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Product review: Boyds Prairie Hunter gun stock for Swedish Mauser

Sometimes you find a winning combination. Something that just works for you. This has been my experience with the Prairie Hunter rifle stock from Boyds, combined with my 1943 Husqvarna Mauser – a dream come true. What makes this such an epic combination? There are several factors that combine to make this gun incredibly shootable, but for now, let’s look at the fancy piece of wood it’s sitting in.

The looks

The old Mauser looks perfectly at home on the range in its Prairie Hunter stock.
The old Mauser looks perfectly at home on the range in its Prairie Hunter stock.

The Prairie Hunter is a good looking stock, no doubt about it. The first time this rifle was on the range in its new configuration, an old time shooter said “such a pretty stock for such an old rifle!” And he wasn’t the only one. Laminates are known for being hardy, heavy and beautiful in an age of synthetic rifle stocks.

In the looks department, this stock was certainly helped along. Boyds provided this specimen with a nice, thick Limbsaver recoil pad and synthetic caps for the nose and grip. What adds to both the functionality and visual appeal of the rifle, is an adjustable cheek piece. The adjustments are made from the top, with an allen wrench, which means no adjustment knobs on the side of the rifle.

Full profile picture of the Boyds Prairie Hunter stock with adjustable cheek rest. This picture is here especially for Zach.
Full profile picture of the Boyds Prairie Hunter stock with adjustable cheek rest. This picture is here especially for Zach.

Final fitting needed

Boyds does advise that their stocks are made to their house actions (imagine how many actions they have!), so final fitting may be needed for your rifle. For this particular project, I received my stock in ‘unfinished’ condition. This means a final sanding and some polyurethane are needed. The reason for this, is that old Mausers come with several different bolt configurations, depending on the life they’ve had. This means that the channel that the bolt handle fits into should be determined by the end user, depending on their particular model. With a bit of work to do, Boyds doesn’t send you a finished stock, that you will then have to cut into and sand down anyway. Makes sense.

Some relieving of matriral was needed at the front of the mag well.
Some relieving of material was needed at the front of the mag well.

The bolt handle notching was easily done, and is covered in my series of articles on bedding and finishing stocks. With this particular stock, I found that the floor metal was a couple millimetres further back than I needed it to be. All I needed to do was to relieve some material from the front end of the mag well to get the metal sitting where it should, and mating up to the action.

I chose to bed my action, which was a bit more work still, and instead of polyurethane, I opted for a hand-rubbed finish, using Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil and Stock Sheen and Conditioner. The oil even gave a nice gloss to the plastic bits on the stock as well. Learn my lesson without doing the hard yards though, tape off the recoil pad if it’s rubbery. The oil will make this super sticky, and you will get all sorts of fluff on your butt pad for a while. You will eventually be able to rub it all off.

The Tru-Oil immediately brings out the character in the laminate.
The Tru-Oil immediately brings out the character in the laminate.


Oh what a joy. I couldn’t be happier.

And that’s not sarcasm!

The 6.5×55 is not known to have heavy recoil, but if you have a shortened barrel and sporterised stock, you feel every bit of it. Having purchased this rifle second-hand with the intention of restoring it, I was happy enough with the home-made sporter stock, but it was certainly made for a shorter person, and the lightweight nature of it didn’t do much to tame the kick of the old service round.

The extra weight associated with the laminate stock meant all sorts of recoil-reduction. I would definitely recommend going for this or a walnut stock over most of the synthetic options out there. The normal-person-sized length of pull also helped, along with the 1″ recoil pad. Don’t get me wrong, the stock isn’t overly heavy either. With a hollowed out barrel channel for free-floating and weight reduction, the balance and weight is nice. Most of the heft is around and behind the action – where you need it most.

Tall scope mounts are no problem with the adjustable cheek rest.
Tall scope mounts are no problem with the adjustable cheek rest.

