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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Shooters of the Swiss rifles, particularly the K31, are aware of the prevalence of "butt blight" or "butt rash" with these rifles. This is the damage of the stock wood in the vicinity of the butt plate. Much discussion of this on the Swiss forum tends to point at the practice of stacking ("piling" for our UK members) with the butts in snow. The severity of the damage seems to concentrate on the K31's with beech stocks, which were used to replace walnut in the middle of WWII.

Now we Swedish M96 shooters don't seem to have this problem. Many M96's and all Husqvarna M38's have beech stocks. We have seen photos of Swedish Mausers stacked in the snow. So what is the difference?

One theory I came up with is that the Swiss beech K31 stocks were finished with shellac. As far as I know, the Swedish rifle stocks were finished only with linseed oil. So my question to the brains trust here is whether linseed oil protection may be the reason Swedish rifle stocks, by and large, are in very nice condition compared to their equivalent-aged K31's with their shellac coating.
 

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My understanding is that the beaver tooth marks on the stocks of K31's are from the soldiers boots when, after being stacked in snow, they kicked the rifles loose from where they were frozen in place. Whether this is true or just some urban myth I don't have a clue.

But I do know that there is probably no relation to how rifles were treated by the citizen soldiers in Switzerland vs how they were treated by Swedish soldiers.
 

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Not an expert, but, I have handled a few axes in my day. The linseed oiled handles are far above the hardware store shellac. I would think rifle stocks would be similar. I wonder if the Swedish stocks had linseed oil reapplied in the way they took care of everything else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
My understanding is that the beaver tooth marks on the stocks of K31's are from the soldiers boots when, after being stacked in snow, they kicked the rifles loose from where they were frozen in place.

IMO there is absolutely no relation to how rifles were treated by the citizen soldiers in Switzerland vs how they were treated by Swedish soldiers.
If you are interested in pursuing this, check out the Swiss forum. A point already made there is that the kicking with cleated boots theory has been discredited. Swiss rifles with walnut stocks, which were linseed oiled, show nowhere near the same amount of damage.
 

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If you are interested in pursuing this, check out the Swiss forum. A point already made there is that the kicking with cleated boots theory has been discredited. Swiss rifles with walnut stocks, which were linseed oiled, show nowhere near the same amount of damage.
I have looked at a number of images of Swiss stock damage. It looks to be water damage. Black stains near metal attachments from iron. If desired these stains can be removed with oxalic acid wood bleach in hot water followed by recommended neutralization. Then the finish replenished after adequate drying.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Linseed oil has far better water repellent properties than shellac.
That seems to be the reason. An oiled stock can be maintained easily enough by the soldier with a light rubdown with linseed oil. The shellac may be adequate when freshly applied, but I expect time and handling wear resulted in micro cracks that allowed water penetration. The only thing Swiss soldiers were authorized to use was their Waffenfett bore cleaner and preservative. Waffenfett was basically a mixture of tallow and olive oil.

Anyhow, the Swedes got it right using linseed oil to finish their beech stocks.
 

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I will certainly agree that the linseed oil is far better at resisting water than shellac. But I have a couple of K31's and both of then show more damage to the lower portion of the stock than mere water intrusion would indicate. On both of mine there are bruises to the wood that indicate impact damage.



The rest of this rifle is nearly pristine. I find it hard to believe that the only bad handling the rifle received happened only to the rear portion. As you can see, the only damage is to the butt portion of the stock the rest of the stock shows what I would consider normal handling wear. The bluing is about 100%.




 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Pavia: I vaguely recall that "P" - Pierre St. Marie on the Swiss forum - posted some pics of the K31 slung with full pack many years ago. This is a possible factor, but does not explain why M1911 Langgewehr's are not also beaten up. The K11 was issued to other than infantry, but even so I presume regulation pack configuration was the same for all branches of the army.
 

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Did the Swiss have mounted troops that would have the rifle in a scabbard with the buttstock exposed? This could account for a lot of dings and stains on the exposed wood. But again, why apparently only the Beechwood stocks?

Edit: OK, I found some pics. I guess that could be a reason.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Did the Swiss have mounted troops that would have the rifle in a scabbard with the buttstock exposed? This could account for a lot of dings and stains on the exposed wood. But again, why apparently only the Beechwood stocks?

Edit: OK, I found some pics. I guess that could be a reason.
From the pictures I've seen of the standard Swiss rifle scabbard, and the one actual scabbard I saw at a gun show, there is no flap covering the butt, so it is conceivable that the exposed part of the butt could be subjected to impact with e.g. branches. But the K11 was originally specific to the cavalry, and these spent a lot more time in scabbards, without sustaining anywhere near the same amount of butt blight.
 
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