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Sniper's Paradise

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Taking Stock in America
Taking Stock in America - Page 3 Print
Product Reviews
Written by Russell E. Taylor   
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With 117-grains of Hodgdon H50BMG powder underneath 300-grain Sierra Match King bullets, capped off by Federal 215M primers, I set up a bench at my gun range. Twenty exhilarating rounds later and after the usual shoot-clean-shoot ritual that is involved with such activity, I made two observations. First, the Ultimate Sniper stock was still intact. Second, so was I. Between the weight of the stock and the efficiency of the recoil pad, the stock absorbs recoil very well and I can honestly say the rifle was more comfortable to shoot than I had anticipated, so I think it's safe to say that shooters using any of the smaller magnums shouldn't have any problems.  

Removing the barreled action from the stock, the marks on the bedding block indicated that the action had maintained four solid contacts in the right places, and a careful inspection revealed neither stress cracks nor abnormalities of any kind. This was proof enough for me that the bedding block was still structurally sound within its Rynite foundation and that the riflestock wasn't just made for mouse calibers.  

The forearm of the stock has two very large ventilation slots on each side. Even with my monster .338/378 installed, the barrel -- about an inch thick -- was completely free-floated.  Combining the free-floating feature with the ventilation slots ensures an adequate airflow to and

 

around the barrel during shooting. Studs for attaching sling swivels are located on each side of the forearm at midpoints between the two ventilation slots. Similar studs extend from the left and right sides of the buttstock as well, so a shooter can attach a sling to either side of the stock if he wants to keep his rifle tucked in close during a prolonged crawl.

A neat feature is found on the underside of the forearm -- a detachable bipod adaptor. In simple terms, this consists of an accessory rail that runs the length of the forearm and a metal slide which has a sling stud at one end and a plastic wingnut at the other. The metal slide is secured or removed by tightening or loosening the plastic wingnut. "Neat," as I say, because by having a bipod attached to the stud and with the legs extended, you have the ability to raise or lower the muzzle of your rifle within approximately an inch to an inch and a half of vertical travel. And if you don't want to leave the bipod on your rifle all the time, it only takes about one second to just loosen the wingnut and slide off the bar -- with the bipod still attached. When you want the bipod again, just slide it on, tighten down the wingnut, and you're back in business.

The overall appearance of the stock is not one of great beauty -- but then this product was designed to be useful not pretty. Certainly, there are a lot of nice features built into the Ultimate Sniper that would cost a lot more money anywhere else. Still, I should point out a couple of things that at least bear mentioning. First, the safety tang of my Savage does not mate well with the stock. Not a big deal, I suppose, but it is noticeable and I suppose it could cause a shooter some problems in certain circumstances. The other curiosity which stands out is, for as much as Plaster preaches taping the "dope" for your rifle onto the buttstock, he designed a stock which makes doing this virtually impossible.

 
 
The impressions this stock makes on shooters are extreme -- they either love it or hate it. I've probably talked to about twenty shooters concerning this stock, and it seems that close to two-thirds of them had complaints about it, mostly related to either its weight, its size, or both. The remaining third seemed to agree that it was a very nice stock and particularly praised its affordability and the many nice features that are built into it. Interestingly, among those who have liked it or disliked it, there was no significant statistic in their height. Some tall people liked it, some hated it. Some short people liked it, some hated it. In other words, of the shooters who complained about its size or weight, there were no clean lines of division. It wasn't a matter of "all the tall guys love how big it is" and "all the small dudes gripe about how darn big the thing is." 


Personally, I think it's a good stock for what it was intended to be, which is a standard tactical stock with a lot of nonstandard features. It comes in olive drab green or a camouflage pattern, and the stock will withstand a paint job without melting. It's very affordable as tactical stocks go, retailing in the neighborhood of $160 or so. For shooters on a tight budget who are looking for an "entry level" piece of equipment that will serve them well, the Choate is probably the way to go.  They're currently available for Remingtons and Savages and have been out for a while now, so you shouldn't have any problem ordering one or even finding one at a gun show.  The Ultimate Sniper Stock is, without a doubt, both sturdy and fully capable of taking some punishment in a field environment.

