First of all, it is quite hard and dense. When properly seasoned it is also relatively resistant to warping and splitting.

The better samples also have a most attractive grain pattern which looks brilliant when finished by a craftsman.

It is also relatively widely distributed, with species which thrive in Europe and the USA.

An alternative for cheaper guns is beech, which has most of walnut’s qualities but virtually no grain pattern.

Its natural colour is a sort of pale, pinky brown, which means that it is usually stained to a darker shade for use in gun woodwork.

I have also come across rifle stocks made of maple, while I understand the Russians made probably millions of military rifle stocks out of birch – and, goodness knows, there’s enough of that in Siberia! I have also heard of myrtle being used.

I also once examined a big-game rifle stocked in an exotic African hardwood with natural black and yellow stripes.

It looked great but after more than 30 years I can’t recall the name of the wood.