A Manuel Ricardo visit

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Daz W

Well-known member
Joined
Oct 12, 2020
Messages
193
Location
Hertfordshire
Apologies, this is a long post. TL : DR at the bottom if you’re after a quick read.

Before we start, a bit about me. I’m 6ft 4, north of 18st, size 11 gloves. In the industry I’m in we have to design our equipment to fit the 5th to the 95th percentile of people. I’m 97th. Off the shelf guns don’t fit me by a long shot.

I did consider an adjustable type stock such as TSK or Ergosign, but although I see the benefits of them, I don’t like the look. Also you’re limited by choice of grips, and you still have your old forend.

I decided to have a custom stock and forend made, and there’s one name that immediately springs to mind, Manuel Ricardo. I priced it all up, and I could fly to Porto, stay in a hotel and get custom woodwork for significantly less money than I could in the UK. I did consider their “One click gunstock” option, but any minor tweaking would then have to be done in the UK and then the stock possibly re-chequered and refinished.

Booking the trip

So I emailed the guys at Manuel Ricardo. Received a reply from João Seco, their Customer Service representative and booked in a date. João is really helpful, speaks excellent English, and will he be your contact and translator throughout the MR process. He will also sort out the permit you need for your gun, as we are no longer able to use the European Firearms Pass. He can also assist in booking a hotel if needed.

I booked flights on EasyJet from Luton to Porto. If you intend using another airline, check to see if they allow firearms. Cost an extra £37 each way to fly with a firearm, and you’ll need a suitable case to carry it in. I managed to pick up a Peli IM3100 case on eBay for a very reasonable price.

I also booked the São Félix Hotel. This is where the majority of MR clients stay. Manuel Ricardo’s old factory and the Clube de Tiro de São Pedro Rates (the shooting ground previously used) were only minutes away from this. Unfortunately, they are no longer, apparently the new town Mayor is anti-shooting. Last year I had heard some rumours on some UK shooting grounds that MR had closed, they haven’t, they were just moving.

The São Félix Hotel offers B&B or half board. I booked half board, as the hotel is fairly remote, and other restaurants are a taxi ride away. The hotel itself has a pool, pool table, bar, free Wi-Fi, English TV channels (news, movies, and entertainment). There is a kettle in the room, but take your own tea & coffee, as it wasn’t provided in the room. Breakfast is a typical continental buffet type affair: tea, coffee, juices, cereals, yoghurts, pastries, fruit, cold meats and cheeses, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages. Half board evening meal offers a choice of starters, meat, fish or vegetarian main course and a choice of dessert. À la carte and drinks are extras, both very reasonably priced. The hotel can arrange transportation to and from the airport, which can be done at the time of booking. The hotel is in a small village, at the top of a hill. Very picturesque steps down to the village. A serious amount of steps. It is very quiet, so don’t expect a vibrant nightlife.

There were 2 other chaps there that were visiting MR too. Quite nice having 2 other shooters to hang around with, otherwise time away from the MR factory could have been fairly quiet. Typical shooting banter soon over a few beers soon develops.



Outward journey

Flying out was pretty simple. EasyJet will advise the bag drop for you flight opens 2 hrs before departure. Got there 3 hours before, because of the gun. Got to the EasyJet bag drop, told them I was flying with a firearm. Checked in my suitcase as normal. Supervisor was called to deal with the gun. Filled in a 4 colour firearms declaration form (1 copy for you, 1 goes in the gun case, 2 for the airport). Blag a 2nd copy for the return journey if you can. Then I was escorted straight to the front of the queue at Excess and Oversize Baggage, much to the disgust of numerous skiers already there. Gun case opened, serial numbers, licence and permits checked. Yellow copy of the 4 colour form goes into the case. You get the white top copy. Case locked and tagged as a firearm. Gun then goes on its merry way.

Arrival in Porto begins as normal; Passport Control and then Baggage Reclaim. Gun is reclaimed from Lost Property, which is at the end of the baggage arrivals hall. Then escorted through the Red Channel at customs, gun case opened, serial numbers and permits checked. Turn left out of customs to the Police office, gun and permits checked again, then off you go. Taxi driver arranged by the hotel was waiting for me at the Police office.

