Instructables

Building a Custom Rifle Stock

Picture of Building a Custom Rifle Stock
Author's Note:  There are concepts in this instructable that go beyond their application to gun stocks - including general woodoworking, sculpting, and finishing - so even if gun stocks aren't your "thing" you may still find something useful here.


Introduction:

I recently picked up a Russian-made Izhmash "Biathlon Basic" in .22 WMR and although I was extremely impressed with the accuracy of the rifle "out of the box", the stock was another story.  I was definitely underwhelmed.  The original stock wasn't very comfortable for me, and was more appropriate for hunting than the target shooting that I typically do, so I decided to build a new one.

Goals for this design:

1) As light as possible
2) Somewhat adjustable
3) Symmetrical to accomodate weak-hand shooting
4) As simply constructed as possible
5) Keep costs down while keeping quality/function reasonaly high

There are a lot of target stock designs out there with more adjustments than I would know what to do with  - but that "adjustability" adds complexity, cost, and weight to the stock.  I also knew that once I had the stock set up for me, I probably wouldn't need to adjust it again, so I decided to sacrifice speed of adjustment for simplicity.  I also chose a rather... uh ... "unique" way of building this stock - namely, I took the original bedded stock, cut away all the parts I didn't want, and built the new stock around the skeleton of the old one.  Why?  Because "inletting" (machining the stock so that it holds the action of the rifle) is one of the more complex and time-consuming parts of building a stock and I knew I'd probably just throw the original stock in a closet and forget it forever (and be annoyed every time I had to move it out of the way) ........ aaaand  I was feeling lazy.... but mostly because I was feeling lazy.  I don't think I'd use this technique on a higher-powered center-fire rifle, but in this case I wasn't worried about the small compromise in structural integrity between this method and machining the stock from a solid piece.

This is the first "from scratch" rifle stock I've built (besides the inletting) so I planned on painting it from the outset - thus making the building process a *little* less stressful since mistakes can be corrected (filled) without it being as obvious as it would be on a natural wood stock.

Materials:
  • Rifle stock blank (laminated blank from Boyd's - boydsgunstocks.com) - $40
  • Fillers (Epoxy-Sculpt and Bondo) - $10 if you don't already have some
  • Primer (Epoxy-based catalyzed primer in a can) - about $22
  • Paint (Duracoat paint and overcoat) - about $43
  • T-Trak aluminum rail (in leiu of a "genuine" Anchutz Rail) - $20
  • Threaded insert (1/4-28 threads) - $.50
  • Knock-Down pins (used as alignment pins on the adjustable comb) - $3
  • QD Sling Mounts (mfg by Uncle Mike's - 2 sets) - $32
  • Small piece of Brass for the butt-plate slider
  • Allen-head Cap Screws - 1/4-28 x 1" and 1/4-28 x 2 1/4" - $2
  • Various #8 screws, epoxy, urethane glue, sandpaper, etc.
  • Pachmayer recoil pad - grind to fit - $20
  • Total: ~ $195

Total time: ~50 hours over 5 weeks.
 
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Daneel2 months ago

I have no doubt you are nothing short of genius, or at the very least so meticulous in your method and development of it that you come off as one. I'll be looking at this plan for a long time gathering ideas from it, and the rest of your plans.

x515xUSMC2 months ago
So just save the image then print it out at 100%
jwilliamsen (author)  x515xUSMC2 months ago
Actually, I'll try to make this easier. I'm going to attach 3 images that can be printed out at a scale of 100% on regular letter paper (the images are 8"x10" @150dpi) - then, you can cut them out and hold them up to a window (or a light table) and tape them together. Each image has a little bit of overlap of the piece before it. This is basically what I did when I made my template. The final image on the template (once everything is taped together) should be 28.5" long.
Stock Template Piece 3.jpgStock Template Piece 2.jpgStock Template Piece 1.jpg
x515xUSMC2 months ago
Hey I was wondering of you still have a template for this stock. I would like to know where to get one
jwilliamsen (author)  x515xUSMC2 months ago
Hi USMC,

I'm assuming you mean the full-size profile Image I used - if so, you can get it here - just print this out 100% (you'll have to do it across a few sheets of paper):
Sako-BB Stock Full Size 150dpi.jpg
blinde0016 months ago

