Re: Dealing with a Salts stock
The only, and I mean only, remedy for salt wood is the burn pile. There has been no sealant, refinishing, or anything else that has proven to salvage a salted stock. Don't try, as refinishing seems to even make a salty stock saltier.
The 'salt wood' period is generally 1966 to 1971, with the later years showing the most production, and can be found in any Browning model. Superposed shotguns, T-Bolt and High-Power Bolt Action rifles are the most commonly encountered with salt wood, especially in higher grades. I recently looked at an Olympian Grade Bolt-Action that was badly rusted from salt wood. Breaks the heart of this old Browning collector I assure you.
But, it's not only Browning. Winchester Model 12 shotguns have shown up with salt wood. Bishop and Fajen both bought blanks from the same suppliers in California and Missouri that used the salt-cure process. Weatherby, too.
This was not Browning's idea. They were selling so many guns in the 1960's that they could not supply enough kiln-dried blanks to FN and production was bottlenecked waiting on stock blanks. A couple of blank manufacturers came up with the idea of packing the stock blanks in salt to speed the drying process, and it worked. The idea was that the finishing of the blank would cut away any salt that had seeped into the surface of the blank. Nobody had any idea the salt would absorb that far into the blank to make it into the finished stock, but it did.
So, any higher grade rifle or shotgun from Browning or Weatherby from that time period needs to be checked before purchasing. Pull the buttplate screws and look for rust. Take the forends off of shotguns (sometimes only the forend or the buttstock were salted on a particular gun). If you think you can knowingly purchase a salt-wood gun and have it fixed and come out ahead, you are probably wrong. The cost of repair and restocking the gun will be as much or more than the gun is worth.
Art's Gun Shop in Hillsboro, MO is the specialist in restoring salted guns. They can make it look new, including welding up pits, restoring engraving, etc. NOT cheap.
I've been a BACA member and gunsmith working on Browning for many years. Trust me, burn the stock.
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