Wood or synthetic for my first hunting rifle?


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Rustle in the bushes
June 28, 2012, 01:42 AM
So I was pretty sold on a wood/blued rifle combo. Until I went to the range yesterday and got rained on, then imagined being out for 2 days like that and having to worry about my wood rifle messing up. Should I just properly treat the wood and stfu?

I noticed the sako a7 has a pretty nice synthetic stock....convince me?

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Kachok
June 28, 2012, 01:50 AM
Depends on the rifle, a Sako A7 or it's Tikka T3 twin have a fantastic synthetic stock that is actualy a high quality fiber/matrix composite (Kimber too) but most other brands are mold injection plastics that are nowhere near as strong and tend to flex alot, some worse then others. Savage (pre accustock), Remington, and Mossberg are known for exceptionally bad synthetics though some of those still shoot well despite their horrific frame. Kimber, Sako, Browning, and Tikka never feel handicapped by their unnatural finnish.

RCArms.com
June 28, 2012, 02:05 AM
I have an older Ruger M77 Mk2 Stainless in the original Ruger synthetic stock. My go-to deer rifle that I don't have to worry about the weather with.

Don

ColtPythonElite
June 28, 2012, 02:52 AM
Go for wood and blue if you like it. My 20 year old 700 BDL has hung on my tree stand hook in the rain for many long days and it still looks like new.

mljdeckard
June 28, 2012, 03:10 AM
At regular hunting ranges, the difference is negligible if any.

jmr40
June 28, 2012, 05:33 AM
I bought my 1st synthetic aftermarket stock in 1982 and haven't hunted with wood in 30 years other than an occasional trip with one of my leverguns. Even the cheap plastic stocks are much stronger and stable than any wood stock and at least as accurate despite their flexibility. The cheap stocks are no lighter, but a quality aftermarket stock can knock 1/2-1 pound off the weight of your rifle.

The biggest advantage is stability. Waterproofing a wood stock is an excercise in futility. You won't suceed, and even if you do 10%-20% of any stocks weight is made up of moisture trapped inside the stock. When the wood is kiln dried they leave that much moisture in the wood. Any less and the stock would be so brittle it would break like a matchstick.

Even if perfectly sealed this internal moisture will expand and contract as environmental conditions change causing the rifles point of impact to change. You don't have to be hunting in the rain. As seasons change there will be changes to your stock with it setting in your safe, in your home. Zero your rifle in August at 500 ft above sea level then take the rifle out in November and hunt at 7000 ft above sea level and you may well find that the rifle still shoots 1" groups, but that the 1" groups are 3" to the left of where they were in August. If you never travel to hunt, and the humidity is low and pretty stable where you live this is less likely to happen. But the greater the swings in temperature, humidity and altitude, the more likely you are to have problems.

Point of impact changes are the biggest problem, but I have seen wood in rare cases split and crack because of environmental changes. A hunting partner once noticed a 1/2" long crack in his stock directly behind the trigger guard on a rainy morning. By lunch the crack extended all the way to the grip cap and was almost 1/4" wide.

My personal motvation for a quality synthetic is weight reduction. I went on my first backpack hunt in 1977 and back to the same place in 1980. Made up my mind then that I wouldn't be going back into places like that again carrying a heavy rifle. I was just out of college and broke. It took me 2 years to save up the money, paid more for the stock than the rifle, but it reduced the weight by almost a pound and made the gun much more consistently accurate. I have only recently retired that gun, but all of my serious hunting rifles now wear McMillan Edge stocks that are considerably stronger and lighter than wood.

Kachok
June 28, 2012, 09:30 AM
jmr I don't think the thermal/mosture expansion would be anywhere near that bad on a modern free floated/bedded setup, the stock has little to nothing to do with the POI if it is not touching the barrel at any point. Of course Remington700s and Ruger77s are not free flaoted and are subject to such issues, but not Browning, Winchester, Savage, Sako, Tikka, CZ, and others have no such problems.

Gunnerboy
June 28, 2012, 10:02 AM
wood stocks have very little to no expansion if treated proper

VegasAR15
June 28, 2012, 10:53 AM
I have a Tikka T3 with the synthetic stock and it is very nice. When I was hiking around the mountains last year I was happy I didn't have something heavier.

Sniper66
June 28, 2012, 10:59 AM
I have mostly wood and one synthetic and have found no difference except the synthetic doesn't show the dings that I have on the rest of my rifles. Wood, if used a lot, will show wear more than synthetic. But, I still love my rifles and shotguns...wear and all. If this is your first hunting rifle, it really doesn't matter which you opt for since it most certainly will not be your last:)

gbeecher
June 28, 2012, 04:33 PM
For most people other than a military sniper or a professional guide, I don't think it matters. Having said that, there are and were plenty of guides and snipers who use wooden stocked rifles. I think the whole discussion of wood stock swelling and its effect on zeroing is a bit overblown. The problem is real, but not in the manner that some people would have you believe. Laminated wood stocks are a decent compromise, though. Your choice - have fun! :)

bergmen
June 28, 2012, 07:28 PM
I've never liked the feel of any synthetic stock I've had an opportunity to check out. I've had lumber on my rifles for the past 50+ years and that is the way it is going to stay (with zero issues due to weather exposure BTW).

