Adjustable Stocks


Bruce,

I have a couple of questions about adjustable combs. You may have answered these questions sometime in the past, but I can’t find anything about it.

From your writings, it is apparent that you normally have your stocks bent to fit you. I recently had one of my “sporting clay” guns converted to an adjustable comb. After having the work done, I was able to adjust it to fit me and it really seemed to do the trick. Also, since I require quite a bit of cast off on most guns, it seems logical, that I should get quite a bit less face slap than if I bent the stock.

What are your thoughts on adjustable combs?

Randall

Dear Randall,

I’m not a big fan of adjustable combs because a little stock bending usually does it for me. I know what I need in a gun and once it fits, I don’t have to change it.

The downside of an adjustable comb is 1) they add weight, 2) they can “unadjust” at the least opportune time, 3) they can pinch the face in the gap, 4) they look nasty.

On the upside, you can tinker with them until you get them just right if you haven’t figured out what “just right” for you is. This is a very important thing if you are newer to shooting and don’t yet know what suits you.

For my face and shooting style, most stocks are too low, too short and have too much cast off. This makes it very easy for me to festoon a stock with tape to build it up to what I want. Then I take it in to get it bent so that it fits me.

For someone with an opposite requirement, ie someone who needs a lower stock or one with more cast off, an adjustable comb makes some sense if you don’t want to get into whittling on wood. Depending on the gun, some stocks (mostly Italian) are so thick that you can cut the inside of them quite a bit. You can always cut height. Actually, cutting isn’t really the worst way. You take your rasp and blocked sandpaper to the pattern plate and spend the afternoon shooting, mutilating, shooting and mutilating. Then you get to go through the joys of refinishing.

One of the problems with an adjustable comb is that it can give you cast at face, but not at the butt, unless you tack on one of those gross looking aluminum adjustable butt things. That is something to consider.

I’m not sure how it all translates when discussing face slap. Normally, the more deviation from dead straight a stock has, the more face slap it gives you. For me, any significant cast off will eventually give me a strawberry (cherry? raspberry?) under my right cheekbone. Ditto noticeable slope of comb as in the conventional field stock set at 1-1/2″ x 2-1/2″. I find a parallel comb much more comfortable because it slides back along the face and not into it, though it does have it’s drawbacks on very high an low sporting shots. Some drop from nose to heel is probably best for sporting as the face does shift along the stock at extreme vertical angles. Others shooters deal with cast and comb drop without any problem. I believe they are more head’s-up shooters than I am. I tend to crawl my guns a good bit. Fit has a lot to do with shooting technique as much as it does with maxilo-facial structure. John Brindle’s book is a real revelation in this area.

The bottom line to it all though is that your gun has to fit you. Anything you can do to get it to fit you properly is probably good just as long as you aren’t trying to cure poor gun mount technique with an even poorer gun fit. That circle gets you dizzy pretty fast. If you shoot your gun well with the adjustable stock, then it’s good for you. If it were my gun, I’d adjust that comb to what I liked like, measure it eight ways to Sunday and get the next stock bent to suit if I eventually replaced the gun.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)

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