This is one of the most amazing posts to "Instructables" it has been my experience to read. I had been thinking about building a tactical stock for my .338 and then came across your entry. What an inspiration. Not only can it be done...but done extremely well with a great aesthetic about it as well. Congratulations...as you have sent me to my shop with renewed enthusiasm and a collection of new ideas on how to solve some of the problems I had considered. Thanks!!

jwilliamsen (author)  blinde0013 months ago
Thank you! I would say that if you're going to build a stock for a .338, you will want to look into heavier reinforcements - cross-bolt behind the recoil lug and in front of the trigger group, etc - as well as probably buying commercial adjustment hardware for any LOP adjustments. Check out http://stockpositioning.com/products.htm for some really nice hardware. If I venture into heavier centerfire stocks, I'll be using some of their products, I'm sure. Good luck :)
Dr Soup 324 months ago

Holy cow my friend. . .great write-up, project and execution! I am a happy diy-er. To begin you state the techniques you used are good for all aspects of woodworking but can also be extrapolated to everything we do. Minds like yours amaze me! My second career (after Obama messes up my first as a Physician with Obamacare) will be woodworking and gunsmithing. This post has given me so many ideas. Thank you and well done!

jwilliamsen (author)  Dr Soup 323 months ago
Hey Doc - I'm glad you liked it :) I hope to build another one this summer - slightly different this time.
Help me
jwilliamsen (author)  keelan dumigan3 months ago
Hi Keelan - I'm happy to help - just need a little more information ;)
turbotosh11 months ago
This is a really really amazing instructable, well documented, your attention to detail is fantastic, great job, it looks perfect :)
jwilliamsen (author)  turbotosh11 months ago
Thank you! It's one of my favorite rifles to shoot - it really does work as good as it looks :)
Excellent job
scathcart1 year ago
Fantastic job on your stock ,well thought out and very well executed.I have a CZ452 in .17hmr and was going to buy a Boyds Tacticool stock for it but seen your project so im thinking of trying to build my own version . If it doesnt work out i can always get the Tacticool . just wanted to say thanks for the inspiration .
jwilliamsen (author)  scathcart1 year ago
Thanks :) I have a Boyd's Tacticool on a Ruger 10/22 - it's a nice stock overall - not terribly well finished, but that can be remedied :)

I've always wanted a CZ452 American - it's one of my "bucket list" guns - lol. I've always appreciated the smooth action, excellent fit and finish, and of course the accuracy of the CZ's (at least the ones I've seen).

Something you *might* want to consider is picking up the Boyd's stock and using it as a starting point - it will save a lot of work in the long run. If I'd have had that option, I probably would have gone that route - or at least considered it.
(removed by author or community request)
jwilliamsen (author)  nickademuss1 year ago
Sure - send them to me and I'll add them on to the end of the Instructable on an another page - maybe we can get a collection going :)
Dyeman121 year ago
JW-
How are you liking that 7-2?  I have one that has become quite the project.  Had the barrel cut to 16.5", recrowned and threaded to match my AAC Element suppressor.  Hated to loose that unique deep crown, but this rifle is just made to be suppressed.  My smith took a section of the scrap and made a thread protector which matches up very nicely.  Also had my smith cut the bottom of the reciever to allow the bolt pin to be installed from the bottom so i dont have to pull the scope to strip it.  Next had the barrel, receiver and bolt arm Ceracoated in flat black.  Have a custom Piccatinny rail mounted that runs the entire length of the receiver for easy scope mount.   On a calm day it will shoot quarter size groups at 100yds using good ammo and it is really quiet.  The AAC can virtually no 1st round pop and only caused about a 0.75 inch shift in POI at 50 yds.  I have been at a deserted 50yd range and put rounds over the top on a robin at the 30yd line and he didn't fly off.  
My last mod is for a new stock and your project has been the inspiration to give it a try with an old laminate stock for a 10/22 I've had laying around for years.  I've plugged up the inlet with hard wood and will be building up the magazine underbelly to take a 10 round mag flush.  This will make off hand shooting much better.  I really like the shape you adopted from the Sako- clean and simple.  
I've rounded up an IZH 4-mag cassette and an extended IZH 7-3 bolt handle.  Since I already have the stock to play with, this should be a pretty low cost / high time roll-your-own project.     
jwilliamsen (author)  Dyeman121 year ago
Hey Dyeman,

I really like the 7-2 - as a matter of fact, if I could find one, I'd buy another (one in .22LR as opposed the the .22WMR that I have - cheaper to shoot). I really like the toggle-bolt and am darn near as fast with it as I am any semi-auto I've shot. I have to say that the stock modification was worth every bit of time and money - it's the most comfortable rifle I have - a real pleasure to shoot. Recoil is extremely linear - no muzzle rise - and is more of a push than a punch. My only complaint is that I can go through a LOT of ammo in one sitting - lol ... oh - and that mags are impossible to find.

