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My neighbor Steve isn’t a fancy guy. He’s a hardcore Montana elk hunter, logging hundreds of miles each fall on public ground to find a good bull. And he’s tough on his gear, so it wasn’t a surprise when he showed me the crack in the stock of his rifle last season.

We were looking at his Model 70, which used to be his dad’s gun, and he decided that the stock needed replacing. A quick call to Boyds Gunstocks got the ball rolling, and before long Steve had two new stocks for his 7mm Rem. Mag. and was ready for the fall.

The only problem was choosing which to go with—the flat-combed thumbhole laminate stock, or the drop-dead gorgeous traditional stock with upgraded walnut. Decisions, decisions.

Quality
When people think of Mitchell, South Dakota—if they think of it at all—two things come to mind: pheasants and the Corn Palace. But Mitchell is also home to Boyds Gunstocks, which makes more hardwood stocks than any other company. Boyds says it makes more than 100,000 different types of stocks, and when you look at all the models of guns they cover and styles of stocks for each, I take them at their word. The company offers custom options as well, with upgraded wood and other features, should the existing 100,000 options prove insufficient.

The most striking thing about their stocks is the quality of the materials and final finish of the product. Pull a wood stock off most factory guns and the hidden interior is often a mess. You’ll see rough shavings of wood, uneven inletting, and the sloppy application of varnish and bedding compound.

The interior of Steve’s stocks looked as good as the exteriors, and they both fit his Model 70’s action perfectly. It was a simple way to give his heirloom rifle an upgrade in looks and performance.

Fine Touches
Claro XX (above, top) walnut is one of several custom options.

Classic Shape
The M70 (above, center) has one of the most recognizable stock sihouettes.

Precision Shooter
A wide forend and vertical grip (above, bottom) are ideal for shooting off bags.

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Sculpted Grip

Not all thumb-hole stocks are created equal. The contour of this grip fills the hand comfortably and positions it in a much more vertical orientation than a classic stock, making it easier to execute a precise trigger press.
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Comfortable Ergonomics

The raised cheek piece on the classic stock promotes a good cheek weld, and the 1-inch Pachmayr butt pad does a good job absorbing recoil. The pad isn’t so grippy that it will hang up on clothing, which is a good quality.
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Sharp Inletting

The interior finish on the Boyds stocks is excellent. Here, you can see how the swivel studs have been secured to the stock with locking hex nuts. This greatly reduces the chances that a stud will work loose when twisted by a sling or bipod.
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Traditional Ornamentation

The checkering on the stock takes its cue from classic fleur-de-lis patterns. Likewise, white spacers under the grip cap and recoil pad are classic decorative elements as well.

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