Polymer or Wood: Which one should we choose?
Choosing a material for our rifle’s stock has been a matter of debate since the popularization of polymer as a potential substitute for wood. Synthetic compounds have come to stay, progressively invading the gunrooms of thousands of hunters, precision shooters and, of course, airgunners.
It is virtually impossible to determine which material provides a better overall performance, as there are multiple factors – many of which are subjective – that will make us opt for one or another option depending on our personal interests, such as the use we intend to make of the rifle or the conditions to which we are going to expose it to.
The main factors that will determine our choice are:
Durability: Synthetic materials are generally more elastic, resist better to falls and they also perform better after some hardcore use at the outdoors, in which they will be exposed to frequent humidity, rain or dust. Despite this, wood is -by far- easier to repair if it has suffered minor scratches. An experienced professional will be perfectly capable of restoring a wooden stock with proper maintenance, but it will be difficult to fix the marks or scratches that usually appear on polymer stocks.
Maintenance: Wood is a really delicate material, especially if we want to keep it in perfect condition, which entails a periodic and unavoidable supervision of the stock. Polymer tolerates better intensive use –even with no maintenance- although it can lose color as time passes if it is exposed to high light conditions.
Usability: We are now entering within the group of ‘highly subjective factors’. Despite this, at Gamo we have always opted for polymer as a natural evolutionary leap for wood, bearing in mind that it should always be a high quality synthetic material. Wood offers little room for improvement and evolution compared to its synthetic counterpart.
Weight: In general terms, polymer offers greater strength and flexibility than wood, which makes it possible for craftsmen to manufacture synthetic stocks that are increasingly thinner and lighter. Wood stocks offer -generalizing- an optimized weight distribution and a greater absorption of the recoil due to the same factor. The weight of the weapon will only negatively affect its performance if its distribution is not balanced.
Cost: The transition from wood to polymer is in no case a coincidence. The industrialization of the manufacturing processes of certain weapons such as air rifles and carbines has allowed firms to reduce its manufacturing costs, offering more affordable prices to the end user. The use of polymer in the airgun sector complements this process, reducing manufacturing costs while keeping the same quality standards and product performance.