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Accuracy: Wood vs Synthetic vs Laminate

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Unread 12-02-2009, 06:26 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 67
Accuracy: Wood vs Synthetic vs Laminate

Instead of me listing what I know, or think I know about accuracy issues, pro or con, about certain
stocks, I'll just leave it open to all replies.

I should leave laminate stocks out of this because I have no interest in them. Since it does fit in the
with the line of questioning, if you want to respond to that, it's ok.

Is one kind of stock more inherently accurate than another? I'm talking what it is made from.

If said stock is more accurate, why?

What makes one stock more accurate than another? (material used and modifications taken place)

Besides what the stock is made from that makes it more accurate, besides free-floating, when is glass
bedding ok instead of pillar bedding?

I'm more referring to factory stocks, but all stocks can be included. And again, before anyone adds
"Get a McMillan" or "Get a Bell & Carlson", H S Precision, etc, I'm mainly interested in talking the
inherent accuracy found in some stocks over another based on the material used and the modifications
one does to improve the accuracy.

I have factory stocks on some of my guns and am considering either free-floating and bedding them,
or getting a "M" or "B&C" stock and be done with it. LOL! But I really would like to learn something
here as well.



Last edited by iSnipe; 12-02-2009 at 06:29 AM.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 08:52 AM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: Safford AZ
Posts: 81
Re: Accuracy: Wood vs Synthetic vs Laminate

IMO a full bedding block or pillar bedding is the most important element in any stock that you have for accuracy because it gives the action a solid platform to stabalize on. The differance between materials is also important because wood or synthetic stocks will have more flex than a solid fiberglass stock. The other thing to consider is the way the stock fits you in the length of pull for your arm, the palm swell for your hand and the hieght of the cheek piece. I belive that all of this is to much to ask from a stock without modifications to all of these elements. That is what has led me to have any stock I buy worked on before I try to use it. I am not an expert on stocks but this is what I have found to be essential. Hope this helps and maybe some people with more knowledge than me will chime in.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 09:48 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Central AZ
Posts: 1,142
Re: Accuracy: Wood vs Synthetic vs Laminate

Good comments from prtaylor. Solid wood stocks can be the most beautiful piece of a rifle, but they absorb moisture and can be negatively impacted by weather. These subtle, but very real changes or swelling in the grain of the wood can put pressure on the action/barrel at different places and different times which can move your POI substantially in very little time.

Synthetic stocks cover a large range of man-made materials. The least expensive is plastic. While substantially better than wood in resisting weather, these stocks are not always "stiff" enough to become a reliable shooting platform. Just grab the front end of the stocks forearm and barrel and squeeze them together to see what I mean. Most entry-level rifles from Remington, Winchester, Ruger, etc. that have synthetic stocks are plastic. (Higher end rifles from these manufacturers will tend to have better composite stocks). On the other end of the synthetic scale we have the carbon fiber stocks. They are lightweight, completely resistant to weather and extremely stiff and strong. Very good shooting platforms, but also very expensive. Most carbon fiber stocks have 50%-90% carbon fiber in them. Composite stocks fall in between plastic and carbon and cover a large range of material, including fiberglass. Like the name says, most are a combination or "composite" of different materials. Good stuff - and nearly as rigid as carbon. For a shooting platform, I can't tell the difference - except in the weight and $$.

Wood laminates act a lot like composite stocks. They tend to be very resistant to changes in weather because of the resins and glues used in making them under pressure at the factory. Very stable shooting platforms. Again, they can weigh a little more than composites, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing when shooting the long-range magnums. More weight usually means less felt recoil.

To my mind, once you get away from the cheap plastic stocks, most synthetic stocks (including wood laminates) provide excellent stability and accuracy. In general, lighter weight components cost more. Some companies, like McMillan or Accuracy International (and there are many, many more), cost more because they have a proven stock design with workmanship of the highest quality.

Bedding the action has always been a must for me. It generally improves accuracy in the rifle. In fact, I can't think of a single instance or story where bedding the action of a rifle has degraded accuracy when done correctly (now watch - I will get a ton of them). There are lots of different materials that can be used in bedding actions. Most are epoxies of some kind and they work very well. Pillar bedding goes a step further by providing an additional base that "locks down" the action with your bedding material forming a support base around it. With extremely large bull barrels where the weight of the barrel greatly exceeds that of the action, the owner may opt to bed the first several inches of the barrel. I know Kirby Allen has built a couple this way.

Free-floating the barrel is generally a good idea that can improve accuracy in most rifles. However, I have found that very thin, lightweight hunting barrels (also known as pencil barrels) often do better when the entire barrel is bedded in the stock. I believe these barrels suffer from too much vibration due to a lack of steel and that bedding them dampens these vibrations and enhances accuracy.
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Unread 12-02-2009, 03:49 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 67
Re: Accuracy: Wood vs Synthetic vs Laminate

Well gentleman, I must say I really appreciate the replies. As I would expect, some of that I know, but
some I don't and when I hear of something I already or think I know, that's good because it re-confirms
my thoughts. The other added info is cake because learning new things is always fun in matters in areas
where one wants to learn more, like this stuff!

I appreciate the information, that's for sure. Thanks!


Any other comments, tips or ideas for this inspiring lifetime shooter?

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Unread 12-02-2009, 05:02 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Potomac River
Posts: 5,072
Re: Accuracy: Wood vs Synthetic vs Laminate

Just grab the front end of the stocks forearm and barrel and squeeze them together to see what I mean. Most entry-level rifles from Remington, Winchester, Ruger, etc. that have synthetic stocks are plastic. (Higher end rifles from these manufacturers will tend to have better composite stocks).
This is a very important statement. Any bipod or front rest will cause the thin flexible foreend to act like a "spring" and bounce the whole rifle around.
The Smokin Fur Rifle Club
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Unread 12-27-2009, 11:36 PM
Bronze Member
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: West Tennessee
Posts: 52
Re: Accuracy: Wood vs Synthetic vs Laminate

I'm new to these long range rifle concepts,, but I've been shooting for 50+ years and tend to agree with prtaylor.
I wish I could handle one of each of the different brands and styles of top grade composites,,, but that's not an option.
The ability to fit the stock to the shooter may be the deciding factor.
With the laminated wood, especially starting with an unfinished stock has the most options. One can cut down the comb (or add adjustible comb), shorten/lengthen the butt stock, profile the grip to fit the owners hand and profile the forearm to the desired shape.
My first LRHR is a Savage action at the smiths getting a Shilen barrel added.
I've been struggling with the decision on what type/brand of stock and discussions like this helps.
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Unread 12-28-2009, 12:09 AM
Gold Member
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Malta NY
Posts: 722
Re: Accuracy: Wood vs Synthetic vs Laminate

Has anyone any experience with the wood stock that "Stockys" is selling that is essentially two slabs of Walnut with Carbon Fiber laminated through the center? These are for Remington 700's.

I am an old dog that prefers the ole fashioned wood stock look.

I can not work up an appreciation for the laminated wood stocks that look like stained plywood.

Fitting the carbon laminate stock with good barrel clearance, bedding with devcon and a good sealant on the interior should suffice for all but the harshest environments.

But that is my assumption/best guess. Real world feedback would be ideal.
“When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off such governments. …” Jefferson

We are very close to this point now.
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