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So, you’ve invested $700 in a nice bolt-action rifle, $800 on a decent scope, and thousands more on clothing, hunting license, ammo, lodging accommodations and who knows all what. So now you’re ready to take a week off from work and go hunt the elusive whitetail or bull elk, right? Not so fast. You may not be as ready as you think you are. That gun of yours may need a little more of your attention, and here’s why.
Well, you’ve heard it said that you’re only as strong as your weakest link, right? Well, let’s take a look at those links. If you bought an old, used gun from some guy on the internet, your gun might be your weakest link. If you bought a no-name brand of optic you’ve never heard of because it was cheap, your optic may be your weakest link. If you bought no-name ammo, that might be your weakest link. But, if your gun has a plastic stock, there’s a good chance that right there is your weakest link. But replacing that hollow plastic stock is a fairly easy fix. All you need is a Boyds hardwood laminate gunstock and you’ll be back in business.
The gun, the ammo, the optic, the stock, they all are a part of a unit, and they all need to work together beautifully to give you the accuracy, the results of that bagged buck or bull that you’re looking for. Let’s start with the gun. How do you know if you’ve got yourself a really accurate shooting gun? Truth is, you really don’t know, until you shoot it. Oh, sure, it may be a very expensive, very popular brand, and it may look beautiful and the action seems to function well, but you don’t know what you’ve got until the bullets leave the barrel. Just like any good-looking car that has a great paint job, it may look good, but how it will perform in your hands and out on the road is a whole different story.
First, does the gun fit you? Does it fit your body? Does it slide right into your shoulder, into that sweet spot where you can instantly get a sight picture? Does it feel good in your hands? In the gun store, you’ll often see the older guys snapping the gun up and tucking the butt into their shoulder in smooth, lightning-quick movements. You know why they do that? Experience, my friend, they’ve had a lot of years of misses. Those older guys know the importance of gun fit. A gun that doesn’t fit you right isn’t going to help you bag your buck; it could do nothing but frustrate you. I speak from experience on this one.
My father gave me a Remington WingMaster shotgun for my 12th birthday. I was in heaven. I snapped that thing to my shoulder so perfectly, it was like the gun was made just for me. And when I went to shoot trap, as new and green to the sport of hunting and shooting as I was, I was hitting 22 out of 25 right out of the chute, and later 23 of 25 And this was with a naked barrel; no ventilated rib, no 3-inch magnum chamber, just a plain pump shotgun. It was that gun that I got so darn good with while duck hunting. There seemed to be nothing that I could not hit. In later years I traded my Remington WingMaster in for a Remington 870 with vented rib and 3-inch chamber so that I could hit those real high-flying ducks and geese. I lived to regret trading in that WingMaster. That Remington 870 just didn’t fit me like the WingMaster did, and my trap scores dropped to a dismal 14 and 16 out of 25. I learned the hard way; if your gun doesn’t fit, then you won’t hit.
The next component is your ammunition. I learned that the type and brand of ammunition can make a big difference in your accuracy, particularly when it comes to long-distance shooting. Apparently, your barrel has a vibration frequency at which it functions optimally, and different ammo can produce different vibration frequencies in your barrel. Find the right ammo load that your barrel likes, and your barrel will spit those bullets out more accurately. Now I won’t get too deep into the details on the technical aspect of this – mostly because it’s mostly Greek to me – but I’ve been around professional target shooters enough to have learned that what they do when they sight in their rifle, they usually buy 4 to 6 different brands of the same load and bullet weight of ammunition. They sight in their gun with one brand of ammo, then start shooting the next brand and see if their point of impact changes. Trust me when I say this, each brand of ammo can shoot a little differently in your gun. It’s actually amazing to see how much that impact point can change with each ammo brand.
The next, and arguably the most-important, detail you need to look at is your gunstock. After all, your gunstock is the very foundation of your entire gun, it’s the foundation for what your barreled action sits in, right? So you’ll want your barreled action to have the strongest, most-sturdy foundation possible in order to avoid unwanted flex and vibration that could affect your bullet’s impact point. It makes sense. Just like when you build a house, you’ll want to build it on solid ground, and not on a loose sandy hillside where the house could move or slide on you in a heavy rainstorm.
Take a close look at what your gunstock is made of. Is it hollow plastic? If so, then that is probably not the best foundation you could possibly have for your barreled action. Plastic flexes, it bends, but worst of all it can grow and expand in warm temps and shrink in cold temps, which can change your bullet’s point of impact with each swing in temperature. Solid wood stocks are a great option, particularly since the finishes applied to them these days seals the wood from moisture variations. Wood is strong and quite stable when sealed properly. What makes an even better gunstock is a hardwood laminate stock. The residential construction trades have been using Glulam beams for many years now. These glulam beams consist of several thin layers of wood glued together with the grain of the wood all going the same direction. And according to The Engineered Wood Association, who says, “Pound for pound, glulam is stronger than steel and has greater strength and stiffness than comparably-sized dimensional lumber.” And this is why the hardwood laminate stock from Boyds Gunstocks consist of 37 layers of hardwood; the more layers of hardwood you have, the stronger and more rigid the gunstock. And that’s just what you want in your gunstock; strength and rigidity.
It's no secret that plastic grows in size with heat and shrinks in size with cold, so when you have a hollow plastic stock, the point of impact you’ve set at sea level in 80-degree weather with a plastic stock is not necessarily going to be your point of impact at 26 degrees up on a mountain, and, believe me, that won’t be a good thing when that trophy bull elk finally walks into view. The nice thing about a hardwood laminate stock is that it is far more stable in all temperatures than plastic; it will not be expanding in heat or shrinking in cold. And the 37 layers of hardwood laminate is stronger than steel, pound for pound, and won’t flex like plastic does. And all this works together for you to keep your point of impact consistent, just where you set it.
So, replacing your hollow plastic stock with a Boyds Hardwood Laminate stock will give you a stronger, more rigid and more durable foundation for your barreled action, and that stiffness and rigidity is going to give you better accuracy, an accuracy that your gun deserves, an accuracy that you need when it comes time to bag your big trophy.
If you want to give yourself the best chance for success in hunting, then take a look at your gunstock, it just might be time you upgraded to a Boyds Hardwood Laminate to get the most consistent bullet placement your gun can give you. And that change in gunstocks could give you the thrill of a lifetime, when that trophy animal walks into view. Better Accuracy; Better with Boyds.
By Richard Hoffarth
Prairie Hunter in Claro XX Walnut on an Ithaca LSA-65.
Boyds At-One in Coyote laminate on a Savage Axis.
Boyds Spike Camp Thumbhole in Maroon on a Mossberg Patriot.