One of my favorite shooting sports is pest control using rimfire rifles. Farmers’ fields get overrun with problematic alfalfa-gobbling ground squirrels, and so we have to do our part to help control the population.
Over the years, my friends and clients have built many semi-custom varmint hunting rigs optimized for this task. For the most part, we have turned to Boyds Gunstocks to provide us with the stocks adorning these rigs.
Why Boyds? Well, they offer a good mix or variety, custom options, performance and value. And, frankly, we’re all big fans of the Pro Varmint stock, which is our No. 1 go-to stock to pimp out our Savage, CZ, and Anschutz rimfire rifles. It somewhat mimics the general look and feel of a McMillian or Manners precision rifle stock, but at a fraction of the price of those tier-one stocks.
Brief History and Overview
Boyds makes OEM stocks for Savage, CZ and many other manufacturers. They also have a pretty good selection of stocks built on spec, in-stock, ready for shipment. Nonetheless, I have always preferred their custom offerings because of the wide range of colors they offer and the fact that you can get a longer length of pull.
They’re a pretty good value, with prices generally starting around $130. My orders generally run $230-240ish, because I get the laser stippling, additional 1-inch LOP, and a custom pad.
Most Boyds stocks are made out of hardwood laminate. There are 37 layers of laminated hardwood in each stock blank, bonded together with an adhesive under heat and pressure that actually becomes a part of the wood. The wood colors are forced into the wood fibers of each laminate layer.
With that introduction, here are some of my crew’s rimfire builds that feature Boyds stocks. They say that pictures are worth a thousand words, so the following should give you a good sense of what’s possible with a good aftermarket stock.
Anschutz 1416 D
The specs on the Pro Varmint are as follows:
– Leather-look rubber recoil pad for non-slip shouldering.
– 13 3/4″ standard length of pull
– Longer forend can be used with 18″ to 24″ barrels
– Two front and one rear swivel stud provided for rapid assembly and disassembly of bipod mount.
– Overall length 31″
– Approximate weight is 2.85 lbs.
While I’m very pleased with this stock, a few words of caution.
First, Boyds doesn’t offer the Anschutz 64 action with a heavy barrel channel, so you’ll have to auger out the channel yourself if you have the varmint-style barrel, as shown above.
Second, Boyds 64 action jig doesn’t accommodate the current Anschutz trigger design, so the purchaser will have to use a Dremel took to hog out a channel on the left side of the stock.
I ended up having my gunsmith complete both of these tasks. He said it’s a pretty easy task that should be within most people’s skill level. He advises to go slow and check the fit often so that you don’t take off too much material.
It cost me $100 to have the Anschutz stock glass-bedded, barrel channel augered out and the trigger augered out. I suspect that other gunsmiths will charge more.
I mention this because it’s an extra cost that you need to factor in if you get the Anschutz stock. Of course, if you are handy with a Dremel tool and a file, I suspect that you can do this work yourself in an hour or so.
Here are some close-up photos of the stock to show details:
If you want to take the time to sand and finish the stock yourself, you can get the Boyds Walnut stocks to look like this:
According to owner Tom, this stock has roughly 40 applications linseed oil. The first eight were sanded in with #600 grit. It’s been wet sanded with #1000 every two applications since.
Here is a 1985 Anschutz 1416 in .22LR. I upgraded the factory stock with a Boyds Pro Varmint in “Applejack.”
This stock provides an example of issue that you may encounter with Boyds laminate stocks: variations in wood color.
Because wood is a natural product, not every board is the same as the others; some individual boards accept the dye better than others. In this case, the “red” looks more “orange” to me, and some people have even said that it looks “pink-ish” or “salmon.”
It certainly wasn’t what I had envisioned; I was hoping for more of a deep red like the Boyds stocks I’ve seen on other websites. I guess its a bit of a “luck of the draw” as to what you exact color will get.
Nonetheless, the stock really improved the accuracy of this rifle.
Of the three Anschutz .22s I own, this one never really shot as well as the other two. So I glass-bedded the original stock. Although that helped a little, this rifle never really shot up to the level I expected — until I added and glass-bedded the Boyds Pro-Varmint stock. Now this rifle is shooting “one ragged hole” groups at 50 yards.
CZ 455 EV
By the way, this rifle has the DIP Inc. bottom metal and trigger guard, a DIP Inc. bolt knob and the excellent Talley 1-inch “High” rings which are made specifically to fit the CZ dovetails. I’m a big fan of the Talley rings for the CZ — they are cut to very tight tolerances and have an elegant, low-profile look.
Every few years, CZ changes up the color option. When I bought mine back in 2014 ($520), the color was “Sky,” which is a laminate featuring alternating layers of blue and gray. Personally, I wish Boyds would get rid of the gray layers and make it pure blue. But even with the gray, it’s a great color.
My buddy Tim recently purchased a 2017-dated CZ 455 EVO new for $500. The current CZ EVO stock color offering is called “coyote.” This is one of Boyds standard color offerings, and has proven to be quite popular. Tim added Talley 30mm high rings ($78), and a Gen 1 Vortex Viper PST 4-16 x 50 FFP scope (on sale for $630) and now he has one of the finest rimfire varmint rigs that you can get for around $1,200.