Combining this with my MAE 6-30 ST suppressor, recoil concerns are now a thing of the past. So much so, that I can shoot off the bipod with my off-hand under the grip as a stabiliser, instead of holding down the fore end to stop myself getting a scope in the face, as I had to do with the synthetic-stocked Mossberg ATR a month or so ago.

Shooting with this configuration and my wife’s Vortex 4-12X Diamondback with BDC reticle, my wife and I were hitting 9’s and 10’s at the 300 metre Swiss Club shoot a couple weeks ago – even a 10.1! And this is with factory loads (Norma-Sierra 144gr).

Adjustable cheek rest

One of the major selling points of the configuration I now have is the adjustable cheek piece on the Boyds stock, and I would highly recommend this option on the next stock you buy. Below are a few of the reasons I love this feature:

  • easily adjust for different users and eye-relief
  • raise your line-of-sight for scopes that are mounted high due to large optic bells, iron sights or bolt handle clearance
  • quickly lower the cheek piece when needed for cleaning rod access
  • ensure proper cheek-weld to maintain repeatable, accurate shot placement

Overall impressions

There is a lot to be said for keeping old military rifles in their original condition. However, if you’ve bought yourself a bit of a project, or inherited a less-than-perfect specimen, a great place to start with your customisation efforts is a replacement stock from Boyds.

You can get a stock that is more suited to varminting, target-shooting or tactical-style precision matches than the military wood. These old stocks were made to be shot with full winter clothing, and to be light as well. As such, they transfer a lot of recoil to a normal-size shooter. You can also help your sweet Swede look as good as it shoots. With a nice-looking stock, like the one I have in a Nutmeg finish, you won’t feel out of place next to the Howas and Tikkas on the range.

The Boyds stock completes the set up, along with an MAE suppressor and BOLD Trigger unit.
The Boyds stock completes the set up, along with an MAE suppressor and BOLD Trigger unit.

Bear in mind, when you order a stock from Boyds and you are not in the States, you have to keep your order under $100 to avoid costly permits which make the process impossible. If you or someone you know is making a trip to the USA, take advantage. Or get friends and family over there to help you out. Worst case scenario, you can still get an amazing stock, but you may have to forego some of the bells and whistles.

Product review: MAE 6-30 ST Suppressor

Before the NZDA Prize Shoot earlier this month, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a brand new suppressor from MAE. I didn’t get a chance to shoot with it before the day, so I must admit I was a bit nervous – but it was well worth it in the end.


MAE are a New Zealand suppressor manufacturer, based out of East Tamaki in Auckland. These guys are not only part of what keeps New Zealand’s shooting community ticking, but they are able to actively engage with their customers to discover new needs and develop better products. Some of the models and cutaways that I saw at the shop were incredibly impressive – include a suppressor that tightens itself on the thread as you fire.

Suppressors in New Zealand

Unlike the USA, suppressors can be had without any legal hoopla or extra taxes. They are seen as practical accessories that improve the shooting experience, control noise on the range or farm, and make it easier to destroy pests or hunt game.

Suppressors help to reduce felt recoil, as well as decibel levels.
Suppressors help to reduce felt recoil, as well as decibel levels.

There are many – many – types of suppressors on the market, include muzzle forward (muzzle cans), over-barrel (reflex) or full-barrel (integrated). There are many produced here, and as much come in from overseas. Price-wise, you can expect to pay anything between $300 and well over $1000 for a centrefire suppressor. A decent rimfire silencer can go for as little as $55 on Trademe, and up to a couple hundred bucks if you want better performance. Again, the more you spend, the more you get. I have seen some impressive .22LR setups with full-barrel or over-barrel suppressors.

6-30 ST Muzzle Can

The 6-30 ST suppressor is the cheapest (brand new) centrefire suppressor I have seen in New Zealand recently. Don’t let this fool you though – it’s damn good.


