Q: When Sporting Gun says in its gun tests that a particular model’s wood-to-metal fit is good, what does the reviewer mean? I am currently looking at buying a used O/U and it would be helpful if I knew what I need to be looking for.

A: Good wood-to-metal fit means that in areas where the wood meets the metal it does so exactly, with not even the tiniest of gaps.

In some areas this wood-to-metal fit can be purely cosmetic, but one of the most critical areas is at the head of the stock, where the gun’s action is let into the wood. This is where the full forces of recoil are transmitted from the metal into the wood, and an exact fit here means that the forces are evenly distributed through as much of the wood as possible.

A sloppy fit here can lead to cracking of the wood and a tendency for the stock to work loose. I once heard of poor wood- to-metal fit on a gun offered in a private sale to be disguised with brown shoe polish, so keep your eyes open!