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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.