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WEATHER and RIFLE STOCKS


papa61

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I was looking at the classifieds and noticed an "EXTREME WEATHER" model 70. It brought a few questions to mind regarding stock materials as I prefer the aesthetics of wood. 

Would the weather, ie cold, snow, rain, affect wood, fiberglass or other synthetics more or less fro each? When a rifle is bedded is the inside finished and sealed to keep moisture out? not something I would expect to need, just general curiosity. What say ye experienced riflemen?

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Wood is more susceptible to movement/shift/swelling/shrinking due to temperature and humidity than polymers, fiberglass, or carbon fiber. Carbon Fiber reinforced stocks are generally used when there is a need for rigidity, temperature stability, and light weight. Glass filled/reinforced Nylon is a common lower cost stock material choice. It is less rigid than carbon fiber but also less susceptible to temperature/humidity related instability than wood, a middle ground if you will. 

Wood is certainly more attractive but it is probably my last choice when it comes to a true tool that will be in the back of the truck, over my shoulder on a sling, in the woods, and propped up against a branch. It would also be my last choice if I was building a high precision/long range bench rest or match style gun. For the former I am going with a carbon fiber or fiber reinforced polymer for the later I am going carbon fiber or aluminum chassis. 

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The trick is to match the weather induced dimensional changes of the barreled action to the stock it's sitting in so they both move together. Problems arise when the two are dramatically different... such as a wood stock in a steel rifle. 

Strangely enough, carbon fiber reacts opposite to steel in that it shrinks with increasing temperature. 

Edited by peejman
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the chosen action type also has to be considered. one would not like a complete titanium 300 mag bolt action though a properly buffered AR in 458 would be tolerable. I am sure carbon fiber would have issues with heat in a high round count session. so we have to compromise on the differing materials. what is running through my mind is with a stainless action and a composite stock. how do you compensate if you are in extreme weather? if carbon fiber shrinks with increased temp and steel swells, how far off are the thermal expansion rates? think about taking a Texas hog rifle to hunt doll sheep in Alaska. 

Throw in that the current focus of my firearm lust is a SS Marlin guide gun that came with laminated wood. How does laminate fair with changing temp and humidity. (not that furniture would change a lever gun like it would a solid full stocked rifle)

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In Alaska I ruined a wood stocked Ruger 338. Too late I tried Thompson Water seal. I met guys with wood stoc

cks using wood wax in the barrel channel,. I then started my love/hate relationship with synthetic. Although now as I have matured, hhmmmm, I suppose I don't have to hunt in the rain anymore.

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I don't hunt at present. Just curious about the differences and fixes. I'm a handgunner and have very few rifles right now. Greg brought up another question. Why is walnut the most prevalent wood? I know it has to do with grain and density but why? 

All of this is just to gauge what one would use for both specific conditions and widest variance. I never expext to be an expert but I want to know why since my first inclination when synthetics started coming out was cost.

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I used Remington bolt actions rifles exclusively when hunting deer in Missouri when younger and some years we hunted in the rain.  I glass bedded my wood stock bolt rifles with Accu-glas gel and freefloated the barrel.  This was before synthetic stocks were popular. The last step I used was to seal barrel channel of stock with several light coats of Truoil.  I never had any wood warpage that affected accuracy that was noticed.  While the temps in MO might not compare to Alaska we had some years it was extremely cold and wet. 

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16 hours ago, papa61 said:

the chosen action type also has to be considered. one would not like a complete titanium 300 mag bolt action though a properly buffered AR in 458 would be tolerable. I am sure carbon fiber would have issues with heat in a high round count session. so we have to compromise on the differing materials. what is running through my mind is with a stainless action and a composite stock. how do you compensate if you are in extreme weather? if carbon fiber shrinks with increased temp and steel swells, how far off are the thermal expansion rates? think about taking a Texas hog rifle to hunt doll sheep in Alaska. 

Throw in that the current focus of my firearm lust is a SS Marlin guide gun that came with laminated wood. How does laminate fair with changing temp and humidity. (not that furniture would change a lever gun like it would a solid full stocked rifle)

You compensate in extreme weather by practicing in that weather and making notes on the effects. 

Wood and most polymers expand at about 3x the rate of steel. 

https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/linear-expansion-coefficients-d_95.html

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5 hours ago, deadeye111 said:

 I glass bedded my wood stock bolt rifles with Accu-glas gel and freefloated the barrel.

I remember seeing articles on glass bedding actions and free floating barrels back in the day. Not being a long range rifle user I ignored them. My mistake in the long run. Always amazed me that a wooden stock could move a steel barrel enough to affect accuracy.

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1 minute ago, gregintenn said:

If you can produce a plastic stock at half the cost of a wood stock, you don’t advertise it as cheaper; you advertise it as “new and improved”. Weather resistant if you will. It’s just good marketing.

that is the way I look at it. synthetics allow you a lower level of maintenance and less concentration on not dinging  a stock in the field. I think proper prep and care with a fine wood stock would yield similar results.

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On 12/2/2021 at 8:44 PM, papa61 said:

I don't hunt at present. Just curious about the differences and fixes. I'm a handgunner and have very few rifles right now. Greg brought up another question. Why is walnut the most prevalent wood? I know it has to do with grain and density but why? 

Walnut allows density, stiffness, durability & looks. That's the reason a lot of furniture was/is made from it. 

While not totally immune from rain, moisture & humidity, it's the best "natural" wood for rifle stock material. Laminates came along later to help offer other wood options as well as different looks.

Walnut grips were a S&W (and others) staple for decades. Darn good stuff for gun thingies.   😉

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On 12/4/2021 at 8:00 AM, tnhawk said:

When I purchased my M1A I chose the synthetic stock due to weather considerations.  After a few years I replaced it with a wood stock.  The weather extremes that affect the wood also affected me as I got older.

So THAT'S the reason i'm tinkering with carbon fiber stuff. 
I knew there had to be a reason. 

Smoky 🤠

 

MY FAVORITE M1A/M14 TWEAKS AND TIPS

 

CARBON FIBER STOCK FROM BULA DEFENSE

SOCOM Carbon 01.jpeg

Edited by SmokyBaer
Added pic of BULA carbon stock
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I can see the benefit of synthetics for some, especially in a defensive/battle rifle or for hunting where you would need to pack the rifle on foot for long distance. For my preference in a fine rifle, glass bedding the receiver and free floating the barrel in a quality piece of wood is preferable. All who contribute the what and why of each option are appreciated, please continue even if you feel it is only minor or only your opinion. Even "because everyone else does" is not a wrong answer this time. 🙂 I originally asked for extreme weather purposes and that has been well answered. but what would you choose for your rifle and why is also a valid question considering the reason I asked.

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