Tips for Painting a Wood Rifle Stock

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It doesn't matter the reason you've decided to paint your wooden rifle stock, just that you have. Now, you need to know what it takes to actually accomplish getting it from its current condition to the picture-perfect rifle you want it to be. While painting a rifle stock isn't the hardest project to undertake, it is one that can lead to difficulties if you're not prepared when you start.

The Tools You'll Need

Sandpaper is going to prove to be your best friend in this project, so expect to use plenty of it at varying grains from course to fine grit. These will be used to take the glossy lacquer off the top current layer of the rifle's stock and to smooth out any rough spots or cracks that your stock may have.This is the best time to fix them and fill them in with filler, according to professional stock painter Mike Ricklefs. You'll want to choose a good primer, like a gray or a deep red, and you'll want plenty of painters' tape to cover up the parts you don't want to paint on. In addition, you'll want some hot water, some degreaser, a pair of rubber gloves and brushes to apply your primer and your chosen paint.

Sand the Stock

Use a course-grit sandpaper to work the lacquer finish off the stock of the gun. This takes some patience but is required in order to properly paint the stock. Once the surface is sanded, wash the stock in hot water. Don't worry if you get some on the metal because the gun has gone through a process that protects it and a little water won't harm it. After washing the stock, let it dry. This will raise the grain of the wood and you'll sandpaper over it with a medium- to fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out the wood.

Degrease the Stock

Put on your rubber gloves and wash the stock with a degreasing soap, which is available in most auto shops or at larger department stores. Use hot water and wash the stock thoroughly. This removes any grease from your hands and any remaining lacquer residue. From this point on, you'll want to keep the gloves on when working with the stock to keep the natural oils on your skin from soaking into the wood.

Prepare for Painting

Mask off any part of the gun you don't want to paint by using painters' tape. For larger areas, such as the barrel or the scope, consider covering with aluminum foil and taping around the edges to make the job easier. Once the masking is complete, prime the stock with the primer of your choice. Cover all parts of the wood in order to allow for even painting. Let it dry for 24 hours.

Paint the Stock

Paint the stock with your chosen color, or colors. If working for a camouflage scheme, start with a base coat of khaki or almond or olive drab and then move to your darkest color and work your way to the lightest. For every layer or coat you do, allow 24 hours of drying in between to let the paint adhere to the stock.


Once your painting is complete, you can choose to cover it with a gloss coat or leave it as is. Make sure to remove all the tape from your gun and lubricate all of the working parts such as the action and the bolt with lubricant or 3-in-1 oil.

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