The positives

  • It does what it says. This suppressor greatly reduces felt recoil and muzzle climb. It was infinitely easier to shoot with this suppressor fitted, especially with a light (and short) stock. For modern hunting rigs in large calibres and light stocks, one of these should be on your radar.
  • It’s a solid unit. Literally. It doesn’t come apart for cleaning and is joined at the muzzle end with some very neat TIG welding. This means there are no bits to lose or break.
  • Long life expectancy. With a 5000 round minimum service life according to MAE, you can expect this suppressor to last as long as the barrel on your rifle. For the price, it’s definitely worth it.
  • Solid stainless. The 304 stainless means it’s heavy as hell, and you certainly notice the balance shift. However, the heavy material absorbs more sound and makes for a more solid unit. The 304 will also be less prone to corrosion than other materials. For a range rig, this is ideal. For a hunting rig, you may want something that reflexes over the barrel to spread the weight a bit better. MAE offers a 5 year warranty, so you know they’re built like a brick sh…
  • The price. At $250 for the stainless finish or $290 for the matte black, it’s the cheapest you’ll find on the market (at least as far as I can see).
  • The versatility. If you have multiple rifles with the same thread but in different calibres, this silencer is for you. Good for anything between 6mm and right up to the 300 magnums, you can have one suppressor for your rifle, your partners, and the three she doesn’t know about.
The suppressor is built for anything between 6mm and .300 RUM. The 6.5x55 above shows how much room there is left over.
The suppressor is built for anything between 6mm and .300 RUM. The 6.5×55 above shows how much room there is left over.

The negatives

  • Weight. Although I like the weight of this unit, at almost half a kilo, it could be off-putting for those after a bush-ready rig. If you want a long-range shooter or a tactical sniper set-up, then this won’t deter you at all.
  • The price. Some people just don’t feel like they’re getting a good product unless they have to have their wallet surgically removed through their nose. In my opinion, this suppressor does what much more expensive ones do (without skipping a beat), at a much lower price. If this bothers you, I imagine your gun safe is full of some pretty expensive stuff. If you do want to spend more money, I’m sure MAE will have something to fit the bill.
  • Um…… I can’t think of anything else to be honest.

Range shooting

I must admit, I had a pretty poor shoot at the NZDA, but that was me, not the rifle. However, the one thing I did get out of the day was an immense satisfaction with my new suppressor, as well as the BOLD Trigger from Boyds Gunstocks.

The brushed stainless finish stands out and looks great. Although, for hunters a matte black would be better.
The brushed stainless finish stands out and looks great. Although, for hunters a matte black would be better.

I chose to leave my suppressor as brushed stainless. Not only did it keep the cost down, but it looks cool with my rifle and the other polished metal bits on it (the Mauser-style extractor and the cocking piece). Having had a look at the paint MAE use (Gun Kote 2410F), I knew I had a pretty good match at home if I wanted to paint it myself later. In fact, it would then perfectly match my barrel which I did with the same paint.

The 6.5×55 is a pretty mild-recoiling round, however, in the short, light-weight stock mine is in, it has quite a kick. Not enough to make it uncomfortable to shoot, but after 50 rounds, you’d definitely feel it. The first thing I noticed was an immense reduction in recoil. Not only does this get rid of the instinctual flinch you might develop over time, but it means you are right on target for your next shot. Previously I would find myself pointing two targets over to the left after each shot.

Shooting amongst a bunch of bare-barrel .308s and .223s all day, I could certainly notice (and appreciate) the significant reduction in noise from my old Swede. Ross, whom I shoot with regularly at the Howick Smallbore club, remarked several times throughout the day that he was incredibly impressed with how quite my gun was – he was sitting next to me and expecting a pretty big blast. Another shooter from our club noted that the rifle sounded “pretty cool” – which I must admit, it did. If you play Battlefield 4, you’ll know what I’m talking about. I was even approached by a complete stranger who said he would love to get one himself.

With the grand sacrifice of $250, and a little weight on the end of my rifle, I improved my shooting experience greatly. And the rifle did do really well on the day in the end, as my wife placed top of Division B with it.

