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How can I restore the shine to my gun?

Some tips on polishing up your gun and camouflaging scratches

Making a gun stock shine

Making a gun stock shine

Almost all of us have taken our gun out of the cabinet at some time or another and thought that it could with a bit of a polish. Making your gun stock shine again isn’t difficult and can make all the difference to the appearance of your gun (although it won’t necessarily improve your shooting).

Here’s how to do it (Read our step by step guide to checking a gun for wear and tear.)

Making a gun stock shine

You must discover how the gun stock was originally finished

Reviving gun stock shine

First you must do some research to discover how the stock was finished in the gun factory. Get in touch with the manufacturer to find out the process used. Don’t use gun oil if it was varnished. Instead buff the wood up with a spot of beeswax furniture polish (don’t use synthetic spray polish) on a clean soft cloth. A very small amount of beeswax will do. (Read shotgun restoration – where to get it done and what to spend.)

On the other hand if the stock was finished with oil then you can restore it with some stock oil. Commonly available brands include CCL, Trade Secret, and Napier, while Browning Legia spray is quite good for a quick job. Never use mineral lubricating oil on wood. All stock-finishing oils should be of vegetable origin. (Read our list of the best gun oils.)

The secret is to apply a very thin coat – don’t slap the oil on. One drop in each side should do it. Let it dry out before you apply more.  Achieving a good finish can take several weeks so start early and be patient.

  • Use minimal amounts (and nothing at all on the chequering)
  • Don’t use modern spray furniture polishes as many contain a solvent which may damage the oil finish.

Read how to choose the wood for your gun stock. 

Can I disguise scratches with stock oil?

Q: I have a Beretta semi-auto with a lacquered stock. It has picked up a few scratches. Can I camouflage them with stock oil?

A: Lacquered or varnished stocks do tend to show the scars of honourable combat worse than stocks with oil finishes.

If you oil a lacquered stock, none of the oil is absorbed and it tends to remain on the surface in a sticky form for ages. During that time it can pick up dust too. Sticky and dusty – not very appealing.

Instead, as suggested above, try using a little wax furniture polish, followed by buffing with a clean, dry cloth.

Handy step-by-step guide to repairing a scratched stock

Some older varnished stocks have a glossy finish, partly due to the thickness of the varnish. Though tough and durable, this finish is not immune to damage, and scratches can become a permanent feature. Home repairs can be made using traditional methods and materials.
repairing a scratched gun stock

repairing a scratched gun stock

repairing a scratched gun stock

repairing a scratched gun stock

Is it possible to bend a shotgun’s stock?

Yes, but it’s difficult and should be left to a professional gunsmith

  • Wood is an unpredictable material.
  • An invisible internal defect can cause a disaster.
  • Assessing the grain beforehand is vital as it is not possible to bend a stock which has been cut with a short grain through the hand.

Restoring gun stock shine

Bees Wax Polish


Gun Oil


Gun Oil Spray


French Polish


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This article was originally published in 2014 and has been updated