I’m in the market for a new gun o/u, can a gunsmith add casting to a stock that is straight, if so what would one expect (ball park), to pay. Is this done with shims or do they bend the stock?
The method for moving a stock sideways (casting) depends on the kind of gun used. There are basically three methods.
1) If more cast is required (the stock moved more to the right for a right handed shooter), you could simply sand the left side of the stock and then refinish. This has obvious drawbacks, but is a possibility.
2) If the gun is a SxS or O/U, the stock is often “bent” using infra red heat, steam, hot oil or some other heat source. The stock is placed in a bending cradle and heated at the wrist while pressure is put on it. The stock is bent past the intended point because it springs back slightly when cooled. It’s more of an art than a science. The bend doesn’t always hold. I’ve had very good luck having a number of my guns bent in this manner. None of mine have ever sprung back, but I’ve heard of others that have. Usually, the stock does not need to be refinished.
3) If the gun is a pump or auto, the stock can be moved somewhat by shimming. Shimming is the placement of a shim between the rear of the receiver and the head of the stock on the side opposite to the direction you want the stock to bend. Some current guns come from the factory with shims (Beretta 391s and some Browning autos) so that you can adjust cast and height to a modest extent. This is a tremendous convenience.
I’ve shimmed 1100s and some others without factory shims by just using a bit of plastic. You can get away with moving the stock slightly this way, but if you try to move it too much, you will bend the tube that holds the mainspring and that’s going to cause trouble. The guns with factory shims have enlarged stock holes for the mainspring tubes so they avoid that problem.
In addition to shimming, the stockmaker can reinlet the head of the stock of a pump or auto. A really good stockmaker can reinlet the head of a boxlock SxS or O/U too. But this latter work takes more skill and/or time than most stock makers want to invest in the project. Pumps and autos are much easier to reinlet. Bending SxS and O/U is much faster and therefore cheaper. You usually don’t bend pumps and autos. You generally reinlet or shim them.
Stockmakers prices vary, but expect to pay something around, more or less, sort of $100~$200 for a stock bend. A simple reinletting of a pump or auto ought to be about the same or somewhat less depending on the gun. Shimming you can do yourself if you had a pump/auto instead of your O/U.
In the UK it is quite common for a gunsmith to include a fitting and stock bending when a SxS or O/U gun of intermediate price and up is purchased. Americans generally are willing to try to shoot a gun just as it comes out of the box. The Brits are a bit fussier and often want their guns to actually fit. You always shoot better with a gun that fits than with one that doesn’t. If you know what fits you, money spent altering a gun to make it right is a very good investment.
Human beings are marvelously adaptable and people can often shoot guns fairly well that fit them poorly. But when they get a gun that is a proper fit, they can really excel and reach their true potential. It is as ridiculous to think that one shotgun size fits all any more than one shoe size fits everyone. A shotgun is a dynamic tool and must suit the size AND technique of the person using it. It’s false economy to save money on gun fit. If someone isn’t sure what fits and doesn’t, it’s time for some shooting lessons and a little solidification of the shooter’s style.
As you learn to shoot and your shooting technique improves, your gun fit may change. That’s why it’s important to seek the advice of a pro. If he’s good, he can see “ahead” a bit to how you will be holding the gun when your shooting style matures. Hint: the more you shoot, the longer and higher your stock is going to get.
The Technoid writing for Shotgun Report, LLC
(Often in error. Never in doubt.)