Some caveats

When I got my suppressor I was given two bits of advice. Firstly, use a lubricant on the threads to ensure you can get it off after you shoot (nickel-based is good, copper-based is bad). Secondly, take the suppressor off after you shoot, or the stainless will attack the barrel.

Anyone who is familiar with the concept of sacrificial metals will quickly grasp that last one. I would just add one last piece of advice. The burnt powder and gunk that is on the crown of the barrel when you remove the suppressor – wipe this off immediately. I waited until I got home and cleaned my rifle, and it had hardened and become very difficult to remove.

My overall opinion is that this is a product which will help you enjoy shooting more – especially larger calibres, and will improve your accuracy. If those are two things you would like to do, and at a reasonable price too, then this is the suppressor for you.

Check out for more of their range.

4 gun myths that need to stop

Action movies are great. You get to relax and get pumped up at the same time. However, there are certain things that Hollywood, news media and general ignorance get people thinking about guns that just aren’t true. Here are four myths that need to stop, right now.

1. A silencer makes your gun sound like a mouse fart

There are very few “silent” firearms. Those that have been created to be virtually undetectable from about 30 feet (10 metres) away, were mostly clandestine firearms developed in war time, such as the De Lisle carbine and the Welrod pistol.

However, almost every other firearm in existence is still pretty loud with a suppressor on. The aim of a silencer, suppressor or moderator, is to reduce the decibel level and take out the loud “crack” of the round being fired. This helps in several ways.

  • It protects your hearing – especially for hunters.
  • It makes it harder to pinpoint the origin of the sound – keeps the animals confused for a couple seconds longer
  • It keeps the volume down at the public range or when on private land near to neighbours

The suppressor also makes it easier to shoot more accurately, as it reduces the recoil felt by the operator of the firearm, as well as the muzzle climb. This means shooters have less of a tendency to flinch or close their eyes, and can take follow up shots more quickly if an animal has not been taken cleanly.

While incredibly quiet compared to what is was before, this rifle is still loud enough to not be confused with a grandma spitting
While incredibly quiet compared to what is was before it had a silencer, this rifle is still loud enough to not be confused with a grandma spitting

2. Cars are often blown up with bullets

This is one of the great contradictions in movies and video games… Shoot a car enough times and it’s apparently going to blow up. While it’s possible, it’s not very likely. Fuel lines and tanks are very hard to puncture, and are right in the guts of the car. Even if you do manage to spring a leak, you have to continue shooting in that vicinity to try and get sparks from your rounds’ impact to set the fuel alight.

Tied in with this fallacy is the idea that cars provide great cover. No they don’t. Most hunting cartridges could penetrate through a car door or roof and still do a great deal of damage – never mind the shrapnel created in the process. Twenty millimetre rounds from a jet, 7.62×51 armour piercing rounds from a gunship or .50 cal rounds from a ma deuce will rip you and your car to shreds.

3. Guns click and clack whenever you point them at someone

This is one of the most aggravating things to see in a movie – and few are exempt from this awful foul up. Every time a character handles a weapon in any way, it makes a lot clicking, mechanical noises. As if it’s doing something. If I hold a gun, it makes no sound. If I lift it up and point it at something it still makes no sound. If I swing it around in circles and dance around with it – it still makes no sound.

A firearm will make a noise in these situations:

  • It is being loaded or unloaded
  • It is being calibrated or sighted in some way
  • A gunsmith is busy taking it apart
  • Your pulling the trigger and making it go boom
  • A safety or selector is being applied
  • A hammer or slide is being pulled back
  • You drop it on the floor
  • You hit someone/something with it

Other than that, they’re pretty darn quite. If you leave them alone in a safe for a million years, they still won’t make any noise.