CZ 455 (with Custom Pro-Varmint stock)
My buddy Dan has the CZ 455 as well. He is running the excellent Bushnell DMR 3.5-21×50 scope, a DIP Inc Picatinny rail, and 34mm Warne Mountain Light rings. His rifle features the Boyds Pro-Varmint stock in “Royal,” which is a purple-and-gray laminate. I think the stock looks great. Personally, I like the feel of the laser stippling, but I have to admit that Dan’s rifle looks really clean without it.
Savage 93 BRJ
I picked up this Savage BRJ (.22 Magnum) on clearance in 2105 for $375.
This rifle comes standard from the factory with a Boyds stock in Royal Jacaranda (see photo above). The stock itself is not one of their standard offerings, but instead appears to have a combination of features from different designs. It most closely resembles the VT Rimfire Varmint Thumbhole, but which a hunter-style hand grip and butt.
I was never 100% in love with the grip, so I sold the stock to a buddy who owns the Savage FV, and he seems to like it just fine. I replaced that stock with a Boyds Pro-Varmint in Sky Blue in “Ripple” laminate, and now this rifle is one of my primary squeakie killers.
I’ve killed Squeaks (a.k.a., belding ground squirrels) out to around 300 yards +/- with this rifle. Once I shot 50+ rounds at a group of squirrels at around 425 to 450 yards with variable 5 to 10 mph winds, but I was never able to connect. So I’m thinking the effective range of this rifle on a ground squirrel is around 300 yards. Here’s what the rifle looks like now:
“Ripple” was a limited test run that Boyds did in 2015 to test the market. Basically, a “ripple” pattern is made by bending the laminate while under high heat and pressure, so that straight cuts will end up looking wavy in appearance. It ends up giving the stock a bit of a psychedelic appearance. I really love the look, but I suspect it wasn’t too popular because it is no longer offered.
I ordered the Boyds Pro-Varmint stock in a gloss finish, which brings out the colors a bit more than the standard satin finish. I also had them add 1 inch to the length of pull (LOP), and added laser stippling to the grip and forend (+$59). I think the total cost was around $230 +/-.
Here is the rifle in its current configuration, with a Sig Sauer Tango 4 (4-16) FFP scope, a DIP Inc. 25 MOA Picatinny rail, an oversized bolt knob, and a Harris 6-9 bipod. The Sig scopes are a great match for the Boyds stocks, because the scope’s titanium gray color compliments the gray laminate layers in the wood.
Unfortunately, this Savage rifle developed a headspace problem after a couple thousand rounds and had to sit out this entire season as a result. Truth be told, the rifle always seemed to get occasional light primer strikes, but the problem seemed to worsen with time. This is an all-too common problem with the Savage 93R series of rifles, which is one of the main reasons we recommend the CZ rimfires over the Savage 93R models.
Savage 93R17 TR
Savage makes a “tactical” model that mimics the look of a police sniper rifle. Dubbed the “TR,” the main features of this .17 Hmr include the Boyds Pro Varmint Stock in flat black, a tactical bolt knob, and fluted barrel. My client Mike ordered this rifle because he liked the tactical look better than my brightly-colored guns. To each his own.
Of course, you can order the Pro-Varmint stock direct from Boyds so you can retrofit any Savage, Anschutz 64, or CZ to achieve this look. As usual, we added Vortex Viper PST 6-24×50 FFP, a DIP Inc. picatinny rail, and Nightforce Extreme Duty 30mm lightweight rings. So far, he has not had any light-primer strike issues.
Savage 93R17 BVSS
You see a lot of the Savage BTVSS model (i.e. Bull/Thumbhole/Varmint/Stainless Steel) because it’s commonly found at stores such as Walmart and Bi-Mart. It features the Boyds Rimfire Thumbhole stock. The rifle shown above was my first .17 HMR, but I eventually sold it to my buddy Bryan, because I really like the Boyds Pro-Varmint and Evolution buttstocks better than the thumbholes.
My Buddy Chad bought the BTVSS in a left-handed model. It also features a left-handed Boyds “Thumbhole Varmint” stock in “Nutmeg.” You can custom order some of the Boyds stocks in a left-handed version.
Savage 93R17 BSEV
The Boyds Evolution stock is also OEM equipment on the Savage 91R17 BSEV, which is one of the higher end offerings in the 93R lineup. I previously reviewed this rifle here. I am mainly including it here out of the sake of completeness, and also to show the colors of the Boyds “Royal Jacaranda” color.
Savage 93R17 FV With Boyds Pro-Varmint Rimfire stock.
Savage’s entry-level 93 their “FV” model, which you can occasionally find at places like Bi-Mart on sale for as little as $199. It’s a great way to get into a varmint-hunting system for cheap; when you get a little more coin, you can upgrade the stock.
I bought this Boyds stock for my buddy as a gift to upgrade his FV. It’s supposed to be the “Nutmeg” color, but the color came out a bit different than other “Nutmeg” stocks I’ve seen. The stock was a drop-in fit with no issues at all.