Dan

Salty1
June 28, 2012, 10:43 PM
I love the look of wood, something about it is really appealing. I went with the synthetic and stainless Tikka for my hunting rifle because I knew soon as wood got it's first scratch it would drive me crazy. Go with what works for you, they both have their advantages

Art Eatman
June 29, 2012, 01:54 AM
If the wood is a dense walnut, a day or two of wet weather isn't going to matter enough to notice. My 1970-vintage Weatherby Mark V didn't change enough to worry about from one year to the next, or from one week to the next during deer season. Granted that it had that waterproof shiny finish--and I waxed the inside of the forearm and the receiver area.

Kachok
June 29, 2012, 09:29 AM
I look at rifles just like hunting trucks, if they are too pretty to take in the woods I won't own it. Maybe that is why I hunted with synthetic Savages so long, you could drop mine out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down and it could only improve it's appearance :D Good guns though, what they lack in fancy dressed up pretty wood they make up for in tinsy tiny groups at the range and plenty of meat in the freezer.

porktornado
June 29, 2012, 03:57 PM
i had my wood/blued m70 for 3 months in SE alaska. the part i was in is considered a rain forest(it rained almost every day). it did get rust, but nothing some minor cleaning won't take care of. if you stay on top of your cleaning you will be fine. if it becomes a problem you could always get it cerakoted. i must admit, i like the looks of a nice wood stock over a synthetic, but it was stated earlier that it will show wear a bit more than a good synthetic. go with what YOU prefer, treat the wood if you wish, it would do no harm and help with peace of mind.

Good guns though, what they lack in fancy dressed up pretty wood they make up for in tinsy tiny groups at the range and plenty of meat in the freezer.

I'm not sure how to take this comment, so i apologize in advance if this seems rude. i hope you aren't implying that your rifles are more accurate as opposed to wood stocks because they have a synthetic stock. i have "pretty" wood stocks and they make tinsy tiny groups and put meat in the freezer as well. i guess in that case, our wood stocks have no making up to do. they look good and shoot good :D

AABEN
June 29, 2012, 07:40 PM
Synthetic that way you will use it.Wood is easy to skin up.

NM Mountainman
June 29, 2012, 08:49 PM
I purchased my Ruger 77 in 1980. I glass bedded the walnut stock and floated the barrel. I have hunted in all kinds of weather and at elevations ranging from 5,000 to 12,500 feet. My M77 has not changed zero with my preferred load since I sighted it in the first time.

How is that possible? The secret is sealing the inside of the stock with PU varnish and free floating the barrel with a generous gap of about .08". If the gap between the barrel and wood is so small that you can barely slide a dollar bill down the length of the barrel, you have a much greater chance that the wood will touch the barrel when it swells or warps even a tiny bit. Regardless of the results of the dollar bill test, a barrel is truly free floating only if the barrel does not touch the wood while the barrel is vibrating after the firing pin ignites the primer.

I prefer the look of wood and it can provide a remarkably stable bedding system when bedded correctly. Even so, if I were buying a hunting rifle today, I would buy one with a syn. stock because of the superior performance of the syn. stock. I would also get one with a SS barrel and have it coated with a durable matte black finish.

A good hunting rifle can have either a wood or syn stock. Good luck with your purchase.

JEB
June 29, 2012, 08:53 PM
i much prefer wood. yeah it will get scratched up while hunting, but that is fine. it only adds character! :D

meanmrmustard
June 29, 2012, 10:02 PM
I look at rifles just like hunting trucks, if they are too pretty to take in the woods I won't own it. Maybe that is why I hunted with synthetic Savages so long, you could drop mine out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down and it could only improve it's appearance :D Good guns though, what they lack in fancy dressed up pretty wood they make up for in tinsy tiny groups at the range and plenty of meat in the freezer.
Agreed. As I believe you may have even told me elsewhere, what the hells the point of a wall hanger? Purpose and function trumps class and aesthetics in a hunting arm.

I use a wood hunting rifle, but syn target rifles. Missouri winters can affect a wood guns accuracy. I imagine it can be worse the farther north you go.

sage5907
June 29, 2012, 11:18 PM
I have both wood and synthetic and I don't think it makes any difference. My favorite hunting rifles are blue and wood, and if you like wood buy it and don't look back. I take my rifles apart after hunting season and clean everything. When it comes to rain and snow I just turn the rifle upside down with the sling over my shoulder and sock the action under my armpit. I have never figured out why some gun makers have a model that uses a stainless steel receiver and barrel, a synthetic stock and then they install a enclosed blue metal triggger that sucks up moisture like a sponge. A rusty enclosed wet trigger can be a creepy trigger. BW

meanmrmustard
June 29, 2012, 11:24 PM
I look at rifles just like hunting trucks, if they are too pretty to take in the woods I won't own it. Maybe that is why I hunted with synthetic Savages so long, you could drop mine out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down and it could only improve it's appearance :D Good guns though, what they lack in fancy dressed up pretty wood they make up for in tinsy tiny groups at the range and plenty of meat in the freezer.
You are a peer pressurer ! Not only am I obsessing over a K31, now a T3 as well! Argh!

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