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As summer winds to a close and the morning air becomes crisper with every passing day, many of us are planning for the future months of hunting. While there are many dynamic aspects of every hunt regardless of the game you are pursuing one constant for many of us is the tool of a firearm we use. A stalwart hunting rifle or shotgun is nearly priceless once it has proven its salt in the field. The ability to reach out and humanely down game for you is a trait to be treasured. If you are purchasing or building up a hunting firearm for the 1st or 7th time there are important considerations to account for. Hunting, unlike many other applications of firearm use, may only be tested once and it will matter significantly. The buck of a lifetime might only afford you one shot while shooting clay pigeons with friends gives you many opportunities to connect on your target. So accuracy, weight, and true alignment with your intended target are of magnified importance for hunting. We will break down the key characteristics you should be searching for in your hunting stock.
One element you will immediately notice when picking up any hunting firearm is its weight. For target shooting, the heavier a firearm is the better. Often times with hunting though weight is your enemy. There is an old adage that grams become ounces and ounces become pounds meaning that by the end of a long hunt what was once thought to be light will ultimately weigh you down more than you think. So when considering what type of stock you would like to have on your hunting firearm you should lean towards a lighter one than a heavier one in most situations. If in your specific instance, you hunt from a blind, box stand, or have a supported shooting position then you can entertain the idea of a heavier stock for your hunting firearm.
Many of us are familiar with the nomenclature of length-of-pull, but we simultaneously underappreciate its importance. The length-of-pull of a given firearm is the distance from the blade of the trigger to where it rests in the pocket of your shoulder. For most of us, that magic number is somewhere in the realm of 12” – 14” in length. Unfortunately, that figure is when we are comfortably sighting in our firearms in late summer or early fall while wearing a t-shirt or light coat. When most fall hunting seasons finally usher into play the weather and required attire can drastically change your length-of-pull. In Minnesota, firearm deer opener in the last 5 years alone has seen variable weather from -20°F to 70°F. That type of temperature swing could change your length-of-pull and your ability to comfortably and correctly shoulder a firearm. For all these reasons an adjustable stock on your hunting firearm could be invaluable. Then, regardless of the temperature and weather on opening morning, you can make fine tune adjustments before you head to your hunting honey hole.
With having an adjustable stock for a correct length-of-pull in varying situations, it can be doubly important to have an adjustable stock to achieve an appropriate comb height. This will ensure proper head alignment with your scope, red dot optics, or iron sights. Just as clothing and weather can change your length-of-pull it can also alter your necessary comb height for a strong, established cheek weld with the stock. If your face and cheek are contorting like a Vegas escape artist while aiming that is not helping your accuracy or the impending success of your hunt. You should be able to comfortably yet firmly rest your cheek against the stock and obtain a naturally line of sight through your optic or sights. If your cheek is “floating,” or a repeatable cheek rest cannot be achieved, then you cannot expect repeatable accuracy.
While weight and the ability to adjust a stock can be beneficial a lot of improvements can be made through the addition of accessories to your hunting firearm. For that reason, having a stock that can allow for them is vital. With sling studs, pre-installed sling swivels, or push-button attachment points you can add a bevy of components like slings, bi-pods, and other valuable add-ons to improve the functionality of your firearm. While adding accessories can add value to any hunting firearm it is not an absolute must, but a definite nice luxury to have.
A lot of aftermarket manufacturers of stocks offer a flurry of improvements for shooters just as we have covered thus far. Some stocks can put on a good show though and are more pretenders than they are contenders. What I mean by that is do not buy an attractive looking stock believing it will automatically improve accuracy. I have always been a believer that “no one wants an accurate gun that is ugly,” but simultaneously who cares if you have a “gorgeous gun that is horribly inaccurate.” Make sure your dollars are invested wisely. If a stock adds to the overall curb appeal to your hunting firearm that is terrific! Also, make sure it provides the additional benefit of improving the accuracy and not being a detriment to it. At the end of the day, you likely want to put venison in the freezer and humanely fill a hunting tag.
All of the points we discussed here can be a lot to digest in one sitting, but this could serve as a great reference for anyone looking to purchase or replace a stock for their current hunting firearm. It might be difficult to achieve everything we covered here with the purchase of one stock, but the Boyd’s At-One Adjustable Gunstock definitely can! Once again, these are all of the elements you may want in a hunting stock:
As we all begin to pull out our hunting firearms, painstakingly choose our hunting spots, and comb through hundreds of trail camera photos in anxious anticipation good luck to everyone! Also, let us know what you think in the Comments below! We always appreciate your feedback.