Rural Missouri - January 2015 - 9

Left: Robert Brown, a Southwest Electric Cooperative member from Warsaw, carves a rifle
stock on a duplicating lathe at Wenig Custom Gunstocks in Lincoln. Right: Wenig owner
Bobby Chambers says most of the company's focus today is related to competitive shooting.
more interested in owning something that stands out in the gun rack," he says.
"But the biggest driving reason for a custom stock is performance. Probably 70
percent of our business is related directly to competition shotgun shooting."
While factory gunstocks might be adequate for a majority of shooters, an
"off the rack" stock lacks the refinement serious shooters demand. For these
clients, only tailor-made will suffice. "There are a lot of people out there who are
shooting shotguns that don't shoot where they look," Bobby explains. "When
you shoot a rifle or pistol, you have a front and rear sight, but when you shoot
a shotgun, your eye is the rear sight. So, the only way that you can make a
shotgun shoot where it should is by adjusting the gunstock."
And there's only one way for a gunsmith to properly fit a stock to a shooter.
Much like a suit must be worn, a gunstock must be shouldered in order to
tailor it to fit. Nearly every week, clients drive or fly in to the Wenig shop for
custom fittings. The process starts with a blank pattern attached to the client's
gun, to which the gunsmith begins adding or removing material to move the
shooter's eye for dead-on accuracy.
"We look for the gun to be properly fit in your shoulder pocket. We're looking for your hand to be placed correctly on the grip and that
you have the right finger position for the trigger," Bobby says.
"That ultimate final feel, the one you get every time you pick that shotgun up and know it's going to allow you to do your job to the best of your
"Then, of course, the position of the comb positions your eye.
Even the shooter's stance affects all this, so we do it with the gun
ability, that's what Wenig is known for," he says. "Any time you put
in the client's hands."
their wares on your guns, you've made a statement."
Gun owners don't necessarily have to travel to Lincoln, howBobby says that while he enjoys working with the competition
shooters to improve their game, it was a client from Texas who
ever. Wenig will come to them. The gunsmiths hit the road 15 to
17 weeks a year attending most of the major clay-target competireally brought home why he loves working at Wenig.
The client was a quail hunter who had lost his ability to shoot
tions across the country. From inside their 48-foot-long trailer,
using his right eye. He came to Wenig to be fitted for a crossover
they offer a full array of services, including custom fitting. Bobby's
stock that would allow him to shoot with his left eye while still
son, Luke, oversees the road show.
shouldering the gun right-handed.
Creating a pattern can take 90 minutes to four hours, depending
After getting the pattern made, the man went out to test it and
on the client and the amount of customization necessary. The last step
is to actually take the gun out and shoot it to ensure it performs. Once the cli- immediately began breaking targets. While many would have waited for the finished stock to be built, he had other plans. He left that day with the unsightly
ent is satisfied, it's time to build the finished stock.
After a wood blank is selected, the stock's general shape is traced, and the pattern stock still on his gun. It was all he needed to hunt the next day.
"His lifelong hobby was quail hunting. He had a kennel full of bird dogs,"
wood is cut on a band saw. Next, it's off to the carving room where a duplicating router transfers the pattern's shape to the blank. The wood is now ready to Bobby says. "All this old man cared about was still being able to go out and follow those dogs around. To help him be able to do that was the neatest deal."
meet the metal of the gun's receiver, a process called inletting.
Once the gunsmith has achieved a seamless fit, the stock is sanded smooth.
For more information about Wenig Custom Gunstocks, call 660-547-3334 or
It moves to the next station where checkering and other adornments such as
carved leaves or acorns are added. Then, after masking off the checkered areas, visit
the stock is sent to the finishing room where it receives multiple layers of clear
coat. Once dry, it's polished and returned to the gunsmith for final fitting.
Bobby says to have a custom stock completely finished and installed on
a typical over-and-under shotgun starts at $1,400. Wenig offers seven species of wood - including all walnut species and many varieties of maple - in
seven different grades from "standard grade" to "one of a kind." Cost increases
with the uniqueness of the wood. "An over-and-under with one-of-a-kind-grade
wood for the stock and forend starts at $5,600. That's finished and on the gun,"
he says. "We sell a lot of them that are $7,000 or more. Some of these blanks
go for $2,500 to $3,000 just for the piece of wood."
Today, Wenig has roughly 4,700 to 4,800 different shotgun and rifle patterns
in its inventory, including client patterns. Should a client purchase a new gun,
a custom stock can be fashioned from the pattern on file. Bobby says they've
even had people call and request other shooter's patterns.
"With Wenig, not only do you get a piece that really reflects your shooting
ability and will make you a better shot, but you get a piece that reflects your
personality," says Kim, whose Beretta features a forend with the Olympic rings
and "USA" carved into it. "The customization is endless."
Harlan Campbell Jr. is a competitive trapshooter from Tribune, Kan., who
has kept Wenig stocks on his shotguns for about 20 years. He describes Wenig
as the "Cadillac of custom stocks."

Above: Joyce Cardwell, a Co-Mo Electric member from Warsaw, straightens the checkering
on an unfinished shotgun buttstock. Right: Jimmy Cardwell sands the forend stock of a
shotgun sporting spalted maple. The gunsmith has more than 40 years of experience.


Rural Missouri - January 2015

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2015

Rural Missouri - January 2015 - Intro
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - Contents
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - 4
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - 5
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - 6
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - 7
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - 8
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - 9
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Rural Missouri - January 2015 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - January 2015 - Cover4