Jonathan Young explains how to check over a wooden-stocked air rifle and decide if the stock needs replacing
Q. I have a wooden-stocked air rifle. The screw thread into the wood holding the trigger guard in place is mashed up and useless. Do I need a new stock?
A. Checking screws for the correct tightness is good, but overdoing it can sometimes damage the threads in wooden stocks. The screw can only go in so far! Beech, the type of wood used on many airgun stocks, is actually very hard with little compression of the wood fibres: while this is good for durability, it does mean that a screw can then act as a cutter, tearing apart the wood.
I recently restored a vintage BSA and had the same problem that you describe. The hole on that stock was like a gaping chasm. Being walnut, it had also absorbed plenty of gun oil over the decades, making the wood soft and messy – almost as if it was decomposing. Drastic measures were called for, and this was a little scary, because to start with I had to drill that ugly hole even bigger.
This cleared the loose fibres and oily wood, leaving a clean hole that I then filled with wood filler. Once this had set rock-hard, and using the trigger guard sat flush in place, I marked the putty through the screw hole on the guard. With everything removed and the stock made stable, I drilled a new hole freehand into the hard putty using a smaller, undersized drill bit before gradually increasing the diameter to the correct size. This is important: make sure you buy the right size drill for the screw you’re using or you will simply end up with an oversized new hole and a loose screw – right back where you started.
Having drilled a hole in which the screw now had some ‘bite’, I could now fit everything back together. I now have a sturdy, rock-solid repair. Job done. It wasn’t hard, and you can try this too.