When you were a kid, did you ever have a BB gun? I did. I remember my father specifically telling me “Guns are not toys, so don’t treat them like one.” Those words still echo in my head even now, many years later. The problem I had with that statement, though, was the fact that the BB gun my father gave me to shoot with had a plastic stock, so it actually did look like a plastic toy. I eventually did break that cheap plastic stock, which turned out to be a good thing for me because then I got a gun with a real wood stock. I didn’t have to shoot with what looked like a toy.
These words of my father’s popped into my head years later when I started seeing plastic gunstocks hitting the market. I thought to myself, “Why would anyone want to make his or her gun look like a toy? Plastic is cheap-looking.” And, for the most part I was right. Plastic bends easily; it’s fairly ugly and has no character. So I stayed away from plastic stocks…until one day I read an ad that talked about all the wonderful benefits of a “composite” stock; light-weight, impervious to water, and durable. I bit, hook, line, and sinker.
The next thing I knew, I was buying a plastic stock for my Remington 870. Though “plastic” is a totally acceptable word to use in describing this material, the marketers have rebranded the word plastic and they now call it “composite.” They say “composite” doesn’t have such a cheap, negative perception as the word “plastic” does. I don’t care what you call it, it’s still plastic, because it’s made from a petroleum product. But, hey, I was young and stupid, so I thought I’d give plastic gunstocks a shot (pardon the pun).
The advertising that had turned me turn to the “dark side” said that this “composite” was more durable than wood, impervious to water, and that it would take whatever abuse I could hurl at it. Unfortunately, after just one season of shooting and hunting with it, I realized very quickly that a plastic gunstock was just not the way to go. Here’s what I learned:
I learned that a black plastic gunstock, if left standing in the sun on a warm August day, could get so hot to the touch that you’d need a shooting glove on your hand to pick it up. And, you sure as heck wouldn’t want to press that hot black plastic up against your cheek to shoot. One thing’s for sure, my wood stock never absorbed heat like that
I also learned that if you go duck hunting and happen to splash water repeatedly on your plastic gunstock, that the hollow plastic can somehow get water inside those hollow spaces – and it is one tough bugger to get out again.
I also learned that when you go hunting for late-season geese, that if you are shooting 3-inch Magnum T-Shot loads, that you are going to feel a LOT more recoil from a plastic stock than you will with a wood stock. The reason is because the weight of the wood absorbs some of that recoil.
I also learned that if you get a scratch in your plastic stock while navigating a barbed-wire fence while on a goose hunt, that that scratch is permanent. There’s no easy way you can refinish a plastic stock and make it look good original again. With a wood stock, that’s not a problem.
When I got home from that goose hunt that night, the first thing I did was to remove that cheap plastic gunstock and toss it in the garbage. I reinstalled my original wood furniture and vowed to never put plastic stocks on any of my guns again. After all, my father taught me that my guns are not toys; and I’m not going to treat them as such. Only wood stocks for me, from now on.