Your rifle sounds like quite the project! I'm wondering why your smith didn't just replicate the deep crown? Didn't he think it would work with the suppressor? I've thought about threading mine, but it's such a nice package as it is that it's hard to justify it. Your bolt pin mod sounds like a good idea - I'll have to look into that - thanks!

If you want template and reference images for the Sako, let me know and I can bundle them up for you. Good luck on your project - it sounds like you're going to have a very nice rifle when it's all done - one that will keep the folks at the range busy trying to guess just what the heck that rifle is..... ;)
MrBeta1 year ago
Fantastic build. A truly amazing project, showcased in great detail and quality, both photos and the write-up itself.
Have you attempted any more stock builds since the completion of this one?
jwilliamsen (author)  MrBeta1 year ago
Thanks! Lately, I've mostly been building modified M14/M1A stocks - taking Vietnam-era G.I. fiberglass stocks and grafting on updated rear ends. I'm working on an Instructable for those as well - stay tuned ;)
jwilliamsen (author) 1 year ago
Thanks! Good luck on that .338 Lapua build - be sure to pay a lot of attention to reinforcement on something with that kind of recoil ;)
blinde0011 year ago
After seeing this instructable, my respect for the creativity on these pages has once again taken another step higher. This is a brilliant and creative solution to obtaining not only the funtionality of a Sako or Steyr tactical stock, but the aesthetic qualities of one also. I am still applauding this project..can't wait to replace the Savage stock on my new
.338 Lapua with something inspired by your accomplishments on this project...my sincerest congratulations on a fantastic job.
jbest41 year ago
Fantastic! What a great project. I think I am going to have to try this out for one of my Mosin Nagants. Thanks a ton!
What kind of router would you recommend, and do you know of any good guides on learning to use a router?
jwilliamsen (author)  USAFpirate6001 year ago
Realize that my recommendations are based on my experiences - and my experiences don't cover all the brands, but, having said that, I would recommend either a Bosch or a Makita because of the 4 brands I have owned, they have been the most robust and accurate - and I've not managed to kill either one yet after years of use (and a little abuse).

Whenever looking at tools, realize that the old adage of "Buy nice, or buy thrice" is spot-on. Buy the best you can afford, and you won't regret it. For a first router, I'd look at one that includes both a plunge-base and a fixed base (with depth stop), soft start, at least 2 1/4 HP, variable speed (with adaptive circuitry), and 1/4" and 1/2" collets. A good example would be the Bosch 1617EVSPK, or the Makita RF1101KIT2. Either of these will have a very broad range of capabilities and would be an excellent choice for general woodworking. I'm sure there are others as well, but I don't have experience with Hitachi, DeWalt, Festool, etc - so I can only offer what I know.

As far as guides, there are a number of books on Amazon - just do a search for "Using a Router" or "Router Techniques" and you'll get a number of hits. I think books are a good start - and a good way to pick up tips and tricks (along with websites) - but nothing really beats just getting out in the shop and making dust. Some people think it's weird, but I actually *practice* with most of my tools - especially power tools. Using power tools is a skill, just like hand tools - so get some scrap wood, and practice making profiles, etc.

In addition, don't skimp on router bits unless you consider the bit disposable (working in junk wood or wood that might have nails, screws, etc). My favorites are solid carbide - they're stupid expensive - but cut hardwood like it's butter - extremely sharp and easy to work with. Quality router bits are *tools* just like the router is, and you can easily spend far more money on a collection of bits than you do for the router itself. Quality router bits can be re-sharpened multiple times and in the long run end up being a better investment while turning out better work.

Hope this helps! :)
Thanks for replying so fast. That helps a lot. It will be a while before i save up enough money to get started but my goal is to replicate a JAE stock for a remington 700.

http://www.jallenenterprises.com/images/jae700.jpg

It is an $800 stock so i figured making it will be cheaper and more rewarding and fun. I will definitely do what you did and simplify it a lot but I like the general shape of it.

