Buying Used Guns (stocks edition)


Stocks are a fairly easy topic. The only options are wood or synthetic. Within that are a lot of choices though. You can do a lot of looking and find used rifles with very nice wood stocks, stocks that are ready to be added to your collection. Of course there are also wood stocks that need a lot of work. There are the same circumstances for the synthetic stocks. The biggestm, difference is they type and finish of that stock. Well let’s break down the options. With woodm stocks I would look first at the type of finish on it. You will find two separate types.
(1) An oil finish.

Most older guns will all have an oil finish like the above M1 stock. The type of oil used is the important part. Tung oil is best. It well fully dry and be very weather resistant. The other is Lin Seed oil. All old military arms were finished with Lin Seed oil. Not the best idea but it was still widely used. Lin Seed oil in it’s pure form will never fully dry. The problem with this is that moisture can still penetrate. Yes it can warp enough to make a difference but it takes a good amount of moisture. It still protects the stock but just not as well as Tung oil that dries completely. Oil finishes are a two edged sword. They are a great finish with a warm luster but it scratches easily. The great part about oil finishes is that they are the easiest to work with if you wanted to refinish the stock.

(2) RKW finish.

This finish is how the large companies like Remington and Browning get the high gloss shine on their stocks. Here are the big differences, an RKW finish does not soak very far into the wood unlike oil finishes. Oil finishes leave the wood susceptible to scratches while RKW finishes give an exterior armor to the wood that is harder than the hubs of Hades. This makes it very scratch and dent resistant. However, if you want to refinish one of these stocks you need the best stripping compound you can find and a few days of scraping.

So with that in mind your next step is just how many scratches are too many? That’s really a question only you can answer. Just keep in mind that there could be a good deal of work to get it to the condition you want it in.

Ok, now for synthetics. There are many different styles from hunter to thumb hole to the do every thing target stocks. Then there are a few finish choices. There is the usual factory black or O.D. green and then you have your dipped camo. That’s basically it. Synthetics get scratched but there is no good way to repair that. You simply have a scratched stock. It doesn’t compromise that integrity of the stock as long as it is a surface scratch and not a huge gouge. I say that because some poor quality aftermarket synthetic stocks are made of thin fiberglass filled with foam. If you find one of these stocks stay away from them.

The great thing with synthetic is if you get it scratched or just don’t like the finish any more just go to 

Brownells  or even Wal-Mart and get a can of spray paint and redo the color of it. The paint will fill in most minor scratches or at least make them hard to see. We talked last month about evaluating the time and money you want to put into the metal of your possible used gun purchase. The same goes for the wood. Do you want to bother with the stock at all? Then find one that doesn’t need work or one that you can live with the few scratches on it. Do you want to try refinishing the stock on your own? Keep in mind there’s a lot of work involved to do that. It can be very satisfying doing it but takes a lot of dedicated time.


When it comes to buying used guns there’s a lot of questions that only you can answer. I just hope I’ve given you enough of the right questions to ask yourself. Let me leave you with this piece of advice, take your time, do your homework, and listen to your gut and you will make a purchase your grand kids will enjoy.


6 responses to “Buying Used Guns (stocks edition)

  1. Jack Keener

    Looking for a stock for a Parker 12 ga feild grade built in 1921. Any idea were I could find one?
    Thank You

  2. An impressive share, I passed your link to a fellow worker who was doing a bit analysis on this topic. And he bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. grin. So let me reword that : Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and enjoy reading more on this topic. If possible, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!.

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