An examination of some of the later models of rifles show that the old-fashioned rifle buttstock, with its sharp corners and smooth steel plate, is becoming obsolete and is evidently declining in the favor and esteem of shooters. For my part I could never see why they were used almost exclusively upon so many rifles, especially those of high power, as I could always do better work both in speed and accuracy with the shotgun that was not sawed off square, but possessing just the suggestion of a curve, such as those placed upon the admirable new Marlin light-weight .33 and .45-70 rifles. When shooting a rifle of considerable power, with the cut-in, sharp-cornered butt, one needs to exercise a certain amount of care to get it centered accurately against the shoulder when letting off "hurry up" shots. This takes a little time which could be profitably used in other directions at such moments, but it only takes one experience in receiving the full force of the recoil of powerful arms upon one of those points against the shoulder. I still remember the time I made such a slip with a .35 Winchester model 1895, which comes regularly with unusually sharp corners and a pretty stiff recoil. Since that time I have been careful to specify the shotgun style upon all weapons larger than the .22 caliber. When using a lever-action repeater I find that I can fire from the shoulder more quickly and with more accuracy and ease with this style of stock.
There is another advantage arising from the use of the square-end buttstock hunters, trappers and explorers going on long, difficult trips, far from civilization, find it advisable and sometimes necessary to carry a few extra parts, such as main springs, front sights, firing pins and extractors, etc., little things in themselves, but capable of turning one's rifle into a club if lost. These parts, with one or two extra cartridges, may be stowed away in a small recess in the buttstock, where they are safe from being lost, always available and take up no extra room or weight whatsoever. Special buttstocks of this nature may be obtained upon special order from some of the factories, or the shooter can prepare his own by removing the plate and boring one or two three quarter to one-inch holes in the stock. If more than one, have them close together with the separating segments cut away and not over six inches deep. Care must be exercised in doing this and the proper number and size of the holes carefully estimated in proportion to the quantity of wood in the stock to prevent its becoming unduly weakened. Place what you wish in this hole and wedge a small piece of cloth on top to complete closing up the space and prevent the articles from shaking loose and screw on the plate. One or two extra cartridges in your rifle's butt may at some time prove as much of a life-saver as a waterproof matchbox. You have probably already seen the time when you would have given a great deal for just one more shell for your rifle. True, they would not be instantly available in case one was in very much of a hurry, for the plate would have to be unscrewed to reach them, but if you carry a three-bladed pocket knife with one blade cut off to form a short strong screwdriver this would hardly be as much of a drawback as the possibility of having no extra shells whatever.
The most efficient and serviceable plate to cover the rifle's butt is one made of light steel and sharply ridged or corrugated to prevent any slipping from the shoulder. Those of hard rubber are light and grip one's coat or other outside clothing as well, but are not nearly so durable, as even a rather light blow upon the butt is liable to crack or break them. A rifle that sees steady actual service gets many hard knocks and next to the front sight the butt plate, if of rubber, is liable to go. I once saw a .45-90 Winchester which had lost its regular plate and had a new one made of two thicknessí of heavy leather securely nailed on and carefully trimmed around the edges to make a perfect fit. This was the best improvised plate one could make under adverse circumstances, as it fitted and clung to one's shoulders perfectly and being of a yielding nature, absorbed considerable of the arms recoil. The only fault
to find with it was that there was not sufficient protection to the wood stock. Anyway this might be worth while to remember, as most anything is liable to happen to one's rifle out in the wilderness and certainly it would be unwise to fire a high power gun without a butt plate.
Fur, News. Fur News, January 1916.
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