On The Range Report: November 2018

By Chuck Papp, Contributing Writer

One of the biggest decisions a hunter, or shooter must make is wood or plastic. Now we are not talking about the interior of their next 4×4 truck, we are talking about the stock of their rifle or shotgun. Which a person chooses solely depends upon them. There is not a right or wrong decision here, it’s what you like. Both have their pluses and minuses which you will have to weigh out.
I’m a Pennsylvania farm boy; grew up during a time when there really wasn’t the composite option or those that were out there were expensive, or few and far between. Today and for the last 20 or so years things have changed drastically.

Wood or Plastic – Top is a Marlin 336 in 30:30win, and bottom a Remington 700 in 270win. Classic wood or new composite.

The wood option has been around since day one. Wood has a certain touch and feel that you just are not going to get from plastic. You also have the look of the firearm as well. There is nothing pretty to look at on a black or camo painted stock. Not going to happen. There are firearm companies that have custom stock makers that travel the world looking for that rare cut of wood that will bring an exceptional look to the firearm. It is not uncommon for a rare stock blank to go into the tens of thousands of dollars. There are companies that have gone out and bought whole trees still standing because they know the quality that they are going to get. Now as pretty as they are, they are not as strong and as forgiving as composite. However very few wood stocks actually fail. With just a little maintenance they will last forever. I’ve seen my fair share of snow, rain, mud and everything else and have never had a problem; ever.

The composite option does have its advantages though. For the one gun hunter that will not be buying a bunch of different rifles or shotguns, composite stocks offer a little more. Ease of maintenance. A composite stock when hunted in different climates tends to keep the accuracy of a rifle better. They can and often are lighter on those long hauls in the woods. If you are worried about matching your firearm to the environment you hunt, then changing the look is fast and easy with the right paint or Cerakote options available today.

So, the choice is yours on which you want. A piece of advice given to me when I was young, was by a friend of my fathers who for a few years held the record for Dall Sheep. We were looking at a magazine that had an ad for one of those new fancy composite stocks and I asked him what he thought. Without hesitation he said, ” Son, life is way too short to hunt with an ugly gun.” From that day on my choice was simple.

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