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Old April 8, 2014, 10:19 PM   #1
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Is there a functional component to the traditional ebony foreend tip?

What's the origin of these - they're still the standard in high-end classic rifles (well all "classic" styles, for that matter). Any reason other than aesthetics? Something to do with better base for pressure-bedding or similar perhaps? Denser wood for holding the front sling swivel? Just curious, since I don't think they add all that much to aesthetics.. just me.
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Old April 8, 2014, 11:25 PM   #2
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I like the looks of a black forend tip on well done walnut stocks with good checkering.

Most of the old M70's I see had no forend tip and they are considered classics.

Don't know if I have seen swivel studs in added on forends?

Here is a custom of mine on a pre-64 M70 action.

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Old April 9, 2014, 01:53 AM   #3
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Contrasting forend tips, like pistol grip caps are decorative. Its a style thing.

A rifle with them doesn't do anything a rifle without them can't do, except look fancy (er).

yes, you can say a pistol grip cap protects that part of the stock, and you can say that using a different piece of wood for the forend tip makes pressure bedding the barrel easier, but all they really do for most is just look neat.

A clear visual indicator that extra "care" was used in making the gun. Or so we are supposed to think...
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Old April 9, 2014, 09:32 AM   #4
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Ebony is much harder than walnut and less likely to show damage to the end grain of the wood.
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Old April 9, 2014, 11:41 AM   #5
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Photo taken from Gunbroker of a pre-64 M70 Supergrade .375 H&H.

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Old April 9, 2014, 01:42 PM   #6
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I really like the looks of the rose wood stock tips, but it's purely aesthetic.

Now, the schnabel tips are functional, for a nice offhand hold, plus they add some style as well.
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Old April 10, 2014, 04:21 AM   #7
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My understanding,which could be wrong,the forend cap was to seal off the end grain of the forend.

End grain is most susceptible to wicking moisture.

That may be the functional orgin.Style took off from there.
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Old April 10, 2014, 03:39 PM   #8
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How does one seal the end grain of wood stocks in the action area? Lots of wood there has nothing touching it.
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Old April 10, 2014, 03:54 PM   #9
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Shellac, lacquer, bedding, polyurethane, car wax, furniture polish, oil - anything that seals the pores in the wood.

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Old April 11, 2014, 02:13 AM   #10
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I made no claim a forend cap sealed all the end grain in a stock.I made no claim it was even effective.Somewhere along the way,maybe in a Rifle magazine or gunsmithing book ,who knows?A Ross Seifred article?I read that the horn forend cap was an attempt to seal the end grain.
The OP asked if anyone had ever heard of a functional reason,and I had come across that one.
Pardon me for trying to offer an answer.
Got a better one?
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Old April 12, 2014, 07:59 PM   #11
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I've never heard or read anything about helping seal the end grain, but the thought has crossed my mind. The end grain under the buttplate and at the forend is the most susceptible to drawing in moisture.

Walnut became the traditional gunstock material because at the time it was the cheapest wood that could be worked easily and still offer reasonable strength. It is not the strongest, toughest or best looking wood by a long shot. Covering the end with a much tougher wood, animal bone, or even hard plastic would help strengthen and seal the end. Same as on the grip cap. Having a tougher material in these areas probably also helps protect them and prevent them from splitting. When you split firewood, you hit the end grain.

Of course the real answer is probably something like this. Some hunter dropped his rifle and broke the end of the stock off. The only thing he could find to repair the broken stock with was a much darker piece of wood. After he finished all of his friends looked at it and said, "Man that looks good, I think I'll do mine that way."
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Old April 13, 2014, 09:44 AM   #12
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I don't know- I have a few suspicions on that topic... maybe a thought or two. The traditional ebony- (that's what's been around longest as endcaps- right?) is an oily wood that's a tad more difficult to work with, and harder to produce the same finish on due to the oil content. And they are generally held on by two to three simple dowel pins glued and pressed into place. Am I right so far? I don't know that they had a whole lot of epoxies available in the 1920's (+/-) that were all that effective on the oily ebony. With those thoughts/suspicions- I suspect that the end caps were just a touch of class, and as someone said earlier- a means of spending more on something that someone had to put more work, skill, and craftsmanship into.
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Old April 13, 2014, 10:31 AM   #13
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"My understanding,which could be wrong,the forend cap was to seal off the end grain of the forend."

Further, that ebony is quite a bit harder than the walnut, and the tip is probably more likely to bonk stuff. Probably the same reason the grip pommel is usually something harder. The Schaubel stag forends (which I think look like mushrooms or leg bones ) are also a way of armoring the rifle, while giving a nice hand stop. As old as the practice is, I highly doubt it is purely decorative in function (styles come and go); these rifles were purpose built as lightweight and durable game stalkers.

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Old April 14, 2014, 07:04 PM   #14
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Most of the "ebony" forend caps sold in the last couple decades are actually plastic, not ebony or any other wood stained to look like ebony. Tupper-wood. Almost all of Remington's caps are now this way.

That just screams high-end quality doesn't it? I wasn't big on how they looked anyway, but to each his own.
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Old April 14, 2014, 07:15 PM   #15
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What's the origin of these - they're still the standard in high-end classic rifles (well all "classic" styles, for that matter). Any reason other than aesthetics? Something to do with better base for pressure-bedding or similar perhaps? Denser wood for holding the front sling swivel?
Nothing more than aesthetics imo. And you would not likely affix a front sling swivel that far forward in most rifle stocks for ideal carrying purposes-and, yes, I'm aware that front sling swivels are mounted on the barrels of some rifles but that position is usually reserved for very hard-kicking rifles that would otherwise do harm to the supporting hand.
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Old April 16, 2014, 09:46 PM   #16
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End grain?
There's end grain in many places on a rifle stock...not just the forend.
Grain flows through the wrist on "proper" gunstock blank-meaning you've got end grain top as well as bottom on even a semi pistol-grip such as this:

Can't think of them in terms of dimensional lumber, they're not.

Pure aesthetics IMO. More durable, probably. But unless you're in the habit of pounding the muzzle end of your stock into the ground, I don't see that as particularly relevant.
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