I recently finished one of Joel's A5 stocks with Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane (satin) in a spraycan. My gunsmith suggested that product, and it worked out well. I worked my way from 220 to 400 grit paper, using both a large sanding block, and a small rubber eraser to back the paper. After sanding, I like to take a slightly damp rag, and wipe down the whole stock, which "raises the grain" in places. You can then sand off these little whiskers, and when fully dried, start applying the finish. One thing I tried this time, was to hand rub in the first coat (from a can). I found that I was able to do this in a few areas to see where I needed to do a better job of sanding, or filling the grain. After that, I applied 8 coats from the can. The first few coats seemed a little rough at first, but it seemed to fill in. I put on light coats for the most part. I let this "cure" for two weeks before I put the rifle back together and went shooting. Note that the urethanes will darken the color a little, relative to a clear coat.
If you like your hunting rifle, you can keep your hunting rifle.