GUNSTOCK WOOD TYPES

Bastogne Walnut
Black Walnut
Bubinga
Claro Black Walnut
English Walnut
English Walnut - Utah
Macassar Ebony
Royal Walnut Hybrid
Screwbean Mesquite

 

Bastogne Walnut

Bastogne Walnut, also called Paradox, is a rare hybrid tree resulting from a cross between an English Walnut and a Black Walnut species.

Bastogne Walnut is a favorite for large caliber rifles because of its closed pores and hardness. It can take hard recoil. The wood can have very beautiful color and high fiddleback, and is either very beautiful, or simply ugly.

Many people in the marketplace confuse Royal Walnut, which is a cross between Claro Black and Eastern Black, with Bastogne. In today's marketplace, Royal Walnut has been sold as Bastogne for many, many years. Royal Walnut also has high fiddleback, great color, and great hardness, which is why it is so easily confused with true Bastogne. It is also a great wood for large calibers because of its hardness. On our website, we distinguish between Bastogne/Paradox and Royal Walnut Hybrid wood.

Another difference between Bastogne and Royal trees are that, in general, Bastogne is a sterile tree, and Royal is not. I have talked to many experts at University of Davis, California and other people that specialize in starting and raising Bastogne root stock for the Walnut growers industry. I personally have seen Bastogne trees, even here in Utah, that do produce a few nuts. One expert that I've talked to says that that is impossible, but other experts in California say that some Bastogne can produce a few nuts and that even some have been able to sprout. But in general, if the rare Bastogne does produce a nut, it is sterile.

Royal Walnut Hybrid produces nuts just as regular as the Eastern Black or the Claro, and the nuts are not sterile at all. In fact, nowadays in Northern California, there are very few purebred Claro or purebred American Eastern Black left.

For an interesting discussion on this point, please reference Walnut Culture in California: Walnut Blight, by Ralph Eliot Smith, Clayton Orville Smith, H. J. Ramsey, page 154.

 

Black Walnut

These trees were planted by the first Mormon settlers in the late 1800's. The strains of Black Walnut we find here in Utah are neither Eastern or Claro Walnut.

 

Bubinga

This is Bubinga from Africa and is used mainly in the United States as musical instrument wood, because it is very rare to obtain it in large enough pieces for gun wood. It is to this day the gunwood of choice for many South African safari guides. It is a little bit denser than walnut. This wood is so 3-dimensional it doesn't even look like it has a flat surface. From different angles and light conditions it can turn many colors and it shimmers with gold. The workability of this wood is unmatched. It saws well, sands well, takes a glass finish, and is very stable.

 

Claro Black Walnut

Claro Black Walnut is native to California and a very beautiful black walnut. Some is soft and some is hard. Most stocks are glass bedded for extra strength. Claro has been in use for gun wood for over a hundred years.

 

About Juglans regia - English Walnut and Circassian Walnut

This is the thin-shelled English Walnut, also called Italian, European, Circassian, French, Royal, Russian, and Turkish. It’s all the same wood, but color and grade vary by location of where it grows. This is the king of the gun woods and most sought after and most expensive in the gun world today.

Grading of this wood is all about the amount of streaking and marbling in the wood, and the colors of this wood can vary from very blond to very highly colorful pieces.

Stability is the single most important issue in gun wood, along with correct layout. Correct layout means the gun wood is straight grained through the wrist area and flows straight into your receivers. There are many in this industry that are selling blanks with bad layout. Bad layout can be determined by looking at your wood going into your receiver. It should never be going in at an angle or going down your forend area on a rifle at an angle. This wood has to be straight. The wood can have color patterns and mineral streaking in these areas, but the grain of the wood itself has to be straight. If it is not, you have a problem piece of wood. Correct layout is guaranteed at Old Tree Gun Blanks.

Steaming and boiling remove the oils in the wood, therefore making it cure and dry in as short as 2 weeks after being cut. This is not a practice that should be done on gun wood. These practices were designed for structural wood, not gun stocks. Kilning, steaming, and boiling will leave traces of these practices. The wood will not want to take a high polish, and many times the internal fiber structures of the wood will be damaged. At Old Tree Gun Blanks, all of our wood is air dried and seasoned the way it should be.

 

English Walnut

This Northern California English is of the world-famous Franquette strain. Highly marbled, with mineral lines, each piece will be like opening a present. As beautiful as a Franquette blank will look, you will not uncover the full, true beauty of this wood until after it is shaped. This is the magic with Franquette. High grade Franquette English Walnut blanks are very rare on this market.

 

English Walnut - Utah

Utah English Walnut is a Carpathian Strain planted by the first Mormom settlers because it grows well in cold weather. This is the same strain found in the former Soviet Union. These trees are planted by seed and are not from grafted trees such as those in California.

 

Macassar Ebony

Available only in accent wood.

 

Royal Walnut Hybrid

Royal Walnut Hybrid is a cross between Eastern Black Walnut and Claro Walnut. It provides the beautiful figure of Claro Walnut along with the hardness and strength of Eastern Black Walnut.

Royal Walnut Hybrid is a favorite for large caliber rifles because of its closed pores and hardness. It can take hard recoil. The wood can have very beautiful color and high fiddleback.

Many people in the marketplace confuse Royal Walnut with Bastogne, and it has been sold as Bastogne for many, many years. They both are hybrids, though Royal is a hybrid between Eastern Black and Claro Black, and Bastogne a hybrid between English Walnut and Black Walnut. Both have high fiddleback, great color, and great hardness, which is another reason why they are so easily confused. On our website, we distinguish between Royal Walnut Hybrid and Bastogne wood.

Another difference between Bastogne and Royal trees are that Bastogne trees are sterile, and Royal trees are not. Royal Walnut Hybrid produces nuts just as regular as the Eastern Black or the Claro, and the nuts are not sterile at all. In fact, nowadays in Northern California, there are very few purebred Claro or purebred American Eastern Black left.

For an interesting discussion on this point, please reference Walnut Culture in California: Walnut Blight, by Ralph Eliot Smith, Clayton Orville Smith, H. J. Ramsey, page 154.

 

Screwbean Mesquite

Screwbean Mesquite is some of the rarest gun wood in the world. Used on a lot of Weatherby's in the 1960's, it is only available from private lands and must be approved for cutting from the US government in most south-western states. It is also very difficult to cure. For every 10 blanks that are cut, after the drying process we will end up with 1.

Our Screwbean Mesquite is obtained from private landowners who are clearing trees for new housing developments. As a result, there is always only a quite limited supply of this beautiful wood.

Blues, reds, yellows, oranges, browns, and some chocolates can be found throughout this indescribably beautiful wood. Birds-eye size pocket marks, smaller than a pea, are common in this type of wood, just like flaws in emeralds and diamonds. It is simply a pain to cut and dry, is very hard on equipment, and only a small percentage of the blanks cure properly, but when cured, the wood is very hard and extremely stable, excellent for big caliber rifles. The beauty is hard to beat, and the extremely tight grain allows for excellent checkering.

We also supply forend accent pieces in this wood.