I have seen a number of stocks fail on rifles. Not many seeing the number of firearms I have seen in use or have had to examine after they failed.
At the South Auckland Deerstalkers range, years ago, I watched a bloke lean his lovely Weatherby up against the concrete benchrest. He moved away about a metre. His rifle slid ever so slowly off the rest and landed on the grass. The stock broke clean through the pistol grip. He was incensed.
I went into work one morning and saw that the stock on a very expensive Remington over under shotgun had broken into two pieces. It was a beautiful piece of walnut. It was evident that break occurred along the line of grain change. The gun was still locked into the rack.
I’ve seen the stock of a lovely Sako rifle shattered in the magazine area. The rifle had been fired with a hand load. The catastrophic case failure had released gas into the magazine area rupturing the stock which was exactly what is supposed to happen. The owner denied any responsibility for the failure.
I’ve seen a number of rifles with breaks in the pistol grip area which were the result of heavy impacts to the rifle.
I’ve seen broken plastic stocks on rifles. One example I recall had been run over by a Landrover, another had been dropped out of a helicopter.
I’ve seen laminated stocks fail in the recoil abutment area most likely due to a lack of adhesion just in that area.
I haven’t had any stock failures in my own working rifles and I didn’t see any on workmates rifles. My own rifles have suffered the battering that hunting in rough terrain can dish out, I’ve watched in horror as my precious 308 clattered down a shingle slide after my own spectacular crash down the slide. Retrieved it scarred but unbroken. Done the same with my 270 magnum on jagged glacial moraine up the Dobson. Big gark out of the stock. Kevin Gaskill, the stock doctor, made it go away completely. Don’t know how many times I’ve crashed onto rocks travelling along rivers. Got to the surface after a beaut into the Te Waiotukapiti where the rifle took my full weight. Andy and Ian were awarding me points out of ten for style, grace, difficulty.
So when I hear that wood is not a suitable material for making hunting rifle stocks and you must have synthetic, I can only smile to myself and recall when my rifles emerged without breaking from some interesting adventures.