Until fairly recently, the thumbhole stock was considered to be somewhat extreme, embraced only by bench-rest shooters and those who simply like having their rifles stand out from the ordinary. Today, it’s a different story. More and more hunters and shooters are switching to the thumbhole stock—and it’s not because it draws attention—though that is still part of its allure.
For one thing, the thumbhole design allows for a lot more style flexibility. Yes, by definition, every stock of this genre has a hole into which the thumb must be inserted. But other than that, there’s a lot more latitude for individuality than with the neo-classic or Monte Carlo stock. For a long time, the Harry Lawson Cochise Thumbhole was the consummate example of way-out styling, but some current offerings make his signature stock look fairly bland in comparison.
Form Follows Function
It’s not just the iconoclastic aspect of the thumbhole stock that is gaining adherents—the basic design is actually more functional than conventional stocks. For one thing, the grip is more vertical, and as such, it positions the hand in a more natural and less strained attitude. You can test this for yourself by simply shouldering a rifle (or shotgun) with an English or straight grip, then one with a pistol grip, and then one with a thumbhole. You’ll easily notice that the more vertical the hand position, the less strain you’ll feel in your wrist. Or you can simply clench your fist and hold your hand out in front of you as if aiming a pistol. You’ll find that your hand naturally positions itself at about the same angle as the grip on a thumbhole stock. Not only does the thumbhole design give a more natural, comfortable grip for the hand, but it’s also claimed to provide a more precise control of the trigger.
Personally, I have never been able to prove that to my satisfaction, for I can’t discern any difference in that regard between a thumbhole stock and a conventional pistol grip.