of times with the sling attached by Victor Company’s QD kit.
How much needs to be said here? At $149.99 the enhancements you get, and the opportunities to add additional accessories and features later, are not going to be beaten for less money. You get the better skin design, pistol grip, thumb shelf, wider fore end, mounting options for accessories, and they come in a variety of colors and configurations for Accuracy International AE and AW rifles as well. Then because you have laid the ground work, you can go with different pistol grip backstrap sizes, different rail lengths and mounting options, cheek piece options, Accu-Stack spacer options, and more! Beyond that it is backed by an American company with parts and labor made in the USA. What’s not to like?