Great instructable, and thanks again for the help.
jwilliamsen (author)  USAFpirate6001 year ago
The JAE stocks are nice - heavy as an anvil - but nice. I have friends that have M14's equipped with them. The advantage you'll have in making your own is that you'll be able to make a lighter version should you choose to do so - as well as customize the fit to your particular taste.

A few of my philosophies that might be of interest:
  • Don't rush.  A year from now, will you care that the project took an extra day or three? Probably not - but you'll care about the little mistakes you made rushing things.
  • Look at all projects as a series of "baby steps" - not as one BIG project.  By breaking it up into tasks (write them down), you will progress methodically and not feel overwhelmed. 
  • Do at least a little every day that you have the opportunity - but don't feel that every session working on it has to be a marathon.  Sometimes, I'll just pick one small thing from my task list, spend 5 minutes completing it, and be done for the day.  This keeps the project moving ahead while keeping me from feeling like the project is more like a prison sentence than something I'm doing for fun.
  • If you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a break - or stop for the day.  Sometimes, coming back with "fresh" eyes will be all it takes to see a different solution to a problem.
Good luck on your project!
jcclark7892 years ago
Wow. I am so impressed. I would imagine you could do this with a Remington 700 in 308? I wish you could show me how. You wouldn't happen to live in Dallas, Tx?

Great job man. Nice instructable.

Ps. Was this based on the accuracy international?
jwilliamsen (author)  jcclark7892 years ago
Thanks! Yes, you could definitely build one for a Remington 700, although there are SO many custom stocks available for that platform ( ranging from the space-age Eberlestock to the more traditional Boyd's, HS Precision, McMillan, Wild Dog, Bell and Carlson.... to name a few) that unless you wanted the satisfaction of doing it yourself, you'd probably be better off buying an off-the shelf stock. A big part of what drove me to build my own was that this rifle has virtually no aftermarket here in the US (or anywhere else, really) .... that and I wanted to see if I could do it ;)

I live in Utah - so we're *kind* of neighbors ;)

The stock design was based on the Sako TRG platform. I've always liked the Accuracy International rifles, but I had to give up the idea of a thumb-hole stock because of the ergonomics of the toggle-bolt action - having to pull the thumb out of the hole, rotate the wrist, toggle the bolt, and return to the starting position would be a lot slower than just rotating my wrist as the "open saddle" design allows.

Thanks again for the kind words :)
I have looked at all of those manufacturers you named and have found a few that we're nice but outrageously expensive. How much did you spend on materials for the project? How difficult would you say this project is I think I'm intermediate lay skilled with wood working. Metal working I have very little experience. But I have a master of all trades carpenter father.

I like your design with no thumb hole a lot. I think thumb hole stocks are ridiculous.
jwilliamsen (author)  jcclark7892 years ago
OK - so it sounds like the barrier to entry is price - which is as good a reason as any to "roll your own" - I know it drives some of my decisions ;) Overall, it cost me about $195 - but that could be pared down with the omission of things like Duracoat and replacing it with tung oil or polyurethane. Look at the bottom of the first page for a pricing breakdown to see what you could live without (if anything).

The most critical part of building a stock is the "inletting" - or the machine work to precisely fit your barreled action into the stock. While it's not *super* difficult, it is precision work and would be difficult to achieve without access to tools like a mill.... or some amazing hand-tool skills. If it were *me* and I was thinking about building a custom stock for a Remmy 700, I'd call Boyd's Gunstocks (www.boydsgunstocks.com) and ask them if they would sell you an inletted blank that you could then shape to what you wanted. The shaping work is more art than science, and could be done with hand tools (and time) like rasps, chisels, files, sanders, etc - and if you were willing to take your time, I think an "intermediate" woodworker could come up with something nice ;)
jimwi2 years ago
Nice job, looks real sweet. Hows it shoot?
jwilliamsen (author)  jimwi2 years ago
Extremely well. It's a sub-MOA rifle - very smooth recoil, amazing trigger, super-fast action (toggle-bolt) - really fun to shoot. Easily the most accurate .22 I've ever shot. I went through 250 rounds and hardly noticed how cold it was at the range (25 degrees F). I let a half-dozen curious people shoot it and all of them were pretty stunned with how it performed. I'm very happy with the "upgrade" overall.