Remington 700 ADL
I had been raised to take good care of the wood on firearms. I had been coached to pick out good wood when purchasing firearms. 2 or 3 years of Wood Shop class in high school only served to enhance my appreciation of fine wood. A good coat of furniture polish before season opened and a thorough cleaning and polishing after the season closed.
Walnut of course is beautiful and if taken care of can last a life time. It may eventually have to be refinished but done properly, it can look as good as new or better.
Back in the early 80's I purchased a Winchester Ranger 120 in 12 gauge. Excellent gun by the way. The finish however, on the "hardwood" stock left a lot to be desired. I immediately sanded it down and applied multiple coats of Birchwood Casey's True Oil. The gun looked like a million bucks and I always got compliments on it at the trap range. Of course, it became another gun that I kick myself for selling but I cashed out and bought a Remington 870 on clearance for the same money. It has fantastic walnut on it and is a great gun.
Then along came synthetic stocks and I rebelled. My first impression was, they are ugly. I avoided them like the plague until the mid nineties when I purchased a NEF SB2 with synthetic. Yet another gun I should have kept. The gun was awesome to carry and actually looked pretty sharp. I put white spacers under the swivel studs, strapped on a black nylon sling and a nice matte finish scope. It looked good. Then I sat in a down pour one day while coyote hunting. I looked down at my soaked rifle and did not even so much a wince. Later that day, I took it apart, wiped down the metal and put it back together, ready to go again.
I find myself shooting longer distances these days on coyotes and my temptation has been to grab the 700 in .243 instead of the usual 22 Hornet. I resist sometimes for a couple of reasons. I feel guilty leaving the old Hornet in the rack. I am not ready to retire it. The even bigger hang up is the glossy finish of the walnut on the 700. It shines like a diamond in a goat's back side and I don't think the coyotes care much for that. Sure I could spend a nice little chunk of change and buy chaps for it but what's the point in having this beautiful stick of wood if your going to cover it up? I don't display it in a gun cabinet anymore so I don't get to appreciate it myself as much these days.
I started watching the auction sites for a synthetic stock for the 700. Now I have to admit that I was a little wary. I had owned a Savage .270 with one of those mushy synthetic stocks that felt like you could wrap them around a bumper and they may or may not come back to position. Great gun, bad stock. Didn't own that one long but I did not buy it to keep, I bought it for trading material.
Sure enough, I was able to find an open auction for a Remington take off stock in new condition at AuctionArms.com. I gambled that it would be an improvement over the Savage. Now granted, Savage may have changed to a better stock, I don't know, it was a few years back on the .270.
I bid, won the auction and in short order, the seller, Mike's shooting Supply, had a synthetic stock delivered to my doorstep. Carefully packaged and in perfect condition, I was anxious to get to work on the swap. I gave the new stock a twist here and a squeeze there and could not detect any give or flexing except at the rear portion of the stock just in front of the nice heavy recoil pad. It appears that the stock is hollow and it feels a little cheap. I plan to pick up a can of that expanding foam and fill the stock with it. Can't hurt, might help. Beyond that I was thoroughly impressed.
I took a couple of pictures of 700 before starting because if this works out, the 700 won't see the wood again for a while, if ever.
With the wood off the 700, a side by side comparison seemed appropriate.
The stock has nice crisp checkering at both the grip area and the forearm but no checkering on the bottom side of the forearm as the walnut has on it.
Position of the swivel studs and the fact that the synthetic stock has a slightly smaller grip area were the only major differences I could find. Oh, and the lack of nicks, scratches and scrapes on the synthetic stock but I suppose all in due time. The wood stock and the synthetic weighed 2 pounds 3 ounces however the balance point is different on the 2 stocks. The wood balances at the front edge of the grip while the synthetic balances just in front of the rear receiver/trigger guard bolt. It makes the gun feel different in your hands but I don't see where it will be a problem.
The bedding area had nice smooth cuts and looks to be square with the world. I was surprised to find absolutely no plastic type shavings or material hanging around in any of the cuts or grooves. Just nice clean lines waiting for an action to be set in. The only thing I noticed that bothered me a little are the 2 "high points" in the forearm nearest the muzzle. Those 2 spots are going to contact the barrel where in the wood stock, the barrel had been completely free floating to the lug.
Update 12/03 I just learned (slow learner) that the 2 points in the forearm are designed to "cradle" the barrel and promote accuracy. Sorry, I prefer free floated, thanks just the same.
The first thing I did, and for no particular reason, was to see how the trigger housing was going to fit up. It was going to require just a very small amount of sanding. Such a small amount of sanding that it probably could have been forced in. I would rather sand just a little. I pressed hard against the trigger guard and it left a slight impression in the synthetic stock where it was ill fitting. I pulled out a small half round file and went to work. In about 5 minutes, it fit like a glove.
Laying the guard aside, I picked up the barreled action and set it into the stock. Wow, this could be challenging. Something, mid action, was holding the two apart. It took a minute to find it but it was obvious that a couple of screws were touching the stock opposite of the bolt. Again I applied some pressure and left enough mark to be able to locate the exact point of contact.
With my trusty file, I went to work. Again, in just a few minutes, the problem was solved. Now it felt like it just needed some pressure all over to be squeezed down into the bedding area. Of course that made me a little nervous because from the little I know, I realize the action needs to be solid and have even contact.
I went ahead and applied the pressure and felt it seat. No more rocking at all. That can be misleading but I figured I would go with it. I put the screws in and snugged it down.
At the make shift range at my brothers farm I set out to see how it was going to group. The shooting distance is about 68 yards and I shoot from a solid bench that I leave up at the farm. The first 4 shots were in a nice horizontal line about 1.5 inches long. Still painful for coyotes but not what I have come to expect from this rifle. For grins, I set a full soda can out on a plank of wood at about 125 yards. Half joking, I told my buddy to allow me 5 shots. It only took 1 shot to turn the can into a strip of aluminum about 9 inches long. Pretty cool !
A little reading confirmed my suspicions. In short, what I read stated "Horizontal stringing is almost always caused by pressure against the barrel, somewhere". Rather than removing the 2 high spots in the forearm, I thought I would try the old credit card trick first. I ended up dropping 3 layers of card into the recoil lug recess before it would actually raise the barrel enough to clear the high spots. My only concern now is that I may have the receiver in a stressed position because the center bolt has to have air between the stock and the receiver or something is flexing. It may not be enough gap to cause a problem but it certainly can not be a "solid bedding."
Finally got to go shoot again. The results pretty much speak for themselves.
I even set up the chronograph this time for grins. Wanted to clock this load since I seem to shoot it a lot. Only ran 3 across the graph but they were running like 3175-3200 fps. This has been a great load for this rifle. It is a 70 grain Speer HP TNT pushed by 40 grains of 4064 lit with a CCI 200 primer. It hurts prairie dogs in a big way.
Update December 2012
Last Modified: Friday, May 31, 2013 11:52 AM