Remington 788 Stock Upgrade

An overview of refinishing a birch stock, here’s how I upgraded a Remington 788.

by Paul Mazan

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Every time firearm prices seem to get out of control, manufacturers look for a way to produce a less expensive model. We see that today in the Ruger American and Savage Axis. Back in the late 1960s, Remington did the same thing with the introduction of their Model 788. Among other cost cutting measures the guns were stocked in birch rather than walnut. Here is how I modified the stock on a 788 to give it a more classic look.

It’s no secret that firearms prices have gone through the roof over the last couple of years and new shooters looking for a hunting rifle that won’t break the bank face some daunting challenges when shopping for new guns. Often the best solution is to look at the used gun market. This isn’t a new situation and firearms manufactures have made less expensive models to overcome sticker shock before. In 1967, Remington introduced the Model 788 bolt action rifle to offer shooters a less expensive alternative to the Model 700. Originally offered in 222 Remington, 22-250, 30-30, and 44 Magnum, it features a removable three-round box magazine and rear locking lugs arranged in three rows of three. This allows for a 60-degree bolt throw rather than the 90 degrees required for the Mauser-style actions. At first, they were stocked in plain walnut but in an effort to keep costs down later production was switched to birch. Although birch is a fine wood for gunstock use, it does have two drawbacks from the gunsmith’s perspective. The first drawback is birch is very plain with little to no figure. Second, birch does not take stain evenly. In the eyes of many shooters, it has become the mark of a cheap gun.

When I came across a left-handed 788 recently, I jumped at…

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