Monday

João arranged for us to be picked up from the hotel at 10:45. All in country communications were via WhatsApp. Met promptly at the hotel by Júlio, their IT manager, who also speaks excellent English, and driven the 10 mins to the MR factory. Coffee and introductions, then time to choose some wood. The wood selection is unreal. Wood selection goes from grades 1 to 5, then exhibition 1 to 5, then finally premium. Wherever I looked, the same piece of exhibition 2 kept catching my eye. Bit more chat about the requirements for the stock (shooting disciplines, glove grips, adjustable combs etc). I don’t shoot trap or skeet, so don’t want to be locked into a glove grip, but an adjustable comb is always handy. I also requested a “standard” recoil pad, plus a thinner one to compensate for thicker clothing in the winter months.

Now for a gunfit. You can have your measurements taken there, or take your own with you. I have previously had a gunfit in UK, a MR gunfit went way beyond this. A UK gunfit, in my limited experience, will generally be tailored for adapting your existing stock to fit you. As MR are making a brand-new stock, their gunfit (performed by Manuel) takes into account much more. LOP, comb (cast & drop), stock (cast at heel/toe), pad pitch, Monte Carlo (if required) grip (size, angles & palm swell). Plus numerous other measurements. Needless to say, it’s very comprehensive. Manuel picked up an eyesight issue on one of the guys, that he didn’t know he had.

Then some discussions about forends. Beavertail, Schnabel, sporting, Kreighoff style, or pretty much anything else you can think of. Also discussions about oil or lacquer finishes.

Then we all get dropped off back at the hotel while the stocks are made. Small café just over the road is well recommended for a coffee and snacks. At 16:00 one of our guns already has a stock on it, and it’s time for some grip customisation. All 3 of us decide to go back, to see the process.

Tuesday

All 3 of us picked up in the morning at 09:45, all 3 guns now have stocks and forends on, we spent the entire day fine tuning the fit. The stocks are made initially with a full palm swell, so this can be reduced if required, which I did. If you are there over the lunch period then there’s a cafe in the supermarket which is a 2 minute walk away, or a Mediterranean restaurant “Cortesia Cozinha Mediterrânea” which is a 5 minute walk. Both good.
 
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Wednesday

09:45 pick up from the hotel, off to MR to pick up the guns, then driven the 45 mins to Restaurante Clube dos Caçadores do Porto, to give then a go. Choices of trap, skeet, sportrap and Helice. Shot 100 sportrap to get a good feel for the gun. Take a pencil with you, if you want any adjustments making then you can mark exactly where on the woodwork. I wanted a little more off the palm swell, and about 1.5 millimetres tapered to nothing along the bottom of the grip where my little finger is. Then shot a round of Helice. Never done that before, but will again if I can find it at home. Lunch was at the club restaurant. More people there eating than shooting. Back to the MR factory after lunch for the final adjustments.

More discussions about chequering and engraving. Chequering is done by hand, and options for custom laser engraving are also available. I decided on the small MR logo on the toe of the stock, one of the other guys wanted the MR logo in the grip chequering, his initials on the grip end, and the gun model on the underside of the forend.

One of our group was departing back to UK on Thursday morning, so after his stock had some minor adjustments, his original woodwork was replaced on his gun for his return journey. When his new woodwork is finished, it will be sent via courier.

Thursday

No requirement for us to be in MR while the woodwork gets is final sanding, chequering, engraving, and the oiling or lacquering begins. The remaining 2 of us have opted for an oiled finish. Getting a stock made with a completed oiled finish is not possible in 5 days, so MR will begin the process, and you finish it at home. You could also leave your stock there to be fully oiled, and then have it couriered to you.

A taxi (or Uber) to Porto for the day is worthwhile, as there isn’t much to do in the area surrounding the hotel. Or a taxi to the local beach at Póvoa de Varzim.

Friday

Picked up after lunch. Guns are now engraved, chequered and the oiling process has been started. Beaming smiles all round. Photo opportunity with Manuel, you and the gun. We were also presented with some MR branded merchandise. Payment can be made in cash or via bank transfer. No card payment facilities. Thanked everyone involved and we departed back to the Hotel.

