Some of you may recall my post when I first received my custom made Martini Gunmakers .300 Win Mag. I love that gun, and it's served me well on a number of hunts since I received it. Well, this is what it looked like when I unpacked it from the Tuffpak it was packed in:
I addressed this on a thread where my original post was moved. I have no basis to blame the tuffpak at this lint, and apart from being very dirty - dirtier than I would have thought luggage would normally get - there was no damage to the tuffpak and I haven't seen any boot prints. I am virtually certain that the gun was undamaged when I packed it. I'd just shot it, and it shot fine. If it was cracked, I think I would have noticed. Equally, I took the gun out of the case twice at the airport for it to be checked, and it was fine. Note that there was another rifle in the tuffpak and it was undamaged.
So I don't know how this happened. I would still use my tuffpak until I know more.
My father makes custom flintlock rifles and he has noticed that wood with curl and figure is sometimes very unstable to the point where parts will come out while it's being sanded. The figure that makes a stock so pleasing to the eye also my hide faults that my show up later.
The break has the look of following the grain accross the wrist and as there is no splintering at all it really looks like poor stock layout although that seems a hard thing to say about a Martini made stock.
I agree with those who comment that highly figured wood is generally more prone to breakage than non-highly figured wood. But that's one of the reasons these blanks are so expensive - not only must the wood be highly figured, but it has to strong enough to withstand the forces of the gun. And a .300 win mag will generate lots of force. But having said that, people have been making highly figured stocks for more than a very long time, and the guns don't break apart. I have a .416 Rigby made by Rigby in Grade 9 (using their nomenclature for the stock), which is almost as good as it gets, and that gun generates lots of force - more than the .300. Yet never had a problem with that one.
I am realistic enough to admit that it could have been a latent defect in the stock, but Ralf Martini is first and foremost a stock maker, and one of the best (Heym uses his design for their express rifles). so it's not my first guess.
Ralf should have the gun today, and will let me know what he things once he's properly examined it. I will let you know what I hear.
Ralf has had a look. Apart from an intentional act, he thinks this could have happened from a "heavy drop . . . sideways . . . if not tightly packed in the Tuffpak." I am prepared to admit that the guns were not as tightly packed as they might have been. I had extra padding on the bottom of the case (foam), but perhaps I should have put more in between the rifles and at the top. I assumed that packed in the soft cases (good ones - lots of padding) they would be safe.
He also commented that the blank used for the broken stock was "good, hard super dry wood."
Someone mentioned getting extra foam for the Tuffpak, and I think that might be a good idea. I also have pelican cases (one rifle) which are completely padded with a cutout which exactly fits a particular rifle. I haven't had a problem with these, but then, I haven't had a problem with the Tuffpak before either.
By the way, Air Canada says it wasn't them, and I should take the matter up with CATSA (Canada's version of the TSA). How they decided that is amystery, so I will be going back to both groups and saying one of you is responsible, figure it out, because it shouldn't be me. I wish myself good luck with that.