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December 15, 2008

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Petzal: A Little Touch Of Home

A knifemaker friend of mine who specializes in re-creating frontier-era weapons not long ago began making breeching axes for an American special ops group. The axes are actually tomahawk size, ground from S-7 impact-resisting steel. The head and the shaft are one piece, and the handle is completed by slabs, or scales, pinned and epoxied to either side of the shaft. These little axes would have been at home at Agincourt or Crecy; they are quite heavy for their size and are perfect for bashing in a door or cracking a skull. They also have a calming effect on indigenous personnel who are not intimidated by the sight of a gun.

The very first ones were made with handle scales of fiddleback maple and black walnut. When the knifemaker showed them to the purchasing officer, he said that he could offer higher-tech, more durable scales made of rubber (actually, the matting used in horse stalls, which makes an excellent knife handle), or micarta, or G-10. The answer he got was forget about the other stuff—we want wood.

In a world of steel and aluminum and titanium that is gray or black or camo, the wood provides a little touch of beauty. “Sometimes,” he was told, “we are in situations so bad that a little reminder of home makes the difference between sanity and insanity. The warmth of the wood is a reminder of who we are and where we come from. Plastic doesn’t do that.”

If you can lay your hand on something that stood for 100 years in the Smoky Mountains, it can help you keep your grip in more ways than one.


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TWD - take a look at Serengeti Stockworks. Very nice "compromise" for those of us that love wood.

WA Mtnhunter


Oh, yeah. I still have the 700 Classic stock. It has one small ding in the pistol grip adjacent to the checkering in the palm area about in line with the 3rd finger. There are a few other hardly noticeable indents "handling marks" on the stock. I hunted with it for several years and changed out the stock before it got too beat up. I doubt I wil ever sell that .35 Whelen, but might give it to someone one of these days. My son will probably want it. He has seen quite a few deer and elk on the ground from that rifle.

Proof positive that a superwhiz magnum is not required, although he hunts with a 7mm Rem Mag, which I don't consider a "big" magnum. My .357's are the only magnums in the collection. Both are daily drivers....

I also have a 1966 vintage 700 ADL in .308 Win. Needs reblueing, but the wood is still nice. The trigger sucks but it is still a tackdriver, even with the creepy trigger. I have promised myself that I will replace the trigger and take it deer hunting for the last couple of years, but haven't. Maybe this is the year!


There's no reason not to have wooden slabs on an axe handle. No axe I've ever used ever shifted its point of impact due to the wood swelling in the rain.


eyeball, wood handle don't transfer shock as does metel on such instruments,.

Wamtnhunter: I think I bought my Rem. somewhere around 1984-85. Can't remember. My blueing is perfect, wood has a few very small dings. No matter what's in the gun rack, thats my go-to for serious hunting. wish I could show you my old Stevens single 12 ga. we bought in 1967 for $39.00. I usually take care of the guns I really like.


hey guys, been watching the NEWS lately, If they take our guns, we can always throw our shoes. Have to practice a little..


Dave didnt you say you got ride of all of your wood stocked rifles for plastic?

Trae B.

Its been a while since ive been on here. Anyone remember me?
Back on topic.(kinda)
I busted my ax handle the other day. Any recomendations for a decent replacement?

Trae B.

Oridigenally posted by sarg
"hey guys, been watching the NEWS lately, If they take our guns, we can always throw our shoes. Have to practice a little.."

Who wouldive though that bush was good at dodgeball..er shoe.


Wood! We all love wood? Here we are during the Christmas season running to merchandisers to get a "permanent - synthetic" replacement for the ages-long wooden object which for generations has adorned our homes - the Christmas tree. As with synthetic stocks - we demand stability - no change from year to year. We abhor needles on our flooring much as we do scratches on a wooden stock. And the odor which the natural wood tree emits - why we can even replace it with a squirt or two of odorant from a plastic bottle. We really love wood!


I also like a wood stock, no matter how cold it is outside the wood has a "warmer" feel to it than a plastic stock. I can actually enjoy holding a piece of wood in my hands, just don't get the same feel from plastics. Properly glass bedded a wood stock is as stable as a plastic stock, I do my own bedding and undercut the wood at least an 1/8 of an inch or more if the wood is thick enough and route a channel under the barrel to give the wood a fiberglass "spine" to counteract warping wood from pushing up on the barrel. First 6-8 inches of the barrel is bedded and the rest is free floated, works for me. Rigidity of glass and look and feel of wood! Done right the glass is hardly noticeable, even though the stock is about 1/4 fiberglass!

T.W. Davidson

To Robert and anyone else who is interested . . .

Thank you for your suggestion about looking into laminated stocks. I recently ordered a rifle from E.R. Shaw--a barrel maker that has recently diversified out into producing semi-custom rifles at very reasonable prices (check out the E.R. Shaw website)--with a laminated stock. It will be both my first left-handed bolt action rifle and my first laminated stock rifle. E.R. Shaw tells me the rifle (with a No. 2 contour 24" fluted barrel) will weigh 7 1/2 to 8lbs sans scope. That's a little heavier than I would like, but, assuming the rifle shoots decent groups, I am going to take it into rough country and see how it holds up in all weather conditions.

(Incidentally, by "rough country," I mean terrain that might be steep or rugged or mountainous on the one hand, or, on the other, swampy pig-infested terrain covered with thick, vast, unbelievably non-friendly-to-humans thorn-infested briar patches swarming with mosquitoes that remind me of Cobra attack helicopters. There is an area in NE TX called "The Big Thicket." And it is.)

T.W. Davidson
T.W. Davidson

Jim in Mo

That rifle sounds about right, same weight as factory wood even though lam. is usually heavier but you didn't say caliber but from everything I've read (don't have one) they're near syn. quality.

T.W. Davidson

To Robert and anyone else who is interested . . .

Thank you for your comment. I recently ordered a rifle from E.R. Shaw with a laminated stock. (E.R. Shaw is a company which traditionally mades rifle barrels but which has branched out into producing semi-custom bolt action rifles on modified Savage actions at very reasonable prices. You may wish to check out E.R. Shaw's website.) The rifle, when it eventually arrives, will be my first laminated stock rifle and my first left-handed bolt action rifle. Assuming the future rifle shoots sufficiently tiny groups--and I suspect it will, since it will be built on a Savage action--I intend to take it into rough places and varied weather conditions and see how it (and I) hold up.

T.W. Davidson

T.W. Davidson

Jim in Mo . . .

The E.R. Shaw rifle will be built on long action and will be--probably to no one's surprise here--in 257 AI. It is the cartridge I know best, and I am intensely curious as to how well I will be able to shoot and handle a true LH-bolt rifle--comparitively speaking, and in the cartridge I know best--after shooting RH-bolt rifles for the last 35 years.

Incidentally, apologies to all for the condensed repeat post I put up above. I couldn't find the larger, more detailed post I put up yesterday and thought it actually had not been posted at all. My goof.


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