Stock Fit – The Short and Long of It

Having a stock that fits right can make a rifle or shotgun feel better and make you a better shot.  To make things simple most factory rifles and shotguns are made with a 13 ½” Length of  Pull (LOP).  This LOP is determined by taking the average shooter who is 5’10”tall, weighs about 170 pounds and then fitting a stock to him. The problem comes when you don’t quite fit into that normal mold.  I, for one, have a hard time getting close enough to the scope if the gun has a 13 ½” inch LOP.  I shoot much better with a 13 ¼”  LOP.  You may say that a ¼ inch is not a lot, but that little ¼ inch can make a big difference in the way my rifle comes up to my shoulder.  Put a heavy coat on and the longer gun can even be a bigger problem, to the point that I can’t see a full field of view through the scope. I have one customer who is 6’2” about 245 lbs. and works out all the time, this guy is built.  Most people would think he would need a longer LOP, but he shoots a 12 ½” inch LOP.  Greg has such big biceps that there is no way that he can stretch out to a normal 13 ½” length of pull.  A 12 ½” LOP is what I would normally fit for a 14 year old kid or a small lady. 
How to tell if a shock is too long or too short can be fairly simple.  First, throw your gun up and see if it hits under your armpit as it comes up.  Do you have to push the rifle out and than pull it in to your shoulder?  Do you have to stretch your head forward to see the entire picture (no black around the outside edge) in your scope when the scope is on its highest power setting?  These are all problems associated with a rifle being too long.  On the other hand, if you find yourself backing away from the scope, or if you have ever had the scope come back under recoil and hit you in the eye brow, then the stock is too short. 
The old rule of thumb is to measure from the bend in your elbow to your bent trigger finger to get the right length.  But this is just a good starting point. With a scoped rifle mounted to your shoulder and pointed straight, your eye should be between 3” and 3 ½” away from the scope.  Any more and you won’t have the correct field of view.  You may want to try this fit while wearing a coat or your hunting jacket, since you will be wearing one when hunting.  Any good gunsmith should be able to fit a rifle to you correctly.  The other nice thing about having your rifle fit properly is you will have less perceived recoil.
There are also some of the greatest recoil pads on the market now days which can soak up from 10% to 25 % of the felt recoil.  The Pachmayer Decelerator pad, Sims Limbsaver pad, The Kick-Eez are all great samples of pads that will stop 10 % to 15 % of the felt recoil.  There are even some hydraulic and spring loaded recoil reducers which work great and will reduce as much as 25 % of the felt recoil from a rifle or shotgun.  The Danuser Counter Coil pad or the Action pad are good samples of the new state of the art recoil reducers for stocks, but they are not the best looking pads made.  You have to get use to the look of these counter coil pads, but they do work very well.
The cost of having a rifle fit to you and a good pad installed shoulder run about $85.00 to $119.00 and about $ 250.00 for a counter coil pad or an Action recoil system. A good gun smith should be able to fit a gun to almost any one. I have fit rifles for kids as short at 9½ inches, or for a Rockets basket ball player at 17 inches. Having a stock fitted to you and a good pad installed can make all the difference in the way you feel when you shoot your gun and will make you a better shot, not to mention it can save you from getting the “Weatherby Scar” when your favorite 378 comes back and cuts you above your eye brow.