Some of you who know me as “ronin” back on the AKFiles way back when may recall that I bought my dad a M1 Garand, his bucket list rifle, back in 2011 after he was diagnosed with cancer. Just in case something ever happened to the AKFiles post, I had saved the text and photos and put them into a blog post on my site [click here].
My dad passed away in 2014 and I couldn’t even look at the rifle – it just hurt too much. I talked to one of my best friends, Scott, about it because he’d lost his dad too and he told me to just tuck it away and look at it some day in the future. He knew the rifle meant a lot to me and I took his advice.
So fast forward to the present time. I finally decided it was time to look at the Garand and make sure it wasn’t rusting. I recalled oiling it before putting it away the last time but that was six years previous. At any rate, I opened the CMP case up and everything looked good.
I then rolled back the Limbsaver pad off the butt of the stock – I’d put it there so the rifle wouldn’t kick my dad too hard – and the wood had visibly dried out under the Limbsaver. I really don’t know why – it must have been something to do with the polymer in the Limbsaver slip-on pad and the linseed oil on the stock.
It was a shock and really started me. My dad was the one who taught me how to shoot and clean firearms. That I might have let him down and hurt his rifle did not sit well at all.
It turns out that the original buttstocks were finished with linseed oil and the dark reddish color they take on over time is from the linseed oil oxidizing. This was real linseed oil that is sometimes called raw or pure linseed oil and not boiled linseed oil that will have chemicals added to it to speed up the drying time.
I did some digging and found SunnySide Raw Linseed oil on Amazon.com in both pint and gallon containers. If you are touching up wood, a pint is plenty. I bought a gallon to have for other uses and I may have it a long time given my current rate of usage.
With raw linseed oil, be very sure to lightly applied it to the wood and let it soak in and dry before applying the next. I did two very light coats over several days. Never put it on thick or it will get gummy and may never dry.
Also, there is a real important fire hazard you need to know. When linseed oil dries it gets hot and can spontaneously combust. You do not want to crumple up towels that have linseed oil on them and toss them in your trash – they just might ignite.
I take my old towels and burn them in my burn barrel. Some guys who can’t do that will lay the towels out flat on bricks or concrete that can’t burn and let them dry before throwing them out. When laid flat they do not get hot enough to catch fire and are safe once dry.
Let me reinforce an earlier comment – this stuff dries slow. Apply it thin, let it dry all the way before you install the next coat. I would definitely recommend making sure it is fully dried before putting the rifle back into a case or the padding in the case may stick to the finish. I guess a hard lesson learned for me from years ago is that when it comes to finishes, you need to do your homework about how to apply each type and be patient. When I was younger I was very impatient and ran into different problems many times. With my dad’s Garand, I knew to be very patient.
If you have a Garand with a dry stock, try appling one or more light coats of raw linseed oil and let it dry all the way. The results were amazing. So, I checked the Garand over all the way, oiled it again, left the slip on recoil pad off the stock and put it back in storage. Maybe I will take it to the range this summer and remember my dad.
I hope this helps you out.
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