What's up With The Wood?
Rifles Refined was born out of a dissatisfaction with the stocks that most rifle manufacturers are producing. At the age of 13 Owen made his first gun stock, carved out of an ugly old walnut blank scrounged from the scrap pile of a local sawmill, inletted and shaped with rusty old chisels and a circular saw, and hand sanded for what seemed like forever before a family friend offered to put a coat of lacquer on it for him. While Owen's methods and abilities have most certainly come a long way since then, that first stock is what started him on the quest to make the absolute best possible rifle stocks on the market... always incorporating wood of course.
With a background in mechanical engineering Owen is well aware of the innovations and benefits of polymers and composite materials and he has even been involved in designing and making molds for products of that kind in the past. However, when it comes to firearms, you will be hard pressed to find someone who enjoys holding a piece of plastic when it's -20 degrees outside, or who would rather admire plastic injection molded butt stock over a highly figured walnut stock with many many hours of skilled craftsmanship poured into its elegant curves and crisp lines. Now each material has it's place and being able to toss your synthetic stocked guns in the bottom of a canoe or crawl across muddy cornfields in the fall with little concern for the finish is useful. But there are some of us who are looking for more than just the functionality of a tool in a firearm, there are some of us who are looking for the workmanship of an artist. For this reason it has been the mission of Rifles Refined to perfect the wood stock using only the highest quality materials, the most painstaking attention to detail, and the most eye catching and ergonomic designs.
A common feature on most of our stocks is the contrasting wood stripe that runs through the blank. Good looks aside, this simple lamination is one of the advancements to the traditional wood stock that helps set Rifles Refined apart. Many people are aware of the stability and strength of the colourful birch laminate stocks that have flooded the firearms market in recent years, and the same principle of laminated stability has been applied to our stock blanks. The difference is, no two of our stock blanks are the same, and they do not look like they've been dipped in a vat of melted crayons. Every blank that we offer has been made by first selecting the most unique pieces of hardwood to form the outer body of the stock. This outer layer is typically figured walnut of some variety but is not limited in that respect. Next, the core of the stock is made from a different species of wood that nicely contrasts the outer body. This core may be one single layer, or it may be many different layers of complimentary material such as maple, ash, mahogany, black walnut, and black dyed birch (for the pinstripe effect) . Once the different woods for the blank have been planed to thickness, the layers are glued together and laminated under pressure using a special press capable of applying many tons of force. The result is a stock blank that is as rigid as it is beautiful. We also offer solid wood blanks for the more traditional shooter, or we can even use the colourful laminate blanks if that is your preference as well.
In early 2017 we made our first walnut grip for the AR15 platform and it quickly became popular on social media. Now these grips are our bread and butter and we have continually been refining the design. These wood grips are made one at a time by hand from premium quality walnut (and occasionally other unique woods like the red dyed manitoba maple grip in the picture) and come standard with a hand rubbed oil finish. From time to time we will make a special one-off grip from a unique blank of wood and will post it either in the one-offs page or on our Instagram account which you can follow via the link at the bottom and top of this page.
In the near future we have plans for a full wood furniture set and standalone wood butt stocks for the AR15 platform. We have also been developing the 'Classy Chassis' for the Tikka t3 and Remington 700 that will be availible soon as well.
Check in often to see what's new with Rifles Refined!
~ Owen Armstrong