Mosin Nagant Stock Finishing - Oil vs. Varnish


January 20, 2011, 06:48 PM
Hello all,

I've been perusing these forums for awhile now and appreciate all the valuable info I've been able to glean from the posts.

Awhile back I purchased a re-arsenal Mosin sniper. As the first "project" gun I owned, I decided to refinish the stock myself using info I gained visiting various forums on the internet. As the stock was still heavily encased in cosmoline, I borrowed my brother's steamer and steamed the stock until the cosomoline bled out. I then used mineral spirits and progressive grit block sanding to remove the finish. I utilized a walnut stain that I believe was Miniwax, but it's been quite some time so I've forgotten. I then progressively added coats of TruOil to finish the rifle, doing somewhere between six and eight coats. I was satisfied as it was my first project rifle, but as I look at it more and more and compare it with other Mosin images I've found, I've begun to dislike it. Additionally, the stock feels a bit sticky still. (I allowed the coats to dry and buffed with #0000 steel wool in-between as the instructions on the internet I found had said)

Anyways, I suppose what I'm getting at are opinions on the nature of oil vs. varnish like TruOil for Mosin stocks? I'm hoping to glass-bed this and turn it into somewhat of a sporter, though with the original PU hardware. (This gun is going to be used to shoot, not to sell to some collector or sit in a case somewhere) The more I've read on the gun forums it appears Tung Oil or BLO are the preferred method.

Are these methods effective vs. rain, snow, sleet, etc.? Is it possible to strip my stock again and redo it with Tung or BLO? How would I go about this? (website suggestions perhaps?) Also, I had left the inner portion of the stock where the barrel and receiver sit unfinished as I was planning on free-floating the barrel. Should I refinish these portions of the stock as well?

Thanks for all your help guys, I look forward to hearing from you. Oh, and I can provide current pictures (cell phone) of the stock if need be.

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January 21, 2011, 04:44 PM
Disclaimer: I'm not an expert on stock refinishing. However, in my opinion:

If the tru-oil is sticky you didn't let it dry enough. Tru-oil has hardeners in it and if you do it correctly is a very durable, water-resistant finish. I've only done 3 or 4 stocks with it but it was a long time ago. I've read 2 or 3 stock refinishing gurus over the past month saying they no longer recommend tru-oil for whatever reason.

The hot ticket in the Garand and M1A circles lately SEEMS to me to be Tung oil and tung oil finish. The finish has varnish-like properties and hardeners, and the purists insist on raw tung oil (which from what I understand also has driers/accelerators in it). Tung oil isn't waterproof but you can reapply as necessary after a sweaty range session or if you get drizzled on.

If you want hardcore, slog it through the slush russian sniper/wolf hunter durability, you want polyurethane or something similar, IMO. I've done a couple of military stocks in wipe-on polyurethane, and they look good and it is durable. Easy to use, also. If you want something "more natural" that's easy to use and looks good and offers reasonable protection, Tung oil or Fairtrimmers IMO

I've been doing an M1 Stock in boiled linseed oil, and it's time-consuming. Most things I've read say tung oil is preferable. Some guys mix BLO and tung oil. I haven't tried that.

I don't recommend Birchwood Casey's gun stock WAX, FWIW. Left a milky/cloudy residue, even when applied as directed. I sanded it and am continuing with BLO in very thin layers, waiting a couple of days between coats. It's not for the impatient.

I think I'll try fairtrimmer's next.

my $.02 and worth about as much. :)

January 21, 2011, 04:46 PM
Also, read this thread from beginning to end.

January 21, 2011, 06:51 PM
I have used a lot of Tru Oil and always go good results....However, on my 49 buck Mosin that I bought 20 years ago, I just used a poly. I remember it was Homer Formby's and came in a small bottle. I just rubbed it on with a small piece of cloth. A few coats made it shiny, kinda like a Rem 700BDL stock. After all these years, it still looks great.

January 21, 2011, 06:58 PM
double post

January 21, 2011, 08:37 PM
The stickiness may just be my imagination. I asked my two roommates to handle the stock and they both told me I was crazy, it looked good, and no sticky residue of any kind. Maybe my hands were dirty at the time, I don't know. Perhaps I should buff it again with the #0000 steel wool and give it a few more coats of Tru-Oil? It's been awhile since the last coat was done, can I still apply fresh Tru-Oil coats?

I read over that link you posted 1KPerDay, and I'm impressed. I just received a passed down M1 Carbine, and though I'm not gonna utilize that approach as the Carbine won't see the bad shooting conditions the Mosin will, I will still bookmark that for my next project. I think I'm gonna go with the Tung or BLO approach on the M1 Carbine and see how it goes. I have the patience and time to accomplish this, and it will be a new avenue to go down. I'll try to post some process pics in a separate thread. I'm thinking, however, that as you said it's not entirely waterproof I should go ahead and seal the final coat with some sort of wax or protectorant? Again, all my rifles are shooters, so I'm not interested in resale value or collectible chastisement. :D

January 22, 2011, 02:05 AM
Yes, you can add more tru-oil whenever you like. Also, many people finish tung or BLO stocks with a good stock wax.

I'm going to try this rather unorthodox BLO method on one of my next ones, FWIW.

start about post #15 from ScottsGT

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