Rifle stocks from major manufacturers most commonly are offered in two materials: wood and synthetic. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages that gun owners should understand before making a firearm purchase.
Appearance is one area where hunters and shooters may prefer wood stocks over synthetic stocks. Rifle stocks are most commonly made of walnut, which is also used in many fine furniture applications due to its strength and beauty. Maple and other attractive woods are also used for rifle stocks.
Synthetic stocks can be made very inexpensively. Higher-grade synthetic stocks can be as expensive as wood stocks. Most inexpensive or budget-priced rifles will be offered in a base package with a synthetic stock, with a wood stock a higher-priced option.
Synthetic stocks can be made to be very light. As synthetic materials are stronger than wood, less material is needed to provide the needed level of strength. While lightweight stocks are not desired in every shooting situation, lighter stocks on hunting guns reduce the strain on the hunter.
Synthetic stocks hold the edge over wood in stability. Wood stocks can warp due to changes in humidity and will expand and contract with temperature changes. Applying glass bedding to wood stocks can lessen the impact of these problems, but synthetic stocks are still the most stable.
Laminate stocks are often overlooked in the wood-vs.-synthetic argument over rifle stocks. Laminate stocks are made by gluing and pressing strips of wood together. Laminate stocks offer an alternative aesthetic appeal to synthetics while offering better resistance to the weather than wood. Laminate stocks are generally more expensive than either wood or synthetic ones.
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