Improve the Fit of Any Gun

Boyds builds custom gunstocks to improve performance and the shooting experience.

Improve the Fit of Any Gun

Boyds Hardwood Gunstocks started as an expansion of the Boyd family gunsmithing business in 1981. Randy Boyd started making gunstocks because he realized that the factory gunstocks of that period suffered from a lack of consistent quality in the wood supply and a lack of features.

Randy’s goal was to improve the shooter’s experience, and Randy achieved that by building gunstocks that were better designed, had better fit, and functioned better. Today, Boyds is still a family-owned entity that offers high-quality aftermarket gunstocks for over 1,200 models of guns in over 150 different gun brands. 

Shooting Sports Retailer recently had the opportunity to talk to Boyds co-owners Dustin Knutson and Rob Carstensen about everything that goes into building a strong company and great gunstocks.

SSR: What’s the company culture like at Boyds?

Knutson and Carstensen: Boyds Gunstocks is about family. Our 90 employees are our family; and as such, we care about each other, take care of each other, and help each other succeed. Boyds is now owned by two employees who started working for Boyds on the production floor several years ago and, through hard work, achieved the ultimate goal of purchasing the company they’ve loved working for all these years. 

SSR: What makes a good gunstock?

Knutson and Carstensen: I’d prefer to answer the question, “What makes a great gunstock,” because that’s what we build at Boyds.

1.     Good Fit. A high-quality gunstock not only fits the firearm it was made for, but it also must fit the shooter well, which is one of the most overlooked aspects of a “great” gunstock.

2.     Stability of material. If you use subpar material, you’ll end up with a subpar result. Boyds uses only top-grade hardwood in the production of its stocks and rejects material that does not meet our high standards. A great gunstock needs a tough finish that seals out varying weather conditions while at the same time locking in the stability of the wood. At Boyds we check for the quality and the stability of the material upon receiving, and then take several steps to ensure that material remains stable throughout its production and ultimate sale. 

3.     Functionality of design. Boyds addresses functionality as the primary focus of design. “Better With Boyds” is not just a slogan, it’s our mission. Most manufacturers of gunstocks focus on ease of manufacturing and cost with a one-size-fits-all design, but we don’t do it that way at Boyds. At Boyds we build a gunstock that is designed to fit the gun better, designed to fit the human better, and designed to better fit the shooting situation. That’s why when it comes to gunstocks, we feel that everything is “Better With Boyds.

SSR: How do you go about designing and creating new models, selecting the materials and finishes that get used on your stocks?

Knutson and Carstensen: When creating a new model stock shape, our team of experienced engineers looks at several aspects in the design process with the ultimate goal of producing a design that achieves the best results for the intended end user.

For instance, with the expansion of multi-stage rifle competitions like PRS where a target shooter needs the ability to adjust the gun’s fit based upon a specific shooting stage or shooting style, Boyds’ At-One stock allows a person to quickly and easily adjust the stock for best fit and optimal target engagement. Boyds’ Pro Varmint was designed primarily to be used in concert with some type of shooting support like a bench bag, shooting vise or a bipod. Designs like the Classic and Prairie Hunter are typical designs that work well when shot in the field from a wide variety of positions. All our 25 shapes were a result of consumer demand that was translated into a final stock shape through Boyds’ years of experience and its skilled engineering team. In the end, all our stock designs help the shooter improve their shooting results and appeal to their personal style. 

Without giving away our trade secrets let me just say it this way: Boyds selects only the best, top-grade materials and rejects all materials that do not meet our high standards.   

The finishes we use are proprietary and are the highest quality. Our finishes provide the toughest, most durable protection possible. These finishes seal the stock completely and stabilize the wood so that it does not react to environmental conditions out in the field. Available in satin or high gloss, the finishes we apply not only protect our stocks from weather but bring out the true beauty and warmth of the wood, keeping them looking great long into the future.


SSR: Talk a bit about the different characteristics of hardwood, hardwood laminate and composite stocks.

Knutson and Carstensen: Hardwood has been the standard for all gunstock manufacturers for many years. Properly selected and properly manufactured, hardwood is still a good, viable choice. The deep, rich grain patterns and color variations of solid hardwood provide a depth, warmth and beauty that cannot be matched by any other material. 

Laminated hardwood stocks have been used in some of the world’s most accurate factory and custom rifles to date. Hardwood laminates are a very stable substrate and are not affected by cold, heat or moisture like other materials. Hardwood laminate stocks provide a more rigid, more stable shooting platform that translates into better consistency, greater strength and, ultimately, better accuracy. 

