Bending A Stock


Hi Bruce,

I bought a 32″ Trap Superposed with a Broadway rib in truly “mint” condition with most excellent wood. I shot it the other day in one of our warmer days (-24 around 1:00 p.m., the toasty part of the day) [readers note: Julian lives in Alaska] and I noticed that the factory stock: 1. Was too high and narrow at the top and consequently gave me a bruise on the cheekbone; 2. the stock is too short for me at 14 3/8 lop; 3. I definitely need some cast off; 4. Some down pitch also…

I guess I have three choices: 1. Lengthen the stock to my 15″ pull, give it a bit of down pitch, put a Hi Viz sight or some such. (My goal is to lower the point of impact without having to cut the pretty wood.) 2. Rasp, sand,etc (Not a happening thing-the wood is just too pretty!) 3. Bend the stock. (Can a trap stock be bent and given cast off so much as to approximate field/skeet dimensions or is the rasping, sanding invevitable?) 4. Buy a spare used factory stock; 5. Have someone build me a stock (too expensive?). I would rather bend the stock if I can find someone competent enough to do it (it is truly an excellent piece of wood). Remember, I live in Alaska, and on occasion we shoot at very cold temperatures-will the bend in the stock keep in this kind of weather? What does the omniscient one say?

Thanks,

Julian

Dear Julian,

MINUS 24! Aarrgghh! You guys are tough. Why does it matter how your stock fits? You must be too cold to feel it.

As you know, I just love the B25s. I have three of the FN B25 Special Trap #6 guns. One is a BROADway (the way Browning spelled it in their advertising literature) and the other two are the FN 10 mm mid-size ribs. One of the reasons that I like the guns so much is that their trap stocks fit me perfectly. All I do is lengthen them to 15″ and shoot. Any amount of cast at all just kills me. A lot of gun fit is shooting style, not just physiognomy. I crawl my stocks a bit and turn my head into the stock just a touch. This lowers my eye (height) and brings it more into line with the rib (cast).

The first thing that you have to figure out is how much drop do you want at face. I usually measure that point as 2″ back from the nose of the comb, but you might prefer 2-1/2″. Up to you. If you have a gun that you shoot well, take the “drop at face” measurement. Then measure in the same place on your Broadway. This will tell you how much you have to lower the comb. With careful measuring and a good straight edge, you ought to also be able to take the cast measurement in this way.

The problem with cast is that it is measured to the center line of the comb and does not take into account thick or thin combs. You say that you need more cast, but also comment that the stock is too narrow at the comb. Narrow combs equal increased cast. Many people find the broader more rounded combs of the Italian guns more comfortable, but the broader the comb, the more cast you will require. Has to be, got to be, if you think about it.

Pitch and length are easily adjusted. Most trap guns come with zero pitch to reduce face slap. The more pitch, the more face slap. A very heavily pitched gun (envision a ridiculous amount of positive pitch) will slide UP the shoulder on recoil. That’s great for keeping the gun in place, but lousy for face slap. Pick your poison. 2″ of pitch is pretty much the standard for a field gun.

If you just want to lower the point of impact, raising the front bead is one way if there isn’t too much of an impact problem. Unfortunately, it won’t cure your cast-off issue. I’ve tried going the other way and increasing my point of impact height by removing the front bead, but it never really worked for me. Try the higher sitting Hi-Viz out, but I don’t think it will solve your problem if you want to move point of impact any meaningful amount. I’ve seen guys temporarily put a strip of balsa wood inked black on top of their rib to do the same thing. It has never been the answer.

Stock bending should be able to deal with height and cast, unless you want a great deal of movement. Bending won’t change comb thickness though. On the telephone, you can tell the bender how much drop increase you want at face. He should be able to tell you if he can bend that much or if it has to be cut. Don’t tie him to drop at nose and heel. All you really care about is drop at face when you are working with an existing stock. When you build a stock, you can stipulate drop at nose and heel to get any drop at face you want and also any comb angle. When you bend an existing stock, you are more limited. Drop at face is what matters. Get that dimension right and take whatever drop at nose and heel comes with it. After bending he can cut the pitch and pad it out to any length you want. Normally, bent stocks do not have to be refinished, so that’s a plus.

I’ve had very good luck with my bent guns holding their bends. I keep hearing about bent guns “springing” back. I’m sure it happens, but it hasn’t happened to me and I have some guns that I had bent 20 years ago. I do store my guns muzzle down in the safe to take the pressure off the wood. And I don’t shoot in -24F weather!

Where do you go for bending? On that one, spend a bit of time with your Black’s “Wing and Clay” book and make some calls. I really don’t want to recommend someone I have not personally used. I’ve always used local guys with whom I have a personal relation. The guy I use now is retired and really only does work for friends.

An alternative to bending is to reinlet the head of the stock. This take a real pro. It’s more labor intensive and most stockmakers don’t want to do it, but reinletting does avoid any possibility of the stock moving at a future date. I once watched Klaus Hiptmeyer (sp?) in Canada reinlet the head of a B25 over a short lunch period so as to raise it. It was a suck fit and hit the required dimensions dead on. Klaus REALLY knows what he is doing and is one of the best stock makers I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, he’s in Canada and I believe that under the recent law you’ll have to pay import fees to send your gun to Canada even for repair. What a travesty.

The easy way to do your adjustments would be to just pull out a rasp and scrape away. That way you can lower and cast it as much as you want. Unfortunately, this almost always ruins the look of the stock if you have to remove much wood. It never looks right if you have to do a lot of work on it. It will absolutely kill the resale value of the gun to try to sell it with an obviously “shaved” stock. And you’ll have to refinish too. Rasping a stock always seems like a good idea at the time, but it usually isn’t. If the work you have to do can be accomplished with sandpaper (i.e. less wood removed), then you might get away with it if you don’t mind refinishing.

Building a stock is always a possibility. You might contact Wenig Custom Gun Stocks, http://www.wenig.com . They do a lot of stock business and may have a supply of pre-inletted Browning B25 stocks on hand. Also, don’t overlook calling around for a used B25 stock. Of course, with a new stock, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy your pretty wood.

Bottom line: depending on how much you have to move it, I think bending is the way to go.

Best regards,

Bruce Buck
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)
<http://www.ShotgunReport.com&gt;

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