Reinhart Fajen -- Laminated Wood Stocks

I suppose it is questionable for some people whether wood riflestocks, in these modern times, are truly "tactical" anymore. Sure, for many years, "wood" was the only game in town. However, it has always been more vulnerable to changes in temperature and humidity than synthetic stocks, a big reason why the latter are so popular these days. Yet, somewhere along the way, shooters discovered a way to have stronger wood stocks. By gluing layers of wood together into stock blanks, the result was not only a composition that was strong but also, when cut into a riflestock, a final product with an appearance that many consider a work of art. Laminated wood stocks are typically heavier than their "plain Jane" counterparts, owing primarily to the glue used in the process. However, besides having slightly more weight, they are also more impervious to temperature and humidity changes. Further, with a proper sealant applied, as is often the case, moisture is less likely to be absorbed into the wood.

Depending on who you buy yours from, you can have an expensive one or a more affordable model. Fajen, long recognized as "a name" in the business of making riflestocks, produces some of the finest specimens available to shooters today. Often, these stocks are original equipment for factory rifles such as Savage, Ruger, and others. Shooters prefer them for their strength and their aesthetic qualities, and because they are essentially nothing more than wood and glue, gunsmiths are able to work with them using the same tools they normally use when preparing a stock for bedding a barreled action. Also, if you can bring yourself to do it, you can strip and paint the surface of a laminated riflestock, using colors and patterns that match the terrain you will be operating in.

The two laminated Fajen stocks I have came as original equipment on a couple of my Savage rifles. One, which came on a 112BVSS-S in .300 Winchester Magnum, will soon replace the stock on my 112FV in .223 Remington, making it into a 112BV. ("F" and "B" denoting "plastic" and "laminated wood," respectively, in Savage Arms' naming convention, and "V" identifying the rifle as a "varmint" model. "SS" stands for "stainless steel," and the "-S" identifies Savage's single-shot rifles.) The other is remaining on the rifle it came on, a 112BVSS which originally was chambered for .22-250 Remington but has since been rechambered for .22-250 Ackley Improved. The latter rifle, due largely to the steadiness of the heavier stock, makes it a dream to shoot prairie dogs with. The stock has a straight-drop pistol grip with a wundhammer palmswell which allows a shooter to assume a more natural wrist angle for better trigger control -- a nice feature which makes it easier for shooters like me (with large hands and long fingers) to get the shooting hand into a position that feels "right."

The Savage/Fajen stocks come with two quarter-inch spacers and a modest recoil pad on the buttstock, and a black endcap that appears to be plastic. The stock also has a single pillar for securing the metal into the stock. The stock that came with my 112BVSS was a nylon affair which was subject to crushing (and therefore unlikely to maintain a consistent bedding torque), so I had my gunsmith replace it with a brass one. He also put in a pillar for the rear mounting position, a feature that neither he nor I can understand why Savage doesn't do this on their own -- after watching how he does it, such a thing would be a snap with the tooling available to Savage Arms. Somewhere along the way, however, Savage must have learned about the crushing problem with the plastic pillar because the later sample I have (which will go on the 112BV) has a metal pillar which I will probably not replace. However, once again, I'll have a rear pillar installed into the stock. As a final touch, the rifle has a couple of stainless steel sling swivel studs to help shooters carry the rifle more comfortably by attaching and using a sling.

Recently, aid much controversy and confusion, Fajen was acquired by The Potterfield Group.  Many of you do business with Midway USA, the prime money-producer for Larry Potterfield.  Rumors were rampant that Fajen had gone out of business entirely.  In the October/November '98 timeframe, to address some of shooters' concerns about his acquisition of the well-known stockmaking operation, Potterfield posted a letter on the Internet to explain his acquisition of the Fajen company.  Briefly, the letter details the status of "drop-in" and "semi-inletted" stocks, going on to further state that -- at the time he wrote the letter -- Fajen's custom shop "has temporarily suspended operation."  Many gun builders and shooters rushed to buy out the last of Fajen's stocks, in a frenzy that could only be compared to... well... try to imagine Exxon stock being sold for two dollars per share in the last three minutes of Friday trading on Wall Street, and you'll get the idea.
 

One rifle, three configurations.  As purchased, this rifle was a Savage 112FV chambered for .223 Remington.

 

#1.  In its original-equipment stock.

#2.  Same rifle in the Ultimate Sniper Stock from Choate Tool.

#3.  Savage 112FV in one of Savage's own laminated stocks (which, actually, makes this a 112BV).


I've seen other examples of Fajen riflestocks and have always been well pleased with the craftsmanship and attention to detail. Though it sells many of its production stocks through Midway, a popular supplier of handloading tools and components, you can also order a custom stock directly from the Fajen company.