October 2nd, 2008

New Manners Stock Debuts at F-Class Nationals

Tom Manners of Manners Composite Stocks has a new F-Class stock that’s long, low, and very stiff. The first three examples get their “trial by fire” this week at the F-Class Nationals in Lodi, Wisconsin. The stock is derivative of some other familiar designs, particularly in the grip area, but the underside of the stock is radically new, and the stock promises to be very rigid in all planes, without the fore-arm lift or flex found in some other F-Class stocks.

Manners rifle stocks

Tom says: “The shell is 100% carbon fiber with a molded-in action and barrel area. This design features a very long, stiff fore-end. From the back of the action to the tip of the fore-end the stock measures 27″ long which is around 7 1/2″ longer than our T4 stock.” The idea is to provide a “longer wheelbase” to better balance the long, 30-32″ barrels favored by many F-Class competitors.

Manners rifle stocks

The front half of the fore-end is very thin (from top to bottom) to achieve a low profile on the bags. The McMillan F-Class stock uses such a design, and a thin fore-end can definitely lower the center of gravity. However, some other thin-forearm designs have suffered from a springboard effect. This should not be the case with the new Manners stock. Much thought has gone into controlling fore-end flex. Manners’ design achieves greater vertical rigidity (less deflection under load) through an innovative “fish belly” design. The rounded undersection, like a canoe hull, strengthens the fore-end considerably. Carbon fiber construction also adds stiffness.

Manners rifle stocks

Another nice feature of the fore-end are the molded-in “rails”. On the underside of the forearm, an area is relieved for a few inches in the center. This allows the stock to contact the front bag on the two outer edges or rails. The relieved center area can ride above the “hump” typically found in the middle of the front sand-bag. Other stock designs have proven the merits of this “twin rail” feature. It works. Eliminating contact with the “hump” reduces rock and wobble, and the twin rails allow smooth tracking.

Manners rifle stocksManners rifle stocksOverall, we like the stock design very much except for one thing. The stock has a pronounced corner or knuckle at the top rear of the pistol grip. This creates a sharp transition from the tang to the area relieved for your thumb. A similar (though less extreme) knuckle is found on the McMillan A-series designs. Our testers have shot stocks with grips like this and the reaction was mixed. IF you have big hands and can wrap your thumb all the way around the grip, this design can work well with a hard hold. The vertical section right below the knuckle can help distribute some of the recoil into the web of the hand. However, for people with smaller hands, your thumb is forced into an awkward position. Additionally, many shooters use a lighter hold, or prefer to place the thumb parallel to the bore axis, resting on the stock, just behind the tang. This allows you to apply some down-pressure, WITHOUT side force (a shooting style that some rifles prefer). You can do this easily with a Tooley MBR-style stock, or a Franklin low-rider. With a hard knuckle like you find on the Manners stock, resting your thumb behind the tang doesn’t work well at all. Looking at the photos, we also think the pistol grip is quite fat, further causing problems with shooters with small to medium hands. That said, we know many shooters, particularly “tactical” competitors, who like this kind of grip. Tom Manners wants to “get feedback” on the new stock at the Nationals. It will be interesting to learn if some shooters ask for a different style grip.

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