Boyds Hardwood Gunstocks Review
Installed on a Browning BAR Rifle

September 20, 2017

Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Review 

Early in 2017 I attended the NRA convention in Atlanta, GA and spent some time studying the gunstocks at the Boyds Hardwood Gunstocks booth and was very impressed with the craftsmanship, quality, look and overall value of the stocks they displayed.  This got me thinking about what opportunities might exist for me to upgrade some of my current rifles with some beautiful hardwood laminate stocks.  My first thought was to try and upgrade my FNAR to a more traditional style stock, but unfortunately Boyds doesn't make a stock for that rifle yet which is the same as the Browning ShortTrac Stalker (If they have enough people fill out their Product Request Form then maybe one day they will offer that style stock).   I was able to get a stock set (buttstock and forend) to upgrade another rifle which was a Belgian made Browning BAR and this review shows the details associated with getting and installing this new furniture along with my overall thoughts on my experience with Boyds products.  The rifle being upgraded is shown below.  Keep in mind that although this review shows a specific rifle, I expect the same fundamental points associated with this stock upgrade would be similar for other rifles.

Figure 1
1970 Browning BAR

When you consider that this Browning BAR rifle was manufactured in 1970, the buttstock and forend are actually in fairly good condition, yet upgrading them to wood laminate furniture with deep rich colors will make a huge difference in the overall appearance of this rifle.  Also, adding a butt pad to this rifle will ease the felt recoil when feeding this rifle .30-06 ammunition.

Figure 2 - Original Buttstock
 Browning BAR Buttstock

Figure 3 - Original Forend
Browning BAR Forend


You can order your stock components by going to the Boyds website. When you visit the website, the site has a "FIND A STOCK" area where you can select the Make, Model, Action, Shape and Finish of your stock.  I was amazed at the number of different Makes they list and looking at the different Models for several of the big name firearms manufacturers makes me think that Boyds must have the ability to make thousands of different stocks.  In my case, I selected the options for Browning (Make), BAR (Model), Semi Auto-Clip Feed (Shape), Boyds Field Design Stock (Shape) and Finished (Finish) then I hit the "GO" button.  This gave me five options of stocks which were Forest Camo, Nutmeg, Pepper, Walnut and ZZ which stands for ordering a customized stock.  Before I go any further, their standard buttstock and forend for this rifle (no customization) were $60 and $49 respectively which I think are great price points for beautiful wood laminate stocks.  I decided to go the custom route for this review for some specific features, but doing so gave me the choice of 16 different wood options and I still selected the Forest Camo option at no additional cost.  I had three choices for finish (unfinished, standard and high shine) and selected the standard option at no additional cost.  Next I had a choice of three different recoil pads (Pachmayr 1" Small, Boyds' Plastic Standard, and 1" Vented Recoil Pad).  I decided to go with the Pachmayr for an additional $30.  The last option was for laser engraving with four choices (Checkering, Scale, Stippling and Skip Line) and I selected the Scale pattern for an additional $25.  This gave me a total buttstock price of $115.

For the forend I selected the Forest Camo and Standard Finish options only so the price still remained at $49.  The total price for the buttstock and forend plus shipping came to $176.04.  Keep in mind I decided to get some custom work that added another $55 to the total price.  So if you are on a budget, you might want the standard features.  Once the order was placed, it took about two weeks for the items to arrive.  It is worth pointing out that there is no way that Boyds can have inventory on hand for every item at their website, so depending on the popularity of the item you are ordering will dictate how soon they can get the stock components shipped.  In my case, they made this stock and forend for me once the order was placed.  The image below shows the details of this order.

Figure 4
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Review Packing Slip

The items from Boyds came boxed as shown about two weeks after the order.

Figure 5
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Review Package

Inside the main box was another box for the buttstock and the forend was wrapped in foam sheet plus some other packing material that I removed.  Also inside the box were the packing list and a sheet of paper stating a bunch of stuff like Warranty, Terms & Conditions, etc.

Figure 6
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Review Packing

When I finally pulled the items out of the packing material, I was extremely pleased to see the look, color and finish of these items.  I'm a huge fan of the Forest Camo look on firearms and the Boyds products look great.

Figure 7
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Buttstock and Forend

One of the first things I wanted to do was a quick test fit of the components to see if any fitting would be required.  To do this, I needed to remove the Pachmayr butt pad (recoil pad).  There are two holes in the end of the pad that you insert a Phillips screwdriver into to unscrew the two screws as shown below.

Figure 8
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Buttpad

These next photos show the details of the buttstock. Unfortunately,  I took these photos after I did some work to fit the buttstock to my rifle (more later) instead of in the "as received" condition.  The stock is made from what I count to be about 27 layers of laminated hardwood stacked in layers of greens, browns and grays.

Figure 9 - Top View
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Buttstock Top View

As the laminated wood is shaped, the various contours give the varying layers of color an amazing look which is unique for every stock they make.

Figure 10 - Right View
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Buttstock Right View

Note that the stock did not come with the sling swivel stud shown below and I had to drill and install the stud myself.  Also note that the chip missing on the right side in the photo below is in the interface area that is never seen externally and was something that I did with fitting the stock to my rifle.

Figure 11 - Bottom View
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Buttstock Bottom View

Figure 12 - Left View
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Buttstock Left View

I selected the Scale laser engraved pattern on the grip area of the buttstock which has a very nice look and added good texture to this area.  This was a custom feature for this buttstock and if you are on a budget, you would  be fine sticking with the standard stock and enjoying more of the wood grain look.

