Gunstocks help you aim. And so much more.
By Corey Graff, Online Editor
The LWRCI AR-15 style tactical rifle ships with either a Magpul or Vltor stock, both popular choices for a tactical rifle of this nature. Shown here is the tough-looking Vltor stock. From the Gun Digest Book of the AR-15 Vol. 3.
The Importance of a Gunstock
In the most basic sense, the gunstock helps you aim. As Patrick Sweeney observes in Gunsmithing the AR-15, “Without a gunstock, a rifle is simply a large, awkward handgun.”
Rifle stocks come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They are made of one of three materials — solid wood, laminate wood, or synthetic. Choosing the best gun stock for your type of shooting and body size is key to hitting the target and making each shot a fun, enjoyable experience.
The most popular types are McMillan stocks, SKS stocks and Mosin Nagant stocks — often to restore an old SKS to original condition or to swap and upgrade to a modern synthetic version. Tactical rifle stocks are very much in vogue among contemporary shooters. To illustrate that fact, today there may be more AR-15 stocks available than AR-15s!
The rifle stock is important for accuracy and ease-of-use in the field. The right gunstock will align your eye and Natural Point of Aim (NPA) to promote accuracy. The shotgun stock is somewhat different. It needs to fit you properly so you can shoulder and swing the shotgun on moving targets. Proper wingshooting hinges largely on a shotgun’s natural-pointing characteristics. Hand-eye coordination depends more on gun stock fit than many new shooters realize.
A completed walnut stocked custom David Miller Co. rifle, with gun stock blanks ready for a client’s choosing. From Custom Rifles: Mastery of Wood & Metal.
Custom Rifle Stocks
Custom gun stocks add an intriguing personal touch to any rifle. Walnut stocks are more expensive than synthetic simply because trees take a long, long time to grow. English Walnut, Royal Walnut and Turkish Walnut are among the most popular woods.
If you choose to have a gunstock custom made, you’ll need to choose the grade of wood and checkering pattern. Checkering is the texturing of the stock in key locations to improve grip. It’s also done for decorative purposes.
While truly high-end custom stockmakers can hand-chisel up to 32 lines per inch, noted rifle authority Wayne van Zwollprefers 24 lines per inch — it’s better than production cut but still achievable.
We’ve only begun to scratch the surface on how to choose the best gunstock. The staggering amount of information on gun stock options for shotguns, muzzleloaders, hunting and tactical rifles can — and has — filled entire books. In fact, some of the best books to learn more about this topic are found right here on this page. These are my top picks. Check them out. – Corey
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