- By Pete Moore
- 0 Comments
- Last updated: 15/12/2016
When it comes to quality rifle stocks we tend mainly to think of names like McMillan and HS Precision etc. In the more one-off and bespoke line there are a few companies who stand out too, but a name I had not heard of before is Gun Stocks Ireland which is just one man – Enda Walsh. So with more people wanting pure custom work I was asked to take a closer look.
Enda has been a craft worker for many years having spent his life working as a master glass blower in Ireland’s well known Waterford Crystal before its collapse. His other passion is working with timber where he spent much of his spare time making beautiful wood carvings, tables, chairs, kitchens etc.
He is also a keen shooter and over the past decade started putting his skills into stock making. Initially little more than a hobby, but quality will out and soon friends and colleagues were taking notice and started asking for work for themselves. This decided him to have a go at making a career out of it and from what I have seen so far; the boy done good!
His outfit is high up on the hills in a beautiful remote part of Dungarvan, County Waterford. A very well kitted out workshop with everything you would expect to see, but the one thing I was totally in awe of were the stocks he created. His standard of work is little short of exemplary and, apart from machinery for roughing out the blanks, everything else is done by his own hands. “No robots here” he said, “this is all just total man hours and dedicated excellence.”
I asked him how long a full custom stock build takes from blank to completion and he reckoned about 85-hours. He stressed that the final finish is tedious and takes up to 15-coats to finally get that glasslike finish, check out the photographs… Enda also offers a unique feature should you wish it, which makes your job a true one-off! Here a copy is taken from the shooter’s firing hand. This is done using plaster of Paris and the shooter wraps their hand around a purpose made fixture. This results in a perfect copy of the clients’ handprint which will later be replicated into the stock.
Enda also puts a kit together for his international customers that don’t have the means to come and meet him in person but still want to have this feature. He sends it out coupled with an instructional DVD which explains in full detail exactly what they need to do to get there hand impression replicated and sent back.
Enda is fast becoming a big name across Ireland having produced some excellent pieces for many competition shooters and avid hunters alike. He also does a lot of work for some of the big names in the custom scene like Fergal White (Ireland Custom Rifle) and Callum Ferguson (Precision Rifle Services) in Scotland. He has his own RFD so customers can leave there firearms with him for the work in progress. This facility is equally useful for overseas clients too, as he can also take care of all the documentation required.
I asked Enda to explain what he does and can offer. “Custom stocks made from solid wood or laminate. I make my own laminate blanks from whatever wood or combination of woods the customer specifies. I also use coloured laminate blanks which are proving popular and here is a list of my services, however I stress that some will only suit certain styles of stocks.”
Inletting for any action can be catered for, stress-free glass and pillar bedding, hand and grip matched perfectly to customers hand shape and position (as detailed). Adjustable cheekpieces, bag runners and butt plates. Choices of oil or lacquer finishes, which can be finished in a matt or buffed to a glass-like shine. Grip caps of polished aluminium, buffalo horn, ebony or wenge (tropical hard wood), forend tips in choice of woods and forend vents. Stock inletting and re-finishing with a case annealing service for reloaders, which currently is only a pilot scheme but should come on line full time. Hand-cut and laser-cut chequering and stippling and of course any reasonable or in some cases unreasonable request. After all this is a custom house and the impossible just take a bit longer!
What the Customer Wants
Enda continued: “I don’t have a rigid set of stock-styles the customer chooses. Most of the time they will pick individual aspects from a variety of styles and I will marry all these together to form the finished product. I do have and am continually expanding my basic models, but most people have their own preferences which I go to great lengths to tease out of them at initial meetings as my goal is to give them their dream shooting set up. As I shoot F-open, F-tr and am also a keen hunter I understand the various needs, practicalities and intricacies of each discipline.”
“When a customer comes to me I go through a whole checklist to determine exactly the use or uses of the firearm and go through all possible aspects needed or wanted and then decide on exactly what the finished product should be. I have a stock for measuring up the client, and design each stock to work flawlessly with the component parts of the rifle to give a finished product that looks and works flawlessly. I spend a lot of time on fit and finish and strive to achieve a seamless mating of stock to action and always recommend glass and pillar bedding for ultimate accuracy. The rifle must look good but without accuracy you don’t have the full package!”
So how much for all this excellence, well how long is a piece of string? In finishing Enda said this: “As regards price, each job is one of a kind so hard to call, but could go anywhere from €590 to €1200 depending on components and the level of work required.”
You may not want a full custom creation, however, you may have a favourite stock that has seen better days and want it sorting, or just better bedding etc, so it’s all there. From what I have seen Enda can do the lot both with only one level of quality, ability and dedication – 100%.
Just to whet your appetite Fergal White (Ireland Custom Rifle) is building a custom rifle for the magazine to look at and is handing over the stock design and build to Enda. Not sure what it is yet but I am looking forward to what is going to be created, as I reckon it’s going to be very special. As the project progresses we will be following the build process through on a regular basis with advice and options from both of them as to how a one-off creation such as this comes together.
Contact: Enda Walsh (Gun Stocks Ireland), Mobile: 087 661 1993
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