Home » Shooting » Sawtooth Rifles Dependabilt MDT HNT26 Arca Rail With RRS-Lock

Sawtooth Rifles Dependabilt MDT HNT26 Arca Rail With RRS-Lock

If you followed my Range VLOGs or read my lightweight precision rifle build write-up, you are aware that I discovered the Arca dovetail on the MDT HNT26 chassis is not within the Really Right Stuff (RRS) 1.5″ dovetail specification. RRS lever lock clamps (pre SC-LR) will clamp onto the HNT26 forend dovetail, but are not snug like you would expect them to be. Thus, bipods that I have with the ARMS-LR clamp (now deprecated for the SC-LR, from what I understand), will move on the forend during recoil.

Jump to 7:10 in the video to see the clamp slipping on the forend under recoil.

In order to mitigate this issue, I thought about running screw-knob clamps like the RRS BTC-PRO or Area 419 ARCALOCK clamp, but I have multiple bipods and I did not want to switch to screw-knob clamps on my tripod heads. Since the MDT HNT26 has MLOK slots on the bottom of the forend, I decided to get an MLOK attached Arca rail.

I acquired the MDT 8.6″ Arca MLOK rail because it looked like it fit the 4.5 MLOK slots which exist on the HNT26. Unfortunately, this specific 8.6″ rail doesn’t match up with the HNT26 slots.

Note the finish wear on the bottom surface of the forend due to rail slip.

If you notice in the above photo, MDT decided to use four (4) continuous MLOK slots, but the fifth slot is a half-slot, where there is a break for a sling swivel stud and then the half MLOK slot. If I were to omit that front MLOK fastener where the swivel stud hole is, there would be no attachment point for the first 3.5″ of the rail. With a bipod attached at the front, there will be flex of the rail under recoil pulling away from the forend.

Now orienting the MDT 8.6″ Arca MLOK rail the other way can fit, but then the rail is not flush with the forend and protrudes past the front lip of the forend. This is not bad per se, but this does leave an odd gap at the rear of the forend to where it slopes to the action and magazine well, which could result in unexpected behavior of the rifle when resting it on a shooting bag.

I decided to try the RRS 240mm Universal Arca rail. However, the RRS universal rail does not have any MLOK lugs on the mating side of the rail, to engage the edges of the MLOK slots. Thus, I discovered that the rail itself would move/slip on the forend under recoil.

Enter Sawtooth Rifles.

I was scouring the Internet trying to find another MLOK attached Arca rail that would match up to the 4.5 MLOK slots on the HNT26 and be within the RRS 1.5″ dovetail specification. I then came across Sawtooth Rifles. I saw Sawtooth Rifles made many different rails designed for specific chassis systems, as well as universal MLOK rails, all which appeared to utilize MLOK recoil lugs.

I reached out to Sawtooth Rifles and asked them if they had anything that could match up to the 4.5 MLOK slots of the HNT26 and supplied a photo.

Matt Yore of Sawtooth Rifles said he could produce a rail if he had the HNT26 forend. So I removed the forend off my HNT26 and sent it to Sawtooth Rifles in Utah. A few weeks later, Matt Yore sent my forend back with an Arca rail exactly fit for the HNT26 (Arca dovetail forend), with MLOK recoil lugs, and confirmed true-to-spec for the RRS 1.5″ dovetail (I tested multiple RRS lever-lock clamps).

I must state that I am not sure if the MDT HNT26 non-Arca forend is the same MLOK configuration as the Arca forend version. I have not seen photos of the non-Arca HNT26, except one tightly cropped photo on the MDT website which appears to indicate there is a difference as the sling swivel stud for the non-Arca version did not have a half MLOK slot between the sling swivel stud an the front lip of the forend.

For those wondering, I weighed the rail from Sawtooth Rifles and it comes out to 3.38 ounces with the MLOK hardware. Note that I used a fairly generic battery powered scale so there might be some inaccuracy.

Top to bottom: MDT HNT26 forend, Sawtooth Rifles Dependabilt HNT 26 rail, MDT 8.6″ MLOK rail, RRS SOAR 240mm universal rail with MLOK fasteners.

While I was ecstatic to receive the Sawtooth Rifles Arca rail because it incorporated MLOK recoil lugs, I have to mention the other features.

Left to Right: RRS BTC Pro, RRS ARMS-LR, RRS Anvil-30 (RRS-Lock)

The Sawtooth Rifles Dependabilt Arca rail also incorporates RRS-Lock. For those unfamiliar with RRS-Lock (originally debuted as RRS R-Lock in mid-2021), it is an additional locking mechanism that prevents attached items from slipping off a clamp.

Circular holes will run the length of the sides of the rail for a pin to protrude from the mating surface of the clamp. This acts as an anti-slip / recoil lug. Note that a clamp with RRS-Lock will work for a rail that does not have the pin holes.

Really Right Stuff Sport Optic and Rifle (RRS SOAR) has been moving their product line to incorporate RRS-Lock, and while was not enthusiastic about it when it first came out, I am actually starting to like RRS-Lock after using it to a limited capacity with the RRS Universal rail I acquired earlier.

Furthermore, the Sawtooth Rifles Dependabilt rail has removable fasteners which function as a safety mechanism to prevent slipping off the clamp.

I do not see many people use safety pins / bolts on Arca clamps in the shooting sports as much as people use them in photography. The basic premise of having a feature such as this is to prevent the item on the clamp from slipping and falling off if the clamp were not fully tightened. Assuming one is not using an RRS-Lock clamp, items slipping off usually happens is when someone is manipulating the attached item (whether camera, spotting optic, or rifle) in a half-locked (lever-clamp) or loosely locked (screw-knob) condition, and inadvertently relinquishes control of the item (e.g., forgets clamp is not tight) and the item falls off.

I have seen someone drop a camera with a telephoto lens because they had the lever-lock in the half-lock state (where you can slide the rail on the clamp, but not fully remove it by lifting it up) and tilted the camera on the ballhead and let go. In this case, if there were safety pins or bolts, they would have prevented the item from sliding off the clamp.

However, I am likely going remove the two safeties as I normally do not use them on rifles. I like the speed of removing a bipod by releasing the clamp and sliding it towards the front, rather than having to fully disengage the clamp and cocking the bipod or rifle to one side in order for it to drop free and clear one of the dovetails.

I mentioned earlier that the rail tipped the scale at 3.38 ounces. When I reassembled the rifle with the MDT CKYE-POD, the whole package still came out to 11 lbs flat, which is what it weighed prior with the other Arca rails (MDT and RRS).

In any case, I am glad to have the Arca rail situation on the MDT HNT26 resolved. I am not sure if I am the only person to have issue with the HNT26 Arca forend. The MDT HNT26 is a hunting-oriented chassis, so it is unlikely anyone else is doing much with Arca attached rifle support. Perhaps what I have encountered is just an edge case, or people who do use Arca bipods or tripods are simply using screw-knob clamps or are just accepting the slippage.

However, if you do use Arca clamp bipods and/or tripods, and want a true RRS 1.5″ dovetail specification rail for an MDT HNT26, look no further than Sawtooth Rifles. Sawtooth Rifles has not listed this specific rail application on their website as of the date I am writing this (2023-09-18), but they should be listed soon.

Furthermore, if anyone has the MDT HNT26 non-Arca version and wants to get an Arca rail, I highly encourage you to reach out to Sawtooth Rifles if the MLOK configuration on the HNT26 non-Arca is different from the HNT26 Arca version.

Find out more about Sawtooth Rifles and their Dependabilt product line at their website: https://www.sawtoothrifles.com/

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