One of the things gunsmiths who do general repair work have noticed since the advent of plastic/synthetic/fiberglass stocks is the lack of repair work on damaged or broken gun handles.
Since there have always been, and will always be, riflemen who are hard on equipment, this trend has to be due to the tougher nature of the newer stock materials. They don’t completely prevent damage, however.
About 1940, Stevens Arms Co. offered its little 22RF/410 over/ under and the No. 530-M side-by-side shotgun with stocks made of a type of plastic the company called Tenite. It was not affected by rain and would not swell, warp or crack in any climate, nor soften due to soaking up gun oil. Unfortunately, some cleaning solvents would dissolve Tenite, and it became brittle with age, leading to breakage of the hollow buttstocks. Savage/Stevens collectors today pay premiums for guns with undamaged Tenite stocks.
Modern hollow stocks are made of far different material. They are much tougher than Tenite but are not invincible. Every year, gunsmiths see pump and semiautomatic shotguns and a .22 Rimfire or two with stocks that are somewhat bent due to having been run over by a vehicle. How this could possibly happen is beyond me, but since it does nothing for customer relations to ask a guy how he managed to drive over his gun, we never ask. One-piece stocks on bolt guns and .22s can sometimes be bent back close to normal by the very careful use of an electric heat gun. Wood stocks can almost always be repaired, though they will not look pretty.
One area regarding damage where the plastic-stocked rifle has it all over the wood variety is wrist breakage. In fact, it’s probably impossible to break a plastic stock at the grip (except maybe by driving over it). Stocks made from trees, however, are broken at this point quite frequently.
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Nobember - December 2018