Saturday - Return journey

New stock and forend was still on the gun, which went into the Peli case. Old stock and forend in a MR box into the suitcase.

The exit process should have been the same as outbound. Unfortunately it was being done by EasyJet staff. I turned up at check in 3 hours before the flight and advised I was travelling with a firearm, which seem to annoy them no end. Offered them the 4 colour form (the spare I’d blagged at Luton) already completed. Not interested, they’d do it later. I questioned the order they were doing things and was dismissed. Told specifically to go to the same Police Office (2 floors down) that I’d been to on arrivals, before they could check me in. Police Officer there advised the office I should have gone to is just to the left of Departures Security, and he escorted me there. Case opened, serial numbers checked, different form filled in, case locked and sealed with a security label. Back to check in, gave them the 4 colour form, which they photocopied, and handed me all 4 copies back. Questioned that. Dismissed again. Suitcase checked in, and EasyJet staff then escorted me to Oversize Baggage, where the gun and I parted ways. I then went through Security into the Departures Hall. Still had all 4 copies of the form.

45 mins later the same dismissive EasyJet staff member found me in the hall. But this time he was a bit sweaty. He’d been running round looking for me for the last ½ hour. Could he please have 3 copies of the 4 colour form, and I was correct earlier. Didn’t chuckle too much.

The correct sequence is: EasyJet check in desk, fill in the 4 colour form there. Then go to Police Office by Departures Security Checkpoint. More paperwork and the yellow copy of the 4 colour form goes in the case before it’s sealed. Back to EasyJet desk, check in suitcase. EasyJet then escorted you to Oversize Baggage when the gun is deposited. By this time you should only have the white top copy of the 4 colour form. Then you go through Security & Passport Control as you would do on any other flight.

Arrived in Luton, went through Passport Control, and collected my suitcase. Gun arrived at Oversized Baggage desk (as you enter the Baggage Hall) ½ hour later. Yellow copy of the form now taped to the outside of the case. Escorted through the red customs channel, where you’ll have to phone up to get someone there. Licence and serial number checked and sent on my way.


Would I go through the MR process again? Most definitely. The whole process was way above what I expected. I’ve now got a fantastic stock and forend, that would have cost me a significant amount more had I opted to have one made in the UK.

I’m keeping in touch with the other 2 guys, one of them is also a Brit. His stock is being couriered to him. Estimated delivery for a completed lacquer finish is 2 weeks after his departure. Be interesting to see if it gets pulled for import duty and VAT. If he doesn’t then flying back 2 days earlier, and getting the MR team to fully finish the oiling and then ship it, may be preferable.


TL : DR

Absolutely fantastic stock and forend made by the team at Manuel Ricardo, at a price that I could not get matched in the UK, even if when factoring in travel and accommodation costs. The team at MR were most helpful through the entire process. I would definitely recommend a trip to get a stock done in person, if you can.

São Félix Hotel more than met all my requirements for the trip, although it is in a remote location. Don’t expect a vibrant nightlife.

Outbound travel was a breeze, return journey made slightly more frustrating by the EasyJet staff at Porto.

Might be worth considering just flying out for the initial 3 days, and having the new stock couriered to UK, if they manage to escape import duty and VAT.
 
Thanks for sharing this. I have often wondered about the Manuel Ricardo process and it's interesting to get a bit more insight into it. It sounds like you had a fantastic experience. Is there any chance of you posting any pictures of the new stock and forend?
took the words right out of my mouth 😂 we need to see it 😜 great hear about the process of actually going over though 👍🏼 I’m sure most of us have seen the TGS video of Johnny getting one done “over the internet”
 
This is what it looked like when I left Portugal. It's only had one coat of oil in the pics below. Old stock and forend had now been put back on so that I can carry on shooting. I'll post some more pics when it's finished.

DT11L MR (1).jpgDT11L MR (2).jpg
 
Daz W , " Cost about an extra £120 in to fly with a firearm"
Have EasyJet put their price up ?, just a query on the £120, I thought it was around £37 per sector ??

