Winchester 70 Sporter - Wood vs. Synthetic


April 30, 2013, 11:05 AM
I have a one year old Winchester model 70 Sporter in 30-06 with a beautiful factory walnut stock. I like the stock. But, I just do not know how practical it is for a hard use hunting gun.

Would I be better off for hunting purposes to put a quality synthetic stock on it?

I am considering the HS Pro Series Sport or the Bell and Carlson Ultra Light Medalist.

In your opinion, am I trying to fix and non-existent problem? Or, is the money well spent?

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April 30, 2013, 11:11 AM
Of my four M70s, my 2 Stealths have Bell & Carlson stocks (from the factory), my Super Grade has wood, and the Ultimate Shadow has the cheap factory synthetic. I didn't have any issues with the Super Grade shifting its POI during deer season. Provided a stock is properly sealed, and properly bedded, you're fine. Now, if you simply want to keep that wood stock nice and unscratched, by all means get a synthetic. I like the Bell & Carlsons, especially the price. Edit to add, Stocks Stocks has the best prices I have found. Link: Link from search:


April 30, 2013, 11:37 AM

Just keep the rifle with nice wood. Nice wood rules!

I am an old guy as well. I started handloading and after deer in 1953.

Because the scope got waterlogged I remember the year in Nov. 1968 when walking out of the woods in the rain, soakin-wet, because I could not see out of my scope.

I had another rifle ready in the camp.

I stlll have and use those old M70's however I have SS/Syn rifles now as well.

I favor the Kimber Montana however to each his own.

April 30, 2013, 11:45 AM
I would replace a beautiful piece of walnut with something cheap, like a laminated stock. Laminated stocks are very strong and very weatherproof.

The stocks on my active rifles get dented and scratched. I purchased a very nice aftermarket walnut target stock off a guy who no longer needed it. He picked it because the price was good and it had above average figuring. That poor stock looks awful now, scratches and dents everywhere. I would feel better if I was denting up a plain piece of lumber than a pretty piece of wood.

April 30, 2013, 12:02 PM
Regarding sealing a wood stock

Does the wood stock on the gun come sealed from the factory? Or, is there something else I need to do to it?

April 30, 2013, 12:12 PM
Go out and make some memories with it. Wear the small dings with pride.

April 30, 2013, 12:17 PM
I don't consider an hs stock money well spent, you aren't guaranteed good recoil lug contact. I glassed one for a 700 A few years ago and there was a gap.

April 30, 2013, 12:30 PM
Here is that old 99. A lifetime of hunting and still no rust! :)

April 30, 2013, 12:31 PM
When I say sealed, I don't mean you can use it in pouring rain they way you could synthetic. I mean it isn't bare wood, which could shift with humidity.

The Weatherby Mark V Deluxe is the best example of sealed I can imagine. The finish actually is epoxy. I do consider my Super Grade "sealed" in that it has a water resistant finish. When I brought it in at the end of the day, I wiped it down just as regular maintenance. Of the M70 Sporters that I have looked at, I believe the stock is "sealed" or finished. It isn't bare wood, or a light oil rub.

You really should not have shifting issues. It is easy enough to test. Zero your rifle, and track it over the weeks and months at the range and in the field with weather changes. If your zero is shifting, something isn't right. Either the action screws are coming loose, the bases or rings are coming loose, or your stock isn't sealed well enough, and is allowing the wood to swell. Too, I guess it really could be a poor bedding from the factory.

Hope that helps, if not feel free to ask something specific. BTW, I'm not a gunsmith, and I haven't stayed at any Holiday Inn in a very long time. THis is based purely on my experiences with wood over the decades, and conversation with the Weatherby folks over the years.

Edit to add:

That is a beautiful rifle! Wow!


April 30, 2013, 01:40 PM
If you are serious about hunting in any conditions, and in different parts of the country a wood stock just won't cut it. Trying to seal the stock is a waste of time, it ain't gonna happen. And even if you could it won't help. It is the moisture trapped inside the wood that expands and contracts as temperature, humidity, and altitude change. Wood has 15%-20% of its weight in water trapped inside the stock when it leaves the kiln. Any less and the wood would be so brittle it would snap like a toothpick during recoil. This moisture causes the wood to expand and contract. In rare cases it leads to stock failure where you get a crack or split, but the most common problem is POI shift.

If you live and hunt somewhere where the atmospheric conditons remain fairly stable you will have few problems. Even in wet conditions such as Alaska things don't change much because it is wet all of the time. But take a wood stocked rifle from Alaska to Arizona, or Arizona to Alaska and you will very likely have issues. We have a huge difference here in GA as the seasons change. My wood stocked rifles shoot just as accurately as my synthetic stocked rifles, but the POI will change 2-3" as the seasons change. My synthetic rifles stay the same year after year and even after driving 28 hours to Colorado and gaining 8,000' of elevation and losing 60 degrees in temperature.