4. Guns need to be racked/cocked every few seconds

Directors seem to think that working the slide on a shotgun is punctuation for a tense sentence. For those that don’t know, every time you rack a pump action shotgun, it ejects the round that is chambered – whether it has been fired or not. This means that every time the hero says something cool and makes that “kachook” sound for effect, he’s ejecting a perfectly good round. If he keeps doing that, he’ll have nothing left in his magazine by the time he’s done talking.

Keep racking that bolt and you'll have an empty magazine soon enough.
Keep racking that bolt and you’ll have an empty magazine soon enough.

The same applies to the slide on a pistol, or the charging handle on a semi-automatic rifle. When the SWAT team makes all those clicky sounds as they’re leaving HQ, then again during the pep-talk in the truck, again when they get out of the vehicle, and again when they confront the bad guy, they’re ejecting a bunch of perfectly good rounds (if this were real life). At three rounds per SWAT member in this example, and a team of 10 people, that’s a whole magazine of ammo wasted every call out. Terrible economics.

I could go on, but that’ll just have to be food for another article. What bugs you about firearms in popular media?

Auckland NZDA Prize Shoot

The annual NZDA Auckland branch Prize Shoot is a great day out for Auckland shooters of all abilities. Falling in September each year, the weather can be a bit hit and miss, but aside from that, it’s a perfectly pleasant day on the range with your favourite rifle and some mates.

This year – the 46th Prize Shoot – I shot for my second time and my wife completed her first centrefire competition. We both did fairly well, but she truly excelled. I’ll claim that it’s because I sighted the rifle in through my shooting (we shared a rifle). However, all credit to her, as she outshot some great shooters.

The field

That’s another thing that makes the day enjoyable – there are shooters of all abilities. I placed well ahead of some very experienced shooters, but was beaten by someone shooting for their first time ever. And vice versa. It really is a great field of competitors, where everyone can benchmark their performance against others.

NZDA 100 metre standing shoot
100 metres is more than enough from the standing position.

At the top of Division A were the usual suspects, including Paul Carmine. My wife, Kassie, took out Division B – which got her called up second in the order of prize recipients, allowing her to choose a really nice Hunting and Fishing backpack for her prize.

This year there were four ladies and two junior shooters. In total, there were just under 40 shooters, making up two details. Last year there were around 60 shooters (despite the inclement weather), and apparently previous years have had a similar turnout. Perhaps timing a competition to coincide with Bathurst wasn’t the best move…

The format

The format of the shoot is very simple and easy to follow. Once the safety instructions and competition rules had been read out, the first detail (Squad A) went to the mound for sighting in and the prone target shoot.

Rest and bipods are allowed for sighting in, however, you want tomake sure you're sighted in before competition day if possible.
Rest and bipods are allowed for sighting in, however, you want to make sure you’re sighted in before competition day if possible.

Sighting in is done on a target on the right hand side of the frame, and five minutes are allowed for unlimited sighters.  The range for the competition is 100 metres. I got 13 rounds off in this time, trying to get my rifle on point. The lesson here being to always sight your rifle in before competition day if you’ve done some work on it. After 13 rounds, there was a decent amount of mirage created by the heat of the barrel and my new MAE suppressor. However, by taking my time this didn’t affect my prone shoot.

You can use a rest or bipod to sight in, however the rest of the competition is shot without any aids (aside from a shooting mat and a kneeling roll).This means no slings, jackets or gloves.

The prone shoot is 5 shots in 7 minutes – plenty of time. After this is finished and the rifles are cleared and removed from the mound, scorers go forward to retrieve targets. Squad B is next, but in the meantime, people stand around chatting and enjoying the all-day sausage sizzle.

After Squad B, the same process is followed and Squad A goes up for 5 rounds in the kneeling position, also in 7 minutes. Rinse and repeat for Squad B. The last shoot of the day is 5 rounds standing, again in 7 minutes. This is what separates the men from the boys. Some of those scoring in the 40’s in the prone event struggle to scrape 20 together in the standing position.