Composites are not created equally. They can vary all over the board in stiffness, rigidity and durability. While composites are not affected by moisture, they are affected by temperature and can flex quite a bit, and the flexibility of the material affects accuracy. Some composites can even crack in cold weather, warp in hot weather, or otherwise fail after a few years of use. Composite stocks also generally lack the warmth and aesthetic appeal of solid hardwood and hardwood laminate.

SSR: You’re not the only aftermarket stock manufacturer. What distinguishes Boyds?

Knutson and Carstensen: No, we’re not the only aftermarket gunstock manufacturer in the world, but we are the largest. You don’t get to be that big and that successful by doing things wrong. Boyds grew to be this large and successful by producing what we consider to be the best aftermarket gunstocks on the planet, both in quality, design and versatility. We achieved this by giving the customer exactly what they wanted at the best price possible. Our whole business model is based on customizing, giving people the opportunity to choose for themselves the type and style of stock they want built for their guns. 

Some other stock manufacturers offer a one-size-fits-all business model, but that’s not what we do here at Boyds. We don’t build a product for a Model “X”, we build the best product for your Model “X” and give you many different options and add-ons to customize your stock and make it personal. Built-to-order, that’s what Boyds is about, and have it delivered in about 14 days. We’ve designed the whole aftermarket gunstock business model to satisfy the customer.


SSR: What’s your top selling stock model?

Knutson and Carstensen: Our At-One and Featherweight Thumbhole stock designs are always in the fight for top billing, along with several others.


SSR: What trends are you seeing in the world of aftermarket upgrades, and how has that changed over the years?

Knutson and Carstensen: One important trend we’ve seen in the world of aftermarket upgrades is adjustability and improved functionality. Our newest stock, Boyds’ Agility, is a perfect example. The Agility provides the keystone feature of adjustable length of pull that the public wants and demands but at the same time embraces the sleek, smooth lines of old-world styling combined with the traditional Monte Carlo shape that customers have come to love and expect in a high-quality gunstock.


SSR: Has demand for aftermarket stocks mirrored the increased demand for firearms over the past couple years? Knutson and Carstensen: Yes, which is encouraging because so much of that growth was fueled by tactical firearms and handguns, which are not our core market. Our strongest growth segments can be seen in a resurgence in interest in refurbishing legacy firearms and the improvement of long guns. Once again, because we have long-term experience with a variety of firearms, we can build products that focus on improvement and don’t just have to chase trends.

SSR: Your website provides a good guide and ordering platform for consumers. How do you work with retailers to help them make in-store sales?

Knutson and Carstensen: We have a strong dealer network in the U.S. and internationally. Dealers have been trained to assist customers who may be unsure which product is right for them. Boyds’ dealers enjoy a special dealer pricing structure that gives them the margins they need to help them sustain their business model. Many of those dealers adopt a hybrid model that specializes in supporting the Boyds models and the services that they already sell. Any dealer can order any product that Boyds sells. Because our manufacturing model is fluid and extremely efficient, we provide our product to the dealer in a very timely manner, which helps dealers greatly with their inventory management and eliminates worries about inventory turn rates. We make all our gunstocks right here in Mitchell, South Dakota.


SSR: Beyond supplying retailers, how does Boyds support the shooting sports?

Knutson and Carstensen: Boyds is a big supporter of wildlife conservation. We find it our duty to help ensure that the wildlife community remains healthy and productive so that those who come after us can also enjoy what we now enjoy. Boyds supports the shooting sports in many different ways and at many levels; from supporting youth shooting clubs to sponsoring shooting competitions. Boyds also supports industry groups like the NSSF and NRA who do so much for the firearms industry. We feel that helping build a better shooting sports community is the responsibility of every company operating within the firearms industry. 


SSR: What will 2022 and beyond hold for Boyds? Are there new offerings in the pipeline?

Knutson and Carstensen: Boyds is always engineering new stock shapes that up to the present point have not been available in the marketplace. Boyds’ stock shapes are unique and designed with direct customer input in mind. Our product line is wide-reaching; we make gunstocks for nearly every long gun category, from hunting to target shooting, plinking to tactical, and everything in between. We see clear opportunities to offer aftermarket stock upgrades for all action types as well as for gun models that have a very large historical number in distribution. From rimfire to centerfire, the firearms market continues to grow and expand, and Boyds is positioned to quickly respond to trends and customer demands in the marketplace for many years to come. We here at Boyds are just as optimistic today as we were 40 years ago. 


SSR: Anything else you’d like to add?

Knutson and Carstensen: Boyds is a company of good, hardworking, caring people. We care about doing a great job in manufacturing our product, we care about our customers, and we care deeply for our employees. Taking care of our employees is one key to our success because this directly translates into our employees taking care of our customers and delivering high-quality products.


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.