Accuracy: Wood vs Synthetic vs Laminate

Discussion in 'Long Range Hunting & Shooting' started by iSnipe, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. iSnipe

    iSnipe Well-Known Member

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    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.

    Thanks,

    iSnipe
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2009
  2. prtaylor

    prtaylor Well-Known Member

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    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.
     

  3. azsugarbear

    azsugarbear Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  4. iSnipe

    iSnipe Well-Known Member

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    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?

    iSnipe
     
  5. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    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.
     
  6. geronimo.tn

    geronimo.tn Well-Known Member

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    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.
    :D
     
  7. Aldon

    Aldon Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  8. liltank

    liltank Well-Known Member

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    Boy you really opened a can of debate here. First let me say that you might be missing out on the advantages of a laminate stock. They are built this way to add rigidity in the wood grain structure. Yes some of them are not that pleasant to look at, but I do find some to be very nice if built well. The lamination helps not only in strength, but dampens its ability to flex. If you were to compare a straight grain wood stock to a laminate, you would be surprised at how far that strait grain will flex. But due to the nature of the laminate having alternating directions of grain it does two things: 1. it is stiffer when trying to be forced into two different directions, and 2. can be made lighter and stronger than than a single grain wood structure. There is a reason manufacturers tend to mount there acclaimed accurate models within a laminate stock. You look at most varmint models and target models and you see the laminate or composite option. If you don't like the looks... krylon primer and a color of your choice works well.

    With that said, I find the Choate Super Sniper to be a formidable stock when compared to a McMillian A5 or the Bell & Carlson. It cost 100 to 400 dollars less and gives you every advantage of the more expensive stocks. It ain't purty, but it sure do work. We can sit on a bench with this stock in a 338 Lapua without a muzzlebreak and shoot all day comfortablly. It is rather heavy and very stout. It recoils strait back and not up like some. You can read on 6mmbr.com where an Englishman won the World F class title using the same exact stock. It is weather resistant, durable, olive drab or black, and just plain works.

    Though in the lighter category, you now have the Savage Accu-Stock. It is a fully bedded aluminum block design that allows you too lock down the recoil lug with in its stock. It is getting mixed reviews, but most point to the fact that it works. Out of the box accuracy is second to none unless you put it up against a purposeful built target production model. So there you have my opinion!:D You asked for it!!!:cool:

    Tank
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2009
  9. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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  10. Aldon

    Aldon Well-Known Member

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    Buffalo Bob, Thanks for the link.

    For some reason I am not able to view the picture. That is OK as visually I know they are attractive.

    The question that I was hoping to get some educated feedback on is whether they ae rigid enough to hold up to the weather and the day to day beating etc which.

    I personally believe that a wood stock that is properly sealed and maintained will hold up fine.

    I believe the plastics and laminates to be a little bit wag the dog marketing.

    Same with bead blasted stainless steel or matte blueing.....I have never scared a deer off with the shiny reflection of my polished blue barrel. More of a cost savings than actual bonus for the hunter.

    Of course their may be no malevolance on the gun manufacturers part at all. It may just be that they are trying to out gimmick out market the competition.

    Either way, I am not as sold as some that the walnut stocks of yesteryear are so inferior.

    But assuming I am wrong, sandwhiching carbon fiber between two thick layers of hardwood that have been bandsawed apart seems to be the appropriate compromise for a curmudeon like me who does not wish to see the advances if it means losing the aesthetics.

    Anyone have an idea if these stocks are weather and warp resistant enough?
     
  11. Stocky

    Stocky <strong>SPONSOR</STRONG>

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  12. Stocky

    Stocky <strong>SPONSOR</STRONG>

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    Stocky here ....

    In the 2 1/2 years we've been carrying them I have never seen one warp. The weakest spot FYI would be the magazine box area as there's no way to add carbon fiber there. For this reason I'd rate a laminate as more warp resistant theoretically, but I have not seen any stock warp under the reciever so my guess is it's a moot point.

    The main reason the carbon is added is for warp resistance. Second reason is for beauty ... somewhat less expensive to find better figure in the thinner wood blanks so you get a far nicer stock for the money. If that was the only reason however we would not bother with the carbon fiber and save that material ($50/yd.), labor and mess ...

    Hope that helps ... Don
     
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2010
  13. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    +1
    I have found that all stocks have there strengths an weaknesses. Fine wood has its beauty
    and warmth but are sensitive to temp and moisture.plastics have there water resistance but
    very little rigidity. composites resist weather changes and are very rigid and the lightest weight stocks but are not very pretty just functional . Last but not least the laminates have most of
    the strengths of the other type stocks ( Weather and temperature resistance,Rigidity/strength,
    the feel and warmth of wood, and most important the balance with longer barrels and the
    ability to dampen harmonics).

    As far as accuracy I place the laminates dead even with the composites. In fact I changed out
    all of my composite to laminates and gained accuracy on some and lost none on the others.

    The Laminates with the bedding Inserts have all performed very well and improved with a good
    skim bed.

    I have used several of the walnut carbon fiber laminates and have been very happy with the
    way they looked and performed.

    So allot depends on what a person likes and needs about a stock as to what stock to buy but
    as long as you buy a quality stock that fits your action,barrel,use and needs you will be ok.

    The only stock that has no place in my safe is the Tupperware stocks.

    Just my opinion for what it's worth.

    J E CUSTOM
     
  14. rbkeiser

    rbkeiser Member

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    I feel that all stocks, regardless of type and whether or not they have aluminum bedding blocks, really need to be bedded. I have two Winchester M70 Coyotes which came in Laminated wood stocks. (Yes, they're heavy.) Glass bedded each several years ago and both showed substantial improvements in accuracy as a result. Recently, I picked up an HS Precision stock (M70 Heavy Varmint version from CDNN) and found that neither action contacts the block anywhere! (Bottoming out at the barrel tenon and the rear tang behind the block.) As I've seen the same with other stocks and other actions, I wasn't surprised nor discouraged as I'll use bedding compound on it anyway. Just for fun, I shot both barreled actions mounted in this stock as is and what are normally good-shooters, were all over the target.

    A bit of a tangent from the OP but I guess I'm saying that bedding is usually a requirement for good, repeatable accuracy with any stock type and an absolute necessity with a natural wood stock. These also should have pillars and as much wood (inside the action and barrel channels) replaced with 'glas as possible to be dependable with weather changes.
    Blake