In between these, there is a 5 round rapid shoot on the 25 metre range, to be completed in 40 seconds. Again, making sure you know your hold under/over and your parallax settings before competition day is invaluable. If you’re sharing a rifle with your partner or buddy, you will be accommodated with an extra rapid at the end – although you’ll probably have time in between while targets are retrieved and people yack on about how they pulled that one shot. Targets are also given out once scored, so there is plenty to talk about during the day.

The rifles

Generally speaking, the rifles are hunting rifles in hunting calibres. There are some rifles that would look more at home in an F-Class shoot, and some that would be quite comfortable in the lineup for a military service rifle shoot. The most exotic calibre of the day was probably .310 Cadet, with one .22 Hornet and a 6BR making an appearance.

As far as I could see, the only semi-auto was a Norinco M305 (the Chinese version of the M14), whereas last year a couple AR-15’s placed very highly in the field. At the 2014 Prize Shoot I did take an SKS – what a mistake. The iron sights had not been sighted in and after I took the muzzle brake off, the scope’s zero was so off that I wasn’t on the paper. It was an exercise in frustration, and using the iron sights and a whole lot of compensation, I managed to get some scoring shots in the kneeling and standing events.

This year I went armed with my 1943 Husqvarna M38, chambered in 6.5×55. This rifle was sporterised when I got it, and has since been modified even more. Over the last ten or so months it has a new matte black coating applied, the bolt has been replaced and the cocking piece cut down to reduce lock time. I’ve also installed a Vortex Diamondback BDC 4-12 x 40, and a new adjustable BOLD Trigger, which was kindly supplied by Boyds. Completing the setup was a brand new MAE suppressor, which thoroughly impressed my shooting buddies as well as those that heard it perform.

I also have a new Boyds Gunstock waiting to be fitted to this rifle, but I didn’t want to rush the bedding and finishing before this shoot. It should be ready before the 300m Swiss Club shoot in November. And I’ve learnt my lesson – sight in beforehand!

The load I was shooting was as follows:

Projectile: SMK HPBT 142 gr
Powder: ADI AR2208 34.7 gr
Brass: PPU (twice fired)
Primer: Federal Gold Medal Large Rifle Match

Aside from my wife and I, there was one other person shooting 6.5×55. The most common calibre by far was  .223 Remington, with 14 shooters using this round. There was one .243 and three .270s, with eight .308 rifles as well. The winning rifle was a .222. There were also four other rifles in this calibre on the day, two placing very low in the field and the other two coming in near the top.

The MAE suppressor cut down felt recoil and the loud crack of the rifle, making it a pleasure to handle.
The MAE suppressor cut down felt recoil and the loud crack of the rifle, making it a pleasure to handle.

The prizes

The prizes for the shoot are kindly donated by several sponsors, including major Auckland gun stores, as well as private individuals and club members. Also on offer was a one-year membership to the club, as well as a couple magazine subscriptions.

There were some great prizes to be had, including four of these Leupold knives.
There were some great prizes to be had, including four of these Leupold knives.

Dotted along the prize table were all sorts of cool items for the garage, range, shed, field or bush. Ranging from knives and a machete to ammunition, books, cleaning products, car accessories and even a leather-working voucher.

Everyone walked away happy, having picked a prize that was probably worth more than the $25 they paid to enter the competition. With free sausages all day, and a lot of shooting to do, it adds up to a very worthwhile day.

With the prizes on display all day, everyone eyes up what they want, and probably spend a fair bit of time vacillating between equally awesome prizes. Last year the knives were first to go, however this year they stuck around for a bit. There were a fair few on offer, and myself and two other members of HSSRC managed to score three out of the four limited edition Leupold hunting knives. The first place junior made a bee-line for the machete, which was clearly something he’d been eyeing up all day.

Whether you only break out the centrefire rifles a few times a year or you regularly enjoy taking your hunting rig out, the NZDA Annual Prize Shoot is a rewarding experience in more ways than one, and is something I’d definitely recommend.