Long Range Hunting Online Magazine

Basic Rifle Maintenance - Part 3
Clean the trigger with old-fashioned Zippo lighter fluid – nothing else. Flush the trigger from the top, liberally dousing it with fluid. After flushing, allow it to drain onto some kitchen roll and dry naturally. Do not apply any further lubrication. As this article is ‘basic maintenance’, I do not intend to cover trigger adjustment.

The action-bed is perhaps the greatest influencer of accuracy outside of the actual barrel/chamber. For a rifle to deliver best accuracy, the barrelled-action and stock must be ‘as one’ when the two components are screwed together. This means that the recess in the stock where the action sits – which we call the ‘bed’ – must be a flawless, solid recess which is a perfect fit.

A custom-rifle builder will achieve this by individually bedding the action into the stock using one of several epoxy compounds available – the most popular of which is Devcon. Devcon is a two-pack epoxy putty which was designed for repairing metal castings, so in addition to being immensely strong is has one other essential feature – it does not shrink on curing. Beware, Devcon bedding is not for the amateur. It is all too easy to end up with your rifle glued into the stock – permanently! If you want to know more about the process, check out www.6mmbr.com/pillarbedding.html Incidentally, it’s not uncommon for benchrest actions to be permanently glued into the stock. This is undoubtedly the best way to ensure a perfect trouble-free bed and when accuracy is paramount there is no better bed.

Of course, a one-off epoxy bed will not be found on any mass-produced rifle and guns from the ‘big four’ American manufactures will have an assortment of solutions to this critical bedding problem. Probably the best solution is the aluminium block found in rifles like the Remington PSS. Rifles with a laminate stock - like the Savage - will usually be bedded directly onto the wood-laminate, which can be a problem as the wood will gradually deform and allow the bedding to shift and the action screws slacken, so frequent checking of the action-screws is advisable with any wooden stock.

Wood-laminate is however very dense and can form a reasonable bed but walnut stocks are much softer and therefore prone to even greater deformities. This is exaggerated by the action of oil, water and cleaning fluids which inevitably find their way under the action and soak into the wood. Rather than providing a firm solid bed, the wood can soften and even split.

basic rifle maintenance 3
This stock has split beneath the action – you can just see the split to the rear of the tang and in the bed itself just forward of the magazine cut-out. The bed is also blackened with oil and the like but then it is over 100 years old and it still shoot amazingly well.

When this happens, there is not a lot you can do and a replacement stock is the best and cheapest option. An alternative could be pillar-bedding. Unfortunately, this is not a cheap process and will probably cost more than a decent aftermarket stock but, if you are in love with your chunk of walnut, it could certainly restore that lost accuracy and the aforementioned web article also covers the pillar-bedding process.

Before we replace the barrelled-action, check for any obvious high-spots in the bed which may be observed as shiny patches on the underside of the action. High spots will prevent a proper full bed and will do nothing for your rifle’s accuracy.

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