Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland


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Castle Gunmakers, Norham, Northumberland

Here at Castle Gunmakers we specialise in all types of shotgun restocking and upgrades, from ‘Best Guns’ such as Holland and Holland, Purdey and Boss, to all types of boxlocks and over and unders. Whether you have a damaged stock that needs replacing, or are just wanting to improve the quality of the wood, we have the ability to source top quality stock blanks. Barry Wilcox, our most senior and experienced gunsmith has an eye for choosing the best blanks to match your requirements. He recently sourced the blank for this lovely Watson 20 bore shotgun that came in for restocking due to breakage.

Shotgun restocking and upgrades   Shotgun restocking and upgrades   Shotgun restocking and upgrades

Although highly figured wood is very sought after today, this was not always the case. In the early years of sporting shotgun production and even in the ‘Golden Years’ of gunmaking between the two World Wars, beautifully figured grain was not the norm. Often the priority of the gunmaker was the strength and durability that came from wood that had straight grain through the hand of the stock. An example of this can be seen in the pictures below – a pair of our own bespoke shotguns.


Each gunmaker had his own ideas and ideals when it came to choosing the style of wood for their stocks. Purdey’s choice was usually a strong, straight, heavy grain running to the toe whilst Holland and Boss chose darkish wood that was straight through the hand, becoming more figured further down the stock. Westley Richards often went for wood containing rich deep red and orange hues.

We often hear the term ‘French Walnut’ when talking about the type of wood used for stocks. This now more accurately describes the Genus (Juglans Regia) of the tree, than its country of origin. Most wood for gun stocks now comes from the Kurdish region of Turkey as there are almost no suitable trees left in France and certainly little or none in the UK. Walnut is also available from Azerbaijan, Iran and neighbouring regions. Claro walnut (Juglans Hindsii), the black walnut from the west coast of America, is often used, but only on over and under shotguns as it is heavier. It often has striking grain but can be more brittle and so we prefer not to use it.


We recently restocked the 20 bore Beretta over and under shown below and it is one of a trio that had suffered an irreparable breakage. At some point in their history this trio have all had the combs raised to ‘Monte Carlo’ by way of a piece of wood spliced into the original stock. This was not carried out by ourselves but has been done very well. We restocked this shotgun to reproduce the exact measurements of the other two guns, as well as making sure that the walnut was a good match. The result speaks for itself!

Beretta stock

With 50+ years in the gun trade, Barry at Castle Gunmakers is passionate about sourcing high quality walnut, ensuring that all shotgun restocking and upgrades are carried out to the highest standards of appearance, workmanship and fit. We will be happy to discuss any aspects of restocking your shotgun and are happy to provide insurance estimates – just get in touch.

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