Ruger 10/22 (Build)
This 1977-era Ruger 10/22 features a Boyds “Blaster” stock in a blue / yellow color combination. I purchased this stock around 15 years ago, and Boyds has since discontinued this color combo.
With these older Boyds stocks, you have to be a bit careful as to what type of solvents you use. I think I messed up the clear coat a bit when I sprayed the action down with Birchwood Casey Gunscrubber. So now I always remove the stock before I use that product.
Over the years, Boyds has improved the formulation of their coatings, so that their modern stocks are much more resistant to a broad range of gun solvents. According to the rep I spoke to, one cup of their modern varnish costs Boyds $50. However, you can soak your Boyds stock in water overnight wand the wood will not absorb water.
If you do internet research, you’ll see that Boyds has some mixed reviews in the customer service department. The custom orders bring the most complaints. One common complaint is turn-around time on custom orders.
At times, my friends and I have had pretty fast turn-around times for custom ordered stocks (less than a month), but we have also had turn-around times as long as two months or more. According to Boyds, they try to get the order shipped within two weeks or less. However, when they have heavy OEM orders, they can experience backlogs.
I’ve also seen reports of fitment issues. Of the five custom orders I’ve placed with Boyds, I’ve never had a problem. Once I ordered a standard M-1 Carbine stock set, but my commercial (Plainfield) M-1 carbine would not accept a standard GI handguard. Not Boyds fault. I’ve heard that Mosin Nagants can be problematic from a fitment standpoint, but that’s because the Soviet factories didn’t built them to tight tolerances.
My buddy Dan ordered a Pro-Varmint for his CZ 455. Unfortunately, the stock’s bottom inlet was about an 3/16 inch off, so the screws wouldn’t line up. Dan called Boyds seeking an exchange but they basically told him he was out of luck because it was a custom order. He ended up getting out the ole’ Bubba Dremel Tool of Regret and hogged out the stock channel.
I talked to the Boyds rep about this case, and he said that the fitment issues are usually caused when a company changes their design specs and doesn’t inform Boyds. He said that if a customer is willing to send their rifle to Boyds, they will re-measure the rifle to update their database, and they provide the customer with a new stock in exchange.
Having said all that, I have always had good customer service from the company. When I ordered the Sky Blue Ripple stock for my Savage 93BRJ, I originally ordered an adjustable comb for it. A week later, Boyds customer service rep called me and let me know that they can’t add an adjustable comb on the ripple stocks. However, she gave me a credit for an adjustable comb on my next order. I redeemed that offer on a later purchase.
Ratings (out of 5 stars):
Performance & Durability: * * * *
I have used Boyd’s stocks for more than 15 years and I have always been happy with the way these stocks perform. All but two of the nine Boyds stocks I own at made of hardwood laminate. They’re stiffer than wood stocks, and have proven to be durable in the field. While it’s possible to scratch and dent them, they seem to wear better than regular wood stocks. Also, they highly resistant to water damage, so you can take them in wet field conditions.
Features: * * * * *
From adjustable cheek risers to additional length of pull and custom stippling, Boyds offers a lot of options. I really appreciate the fact that I can get an extra inch added to the stock, because that makes all the difference for me. And the laser stippling is also a great addition for not much additional cash.
Workmanship: * * *
Nobody is going to mistake these for a true hand crafted “custom” stock. But given the price point I think they do a pretty good job. As long as you don’t expect absolute perfection, you’ll very happy with the quality.
Fitment: * * *
In most cases, a Boyd’s stock is a true “drop-in” proposition. We’ve had a few fitment issues, however, so be prepared for that, especially if you are ordering a stock for a rifle with a lot of variations or that suffered from poor quality control (i.e. Mosin Nagants, etc.).
Value: * * * * *
Especially with regard to our rimfire hunters, where a $600-$1000 fiberglass or carbon-fiber stock isn’t cost effective, spending $130-$250 on a Boyds stock to upgrade your rifle’s fit and performance is a great way to go.
Customer Service: * * *
All my experiences have been pleasant, but given my friend’s experience with his CZ 455 as well as other reports I’ve heard indicate this may be an area that Boyds should probably work on. I get the impression that this is a fairly high-volume business, so problems are bound to occur. But great companies always make it right for the customer, even if it eats away at their bottom line a bit.
Overall: * * * *
All in all, we are really happy with our Boyds stocks. They’re the good mix of performance and value.
Stock shapes available (2020): AR-15, American Plainsman, At-One, At-One Shotgun, At-One Thumbhole, Barracuda, Blaster, Charger, Classic, Field Design, Featherweight Thumbhole, Heritage, Military, Platinum, Prairie Hunter, Pro Varmint, Rimfire Thumbhole, Rimfire Varmint Thumbhole, Rimfire Hunter, Varmint Thumbhole, Spike Camp, SS Evolution, Sterling Thumbhole
Colors available (2020): Forest Camo, Nutmeg, Pepper, Royal Jacaranda, Royal, Apple Jack, Sky, Black Jack, Coyote, Zombie, Blaze, Shady Camo, Maroon/Pepper
Company website: BoydsGunStocks.com