Barrel channel finish

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Feb 3, 2011
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Ohio, the land of the Shawnee
On a recent rebuild I done, I stained the barrel channel along with the lock mortise, even under the trigger gaurd. After the stain dried I used tung oil and let it dry, then I waxed the areas, I spread a liberal amount of axle grease under the barrel before reassembling. My mentor and I built my first rifle 8years ago and he had taught me this method. We disassembled one of his that had not been taken apart in 30 years and it looked just as good as when it was built. That same rifle was his go to rifle for hunting and match shooting in all weather conditions.


Defender of Truth & Faith, Lord of the Rift
MLF Supporter
Nov 23, 2022
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BLO is not water proof. There is no reason to put it in barrel channels if you're trying to seal the stock, water goes right through it. If you do put some sort of waterproof sealant in the barrel channel you'll have trouble with rust as there is no place for the water to go.
I believe that is why they said a few coats. BLO has been used for decades to finish "stocks" of all kinds and has proven to be a fine choice. They(posters) also indicated they would probably finish off with a coat of wax. I used BLO, Beeswax and Turpentine mix to finish a stock and it worked fine. If your results are different then my suggestion for you is ,not to use it.
Nov 4, 2006
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Western North Carolina
In Florida the tung oil NEVER dries- tacky forever. Use BLO and put on thin coats
Interesting observation. I have personally finished well over 30 stocks (muzzleloader and MILSURP) with pure Tung without issue in North Carolina. Maybe not Florida environment, but they all dry. Gave up on BLO after using it on MILSURP stocks that swelled up when used in matches held during heavy rain. BLO is good stuff, but with it offering no real water or UV protection, I find it just not suitable for gunstocks that will be used in real world weather conditions. If you are talking about indoor over the mantle display guns, BLO works fine.

Pukka Bundook

50 Cal.
Jun 29, 2007
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Alberta Canada.
Water pump grease or a grease like Castrol LM was used for the Lee Enfield and it stood all sorts of weather and abuse as you know.
Bill Curtis always used water pump grease in the barrel channel as I believe does David Minchall (Research Press) in the Enfield percussion rifles.
A barrel bedded into grease of this sort will not rust and does not need dismounting for cleaning.
After a barrel like the P '53 is removed, it requires quite a few shots to re-settle it for target work, so best left alone.


20 bore
Oct 6, 2004
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Somers, Montana
I put a heavy coat of Johnson's Paste Wax in the barrel channels. Squeeze the barrel into place, wipe off excess. Helps seal the barrel channel from water entering, and prevents rust.

Red Owl

45 Cal.
Jan 26, 2021
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I think we are obsessing about nothing. The old original guns were left raw and didn't seem to suffer. Putting a finish on the wood does not harm and might help. As said BLO isn't waterproof. However, I think it soaks into the wood and helps preserve it. However that is just my feeling, no proof one way or another.
May 6, 2014
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I've been doing this professionally for 40 years so I'll stick to my own methods. I don't care how many coats of BLO you use, the water is still going to go right through it. But if that suits you, I recommend you do it that way.
Absolutely right. Modern BLO barely waves as water or water vapor goes through it, in or out.

The idea is to protect both wood And metal, Nu.

Would you say that most military powers used Linseed on stocks just for the fun of it, Nu?

all the best,
Hi Richard,

I've been studying U.S. military finishes for wood stocks for many years, as an active duty Armorer and NM armorer and as a collector. BLO of the 18th and 19th centuries was very much different than what we buy in the paint section of the hardware store today.

As of the late 1997 when I retired, the Table of Authorized Materials (TAM) for wood stocked rifles and shotguns STILL only allowed BLO or Raw Linseed Oil as the only authorized finishes that units could procure and use on these arms. I cringed mightily every time I read this in the TAM's for wood stocked arms, as they never explained WHY it was done. Even though I've read mounds of U.S. manuals and technical information (including from the Military Armories of all time periods) there are only hints of why it was done. So I can't document my conclusions on the reasons it was done by pointing to any military source directly.

Having written that, there were two reasons the US Military used BLO and Raw Linseed Oil (RLO) on wood stocked arms. It WAS to protect the stocks, but not in the way most of us think. It was NOT to keep water or water vapor out of the stocks, because BLO and RLO can't do that.

Here are the two reasons:

1. The primary reason was to keep the stock from drying out too much and checking or cracking during the service life of the wood stock. Wood stocks eventually wore out and got loose from recoil and had to be replaced, but BLO and RLO kept them from drying out and checking/cracking until that happened.

2. BLO and RLO also made it easier to clean the stock from dust, sand and dirt/mud because the two oils acted as a barrier to those things. However, BLO and RLO do not act as much of a barrier at all from too much oil or grease used to protect and lubricate the arms. Even a military stock with many coats of BLO and RLO, won't protect from getting an oil or grease saturated stock that ends up soft and easily worn out from recoil.

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