How to camo a rifle stock

Written by sam eggleston
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How to camo a rifle stock
A modern hunting rifle

Camouflaging your rifle stock is not only functional in helping keep you blended in with your environment while hunting, but it's also attractive, too. A common misconception is that doing a camo project on your own is difficult and time-consuming, but it's not. A few hours of your time and a little creativity goes a long way in making a practical and envied camouflaged gun.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Degreasing soap
  • Toothbrush (optional)
  • Hair dryer (optional)
  • Clean cloth
  • Alcohol
  • Masking tape or freezer tape
  • Aluminium foil
  • Rubber gloves
  • Primer
  • Paintbrushes
  • Flat-style paint
  • Stencil paper (optional)
  • Utility knife (optional)
  • Leaf, twig and evergreen clippings (optional)

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  1. 1

    Remove the current surface (most rifle stocks are covered with a glossy lacquer to protect the wood). Begin by using a medium-grit sandpaper, either with a block, with paper or with careful use of an electric sander. Once the surface is smooth, wash the stock with water, allowing the grain to raise and feel rough once again. Once the stock has dried, use the fine-grit sandpaper and go over the surface once again, smoothing it out and preventing the grain from raising once the stock is cleaned and the primer is applied.

  2. 2

    Clean the gun using the hottest water you can stand and a high-quality degreasing soap. It's OK if water sloshes onto the metal of the gun, as the metal has gone through a bluing process and is protected. The cleaner the stock, the better for the priming and painting process. Use a toothbrush to scrub at hard-to-reach areas. Dry with a clean cloth or rag, or use a hair dryer to speed up the process, and then wipe down with alcohol and allow to dry once again. Keeping the gun clean is a priority during the remaining steps and using rubber gloves to keep oils from your hands off of the stock is recommended.

  3. 3

    Use a new roll of masking tape or freezer tape to cover the areas you do not want to paint. For large areas, such as the barrel or the scope, cover with aluminium foil first, and tape along the edges. Using a new roll of masking or freezer tape will eliminate the headaches of having old tape lift off the stock and allow primer and paint beneath it.

  4. 4

    Paint the gun with primer. Several types of primer can be used; spray paint is one alternative, but the recommended primer is a flat grey or red to be applied with a brush. Using black as a primer is not recommended as it often leaves dark areas that show through the paint of the camouflage. Using a brush allows for consistency on the stock. It you are painting a synthetic stock, use an adhesive promoter (available at most auto parts stores) before priming. This will allow the base and paint to bind with the stock, with better overall results. Cover the entire stock with primer, allowing it to dry 24 hours before attempting a second primer coat or a first coat of paint on the stock.

  5. 5

    Apply your base coat to the stock. The base coat colour depends on the overall camouflage scheme you are trying to achieve. For a modern military camo, consider beginning with a khaki or light tan base coat. For the popular mossy oak camouflage, begin with an almond colour. If you're hoping to achieve a classic military colour scheme, begin with an olive drab for the base coat. The base coat should be applied in two coats, allowing for a complete drying period between each coat. Once the base is completely dried, you can begin your pattern overlay.

  6. 6

    After your base coat, make sure your colour scheme begins with your darkest colour and then work your way up to the lightest with each layer of camouflage. Allow a full drying period between layers.

  7. 7

    Use a stencil to create patterns, such as leaves or digital camo. You can purchase stencil paper at a craft store. Draw the pattern on the stencil and use a utility knife to cut it out. Take your stencil, overlay it on the stock, and paint. There is no set amount of camouflage layers and depends on personal preference to the amount of paint and stencilling used. For a more natural look, clip leaves, twigs and evergreens. Set the clipping down on the stock and paint over the edges with a small brush or with a quick spurt of spray paint. This will leave an outline pattern on the stock and is quite striking and effective. If your patterns seem too striking for you, stand about three feet back and spray the stock with your base colour to help blend the patterns into one another. Allow the stock to dry completely before removing the tape and using your rifle.

Tips and warnings

  • Check for cracks in the stock when sanding the second time. This is the best point at which to find them and fix them.
  • Feel free to hang your gun with wire to allow for easier global painting of the stock.
  • Purchase a 2-by-4 board, or use a piece of scrap wood, to practice on before applying these techniques to your rifle stock. Camouflaging a stock is a technique that improves with repetition.
  • If possible, allow 24 hours between each layer of camouflage painting for maximum effectiveness.
  • Make sure to lubricate the workings of your rifle when completed.
  • The first thing you should do with a gun is make sure it is not loaded. Cautionary steps should be taken before beginning this project.
  • Be mindful of your scope during the process. Banging it can result in the need for it to be sighted in again.

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