Refinishing The Springfield M1A Pellet Rifle Wood Stock
This is not a normal HAM review. In fact it’s about refinishing the Springfield M1A Pellet Rifle wood stock.
Why? Because this is one of the relatively few air rifles currently available that has a real, old-fashioned, solid “tree wood” stock.
Not only that, but it’s ideal for refinishing and can make an absorbing project for anyone who likes to customize their air rifles. And it requires minimal specialist skills and tools. Let’s explore some of the possibilities…
HAM reviewed the Springfield M1A pellet rifle a while back. It earned a HAM Gold Award under test. The gun we tested had a reasonable-looking wood stock with some character. (Photo below). Immediately it sparked thoughts of re-finishing, but we had to return it to Pyramyd Air after the review.
However recently we received a second gun with instructions that it not be returned. As luck would have it, this one had a beautiful-looking stock, so I started to explore refinishing possibilities.
Now I’m not a woodworker. However I have refinished wood stocks in the dim-and-distant past and this Springfield M1A Pellet Rifle wood stock brought those memories flooding back. Here’s what I found…
From my sample of two M1A wood stocks, this one is spectacular and the first one very pleasant. So – as these guns were not specially-selected – it’s a fair bet that many other Springfield M1A pellet rifles have stocks that will also repay some love and attention.
Obviously Pyramyd Air – or any other retailer – cannot be expected to make a “hand select” stock service. You’ll have to take the luck of the draw, just like HAM.
Secondly, please don’t expect perfection in the wood! The Springfield M1A Pellet Rifle sells complete for $199.99 (with free shipping). At that price it’s not realistic to expect that the stock will be top-quality Walnut, or anything like it.
After all, you can easily spend North of $100 on a replacement used stock for a centerfire M1A. An official replacement Springfield Armory M14 stock will set you back a cool $245 (although that does include a buttplate and sling swivels).
However the Springfield M1A Pellet Rifle wood stock does appear to be a solid piece of hardwood. “Chinese mystery wood” is probably a fair description!
In fact, the stock has been stained a darker shade during manufacture – as you can see from the following photograph of the in-letting for the rear of the action. See how the external surfaces are darker than the internal ones.
Secondly, you will see that – although stained – the wood stock has not been finished with a heavy coat of varnish or oil. This is ideal for us as it means that there’s no existing coat that has to be removed from the stock before we start work.
After ensuring that the gun is safe and not cocked, it’s easy to remove the action from the stock. The two Phillips-head screws at the sides of the forend come out…
… followed by the Allen (hex) head bolt at the rear of the trigger guard. The photograph above shows the first (lighter) stock.
The action can then be lifted out of the stock.
As we’re not re-furbishing a used stock, there’s no need to worry about removing dings, gouges and compressions from previous use. And the project can be undertaken using materials and equipment that you probably have lying around the shop, as I did.
My aim was for a simple “GI look” for this stock. I was not looking for a “presentation grade” effect, although that could be achieved, too, with a little more effort.
Basically, I just wiped the stock over with some cheesecloth to make sure it was dust-free. Then I applied some mineral oil to a centerfire flannel cleaning patch and wiped it over the surface.
The stock was so dry that the oil absorbed into the wood almost immediately! After leaving it to dry completely, I made another application of mineral oil. Then another, until I had made six coats on the stock.
The result was that the grain pattern of the wood immediately became more pronounced and attractive. Just as desired!
Here’s the other side.
Now, as previously mentioned, I was not expecting perfect wood. So I wasn’t too surprised to find a couple of thin, non-structural cracks along one side of the buttstock. However these did close up with the application of the oil. With more coats, they will probably close-up some more.
Then – pleased with what I had achieved – I reunited the stock and action.
When doing this, ensure that the front “arms” of the stock (with their black plastic tips) are correctly engaged in the black plastic barrel band assembly that’s attached to the action. Then the action will fall into place on the stock.
For those wanting a “presentation grade” finish, the stock could first be carefully sanded using a fine, 100-grit, sandpaper wrapped around a piece of wood to avoid rippling. Then a wipe down with superfine (0000 grade) steel wool, followed by kitchen towels and – finally – cheesecloth would provide a much smoother finish before oiling. Don’t forget to wear that dust mask if doing any sanding!
If a darker shade is desired – as with the “first” stock – some water-based Walnut (or similar effect) stain would achieve the result required.
And – of course – you could use varnish instead of oil if a high-gloss result was wanted.
At any rate there’s many possibilities for the Springfield M1A Pellet Rifle wood stock. This can involve as many – or as few – finishing steps as you want and so this air rifle can make an interesting project. And you can use the drying time between each finish stage to decide what to do next…
Of course, you’ll void the Air Venturi warranty by doing this work. But as only four screws need to be removed and replaced, there’s limited chance of anything going wrong. (I chose to leave the buttpad in place, but that could be very easily removed, too). And the results can be very worthwhile.
Even my wife – who has seen a lot of guns – was moved to observe how good this Springfield M1A Pellet Rifle wood stock looked after my simple refinishing exercise!
Have fun and enjoy a different type of airgun project…