I'd either spend enough to buy a real quality synthetic such as a Mcmillan, or I'd go with something less expensive like this factory stock.

It will shoot just as well as the B&C or H-S and be a lot cheaper. While B&C advertises their stock as a lightweight is 1/2 lb heavier than my McMillians. (

April 30, 2013, 04:14 PM
Probably the biggest question to ask yourself (and only you can answer it), how much do dings and knicks in the stock bother you? If they don't then I personally would stick with the wood stock. I think the wood stocks look nicer and for most of us, hunting is most of the time a walk in the woods with a rifle. Might as well bring what you like to hold and look at.

April 30, 2013, 04:21 PM
If I were to go with a McMillan:

1. Are they drop in?
2. Do they need to be glass bedded?

April 30, 2013, 04:42 PM
I'd leave the wood stock on until it actually proves itself to be a detriment, or is damaged to the point you no longer want it on the rifle. Replacing it right now would be like buying a new black car and repainting it white because the Sun will fade black paint faster.

It's not faded yet.

April 30, 2013, 08:46 PM
I coated the 99's stock in 1968 with Fabulon which was a floor finish.. The finish is durable and the rifle stays sighted in.

Welding Rod
May 1, 2013, 12:02 AM
The Model 70s have a floated barrel so the stock has to move a bit before you are likely to see much in the way of POI change.

My 30-06 M70 Sporter is in wood. I really like the feel and look of wood as opposed to synthetics.

May 1, 2013, 01:33 AM
keep the walnut stock. my model 70 has been hunting since 1955 and still going strong. there are a lot of stories in all those scratches and dings.

lemon oil works wonders on the unfinished part of the stock.


May 1, 2013, 02:34 AM
Leave it as is and hunt. All my hunting rifles have been used hard but maintenance has prevented them from looking like the used rack after deer season. Not new, but no rust and only minor dings and some blueing wear.


May 1, 2013, 08:14 AM
I used a Pre-War Model 70 for deer hunting for over 50 years.
When I first got the rifle, some stock dings required re-finishing but I haven't touched the wood since.
R.I.G. is the wipe down that I've always used.

May 1, 2013, 09:17 AM
I've got numerous Model 70's. My match rifles wear McMillan fiberglass stocks, and my hunting rifle is in beautiful walnut.


May 1, 2013, 10:26 AM
Thanks everyone. I have decided to leave the gun as it is and keep the walnut stock. You guys saved me some money!

Sav .250
May 1, 2013, 12:14 PM
Wood has been the material of choice a lot longer than the other stuff.

Stock choice by committee only adds to the confusion.

May 1, 2013, 01:43 PM
Wood has been the material of choice a lot longer than the other stuff.

And rocks and clubs have been the weapon of choice a lot longer than firearms ...

May 1, 2013, 07:56 PM
No gun of mine gets hunted harder than my 30 + year old, walnut-stocked bird gun (hot, cold, rain, snow, brush, rocks, hard falls, etc. for probably close to a thousand hunts). While I hated getting the first dent or two, now this favorite of mine shows real, honest character. It is now truely beautiful to look at.

May 1, 2013, 10:07 PM
Obviously with that Winchester, McMillan setup you're pretty serious about quality. Do you care to share details on the rifle, stock, scope, and mounts?

May 2, 2013, 08:00 AM
IMO the only good reason to change from wood to synthetic is for the weight savings. For all practical purposes, the wood stock on your M70 will work just fine for years.

It seems that the younger people nowadays think that you have to have some sort of plastic stock on a rifle for it to be durable. If you take care of your guns, they will work just fine for years.

This old M70 Featherweight has been getting the job done for 57 years and I am sure it will continue to do so for my grandchildren. Oh, and last week I sighted it in and it still put it's shots into a 1" group @100yards.

May 2, 2013, 11:51 AM
When the SS/Syn rifles came out I had to try one even though the good old walnut and blue still cuts the mustard for me.

So I got a M70 in the new WSM and it's plastic stock was just so so. Then I got a Bansner and that was somewhat better. The rifle never shot that well so its gone.

Then Kimber came out with the Montana's and they are superb. I have both the very light 84m's and the WSM's also.

May 2, 2013, 12:10 PM
On a wood stocked gun, if the barrel is free floated, will you still see POI changes with moisture, atmosphere, and elevation changes?

I have heard it is a good idea to check the zero on your gun if you travel from a low elevation to a high elevation to hunt.

May 3, 2013, 06:41 PM
I'm as old or older then most of you and hated synthetic stocks, till I got my first one. I now prefer synthetic and am looking to replace the remaining wood with synthetic.

Every wood stock rifle I've owned needed bedding work, not so the synthetic. Once you own one you'll change your mind.

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