The 4 Best Gun Stock Finishes – Rifle Stock Kit Reviews 2021

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Photo by Ashley Buttle / CC BY

While many of you reading this probably own an “evil black rifle” or three, there is a good chance you’ve got one or more guns with nice wooden stocks. In my own collection is a rather well preserved Mossberg .22 target rifle, and I’m working on restocking a rifle with a new wooden stock, so I’ve been paying close attention to gun stock finishes.

These come in a bewildering variety of stains, oils, and waxes, their use depending on what you are after. Some are best for maintaining an existing stock, while others are must haves for in depth finishing or refinishing. We mixed it up, and played with a few. See if you agree that these are 4 of the best gun stock finishes on the market.

Birchwood Casey Tru-Oil

Perhaps the gold standard of gunstock finishes, Tru-Oil is a longtime old reliable favorite. Made of natural oils blended with linseed oil, this finish provides a rich, stable and non yellowing or cracking finish popular with gun owners, guitarists and others who rely on quality wood finishes.

Some synthetic waxes and finishes will not hold up well to use, and degrade when exposed to UV light, but Tru-Oil’s natural blend of oils ensures a long life, quality finish. It is also perfect for sealing wood under butt plates or inside the stock, further protecting your gun from the ravages of moisture and temperature change.

Finishing a Gun stock with Tru Oil - Complete How To (The Recreational Woodworker)

Flitz Gun Care Kit

Here is a great kit that is perfect for finishing or refinishing your favorite gun. Often a gun just needs a good coat of wax to finish it off or restore it, and a high grade Carnauba wax is one of the most durable and popular choices. This kit includes everything you need to touch up or restore a rifle stock and protect delicate metal finishes. I like this for smaller guns, basic stock maintenance, and the like. It is a truly all in one kit that not only helps you refinish your stock, but also lets you do basic work on your metal parts as well. Reasonably priced, easy to use and made with proven waxes, what isn’t there to love? This should be on anyone’s list of the best gun stock finish.

Flitz Gun & Knife Care Kit makes maintaining your firearms & blades quick and easy!

Birchwood Casey Walnut Stain

Here’s another Birchwood Casey product. Why? Because it’s the name is refinishing rifle stocks. They’ve produced a product that works so well, for such a great price it’s almost impossible to beat. For generations, companies used only a few different stains, one of the most prominent being walnut.

Birchwood Casey’s Walnut stain has the ability to make that old gun new again. The best part is you really don’t have to be a gunsmith to apply it. This rich brown walnut stain dries fast and doesn’t become cloudy or bleed. It’s simple to apply, and you should do it in a well ventilated area. The 3 ounce bottle is more than enough to finish a few rifle stocks. If you just need to do a touch up of two, consider the walnut stain pen to make a few simple fixes. It’s a very affordable product and one of the best gun stock finishing kits in my book.

Birchwood Casey Complete Refinishing Kit

This Birchwood Casey kit--yes, another one--includes metal refinishing chemicals as well. Perfect for a complete restoration of stock and metal, follow the instructions on the included DVD and you too can turn an ugly duckling into a totally different looking gun.

I like this kit because it does include the metal refinishing chemicals, and provides enough stain and bluing to do several guns. It is ideal for somebody with more than one gun to work on, or who is looking to master the art of gun refinishing. Sure, it doesn’t come with sandpaper, but that is an easy fix (see a bunch here), and lets you pick exactly what you need for your unique job. Strangely affordable and very well rated, this is one of the best gun stock refinishing kits period.

How to Refinish a Gun Stock with Birchwood Casey's Tru-Oil Gun Stock Finish Kit

Refinishing Your Stock

First things first: STOP. Take a look at your gun.

Nothing destroys a vintage collectible gun or an old military rifle faster than refinishing the stock, except for maybe a hacksaw to the barrel. If you are thinking about refinishing an antique or old collectible, go to a reputable gunsmith or dealer and talk to them first. We can wait. This article will still be here, along with hundreds more for you to look at. I have personally held a Civil War musket that some well-meaning person sanded down and refinished to “restore” it. It was as depressing as hell. Don’t be that person.

Now, having said that, there are umpteen zillions of guns that benefit from a refinishing. Just make sure you aren’t destroying a relic. First thing you a are going to need to do is take the gun apart and degrease the stock. There are any number of degreasers on the market, and some refinishing kits may include one. When in doubt, consult the manufacturer of the product you are using.

Rarely does a stock need a complete refinishing, but often it needs a touchup, or some repair to a worn finish, and that is perhaps the easiest refinishing of them all to do. Lightly sand or buff the old finish off, lightly brush on a new coat or three of oil, wax if desired and done. Often all you really need to do is clean and reoil or wax the stock to get that brilliant like new look, or you may have a brand new stock that needs the complete treatment from sanding to staining, to waxing, or oiling.

Refinishing a gunstock isn’t hard. Finding the best gun stock finishes—the right stains and oils and waxes and so forth—is a bit harder. Doing a good job of it is even harder still. Take your time. Follow manufacturer instructions. Watch any instructional videos you might be able to find, and remember that you may need to repeat the same process several times to get the smooth, rich and lustrous finish you are after.

Gunstock refinishing takes time, but it is a worthwhile endeavor that saves you money, and makes a gun a more personal object. Once you’ve selected the right kit and the right tools, you are halfway there, and on the road to discovering the joys of working on your own guns. Good luck!

  • Owner of, Boyd Smith is a major handgun enthusiast, and although he owns Glocks, he prefers the revolving wheel type. His go-to guns are a Smith & Wesson 642 Performance Center for carry and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (he has kids). He loads both revolvers with old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 wadcutters. It’s OK if you think he’s a wimp. Email him.

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  1. Pro tip: When applying a Tru-Oil finish, lightly burnish the surface between applications using a gray or white (000/0000 steel wool equiv), put on a pair of clean nitrile gloves (non-powdered type), spray the tiniest bit (about two drops) of Armor-All (yes… that crap you should never put on your car), rub your gloves together then rub down the gunstock. You’re basically applying a super thin film to the wood. If the wood is visibly wet, you’ve used too much and just wipe it down with a dry towel.
    Next, put a few drops of Tru-Oil on your gloves, rub them together to spread it out, then begin rubbing the gun stock. Perhaps someone with better knowledge of chemistry can explain this, but for some reason the Armor-All acts like a catalyst when applying Tru-Oil. Instead only doing one application every 1-2 or more days apart, you can do 3-4 applications in a single day. My initial concern was it causing the finish to be cloudy but it definitely doesn’t as long as you wait 3-4 hours between applications and thoroughly rub the True-Oil until there is none left on your gloves.

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