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Taking Stock in America
Taking Stock in America - Page 4 Print
Product Reviews
Written by Russell E. Taylor   
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Richard's Micro-Fit Stocks -- Laminated Wood Stocks

For shooters who might prefer the looks and characteristics of a laminated wood riflestock but who want a little more freedom of creativity without paying the prices that Fajen charges, there is a relatively little-known company called Richard's Micro-Fit Stocks. In four words, let me sum up the products made by Richard's. Practical. Utilitarian. Affordable. Cool. Yes, "cool." Their "tactical" offering, available either in brown & brown or green & black, just looks downright "cool." In an odd twist of fate, I ordered their tactical model for the .338/378 Weatherby Magnum I'm building but, because they are so close in appearance, I didn't discover until after a couple of months of working with it that I had been sent one of Richard's Culbertson target/prone model instead. In looking at the advertisement in my Varmint Masters magazine, it's easy to see how it happened. The tactical stock simply a "more processed" version of the Culbertson target/prone model. My guess is, Richard's just forgot to complete their work on my particular stock. Upon reflection, however, I realized that I'd probably been fortunate to have this particular mix-up occur because, with a 30-inch, #8 contour barrel that has a two-inch long muzzle brake, I think it's better to have the extra length and weight (though we're not talking very much of either). If you're building a "monster gun" for industrial-duty field work, you might want the Culbertson stock. However, if you're building a contemporarily-styled bolt gun in .308 Winchester, I would heartily recommend the Richard's tactical stock. As a true tactical piece, the latter offers all the qualities of a laminated riflestock, plus ventilation holes along the barrel channel.

The Wrath of God, a .338/378 Weatherby Magnum built on a Savage 112-series action, rests in a Richard's MicroFit stock.  Every stock in the Richard's line-up is a true work of art and incredibly affordable.

Because Richard's leaves the final finishing steps up to the individual buyer, be prepared to do a little work with some sandpaper. I like using 60-grit, or rougher if I can find it, for the major work, and using finer grits for the final work. Opening up the barrel channel to accommodate my .338/378 was easily accomplished by using a spray can of Break Free that I wrapped with 60-grit sandpaper, then stroking back and forth along the length of the barrel channel until I had the width and depth I wanted. Using a burning candle, I smoked the barreled action and -- by inserting and removing the metal -- I could see from the resulting smudges on the wood where I needed to remove more material from the stock, prior to any bedding operations. Using a simple woodworking chisel, I removed an appropriate amount of material for the barrel lug, and used a smaller chisel to remove just a slight amount of wood so the standard Savage trigger guard would fit precisely. I then used a file to relieve a recess in the side of the stock for the bolt handle. I added a one-inch spacer and a one-inch recoil pad before starting any of the initial sanding work; once I began working, it was a simple matter to just blend (shape) the spacer and recoil pad into the contours of the wood as I sanded the buttstock.

I have known of Richard's since having a custom-built .416 Remington Magnum made for me. For that stock, I chose a thumbhole version (I love thumbhole stocks). Basically, it was prepared as I described doing for my other Richard's stock. As a testimonial to the strength of these stocks, I can tell you that my .416 Remington Magnum load consists of moly-coated 400-grain Hornady RN bullets, 80.1 grains of IMR-4064 powder, Winchester Large Rifle/Magnum primers, and Remington cases -- producing a muzzle velocity of 2480 feet per second and a muzzle energy of 5462 foot pounds (in simpler terms, over two and a half tons). I've run hundreds of such rounds through this gun without the stock showing any signs whatsoever of recoil-related stress or damage.

Savage 110FP Tactical in a McMillan A-2 Tactical stock.  The saddle-type cheek piece is a nice option that is quite popular.

A-2 Tactical -- McMillan

Without a doubt, the rifle I hold most dear to my heart is my highly-customized Savage 110FP Tactical in .308 Winchester.  Out of the box, it was a tackdriver.  Over the years, as money permitted, I've "enhanced" the rifle with various improvements, one of which being the replacement of the original plastic stock with a McMillan A-2 Tactical.   When my gunsmith bought one for the rifle he was building, and I saw how well-designed it was and how comfortably and ergonomically functional it was, I knew right away I had to have one.  McMillan Fiberglass Stocks is, unfortunately, known for long delays in delivery times -- but at the time I got mine and my gunsmith got his (and this was a few years ago) the deliveries arrived in eight weeks and 10 weeks, respectively.   Some reports from shooters with whom I've talked indicate that deliveries are into several months now.  I know McMillan is trying to address the problem, but if you're building a rifle for a special match that's happening in a month or so, you may want to consider a different company.  On the other hand, if you can plan accordingly, I'm sure you'll be happy with anything you order from McMillan.    For tactical applications, their two most popular offerings seem to be the A-2 and the A-3.  The latter has a shallower forend with the idea being to offer the shooter a "more stable platform while shooting off sand bags or pedestal."   Either stock is well-built and rugged, although the A-3 is a bit lighter.

The McMillan A-2 Tactical has long been a favorite among shooters.              McMillan Image

 

 
The McMillan A-3 is lighter than the A-2, but every bit as strong.                     McMillan Image

 
These two stocks can also be purchased with a number of options that afford more utility to the shooter, such as a choice of integral or saddle-type cheek pieces, a three-way adjustable butt assembly, and adjustable spacers to These two stocks can also be purchased with a number of options that afford more utility to the shooter, such as a choice of integral or saddle-type cheek pieces, a three-way adjustable butt assembly, and adjustable spacers to help establish a correct length of pull.

Switching from the plastic stock that originally came on my 110FP Tactical to the A-2 stock from McMillan made quite a difference in my comfort level with the rifle.  Let me make it clear that I had never experienced a problem with the rifle's accuracy, but the ergonomics of typical sporter stocks just don't agree with me.  Instead, I much prefer thumbhole stocks or those with an open-top pistol grip, such as the A-2 Tactical.  Such riflestocks allow me to take up a better shooting position and let me position my shooting hand so I get a better, straighter pull on the trigger.

When I first purchased my A-2, I did not select an adjustable cheek piece.  A few years later, however, I decided I wanted one and sent it to McMillan to have a saddle-type version installed.  Having the ability to raise and lower the cheek piece on your rifle ensures proper alignment between your eye and the center axis of your scope without having to try to guess, or remember, how to hold your head.  With your rifle adjusted to suit you, it is a simple matter to make a proper cheek weld between your face and the stock.  Once this is done, it's easy to acquire a good sight picture and take your shot.  Frankly, I'm spoiled now, and wish I had this feature on all my rifles.

While it is true that the McMillan A-2 Tactical stock is heavier than it's H-S Precision counterpart (also a fine stock, by the way), I have to tell you that I actually prefer the extra weight of the McMillan.  Some shooters like a lighter rifles tock, and that's okay... but I'm not one of them.  Weight isn't the primary concern I have when considering a rifle's configuration.  Strength, resistance to weather-induced warping, and especially ergonomics are what I'm most concerned with.  For me, choosing the A-2 for my 110FP is a decision I've never regretted.  By the way, Winchester's Custom Shop, makers of the M70 Custom Sharpshooter, originally stocked many of those rifles with the A-2 Tactical.