This article is written by Mike Kreitzer. Mike is Editor of MK Outdoor Journal on YouTube, a Voting Member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and Media Member of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
There comes a time in almost every rifle shooter’s life when they just aren’t satisfied with their OEM rifle stock. It might be too heavy. It might be too flimsy. It might swell and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. It might even be ugly. Whatever the reason, most of us look for a stock that better suits our needs and desires. Here’s what you should be looking for when you decide to buy your aftermarket rifle stock.
Your new stock needs to be rigid, especially in the wrist and fore end. A lot of OEM stocks, especially the plastic ones, are dreadfully lacking in this quality. Grab your rifle by the grip with one hand and pull down (away from the barrel) on the fore end with the other. Does it move? Now do the same with the buttstock. Can you feel the grip (wrist) of the rifle flex? If the answer to either question is “Yes”, then your stock is too flexible.
A flexible stock can cause inconsistent contact with the rifle’s action or barrel as it flexes. It can change pressure on the barrel, for example, between one shot and the next. This leads to different barrel harmonics with each shot, which translates to different points of impact downrange.
A rigid stock will eliminate these inconsistencies and will therefore be more accurate. It also allows more effective use of a bipod, or of an improvised shooting rest (like a tree limb).
An aftermarket rifle stock should be dimensionally stable. It should not be susceptible to changes in temperature and humidity. These changes can cause a stock to contract or swell throughout the year. This means that a rifle that you zeroed in June will have a different point of impact in December. This inconsistency caused by the weather can lead to you missing your chance at that trophy of a lifetime.
One of the problems with an OEM stock is that it was made to fit a variety of people. A good aftermarket stock will allow you to tailor your rifle to fit YOU. You should be able to adjust, among other things, the length of pull and cheek rise (comb). You should be able to add bipods, monopods, and other accessories that let you get positioned correctly and support the rifle properly. This lets you be more comfortable when you shoot it. If you’re more comfortable, you can focus on using proper shooting technique. If you’re using proper technique, you are being more consistent… and consistency breeds accuracy.
Lastly, your new stock should make your rifle beautiful. True, a rifle’s purpose is to put a projectile exactly where you want it at a distance. That SHOULD be your first concern. That doesn’t mean that you have to settle for a strictly utilitarian piece of equipment, however. There’s something about a gracefully shaped rifle that just makes it FEEL better in the hand, as well as look better to the eye. I firmly believe that if you like how a rifle looks, you’ll take it to the range more often. That means you are getting more practice with it, and are therefore more accurate with it, and thus better able to fulfill the rifle’s purpose, right?
Your new stock needs to be Rigid, Stable, Customizable, and Beautiful. If I can make a suggestion, I’d urge you to consider the WOOX line of aftermarket rifle stocks. They all combine a precisely machined aluminum chassis with beautifully finished wood components to make a rifle stock that won’t flex, is dimensionally stable, can be adjusted to suit your needs, and is elegantly beautiful. They combine old world craftsmanship, modern materials, and Italian style to make your rifle a work of art that performs to its highest potential. Just what the Sophisticated Outdoorsman is looking for.