I have had quite a few requests now for a review and some photos of the Boyds stock I recently purchased for my pro hunter. It has been a busy few weeks for me, so I apologise for not getting one done any sooner. The boyds website features a lot of stocks for many different makes and models, and I know it can be a bit confusing as to which stock you need. Especially when you bear in mind they are coming from the US, so returning a stock is going to be very costly and time consuming.
I bought a Steyr pro hunter in 7mm Rem Mag about back at the end of feb. I have always liked the silky smooth action and lovely twist pattern left by the hammer forging process on the barrels. The one thing that has always put me off is the stocks, cheap, nasty and far from ergonomic; plus that flex in the forend is really inexcusable. However, I went into my local RFD a few months ago and saw a pro hunter in .243 with a boyds stock. I was told that you could get one imported from the us for £150 with change left over. I was very impressed and went out to buy the next pro hunter that became available.
The stock on mine was especially flexible, and as I had to make do with it whilst waiting for the Boyds stock to arrive I decided to do some DIY to attempt to fix the flexing. There was actually a small section of the barrel under the forend that had become slightly marked from being rubbed by the stock. Even holding the rifle offhand with no moderator the forend would contact the barrel.
To remedy this problem, I bored out the barrel channel leaving a gap of around 5mm, way more than I felt should be needed. I then filled the entire forend with milliput, a rock solid modeling epoxy. After the compound went off I was shocked and dismayed to find that the stock was still flexing; not enough to contact the barrel unless pressure was applied, but still enough to effect my confidence in the rifle. On closer examination I discovered the flex was actually coming from between the bedding screws, and not the forend.
Ordering from the Boyds website
I was at first a little confused by the Boyds website, they offer 3 action types for the pro hunter, short, long and magnum. Confusingly they actually describe these as pro hunter #2, pro hunter #3 and pro hunter mag #4. Once you get past this however and click on an actual stock model, it gives you the distance between the bedding screws. For SA users this should be nice and easy, but LA and mag are quite similar lengths, so I would carefully measure between your bedding screws just to be sure. Remember, you may not be able to send it back!
It is also worth bearing in mind that Boyds customer service is terrible. They take forever to respond to emails and are generally unhelpful.
I eventually settled on the classic style in forest camo. It is worth noting that Boyds have a $100 maximum order (ex. shipping) for international orders. This means you can only choose one of the pre designed stocks and cannot choose any of the custom options. You have a choice between grey, nutmeg or forest camo laminate. This was a problem for me as I wanted a longer length of pull being relatively tall. I will add a spacer later if required.
The order total came to $167 with shipping, which is still well under the £150 I was advised to expect. I was hit with import tax on the lot which was just over £20, meaning the whole cost was about £130. I believe it took about 2 weeks for the stock to ship, then a further 10 days shipping so all in all it took the best part of a month to get the stock.
Fitting the stock
I was very relieved that the stock fit... somewhat. The action was obviously right, but there were several problems with the fit. Firstly the barrel was not free floating. The recesses in the side of the stock for the mag release buttons were not aligned right and the rear bedding screw which should have been provided was missing (the original being too short).
I decided there was nothing for it but to bed the action. What a can of worms that was! Turns out nothing about a steyr action is one piece, there are holes, cracks and tiny parts everywhere. Even the recoil lug is not part of the action, but is screwed on. In the end I decided to just bed the area around the recoil lug, the rear of the action is just too complex and was making good contact with the stock anyway. Honestly this is a job I hope never to do again for a Steyr. If you get a gunsmith to do it I guarantee you will be getting value for money because the poor bloke will be spending hours filling all the little gaps with plasticine. Pillar bedding is not really an option as the pro hunter has no bottom metal.
I also bored out the forend slightly and enlarged the area around the magwell. the end result I am very pleased with, however it took several hours of fiddling and was by no means a drop in job.
The end result
Overall I am happy with the quality of the stock, and it is without doubt a massive improvement over the original. At the end of the day you cant be overly critical of a custom laminate stock for £130. The trigger guard I am not happy with, it is plastic and doesn't feel very strong at all. It also makes it very hard to use the set trigger as you can really get your finger behind it. I will be looking to possibly replace this if something becomes available.
Finish and quality are very nice, the stock is not overly heavy weighing probably the same or a little less than the original one. It is very well designed ergonomically, I like the raised cheek comb and relatively wide forend.
Length of pull is slightly longer than stated, being just over 14". The recoil pad is a solid rubber no frills type, I may change this as well at some point. I find the stock fits me a lot better and makes the recoil of the 7RM much more tolerable.
Accuracy wise, I am getting 1/2" groups with homeloads. The more important thing is that it has made the rifle considerably nicer to shoot.
Overall I am very pleased with the end result, even though it took a while to get there. It might have been a bit easier to just buy a nice Sako in the first place and save the bother, but its all a learning experience and I enjoy fiddling with my guns.
Any further questions, just drop me a PM.