There are various reasons for fitting a custom stock to an airgun (or firearm, for that matter). The oringinal stock might have become damaged- I have a Beeman C-1 caught in a flood here at home. You might want something more attractive than the plain beechwood used on many European guns, or the white mystery wood used on some Chinese guns. Or you may want a specialized sort of stock for field target, or just a stock that fits you perfectly. You could, in each of the instances, buy a slab of wood and carefully shape and inlet it to fit your gun- if you had the skills and tools- or you could buy a pre-shaped and inletted gun from a supplier.
After my first few Field Target matches, I thought I could shoot my HW77 better if I fitted it to a proper FT stock, and so I called Jim Maccari, whose web site (http://www.airguns.citymax.com) is a reagular treasure trove of airgun parts for tuning and customizing. I selected a pre-inletted walnut blank- not top grade, but a good grade- and an adjustible butt plate. The fit to the HW77 action was so good that little if any inletting was required; most of my effort was put into external shaping and finishing.
This photo of my old HW77 comp gun doesn’t really do justice to the stock, but it does give a good idea of the overall appearance. (The splotchy appearance is due in part to the wax applied to keep it from being too slippery)
Note the flattened area under the forearm, and the high cheekpiece- both good features in an FT gun. I spent a lot of time shaping the pistol grip to fit my hand, and getting the pull- the length from the trigger to the butt- just right. Having a gun fitted to your body means a more relaxed shooting position, and that means higher scores.
To shape and inlet the stock, I used a combination of coarse sandpaper, small chisels, scrapers, and a really good Nicholson #49 hand-cut rasp. Having a $40 rasp whose teeth are hand cut, rather than machine made, may seem an excessive luxury, but these rasps cut much smoother and faster than the run-of-the-mill cheap rasp. Today I’d probably also use a Microplane rasp, which cuts even faster, and leaves a very smooth surface.
A small bottle of Inletting Black- available from Brownells- is a useful tool in doing the intial fitting. You paint it on all the surface of the gun that come into contact with the stock, to see where wood needs to be removed. Wood should be removed a tiny bit at a time- you want a fit that’s very close, without binding or applying any pressure.
Once the action slips into the stock snugly and the stock is shaped to your liking, it’s time to move on to finishing- which will be in my next post.