A Custom Gunstock Carving that tells a Story

Cape buffalo carving on Sako gunstock image A Custom Gunstock Carving that tells a Story

Custom gunstock carving is very rewarding.   The creative relationship between you and your carving client is a truly enjoyable collaborative effort.    In the time I have been carving gunstocks, I’ve found that many clients had the ideas for their stock for quite a while but couldn’t find a way to accomplish it.

Most clients will have you carve something in their gunstock that really means something special to them.  It may be initials; it may be a type of game animal they love to pursue.  But it may also be a very special animal they want to remember and celebrate.   Their son’s first buck, their once-in-a-lifetime huge bull elk, or a project like I just finished.  A hunter’s trophy Cape Buffalo carved in the rifle he used to take it.

I really wanted to find a way to personalize this carving.   To acheive this, I ask my client for photos.   I have my clients provide me photos of the hunt, photos of the animal taken in the field, and photos of the mounted animal.   If the animal has horns or antlers, I ask for as many photo angles of the head as possible.   Since I am going to carve a portrait of this animal to the best of my ability, all the reference material possible is needed.   Then the design starts………

When I talked with my client about his Buffalo, he explained to me how the buffalo bull was standing when came out of the bush.  My client wanted the carving to show the buffalo just like he was at the shot.  He wanted to save the memory of that moment.  And I intended to do everything in my power to do just that for him.   I found a few Cape buffalo photos that showed them standing at the angle I needed.   Then I decided which of the photos the client gave me showed the head and horns at the best angle to fit the body.  After tracing both pictures they had to be sized individually to make sure the head fit the body.  Then I reduced the size of the carving pattern to fit the gunstock.  This is a time consuming but necessary step for success.Leopard Carving on Sako gunstock image

I took the time to do three pattern options for his Cape buffalo carving and let him choose the pattern he wanted.  I also asked him if he wanted anything on the side of the rifle.  His Stock had fantastic checkering and we had decided not to touch that part of the stock. He said he liked the big cats so I agreed to put an African Lion carving on one side and a Leopard carving on the other side of the rifle.   We also decided that since the walnut stock had such beautiful grain, the carving would be done in an inlay style.  That way it added to the beauty of the wood grain, it didn’t cover it up.

I won’t go into all the carving steps here.  But it is important that you research any animals you intend to carve.  We’ve all seen Mule deer and Elk, but do you know how the horns differ between an Eland, a Kudu, or an Nyala?  Carving African animals are very different than North American game animals, so research, reference photos, and practice is imperative to give the client the animal he wants.

Thanks for stoppin’ by……

Lance Larson

2 thoughts on “A Custom Gunstock Carving that tells a Story”

  1. Lance, a very nice article-one I hope every carver reads and heeds. Great ideas, well put. Continued success to you!


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