Figure 13
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Scale Laser Engraving

After removing the original buttstock from my rifle and comparing the butt end against that Boyds' stock, I initially got a little worried.  The original buttstock had a large slotted cutout in the end of the stock where the Boyds' had a single hole.  The Boyds single hole was also not inline with the stock bolt, but after doing a test fit, all seemed to work well with regard to this detail.

I also found that the counterbore depth on the hole in the rear for the Boyds stock was about 1/10" deeper than the original stock which made the stock bolt too long.  This was also easily fixed with some extra washers under the head of the stock bolt.  A stock bolt being too long has the potential for being screwed too far into the action and binding or damaging your trigger group so make sure you check this length before you ever tighten the stock bolt into the rifle when replacing your stock.

Figure 14
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Butt Attachment

Before I go any further, I need to go ahead and discuss that manufacturers of firearms are always making very small tweaks to their configurations over the years.  The Browning BAR was originally introduced in 1967 and they still make them today, just different models.  The rifle being upgraded in this review was made in 1970 (I verified with Browning based on the serial number of the rifle) and the chances of it being a perfect fit to Boyds current configuration at the stock interfaces might be a little optimistic.  The key thing for Boyds to do is ensure that what they give you can be fitted to your rifle in key areas.  In my case, fitting was required and fortunately there was material which I could remove to make the new buttstock work.  There were three things I needed to do to fit this stock.  The first was shorten the length of the boss area (protruding area) that fits inside the receiver.  This was very simple and all it took was some 80 grit sand paper, a flat table and about 15 minutes of sanding and comparing the length of the bossed areas to that of the original buttstock.

Figure 15
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Butt Interface

The next area that needed fitting was inside the cutout for the trigger guard.  The cutout was deeper on the original and narrower than that on the Boyds stock.  I used a ball-end cutter on my Dremel tool and took my time to extend the slot and make it longer.  The photo below shows my fitting work.  In my case, I was able to keep the exterior profile the same so you never see the area where I removed the material.  The last thing I did to fit the stock was put two chamfers on the edge of the stock close to the safety button.  For this case I used 150 grit paper and took off just enough so I ensured I had good clearance with the button.

Figure 16
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Butt Interface

I cover all these fitting efforts in more detail in this matching video review below.

Figure 17

These next two photos show how the Boyds buttstock fit on the BAR and I was very pleased with the fit.  You can see that the stock fit flat and tight against the receiver and the chamfer for the button safety gave ample clearance (other views show this better).

Figure 18
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Review Buttstock Fit Side

The wider slot is not noticeable and the sharp edge I maintained for the trigger guard makes it look like it was part of the plan.

Figure 19
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Review Buttstock Fit Bottom

This photo is with the buttstock and butt pad fully installed.  Although some fitting was required on this rifle, I'm 100% happy with the results.  Keep in mind my review rifle is a 1970 model Browning BAR and most likely newer rifles or potentially other brand rifles may not require any special fitting at all to install some of Boyds premium stock components.

Figure 20
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Review Buttstock Fit Overall

The next thing to do was install the forend.  These next three photos show the forend received which matched the wood laminate buttstock.

Figure 21 - Top View
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Forend Top View

Just like the buttstock, the forend has rich deep colors and the layered wood laminate looked great.

Figure 22 - Right View
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Forend Right View

Not that it really matters, but this forend had 29 layers of wood layered similar to that of the buttstock.

Figure 23 - Bottom View
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Forend Bottom View

Installation was extremely simple and no fitting was required.  Removing the old forend was just a matter of removing the forend attachment screw which was the forward sling swivel stud on this rifle and then sliding the original forend off.  The only thing I  needed to do was remove the metal bushing in the original forend and insert it into the hole in the Boyds forend.  Later I found that I overlooked a bushing that Boyds provided inside the box which would have prevented me from doing this step.  Then I was able to slide the new forend in place and reinstall the swivel stud screw.  This is all shown in the video above.  The forend was a perfect fit.  The photo below shows even gaps around the barrel area which give the impression of a floated barrel, although, the barrel is not floated on this rifle due to the way the forend attaches.

Figure 24
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Forend Front View

The area around the receiver and hinged magazine floorplate were also a great fit and the magazine floorplate would swing open without any issues.

Figure 25
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Forend Reciever Fit 

I'm still amazed at the difference this furniture upgrade made on this rifle and if you compare the photos below I think you will come to the same opinion.  The original rifle was an attractive firearm with its straight-grained French walnut stock and clearly has been a great rifle for the last 47 years.  With the new Boyds buttstock and forend upgrade, the rifle has a fresh look with the deep attractive forest tones of the laminated wood and should proudly service another 47 years in the field.

Figure 26
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Review Upgraded Rifle
Boyds Gunstocks Upgrade Browning BAR Review Original Rifle


Bottom Line:

I've already mentioned once that I'm 100% pleased with the Boyds Hardwood Gunstocks upgrade buttstock and forend that I installed on my Browning BAR Rifle and I want to reiterate that feeling again.  This review is my experience with this stock set from Boyds installed on a 47 years old rifle.  In this case installation did require a little fitting in the buttstock area, but I feel the fitting effort was something that anyone could do and would not require a gunsmith.  My guess is that if you were installing components on newer firearms that there is a good chance no fitting would be required.  The forend dropped in perfectly and that would probably be the case for many firearms.  The overall quality of the components and look of the components was great and overall price/value makes upgrading your stock components something affordable by most.  After going through this experience, I'm going to start paying closer attention to purchasing some used firearms that have distressed stock components but are in good condition and then upgrading their stock with some Boyds products.  If you are considering replacing and upgrading yours stock components, make sure you checkout the Boyds website.

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