Yeah, I’ve noticed this alarming development too:
Taking a look at some of the most popular firearms companies, I was honestly a bit shocked to see how the synthetic/polymer/laminate wood stocks have come to dominate the market. The vast majority of Ruger, Remington and Savage rifles and shotguns are stocked in something other than walnut. The Winchester Model 70 maintains a walnut stock advantage, as does the lineup of Winchester lever-action rifles, but synthetic-stocked lever-actions are popping up regularly these days; Marlin and Henry being two examples which come quickly to mind.
This bullshit is something I’ve bemoaned ever since I was first able to hold a gun. Here’s why:
A well-sealed walnut stock will actually stand up well to most hunting situations, though they aren’t as rigid or easy to produce as a synthetic stock. While the mass-produced stocks are created by machinery, the higher-end walnut stocks are finished by hand. Custom stocks are a work of art, and to watch a classically trained stockmaker hand-carve a stock is like watching Michelangelo work. Names like Ralf Martini, Todd Ramirez, D’Arcy Echols, Mark Renmant and JJ Perodeau, just to name a few, can make the stock of your dreams. And I firmly believe that, like a fine watch, everyone should own at least one gun with a stock they are truly proud of.
That’s part of it, but not all of it. I love the feel of a wooden stock in my hands, a feeling that is entirely absent when I hold a piece of fucking plastic. Wood is warm, it feels natural and somehow seems to form a bond between gun and man in a way that some synthetic material just… doesn’t.
And I don’t buy this “wood warps and pushes the barrel out of register” bullshit. I’ve shot rifles in some pretty damn extreme conditions (African heat and Wisconsin cold, not to mention Scotland windy and wet) and I have never experienced that, in any rifle. I suppose it could happen, if the stock is too tight against the metal (which it shouldn’t be to begin with); I’ve just never noticed it.
Frankly, I think the clue to this nonsense lies in here:
Those [wood] stocks—even the blanks from which they are made—are not cheap. The custom walnut stock is extremely labor-intensive, and the highly figured walnut, which was much more common a century ago, has become a rarity. Many of the hardwood stocks in use today are rather plain looking, and the figured stocks come at a premium, for certain.
Much easier, cheaper and more “efficient” (fuck, I’m starting to hate that word) just to pour some polymer crap into a mold and screw the rifle action in, ten seconds’ work and all done.
I have only two rifles with Tupperware stocks — my Marlin 880SQ and 882SSV rimfire rifles — simply because Marlin doesn’t offer those two models with wood stocks, and it’s a long-term project of mine to replace the soulless black plastic with wood, one day, even though the stocks will probably end up costing me more than the original rifles themselves.
Compare the above with the rifle below, and tell me I’m wrong.
Let’s not even GO here:
(I note, by the way, that fine shotguns seldom come with PoliGrip stocks, so that’s all I need to say about that.)
I know: yelling about this is like moaning about the wind-tunnel shape of modern cars — it’s pointless, and as a trend, plastic stocks are no doubt here forever.
But I’ll tell you this (and it’s a promise): the day that new rifles are ONLY offered with plastic stocks is the day I stop buying new rifles altogether.