Cheers
 
Daz W , " Cost about an extra £120 in to fly with a firearm"
Have EasyJet put their price up ?, just a query on the £120, I thought it was around £37 per sector ??

Cheers
You are correct, it was £37 per flight, my total extras came to approx £120. Corrected in initial post
 
Very nice of you to write such a detailed review and report. Curious about the oiling steps you will have to do still, although I don't think you'll dodge VAT and import duties if it is shipped after the fact. If I am not mistaken any purchase made abroad (i.e. outside of your VAT zone) over a certain value would have to be declared at customs even if it fits in your suitcase, and the mail service will likely treat any commercial product in the same way. For us on the continent that's different if returning from another EU country, but if I flew to the UK and bought stuff, I would have to declare all of it if the combined value is over say 300-ish GBP / 350 EUR.
 
It is not unknown for parcels entering the UK to occasionally get delivered without being picked up for import duty and VAT, even though the parcel has a declared value on it. It seems to happen to some couriers more than others .
 
I would have taken the import (VAT) tax gamble a few years ago but not now - I have purchased half a dozen items abroad and all including the small ones are picked up with VAT & charges on top to pay.

Daz - This is a brilliant write up. I would be interested on the total cost when you have it. When I looked into it (2 years ago) I did end up with a starting point of £2k with the forend being more than I thought it would be.
 
I work with MR here and we do the whole in depth fitting process here without leaving the country and reducing the cost significantly more

MR is a talented stock maker unfortunate the fitting is not quite correct to modern day shooting and often need re fitted here

By adding this next level of fitting here and him making we really have the best of both worlds we have done over 60 now
 
I work with MR here and we do the whole in depth fitting process here without leaving the country and reducing the cost significantly more

MR is a talented stock maker unfortunate the fitting is not quite correct to modern day shooting and often need re fitted here

By adding this next level of fitting here and him making we really have the best of both worlds we have done over 60 now
Hi Ben ,
I’m looking into the cost of a MR stock for my kemen km4 trap gun , any ideas about cost of fitting and stock making thanks. Paul
 
I would have taken the import (VAT) tax gamble a few years ago but not now - I have purchased half a dozen items abroad and all including the small ones are picked up with VAT & charges on top to pay.
did end up with a starting point of £2k with the forend being more than I thought it would be.
I got a message today from one of the other guys who was at MR the same time as me. His stock and forend was sent from Portugal yesterday via UPS, and was delivered to him this morning. No accompanying import duty or VAT bill.

So now the question you've got to ask yourself is how are you going to get it done?

1) Getting your measurements done here, and sending them out. Or their "One click gunstock". Pros: Cheapest option as there's no travel or hotel costs. Fully oiled or lacquered woodwork received via courier. Cons: Wood choice is done via photos. How good is the wood to metal fit going to be as they've never had your gun? No options for minor tweaks to the stock during the manufacturing phase. Possibility of getting picked up for import duty & VAT.

2) Travelling to Porto for 3 days and having the woodwork couriered back. Measurements carried out by MR or a third party. Pros: Get to choose the wood in person. Wood to metal fit will be spot on. Fully oiled or lacquered woodwork received via courier. You've actually tried the stock on your gun, and had minor tweaks to the fit. Cons: Additional cost of flights and 3 days accommodation. Possibility of getting picked up for import duty & VAT.

3) Travelling to Porto for 5 days and bring the woodwork back with you on the gun. Measurements carried out by MR or a third party. Pros: Get to choose the wood in person. Wood to metal fit will be spot on. You've actually tried the stock on your gun, and had minor tweaks to the fit. Customs might not realise that the gun has new woodwork, unless you decide to declare it. 😉 Cons: Additional cost of flights and min 4 days accommodation. Oil finish will require completion at home or by a third party.

IMO option 2 sounds good, if you don't get clobbered by customs. Option 1, while being the cheapest, might leave you with some minor issues. The MR One Click Stock video on TGS gave a really good run through on that. You're spending probably £2K on a gunstock and forend, are you going to be happy with one that's 95% perfect? Option 3 while technically being the most expensive, could work out cheaper if you've got a decent poker face going through customs. Also if you want a particular type of oil finish, then you have a choice of great gunsmiths here.
 
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