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Gunstock Blanks explained

We restock a whole host of different guns, from our own side by sides to your stock bolted over and under shotguns. Although most people know what they like, in itself subjective, very few know the various types of Walnut and what makes the difference in both durability and price.

Types of Walnut;

American black walnut (Juglans Nigra) – Native to north America (North Eastern generally), it is very dark in grain and has been widely used in gunstock blanks for centuries. However, it has a tendency to be brittle and therefore only really suitable for gunstocks that deploy a stock bolt. It was introduced into Europe in the mid 1600’s.

European walnut (Juglans Regia) – Often dubbed ‘English’ walnut but literal translation from the latin name means Royal. Widespread across Europe but not all trees are equal in terms of quality due to the varying climates in that region. The stronger and more figured walnut is best sourced in countries that have a less sporadic climate. So, yes you can source walnut from the UK, however our changeable climate introduces frailties in the wood termed as shakes. Therefore this wood is often best sourced from Turkey and neighbouring countries in and around that region due to the climate.

Claro walnut (Juglans Hindsii) – Native to north America (Soutrhern states). Often highly figured, but whose figure is somewhat cloudy, lacking crispness. Not as dense or strong as a good piece of Juglans Regia.

Bastogne walnut (Juglans Hindsii x Juglans Regia) – It has the great hybrid stock blank that takes the highly figured charecterics from Junglans Hindsii combined with the densness and strength of Juglans Regia. Often grown and harvested in California and neighbouring states.

Grades of Wood;

Grading systems use letters, numbers or nomenclature to attempt to describe the percentage of a stock that contains figure. Standard, semi-fancy, fancy, extra fancy and exhibition is one such set of delineations. Typically, there is a standard grade and four types of grade above standard which represent 25, 50, 75 and 100% figure respectively. Grades that use numbers (or Roman numerals) would run as Grade 1 or I for standard, increasing in number up to Grade 5 or V (and up). Letters might start with A and run up to AAA or X to XXX (and up). Additional terms like Royal, Crown, Presentation, Best or Exhibition are all thrown in for good measure.

Unfortunately no single system exists that gives true comparison between a grading from one maker/supplier to the next. It is all very subjective and the beauty of any piece of wood lies in the eye of the beholder. It is important to understand that grading can sometimes be influenced by the potential strength in a stock. The strength comes down to the grain ‘in the hand’ mainly as that is the part of the gunstock, when finished that will have to withstand the most pressure generated in opening and closing of the gun. The strength is required more in a traditional stock that is pinned in the head vs a stock bolted gun that you get with modern over and unders etc.  The straighter the grain running horizontally will normally give the stock greater strength than a piece that is highly figured and ‘smokey’.

An exhibition grade stock on a H&H Brevis

A high grade, not exhibition grade stock selected to restock one of a pair of Lang shotguns.

A very chunky good grade of walnut selected for strength on this 4 bore we are retailing for someone.


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